Saturday, January 15, 2011

Avoiding Boredom

The snow has still not melted. Stir craziness is setting in. I haven't ridden since January 4th. I haven't done much of anything outside since January 4th. Well, aside from dragging hoses around the yard and moving snow. That doesn't count because it's boring, too.

I've pretty much given up trying to keep Spider occupied. So long as he isn't destroying anything expensive, I'm leaving him to his own devices.

For myself, I've been reading. I don't have any new books to read, so I picked up an old favorite: "My Horses, My Teachers" by Alois Podhajsky. It's a sort of memoir of the various horses that he worked with over his career. My favorite section, of course, is where he talks about his dressage horses. I love that many of his dressage horses, including his Olympic mounts, were not bred specifically for dressage. Most were Thoroughbreds. Podhajsky was a cavalry man, and the cavalry simply bought whatever horses they could get cheaply. It was the cavalry man's job to make the best of his mount.

Podhajsky is best known for being a Master of Classical Dressage and his work at the Spanish Riding School. His book "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider" is generally hailed as the Bible of correct classical training. To be perfectly honest, I've never much cared for "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider". I find it dry, dull and not really pertinent to anything I do. (I know, BLASPHEMY!)

On the other hand, every time I read "My Horses, My Teachers" I find something that pertains to a horse I'm working with. Same author... What's the difference?

"The Complete Training of Horse and Rider" is a manual for training a horse from the ground up and riding a perfectly trained schoolmaster. A great thing to know, for sure. But, I can't afford perfectly trained horses (and I don't think they're very much fun, anyways) and I don't much care for babies. Almost every horse I've ever backed came to me either from another discipline or previously trained but with a host of issues. I guess I just have a thing for "bad boys". *lol*

In "My Horses, My Teachers", Podhajsky talks about his horses on a much more personal level. He talks about how he trained them individually: their problems, their strengths and how he molded his training to fit them. That's much more interesting to me.

It's good to know the theory and the correct way of doing things, but application is much more fun.


  1. Way to be honest. ;-) I've not read either book, but "My Horses, My Teachers" does sound a lot more interesting.

    You mean Spider isn't perfect?

  2. I need to look that book up - I read some of his stuff when I was young but not recently.

  3. SprinklerBandit- Of course, Spider is perfect. He was supposed to be featured in those books, but I declined (out of modesty, of course) ;D

    Kate- I forgot to add links, thanks for the reminder!

  4. Having done dressage with a talented WB and with a plain ol' Paint, I have to say I agree with you. The Paint is so much more fun and, for me, satisfying. The WB was a lot of psychological work for me -- I felt incredible pressure to be perfect because he was. I much prefer just being me. Me and my horse. Muddling through in a happy non-judgmental way.

  5. Thanks for the short review. I have heard of both books, I did not know which to read? Now I know. I have a collection of good horse-training ... by now I prefer a hands- on approach, but I enjoy reading about the relationship of a trainer with his horses.
    Thanks again for the review ^-^

  6. First you make me feel a bit better about not having been able to ride. This is the first year I have had a horse to ride as an adult and I never realized the guilt I would struggle with not riding. I wish I could make it go away since I am doing this for fun and what fun is in guilt. Blah blah blah I am done :). Reading sounds like a fantastic way to at least prepare myself mentally for better riding days.

  7. My favorite story in "My Horses" is the story of the helicopter. If you've read the book, you know the one.

    I think Podhajksy's personal relationship with horses shines through every word of this book and reveals a lot more about true training than all the theory you can read. It's definitely one of my all time favorites too.

  8. Mean to add....this weather stinks! All I do is go out, do chores, slog through the snow--watch my horses slog through the snow and come back in. If it were warmer, maybe it would be tolerable, but the snow cover and the cold air are just too draining for me.

  9. Great post! I haven't read 'My Horses, My Teachers', but now I want to. I do love his quote about owing the most to his worst behaved horses because they taught him the most. I recently picked up the 'bible' :) at a used book store. It isn't a book to read through all at once, but I do enjoy reading it in pieces. Therefore it's currently in the bathroom :) (Too much information?)
    Last winter I read a book of his called 'My Dancing White Horses, The Autobiography of Alois Podhajsky'. It was interesting (although a little repetitive towards the end)and I also loved that he took what others thought were so so horses and made them great with good training.
    Anyway, I hope your weather is better soon. I noticed our draft cross was starting the first signs of shedding today, so there's hope.

  10. I'm with you there's not much to do in this cold. I love that book "My Horses, My Teachers". There's always something new to pick up. I'm with Jean too, the helicopter story is terrific. When I read it I pictured myself on one of my horses and just knew I'd have been airborne, and not in a good way!

    My warmblood was a very spooky hard ride and almost impossible to be consistent with, there was a lot of pressure no matter what we did. Which was mostly hunters. Anyway, now with two QH's, Dusty and Blue, they are much more fun to ride. Since I'm older I have no illusions of going to shows and winning any prizes. That may also be a factor why I'm having so much fun training these two. Good post.

  11. My Horses, My Teachers is such a great book. I get something new out of it every time I pick it up.

    Stop by my blog for an award!!


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