Friday, November 27, 2015

Training to be an an "professateur"

I consider myself an amateur in this sport because I am fairly new to it and I don't do this for a living. At the end of the day it is my hobby. Would I like to do it full time? Maybe. But I don't believe I have the wealth of knowledge it takes to do that yet. Technically, I will have to declare myself a professional when I start attempting to do recognized events some day because I teach beginner lessons and accept compensation for doing that. So I guess I am both: A Professateur"

Now I am making up words to figure out where I belong.

This is why I hold myself to the higher standard of that of a professional. I will have to hold my own against them some day. Some day being the operative word there.

Not only am I fairly new to eventing, but also to dealing with young/green horses and having to really put in training rides rather then rides you get on and work on yourself. Maybe this is an incorrect generalization, but it does seem to me that eventers as a group are always approaching their rides with that "training" mentality. Its perfectly reasonable considering there are three entirely different and unique phases we have to prepare our horses for. Once one seems to get ironed out, our horse presents some holes that need filling in another.

While the process is tedious and frustrating at is addicting. Since I have started getting my feet wet in this sport, I am constantly looking for what to work on next.

One of my final rides on my previous horse but still "training" for correct way of going.
Sure there is some overlap in the training for the phases. A half halt is a half halt and if you dont have it in a dressage test, your surely will see that horse galloping cross country like they are in the Kentucky Derby even though they are running BN (Yes that has been me and my horse so I am saying this from experience). But the training for each phase has such subtleties that go beyond just the half halt and it really seems to be about educating the horse to understand each phase and be able the questions in each with the tools learned in training.

We go fast and jump all the things
Dressage always gets put into the "no one enjoys it as much as jumping category" for a reason...its tedious and it calls out your horse's obedience to you as well as your effectiveness as a rider. We all know that any given day those things can change.

Stadium or show jumping is another technical phase that, I feel, requires precision and tests the true suppleness and obedience you have in dressage but over fences. In three day events this is the final phase so it will also test stamina and the ability to recover and regain the sharpness you aim for in dressage but after a strenuous cross country course.

The phase that makes our sport so unique is Cross Country. It is not for the faint of heart and really requires bravery on both horse and rider. It is meant to test endurance and the partnership of the horse and rider to answer the various questions presented over assorted terrain and solid obstacles.

So as a professateur, I am constantly questioning if what I am doing at home is correct. I ride with many different trainers, each strongest in one phase that I use to supplement each other. I sometimes get on my horse for another day to day ride and know what it is we need to work on but overwhelmed with all there is to do. I just get going and find myself doing something else or not really following a plan.

Yes I know horses can throw wrenches in the mix and deviating from the plan is a necessity...but I admit, I need to be better about having a plan that I can deviate from. For example, one of my trainers jumps every Saturday. Thats just part of the plan. Within that, there may be a grid set up or a bending line or a corner...some technical exercise posing a question that is intended for the horse to be able to answer by the end of the ride.
one the many exercises D has had us try
I know some riders even go as far as allotting X amount of time for warm up, X amount for working on something new and then X amount for a cool down or reestablishing what is already known.

Call it a playbook or what have you, but Id like to make it a goal to come up with a better plan and exercises to do when on my own. Yes we may have to deviate from that on any given day if a different challenge presents itself, but at least I have a "check list" to follow and stay on track.

Does anyone do something similar or have any useful resources they use?


  1. Most of mine come from asking for "homework" or having specific exercises that I have used in the past for certain problems (basically a toolbox). With a more typical horse (aka not Stinker) I do a basic warmup of walk trot canter leg yields if appropriate. Based on what I feel from this I develop a plan for the ride. Also if I know a certain hole that needs to be filled, I will do exercises specifically for that. I guess mine is more mental than physical and is always very fluid. It all stems from the question what is our biggest weakness.

    1. I wish i could think on my feet like you do! Also my feel is very off right now so sometimes what feels wrong to me is actually a step in the right direction...*sigh** I see a lot more lessons in the near future.

  2. great post. finding the balance between 'it's just a hobby' and 'oh wait i earn an important portion of my income from this' sounds pretty challenging, esp as it relates to the expectations we set for ourselves. as it is, i like to have a game plan for rides - esp including whatever exercises i want to work on. but like you say, it always has to be flexible

    1. flexibility is key!! I have the mindset of needing structure though otherwise i tend to hound the same thing over and over until the next lesson and if I am doing it wrong that makes undoing it harder :(