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The Spanish March is the first part of a three part series featuring high school movements. The method that I use derives from the teachings of Haute de Colte as taught in Austria and other countries for the Lippason Stallions and other breeds. I have added my experiences as well as my methods that I have learned in my 48 years of training horses. I have trained horses in nine different disciplines. I have used other trainer’s advice as well as their training methods. I took my professors advice when he told me, “Go through life seeking your goal taking advice and instructions from others using only what you need and this will develop your own style. Dedicate your life to one thing and strive for perfection. Do it to the best of your ability and never stop learning and above all share your experience with others.” Those words still to this day rings clearly in my mind. So this method that I have developed I call my technique.
These instructions that I give can be used with any horse regardless of breed. Quite naturally you need your horse broke well. In this I mean that you can ride him or her without them bucking or acting up. In other words they are well adjusted to you riding them, because these movements will be advancing their training, the more adjusted to you riding them the better. Now the equipment that I use helps to advance my horses faster. You don’t have to use the equipment that I use but if you do you can advance your training at least twice as fast. My method plus my equipment gives me the ability to train and communicate with my horse easier. I am not saying this to sell my equipment. You can make your own, it is not how you get the equipment its how well it is going to work for you. Take the double reins for instance, by having your horse in a collected position with him comfortable and his attention on your instructions. Where as a single rein would have him in a position to defy or a way for him to escape any type of pressure you might be trying to convey to him. In other words your instructions would eventually register to him but it would take a longer time. Some people have said to me that you must have a lot of patience to accomplish the things that you do. That’s not true I say. Although patience is a virtue but progress during your training encourages you to move even more ahead when you know you are getting somewhere. That’s one of the reasons I gave up on the single rein because I couldn’t see any progress. So I went outside the normal thinking and developed my technique. I could not ride my horses today if I went back to my old saddles and reins. Even my horses today would find a way to get out of collection and rhythm. I have proven this time and time again to myself. I will give an example. One day I noticed that one of my dancing horses had a dry spot on both sides of his withers. I changed saddles but it still remained the same. So I put on a western saddle to see if the pressure points would be different than my Aussie saddle. It did not I still had the same dry spots but while I was riding in the western saddle I had difficulties doing the side pass. As I sit too high off of the horse than I was use to and my stirrups were straight down. I was not able to cue him with the ease that I had in the Aussie saddle. I have ridden almost all saddles available, and I find that the Aussie saddle and the double reins (used as one rein in your hands) by far the best. Some might think that I am trying to sell my reins and saddles but believe me I am not. First of all, I do not sell the Aussie saddle and as far as the double reins are concerned I have shown you how to make your own. It is the technique with this equipment that I am trying to convey to you. It is easier and safer and you will progress to a point that you will see results and hopefully encourage you to go on. Because a Spanish March for instance is a big accomplishment for both you and your horse. So now that’s clear let’s start. Some trainers start this movement from the ground first and then on to the horse. I find this method a waste of precious time. If in the end I hope to be riding him in the Spanish March so that is the way I train the movement is from on top of my horse. First, I will put pressure on my left calf making sure that my right calf is not touching him. That doesn’t mean that I want my right calf pulled away from his body. It just means that no pressure is present from my right only my left. Then I reach to my right slightly and tap him on his right knee. I use a 42 inch crop. The tapping is just an annoyance to him. Do not hurt him he will get to a point that the tapping will annoy him. At this point he won’t associate the pressure of your left calf with the tapping but he soon will. Just as he picks his foot up to shoo a pesky fly or in this case your tapping. The second he moves his foot in any way release the pressure and pat him and in a smooth tone say good boy or something to that effect, as he doesn’t understand English or any other language other than his own. But he does know that you are pleased with the tone of your voice. Then repeat the movement but this time the pressure from the right calf and tap him on his left leg and when he responds do the same that way he knows to move one leg then the other so that he knows that he is not repeating with the same leg. He will soon learn that the pressure from your left calf will bring a tap to his right knee or leg. He will soon anticipate that cue you are about to tap him and he will move upon the pressure of your calf to avoid the tap by moving his leg before you tap. He does not have to pick up his leg in the beginning as long as he just moves it. This or any movement do not do it for more than 15 minutes at a time as he will get aggravated and doesn’t want to go on. Do something else like a lope or a trot then come back to the training. Like I said a total of 15 minutes on this movement is all for one day. When he moves his left leg release the pressure of the calf but making sure that the proper leg is moved not the other with this cue. So in time he gets this lesson down after releasing the pressure from your calf. Then apply pressure at the same time from both calves release the reins a little to encourage him to take a step forward. Then stop and pet him then this is what has been accomplished by you putting pressure on your left calf tapped him on his right leg then when he yields release pressure from your left calf then pressure on both calves and giving into the reins moves him forward one step, then pet him. You have established a complete step or movement. Then do the opposite then you have completed the two movements, first the left then the right. Settle with this for awhile and he will start moving his legs without tapping him, then we will want more elevation of his legs. To get this put pressure on your left calf, this time tapping him until he gets his leg higher. Before you release the pressure so that in his mind by the constant pressure you are telling him that you want movement higher on his right leg until you release the pressure and tapping. He will slowly understand and raise it higher. Don’t try to do this all at once do a little each day until you get the results you want. Some horses catch on faster than others but all will do this in time. Now this is where the double reins come in because he will try to find a way out of this. It is uncomfortable and he would rather not do it. He might try to turn his head to the right and that would make it hard for you to tap his right leg. With one rein you would have a difficult time correcting this where as the double reins he could not move his head to the right because a slight movement of your hands to your left on the double reins would keep his head in a collected position while making it uncomfortable for him to move against the pressure of the bottom rein as you use the two reins as one. Also if he tries to move his body in any direction you can turn his head in the direction he is trying to go to. For instance, if he tries to move his body to the right, turn his head to the right then he will have to cross his legs in order to move to the right which he will not do because it is uncomfortable for him (which is what I will teach you in a side pass, but that is another phase of training that we will get into later). Hopefully you have the sequences down so that you are teaching the Spanish March in time he will get higher and higher as he walks forward. If you have any questions you can write or call me. See ya next month with the Passage.
Your friend as always.