Come Ride our Trail Obstacle Course!
Our vision is for an obstacle course that can rival any in the country. So far, we have multiple ditches, bridges, paths, logs, curtains, banks and pedestals- we are well on our way towards having a world class obstacle course designed to build confidence in horse and rider in a way that would be near impossible on flat ground. Our obstacles are designed to be challenging, but not trappy, and can be done in hand or under saddle. Go to our schedule page to learn about clinics and trail challenge competitions for 2015. Come enjoy our course anytime for $30/horse- just call ahead to schedule.
Classical Dressage and Foundation Horsemanship
Here at Rudy Horsemanship we train horses using classical dressage and foundation horsemanship- we believe horses should Ride Like a Dressage Horse and Handle Like a Ranch Horse. We bring out the best in young horses whether we are preparing them for a dressage career, an amateur trail rider, working cows, or a Mustang Makeover. Great training requires great horsemanship whether you wear a cowboy hat and wranglers, or top hat and tails.
We teach riders to use their seat. A strong seat is the best tool a rider can have. When I give a student their first riding lesson, I teach them to use seat aids first, and to develop feel for the horse. I make sure they are secure physically and emotionally to empower them to be a good leader for their horse. We also help our riders understand horse psychology, timing and feel, and how to develop the horse’s mind and body. We are blessed to have students that love and respect their horse, and would prefer to develop their horse in a slow healthy way.
What is Classical Dressage? The word dressage is a French term that simply means “Training.” Dressage masters have been training and developing horses for use as riding horses for thousands of years. A young horse needs to learn how to be ridden. When we sit on the horse, we put weight on his back muscles which causes him to contract and tighten his back. This is not healthy for him or comfortable for us! Early lessons for the young horse involve teaching him to accept our aids and our weight. We encourage him to stretch towards the bit, which lengthens his neck and lifts his back in a relaxed natural way. ALL riding horses need this elementary training to be sound, comfortable, and healthy. To further develop the dressage horse we teach him to bend evenly in both directions and to push evenly with both hind legs. We do lateral movements so we can control the shoulders and hindquarters with more precision. This makes our horse a joy to sit on as he becomes more athletic and buoyant in his movement. Advanced dressage lessons for the horse shift his weight more over his hind legs(collection) which makes the horse powerful yet fluid in his movement. Not only can he start and stop, and turn on a dime, but he is so tuned into his rider’s seat that the rider feels like the horse is an extension of her own body. Dressage is for every horse and every rider. Not everyone wants to compete in dressage shows, but anyone who rides should want to ride a horse that has been developed properly as a riding horse and as an athlete.
What is Natural Horsemanship? We honestly have come to dislike the term "natural horsemanship." Natural Horsemanship is (or maybe should be) the long fancy term for just "Horsemanship". Many people think of natural horsemanship as specifically addressing the horse’s emotional and mental state through ground lessons. (Aka, break out the rope halter and fiberglass stick.) When we get a horse in training that has emotional or leadership issues, or needs retraining, or has simply not had a lot of handling, then we definitely start on the ground and will use obstacles, flagging out, and other stimulus to address the horse’s issues directly. But horsemanship does not always look that way. Good horsemanship means that you know how to read a horse’s emotional state, and know how to help him when he is not okay. Good horsemanship is developing good feel, and knowing when to give your horse the time to figure something out, and when to give him a whack. (This may be THE determining factor that makes a good horseman!) Natural Horsemanship has become a term that means you follow some pre-packaged, well marketed, "program". (Insert Parelli, Clinton Anderson, Denis Reis, Chris Cox, whoever.) But just "Horsemanship" means you put the horse’s mental and emotional needs before your performance goals, and that you develop timing and feel in both yourself, and your horse. Just like common sense is not common, natural horsemanship is not natural. Since the term has stuck, we do occasionally use it, but I really prefer just "Horsemanship".
What is Vaquero? Or Vaquero Horsemanship? The term Vaquero is basically the Spanish word for "cowboy". The Vaquero tradition started when Spanish decent settlers brought their classical dressage backgrounds to the California area. Spanish and Portuguese were well known for working cattle from horseback, but instead of roping they used a long Garrocha poll to separate their cattle. This style of riding and working cows required great collection and handle on their horses. The American topography made working cattle with a garrocha poll impractical, so the Vaqueros took up roping. On the range these cowboys would use a 60' rope (lariats used in rodeo are closer to 30') which takes up a LOT of space in your rein hand, limiting mobility of that hand- so their horses needed to be very sensitive to any bit aids. Thus the spade bit was born. Many look at the Spade bit like it is a medieval torcher device, but the Vaqueros saw it as a pure tool of refinement. It took many years to create a finished "Bridle Horse", just like it takes many years to create a Grand Prix dressage horse. Vaquero style horsemanship exhibits the true collection and refinement that we wish for in a dressage horse, but also the usability and one-handed handle needed of a top ranch horse. Vaquero traditions are in the midst of a resurrection, thanks in part to Buck Brannaman.
What is Haute école? "Haute Ecole" simply means "high school" in reference to Classical Dressage. The movements in the high school are typically considered piaffe, passage, pirouettes, and the "in air" movements, like levade, pessade, capriole, and courbettes. Other collected movements, like Spanish walk and flying lead changes, are often included. I have heard of some people refer to tricks- like bow, lay down, circus bow, etc.- as haute ecole. I do not necessarily agree with that since those movements do not require collection and I do not consider them "high school". However, trick training, in general, is often associated with haute ecole since they both require the same type of training and horsemanship. I also have seen how much trick training teaches a horse to become a better learner, and how much it teaches humans to use pressure and release for direct operant conditioning, enabling them to become a better teacher for their equine pupil.
What is Western Dressage? Western Dressage started as a novelty class at a Morgan Horse Show because they wanted to promote dressage and a few western riders expressed interest but did not want to buy all new tack and clothing. There are now official Western Dressage Tests on the USEF website. There is also a Western Dressage Association of America. The WDAA works with USEF and is in the process of coming up with more tests and deciding what western dressage can be. Some want it to be exactly like dressage, but in western tack. Others would like the tests to include movements like spins and rollbacks. Then there is the new Cowboy Dressage Association that started because they thought Western Dressage was too 'dressagey'- go figure. My complaint is that there are still no upper level tests. In regular competitive dressage every test gets you one step closer to Grand Prix. But in Western dressage, no one really knows where the tests lead. It's a growing discipline, with growing interest. I am curious to see where it goes.
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