Some of you may have wondered why I started a new thread entitled “Times have changed ……..” when there was already a thread, posted originally by CRK running entitled “It is times for change”
My reasoning was that it would have been inappropriate for me to try to take over someone else’s thread. But a second reason was that I was trying to make a subtly different point. Often the difficulty for the writer fails to make clearly one’s point when writing on an internet forum - especially on a subjects as complex as horse riding where there are inherently some significant differences in philosophy. There is also the complication of point of view - Americans judge matters in a slightly different way from Europeans, yet we try to communicate with each other in the same language - English. Incidentally English is not the dominant first language in Europe - probably German is the most used first language in the European Union, although English is the undoubtedly the second language for use cross border. Language is a complex issue and mutual comprehension is what ultimately matters. Since non verbal communication takes such an important place in the English language, it is easy to see why written words alone do not always convey accurately a common meaning.
I failed to make my point so here is a second attempt.
As an Englishman I would say that we British have an international presence in the equine world but I have to accept that the Germans, many of whom speak excellent English, also have an important role to play internationally in equine sports. The Germans often win at top level competition not only in dressage but also in show jumping. However the traditions followed by German riders tend to be different from those held by the average British rider ~ if there is such a person. German riders believe in order, permission and licence. Whereas we Brits will plonk a novice rider on a calm horse and lead them out of the yard and into the community. But maybe the time has arrived in this modern world where how we teach riding and attitudes towards the horse should be reconsidered.. Maybe it is time for us Brits, who live huddled together on a tiny island, the size of Alabama, rethought equine issues. The methods which were appropriate in the 1950s are no longer in keeping with modern day needs.
We Brits have an ancient road network which has its foundations laid down 2000 years ago in Roman times. Nowadays we expect the lorry, the car, the motor cycle, the push bike, the runner, the dog walker, the mother pushing a pram, and the horse - all to share the same stretch of road. That has to be a dubious policy, one inherited from a byegone era when blame played a lesser role in day-to-day attitudes. We Brits want to be able to sue in the courts for perceived negligence.
But on top of this dilemma there is the matter of training. In Britain we riders are not all taught in the same way. Already on HF, two threads have gone into detail about the concept of negative and positive instruction. Contributors had gone round and round in circles discussing the concept of how to ask a horse to do what we have asked of it. Yet on the same day further down the list of threads on the sub forum of “Horse Training“, a young woman looking for ideas as to how to bond with her newly acquired horse. When I noticed Dovelover’s thread, I wondered whether she had any idea that what we had been discussing in complex terminology, was relevant to her with her new horse.
Back on this Sceptered Isle, we Brits have the British Horse Society which arguably is the dominant influence in British horse riding but the BHS fundamentals are based on principles established by the military and the hunt and, more recently, the competition arena. We are not setting out to educate the amateur rider in the theories behind the sport. The novice has little idea of just how complex riding can be We Brits are not even fully agreed about how best to sit on the animal: - do we use the dressage seat or the hunt seat for every day riding?
Non verbal communication is at the heart of coping with the horse. Thanks perhaps to the growth of the sport, nowadays more is known about horses than ever. We have the ability to utilise modern technology to measure and evaluate the techniques used to ride and control a horse. We can measure the forces of gravity and the weights involved. We can measure the force impacting on the front legs of jumping horses. We can calculate and record the power exerted by a horse when carrying a rider. Yet we don’t seem to have brought this knowledge into the training of a novice rider. We are too keen to mount the novice up and call out: “walk on”. Tuition should start in the class room.
Elsewhere in life I can find onerous the German attitudes towards order and discipline - “Alles ist in ordnung”. But I do appreciate why they lay down rules in the world of horses. I have ridden with German and Dutch riders across the wild moors of Wales. I had no criticism of their competence, they each had been schooled well.
I’d like to know more about how they tackle the teaching of horse riding in Germany and I suspect I’ll come to think that some of their ideas ought to be brought into the British Equine world.
Of course this new schooling, strongly influenced by our German colleagues, will have to be given in English. Certainly my own conversational German is not good enough to absorb the teaching.