The Priceless School Horse

I remember the first pony I ever rode. His name was Sir Chumley. He was a little bay who taught me how to trot and canter and made me fall head over heels in love with riding. I rode plenty of other school horses after Chumley, and each taught me something. Of course, some were better teachers than others and some were worth their weight in gold.

Each December we highlight collegiate equestrians, typically the Intercollegiate Dressage Association (IDA) riders who juggle school and saddle time or the instructors who coach them. But this year, we take a look at a different piece of the puzzle—the college school horses. In “The IDA School Horse: A Breed of its Own” we highlight four special horses who are a vital part of the IDA program. Students often speak of these particular horses, who are favorites in school riding programs and at every IDA show they participate in. You can read about these superstars on p. 36.

While the horses take the collegiate spotlight this month, we don’t forget about the students and their studies in “The Value of Equine Education” on p. 42. For this story we spoke with top dressage industry professionals, including international competitor Kim Herslow and Virginia Tech intercollegiate dressage coach Cody Armstrong, about why their experience in an equine-degree program was so valuable. Each rider shares important reasons for pursuing an equine education and how you can get the most out of your time at school.

In addition to our collegiate focus this month, we hear from USEF Young Horse Coach Christine Traurig on how to ride your horse with improved throughness, perfect connection and self-carriage. In “Pushing Away from the Bit,” Christine shares why this sophisticated term is often misunderstood and sheds light on exactly what it means. She explains that when the horse is pushing away from the bit, he responds to the leg aid with absolute, ever-present willingness to go perfectly to the bit. The horse that is pushing away from the bit has a finely established understanding of contact from a leg aid and he never feels apprehensive about reaching out to the bit again and again. She goes on to explain in detail the various rein aids and their functions and offers exercises to help develop feel and improve throughness and connection. Read the full story on p. 24.

Also included this month is Corinne Foxley’s “Journey Through the Levels” column (p. 21), in which she offers a first look at the counter canter and tells us why riding this movement correctly is a true test of the purpose of First Level as defined by the USDF Rule Book.

We hope you find this issue full of inspiration and remember to salute the school horses in your life, be they past or present.

Until next time…






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