We are very, very excited to announce that Gembrook Veterinary Clinic is now sponsoring our beautiful Brilliant! Dr Tom Cook, and his friendly and knowledgeable team at Gembrook Vet Clinic have been our local vet since we moved to Pakenham Upper 5 years ago. As a large and small animal general practitioner, Tom has looked after all our animals. Always service with a smile, and, we usually expect Tom to greet us with his trademark terrible joke! Gembrook Vet Clinic offers a range of services including equine dentistry and puppy school.
The winter school holidays are upon us. Due to the unpredictable weather conditions in winter, well, actually, any time of the year here in Melbourne, and in here in Upper Pakenham we even have weather that is different from the rest of the South Eastern Suburbs, we chose not to run holiday programs, providing private lessons for those who wanted to book.
Instead, we arranged a day for our Horse Mastery level students to school some cross country at Tooradin Estate. And what a day. Fifteen degrees, sunny, and no wind, absolutely perfect conditions.
We loaded up the truck and float, and made our way down to Tooradin with five horses. For homebreds, Comet and Luna, it was only their second experience of cross country. Oli also went for the ride, who says grand prix dressage horses don't do cross country?
It was a day of challenges for all horses and riders, myself included. Comet, under Mike's guidance, learned today to be straight to the fences, and actually remember to pick up his feet and jump. Kaitlyn, having recently purchased the lovely Luna from us, had her first experience of riding Luna over cross country jumps, and rode her superbly. Kaitlyn is learning very quickly to gently but firmly navigate a young, but talented horse, over jumps, and Luna's confidence in her is growing very quickly. Kaitlyn also gave a performance of some of the best trick riding I have ever seen, losing her balance at the first part of a related line, sliding off the side with both legs over the second part of the line, then some how throwing her leg back over the horse, sitting up and gathering her horse up, as Luna cantered away up the hill. I then directed Kaitlyn to come straight back through, with more balance and control, which Kaitlyn, not missing a beat, rode perfectly. Taylor had a rather cold, wet baptism to water jumps, when Gypsy decided to roll in the water . Hopefully next time, she will read the signs, and be quick to react if Gypsy decides to take a bath again! Taylor is coming back tomorrow to clean the saddle. Kai showed much improvement in his balance and resolve, today, pushing through some of his own fears and demons, to have a successful and happy day with no mishaps!
But isn't that part of riding? That good, resilient riders learn to push themselves out of their comfort zones? Once they learn to do that, then they learn that they can also push their horses, bit by bit, to develop relationships with their horses where the horse trusts and has confidence in the rider's leadership.
This is resilient riding. This is the foundation for respectful relationships.
We have been asked a number of times what our business name R&R represents. The short answer is Respect & Relationships. We use horsemanship training and equestrian training to develop these key principles. We have been doing this for decades, starting horses re-educating horses for racing and for equestrian use, whilst enjoying competition and horse sports ourselves. At Diamond Park Riding Academy we refer to Resilient Riders as we train our students in both horsemanship and equestrian skills. The recent emergence of the view that there is Natural Horsemanship or Equestrian training is not correct. We do not separate these into categories as we believe that the two have to be developed together., " The object of the classical art of riding....to [teach the horse to] be quiet, supple, and obedient and by his smooth movements to make riding a true pleasure...The Rider must know his horse physically as well as mentally. ...he should be able to understand his feelings and anticipate his reactions. with this Knowledge he will ensure his horse enjoys his work and does not become sour."
Another significant reference book for us has been The Classic Encyclopedia of the Horse, by Dennis Magner. This was written and published in 1887. It was presented to Libbie in 1991 as a Christmas gift when she was an apprentice jockey.
The training of horsemanship skills has been around for thousands of years. It is only in recent times that there has been a view that there is an either or approach in regard to horse training.
Last weekend, we said goodbye to Blue, who was one of our foundation school horses.
I bought Blue two years ago, and he has been a reliable and kind school horse. He has taught many people to ride in that time, and has always been well mannered, and sweet natured. Blue has now been sold and will attend pony club with his new owner. He has been a great asset to the school, but we are very happy that he will now have one owner who will love him and provide him with the attention he deserves.
Why, do you ask, would we want to sell Blue???
Because we have reviewed our business plan here at Diamond Park, and decided to restructure. As a result, we are very proud to introduce our new FEI Schoolmaster, Oli. Oli is trained to Grand Prix dressage, and will soon be out and about, competing with Libbie. Oli will also be available for lessons.
