My name is Muriel Chestnut and I have been involved in the Equestrian - specifically Dressage - community for a very long time it seems now! - over 25 years! However, I am new to this site - which is very exciting! I am a Classical Dressage Coach who also has been practicing Natural Horsemanship for the past 6 years. I first became aware of Natural Horsemanship through a friend who dragged me to a Level 2 Parelli clinic and I have been not only fascinated with the techniques it teaches but also with the rather glaringly obvious "missing link" it provides for riders. I have incorporated not only the psychology behind it but the application of the aiding system as a communication/language to the horse. The effects explain exactly what is going on with the horse mentally and emotionally, and clarifies how the horse relates to our aids specifically! This is something I wish my instructors had been able to teach me when I was learning Dressage!
Now getting to my point about the advantages of a "Schoolmaster". Why, in Canada anyway, are we trying to reinvent the wheel??? We have all read about how in Europe "school" horses are trained, and occasionally have competed extensively! Could there be a link between the fast tracking ability of a trained horse to provide confidence and the correct response to a aid, and the Europeans undeniable competitive advantage?? Hmmmm??? Unfortunately, here in Canada, we don't have the same depth of Equestrian Culture that is a part of virtually all European cultures. Therefore, we rely on the knowledge and experience of a smattering of coaches and trainers who perhaps have had exposure to some European tradition, particularly in training dressage horses. However, the good ones are few and far between. Note to Dressage Canada ... folks you better figure out how to solve this! What happened to our Coaching program???
And since Dressage is a "feeling" sport/art does it not make more sense to ride a horse who can offer the correct feel in the first place without reacting in opposition - which is usually the response of a green or poorly trained horse? Of course it does! So where does one find one? Stay tuned ... I may have an answer...!!
I fortunately have had the great fortune to ride correctly trained "schoolmaster" Iberian horses and I know from experience that I would never have reach the level of knowledge I have without their invaluable ability to pass on what they know!
I takes a really long time to produce a horse fit to use as a true "Schoolmaster". And this is only in the hands of someone who has taken the time it takes to create one. This is only possible hrough tact, patience and and a broad knowledge of techniques. It is not a job for everyone ... but the results are! So if you are serious about learning to ride, whether you are a beginner of any age, or a seasoned rider wanting to refine your abilities, you will be doing not only yourself a favour, but the entire culture of dressage as a whole, by investing in a "Schoolmaster" horse!
I got a 24 yr old PSG horse 2.5 yrs ago who is indeed incredible and sound. He will pirouette when he is feeling great- andhis half passes soar still as do his 3 tempi changes- he is never asked for more thasn this. He loves being ridden and gives young riders the confidence and the feeling of whst true collection slike. He has a home forever............