The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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 Post subject: Kia Ora From New Zealand
PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:11 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 1:52 am
Posts: 8
Location: New Zealand
Hi Everyone,

I'm Anna from NZ and I'm looking forward to asking you guys lots of questions... but thought I should introduce myself first :)

So for a long time I have been looking for better ways of riding and training than what I was being taught. But recently I have got to the point were I can't ride anymore until I work this out. I feel like an absolute beginner again, its kind of scary, but exciting at the same time.

A bit of background. I got my first pony at age 5, but had been having goes on Mum's horses all my life. I went through Pony Club and had dressage lessons and show jumping lessons, and eventing lessons, from many different instructors who where at the top of their sports. I was very lucky to grow up on a farm where I could ride my horses and ponies out over the hills and down at the river and have great adventures :green: much of the time this was bareback and in a halter.

I had a lot of success in the competition world, but I could never quite work a few things out. If my riding and these training methods where so good like my trainers said they were, why did some of my horses have scars in their mouths, why did they bleed? ( :ieks: yes, I'm horrified at my self, but lets be honest) Why did I need this bit or that bit? A crank nose band? Why did I need to make that flash tighter? How was it good to ride my horse in endless circles with the reins so tight that I couldn't physically hold it, I had to hold a strap on the saddle (no wonder their mouths were broken), until they "softened" and gave in.

If these training methods were so good for the horses, if riding them super deep was so good for their back, why did the horses need so much therapy? Why was there so many saddle issues? Soundness issues? Horses with buggered joints, side bone, navicular, horses that couldn't cope without shoes, then went unsound even with shoes on?

Even when I was doing most of my competing and riding like this (in my teens) I was trying to find the answers. I took my horses barefoot, I rode bitless, I tried treeless saddles (that one was a disaster), I stopped taking dressage lessons and started trying t work out better ways for myself. I did make process, but nothing ever satisfied me.

For two years I worked for a Natural Horsemanship trainer, there were many things I liked, still many things I didn't. It was still always towards the same goal; to win competitions and sell horses for lots of money.

So I gave up competing, I gave up a career with horses. I decided I just wanted to enjoy my own horse. I became an outdoor instructor which I love and I just have one horse who helps to keep me sane when I have had enough of people :).

For the past few years I have been practicing more gentle ways of training, but still nothing has quite satisfied me. In the past few months I have realised that I need to give up everything I think I know, and start again. I haven't ridden for months, we just play, run around together and explore. I am doing lots and lots of reading, many books that I have read before, but you just can't 'get' what they are saying properly when you are still trying to achieve "traditional" goals.

So I hope to be able to learn lots on here with you guys and hopefully have something to offer as well :) .

This is Ra, he's been with me his whole life. I think hes about 8 now. There will be lots more about him in other posts I'm sure...


Last edited by AnnaNZ on Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:15 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:00 am
Posts: 567
Location: Scotland
Welcome :) , so nice to have you here .
Ra looks beautiful , and I look forward to more about you and him , and all your questions :D
I am sure you will find a few answers on this forum ,
Best Wishes
Ali :f:

PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 3:21 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2007 8:20 am
Posts: 6232
Location: Dresden, Germany
Welcome, Anna! :)

Great that you have found us, I am always glad to have people here who know both worlds of interacting with horses. Ra looks super cute indeed and I am looking forward to reading about your adventures with him.

Best wishes,

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:49 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:42 am
Posts: 2147
Location: Vienna, Austria
Welcome Anna! :f: I hope that you can find answers to some of your questions here.

Your introduction was very interesting to read and I agree with Romy that it's good to have people here with a competition background. I myself stayed clear of that part of the horse world and know things there only from hearsay.


The horse owes us nothing.

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:44 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 1:52 am
Posts: 8
Location: New Zealand
Thank you :sun:

In a way I am glad to have come from this back ground, it gives me a pretty good understanding of it. I have certainly moved on from there. I am enjoying watching some of the videos on here at the moment, seeing lots of things we already do (we seem to do a lot of what you guys call wild games haha) and getting lots of ideas for more.


PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:05 pm
Posts: 11
Location: South Africa
Hi Anna

I am also very new to this forum and have found it very helpful so far. Reading your introduction was like looking in the mirror, my dream was to work with horses, ride competitively, etc. I even studied Equine Science and worked on and eventually managed a Warmblood Stud for 3 years but it never quit felt right. I've also stopped riding until I can figure things out and I think this is the place to do it. I look forward to reading your posts :)


PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 12, 2014 1:52 am
Posts: 8
Location: New Zealand
Hi Sabine,

Sounds like your story is very similar. My memory is actually mostly of happy, well looked after horses, but writing it down like I did above really highlights all the issues. I do think that there are lots of horses out there who do lead pretty happy lives the traditional way, despite what they have to endure some of the time. I think Hempfling puts it really well, when he says that just about everyone has good intentions, the majority of us want to do the right thing.

Anyway, it is good to have people along the same journey on here. Looking forwards to learning with you :f:


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