Consequently, we have decided to sell a number of our horses, beginning with Blue. Coming up for sale is Pippin, who had his first outing at riding club today, and Comet, who has just come back into work after a spell.
Well I have finally started a new career !! After working with horses and owning trail riding businesses, training race horses with problems, re educating and training horses for fifty years. I have finally got around to retiring from the corporate grind of senior management with the largest construction company in Australia. My new career is underway to become an accredited EA NCAS coach.
The interesting thing that I suddenly realised is that the study literature focuses on the German training scale which starts with Rhythm, Looseness, Contact etc. etc.
The penny finally dropped as to why there are so many injuries, float loading problems, difficult horses etc. At what point do you undertake the fundamental training to build Respect and Relationship, R & R? Without the respect and relationship how can you develop mutual trust and without these fundamentals in place how do you expect to get Rhythm and Looseness, and why would you expect a horse to go into a confined space or an unfamiliar environment or jump into water or travel up a road.
Many people have turned to so called Natural Horsemanship to fill the gap and attend expensive clinics with unqualified instructors to learn a series of tricks. They then have to purchase the branded equipment at great expense.
At Diamond Park Libbie and I start all of our students with the basic building blocks to develop Respect, build a Relationship based on mutual trust and provide the horsemanship knowledge and use of readily available equestrian tools to lead your horse on the journey through the German Training Scale with a trained and qualified Instructor.
We hope you are all enjoying your respectful and trusting Journey
Regards, Mike Rogers
Watch the link to the video of me and my current mount, Remembrance Jewel, (Gem).
In the beginning we had a few issues with seeing eye to eye. Gem was not happy that her owner and rider of seven years had gone away, and now this new person, was trying to ride her and tell her what to do. Gem was most indignant, and over the course of two months, became increasingly so, culminating in a 45 minute explosive battle of wits, with Gem's protest bucks becoming increasingly bigger. Just when I thought I had won, Gem obviously felt that I had relaxed, and decided to have the final say. Down went the head, and she bucked her way to the edge of the arena, where the velcro on my jodhpurs finally became unstuck, and she dumped me unceremoniously in the grass outside the arena.
So... Gem came home to Diamond Park, where we could work on our relationship, in an environment that had the facilities to safely allow this to happen. Gem needed to accept me as her leader, but she also needed to trust me, and she needed to trust me with a genuinely open heart. Gem had had quite a bit of groundwork training in the past. She knew what was expected of her, she knew exactly how to yield to pressure, and knew she was supposed to lower her head and be submissive. But it was like she did everything with gritted teeth, because she knew yielding to pressure was better then resisting because the consequence would be discomfort. This made her all the more challenging to work with, in fact probably the second most challenging horse I have worked with.
During the first week, Gem tried to bond with everything and everyone but me. She would stand in the round yard and glare at me, or look away and be distracted by other horses, people, animals. I was at the point where I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get through to this horse, and I was really beginning to doubt my knowledge and ability. Finally, on the Wednesday of the second week, while I was rubbing her shoulder, she turned her head and sniffed, and sniffed, and sniffed me, then started grunting, finally letting loose this long mournful neigh. Gem had let go. I think she had let go of whatever it was that she was holding onto and protecting from me. Sounds really corny, I know, and if someone else told me a similar story I would probably think they were a little strange. But nonetheless, it happened, and the relationship between us changed from this moment.
Yes, we still had challenges, and will always have challenges, that is the nature of horse training and riding, but we are working through them, and Gem is now open to working with me, not against me. Every training session is now much more positive, a continually improving and evolving work in progress.
Gem really made me face some of my own demons. I was beginning to think it was time to give up on my dreams of becoming a Grand Prix rider. I was thinking maybe it was time to just go back to trail riding and hunting. I was starting to think that maybe I was beaten. The thing that kept me going, was that I reminded myself, that some of the greatest things happen at your darkest hour, so I kept chipping away, and still keep chipping away.
This is resilience, and horses can be our greatest teachers.
Enjoy the clip.
Looking for agistment for your horse? Talk to us. We currently have a limited number of places available for full care agistment here at Diamond Park.
I can't believe it has been three months since my last blog. So much has been happening since then...
I am very proud to say, that I did manage to stick to my game plan, when Charm and I went to Dressage With the Stars, and we scored well enough to make it to the consolation round. Charm's scores improved significantly compared to her qualifiers, and was so focused in the midst of terribly windy weather.
The number of students attending lessons at Diamond Park is steadily growing, despite the weather. We will be open over the winter holidays,and students are welcome to book in for lessons during this time.
I will be running organised holiday programs again in the September holidays.