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Monthly diary — February

Lucinda Green

I am beginning the year more optimistically than I ended 2009 (see Dec 09 diary), as I feel there are stirrings of change in the air.

Firstly I attended the US Eventing Association Convention, giving two short talks. Bruce Davidson also gave a rare speech saying how top riders, instead of spending their winters in Florida working on their dressage, should be out hunting in Ireland. It's my thinking exactly. We need to rediscover real riding. Then I had the chance to visit Michael Jung in Germany.

He is phenomenal, riding many different horses very successfully in eventing, showjumping and dressage. He explained he does all three phases on all three types of horse, and gives them all a little cross-country ‘play’ nearly every day. His small field is set up with more than 80 different fences, self-built. It was a breath of fresh air - so many people make training so serious and not enough fun.

Then finally this week, I was at the Hartpury College International Eventing Forum. One of the main messages coming through was that horses must be allowed to think for themselves and their reactions honed. Pammy Hutton's demo of dressage, with jumping added in mid-movements to take out the intensity, was impressive and entertaining.

She had a good stab at delivering the message that bad dressage is dangerous to cross-country. The line between domination and discipline is fine.

Training IS essential but it’s the approach you take - avoid drilling your horse to be a soldier but train him to be a general. A good, safe event horse needs to have his initiative and instinct burnished, not be frog-marched and brain-washed.
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