Sunglasses. They are my go-to accessory whenever I leave the house. I’ve been promising our Technical Editor, Beth Baumert, that I will change my photo so you all can see my eyes. I just haven’t gotten round to doing so. But you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about sunglasses.
I bring them up because in this month’s issue we have a story about The Dressage Foundation’s inaugural Florida Dream Tour, in which several top trainers opened their farms to TDF and its supporters for an intimate training experience. One of those trainers was Juan Matute of Spain. During his in-hand training session with a feisty, young stallion, Matute talked about how working with horses is all about relationships, and the importance of working eye to eye. “For that reason, I never recommend working with sunglasses on,” he said. Each of us at the magazine found this comment to be so compelling. Matute goes on to say that a 5-year-old horse is like a teenager. “He needs to learn that I am alpha.” He also discussed the importance of making the horse happy in his work. You can read “The 2015 Florida Dream Tour” on p. 38.
From seeing eye to eye to seeing the big picture, we hear from Lendon Gray this month on the all-important (but not all-that-practiced) rein-back, p. 30. She opens her story by saying that “the rein-back is an exercise that is remarkably simple, and yet many riders and trainers don’t seem committed to practicing it enough.” She explains that the two most important things the rein-back teaches the horse are obedience and engagement, both of which are needed throughout a horse’s training.
Following our training stories we journey overseas to Italy and the Il Paretaio Classical Riding Center. Located in Tuscany, the farm is owned by Giovanni and Cristina De Marchi, head instructors who first rode with France’s Gerard Beckrich and later under Portuguese masters Nuno Oliveira and Luis Valencia. Today, their riding vacations offer visitors lessons in dressage as well as hacks through the beautiful wine country that surrounds the farm. Read “La Dolce Vita” on p. 56.
Our other stories include Part 1 of a two-part series on horse shopping. This month we focus on the pros and cons of shopping in Europe, while next month we'll look at staying in the USA. We also delve into the controversial topic of the bitless bridle. After many requests for an article on this topic, we approached the subject from both sides in “To Bit or Not to Bit?” on p. 50. Finally, we bring you more on the Dressage Owners Task Force, a group looking to build high-performance dressage in the U.S. by bringing dressage enthusiasts into the fold of horse ownership in a more affordable way. There’s much to read, so I’ll let you get to it.
Until next time...