From Paso Fino Horse World
Linda Holtzer wrote of me in the description of a Paso Fino clinic some time ago, “Dee will help you get the horse you have always dreamed of.” The result of trying to avoid the pressure of such lofty thinking was the philosophical statement that I have used since then in my teaching, in my training, and in my everyday life: “As horsemen we should strive to be the human our horse is dreaming of.”
This embodies the simplicity of clear, concise, and consistent language that the horse already understands. The human must unclutter the mind and body to deliver messages the horse can understand, and more importantly to read the messages our horses are sending to us—we must learn to listen and respond. The result is a partnership that is endless in growth for both the horse and human. It’s not easy to find a discipline or show that actually promotes & measures the development of this partnership. There is one: Cowboy Dressage. The guiding principle of Cowboy Dressage is “Soft Feel”. Soft feel is a body, mind, emotional and physical connection that leads to an almost musical energy transfer between horse and rider. It allows rather than forces; it asks rather than directs; it responds rather than reacts; it opens rather than blocks; it relaxes rather than tenses. So, that all sounds kinda “out there”, maybe metaphysical or something and you’re thinking all well and good, but just how do you get that?
How do get that soft feel?
It takes time, patience, persistence, instruction, finding it, losing it, getting it back. It takes experimentation, understanding, and willingness. Will you ever get it and keep it? You’ll never know what “it” is, because attaining one goal will lead to another challenge. Cowboy Dressage provides a safe place to learn, grow, and improve. The court gives parameters to measure your growth. The maneuvers are tools to develop soft feel. Judges kindly point out weaknesses to work on and give pats-on-the back for work well done.
Why Cowboy Dressage for Paso Finos? Why not? With their willingness, sensitivity and intelligence, our Paso Finos are prime candidates for development of soft feel. Paso Finos respond dramatically to consistent gentle training (and re-training). The sensitivity of the Paso Fino requires disciplined, consistent direction from the human. Their response when set up for success and allowed, with patience, to find the desired answer is a blue-ribbon-equivalent every time. Our horses can become our best teachers when we listen to what they are saying and dedicate ourselves to understanding them better—how they move; why they move in relaxation . . . or in resistance.
Cowboy Dressage judges focus on the quality of the movement; the balance, rhythm and consistency of gait. Oops, there’s that word . . . gait. Does it matter that my Paso is a little troche, or a little pacey, or maybe he does more of a running walk than a corto? Not in this venue. The judge probably won’t know the name of your show gait, or what your show gait should even look like. What will matter is the rhythm, consistency, relaxation, and ability to perform the maneuver. But above all, the partnership and harmony exhibited between rider and horse in execution of the elements--a willing horse, responding respectfully to the direction of the rider. Isn’t that what we all want with our horses; on the ground and in the saddle? Our horses will all gait at their best gaits when they are in relaxation, moving in balance. It may not be the blue ribbon fino or corto in the Paso Fino show, but it’s the grand prize ribbon in our partnership.
So you think your horse is a little too “hot” and his rapid movement might be mis-interpreted by others as being willful or out of control? Actually, you might be correct in some cases, but take another look. What does “in control” mean to you? Would you like your Paso to respond in cooperation with you, in softness, without tension or fear? Would you like to be riding in cooperation with your Paso, with softness in your body, without tension or fear? Would you like to enter any new situation with confidence on a confident partner who is asking you for guidance and responding with trust? Cowboy Dressage philosophy can help you and your Paso learn harmony and partnership. Good partnerships only get better. New partnerships are nurtured and grow.
Your Paso Fino has an incredible work ethic fueled by a big heart. Their energy and willingness is unsurpassed. They are just looking for a chance to be trusted in relaxation. Take a chance on Cowboy Dressagetm to help you show what you already know about Paso Finos. There’s a lot more to a Paso than the sounding board. Take a clinic, join a group, go to a show, and get involved. You and your horse, and your life will be better for it. You won’t believe the rewards—way beyond Blue Ribbons!
~Author, Dee Myers and her Paso Finos have multiple championships in Mountain Trail, Versatility and Cowboy Dressage. Dee enjoys helping people and horses find ways to enjoy their relationships. www.goldensunsetranch.com
Rancho Toledano Paso Finos
Follow us on Facebook
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened"