On the Vertical: A Fashion that is Failing the Horse
or Ramener, Rassembler, Collection and The Process of Training Techniques
So why is it considered a good idea to have the horse's head on the vertical?
If you only understand a part, not the whole, then your foundation is false and you can never succeed.
Throughout thecenturies, there have been two levels of involvement with horses. Those that have used the horse as a beast of burden, an implement to be used on the farm or as transportation, and those who enjoyed horses for excitement and pleasure, such as jumping, polo,barrelracing, racing.
At the same time, there has always been still another level of rider, one who looked beyond, looking for something more. To many, this was expressed as not the sport but the 'art' of horsemanship. An art that expresses itselfasan ultimate goal, the concept of collection.
The concepts of the 'art' were often expressed in what was called dressage and collection, with the idea being that not only were you to create something beautiful, but that was also as sustainable as it was good and healthy for the horse, as it is beautiful. So over time, collection becamesynonymouswith being good for the horse. But the art of horsemanship was so much more. It was about discovery, excellence, and the journey of an equestrian lifetime.
While collection becamesynonymouswith being good for the horse, and also the ultimate achievement, there were those who were starting on their equestrian journey who began looking for instructions, a way, or a map that could provide them with a guarantee of success, and they were often looking for an instant, quick way to achieve that success, in the belief that if they could find the right attributes, they too could be successful. Riders were looking for a formula. There are always those who will try to help those looking for the formula, who end up promoting themselves while marketing the newest, latest, best method that is going to work for you.
In the process of creating the formula, there is always simplification. Sometimes simplification can be a good thing: a way to cut to the essential truths and cut away the more confusing detail. But sometimes one simple small detail that is lost can mean thedifferencebetween real and false success.
And of course, unfortunately there is a danger any time we try to employ a formula in the training of our horses. That danger is more likely to be realized if years of experimentation, education and experience do not accompany those that look for the formula. Many incorrect assumptions can be made, and then the formula is almost guaranteed to be wrong. Unfortunately, when this happens, it is the horse that suffers.
Many training programs that look for these formulas, for short cuts, these fashions of the day, often are based on at least one incorrect assumption. Unfortunately, they tend to continue often for decades, as while they may have an element that is incorrect, they are based on some - and sometimes many - truths. This is part of what makes it that much more difficult for many riders to find the right path, because seeing one truth confirmed, or sometimes several truths, makes them assume that it must ALL be true.
Many of the training techniques that are employed today are formulas. Formulas that are based on partial facts, looking for specific results, without a true understanding of the process behind them. Most of these new training systems, or fads, have the concepts of collection, ramener and rassembler at the heart of their training formulas.
If we don't understand why all of these training systems have the head on the vertical as the basis of their training system, then we cannot understand why this or any other training method will be flawed, and we will alwayslimitourselves and our horses.
It is no wonder that any new training system uses collection as its basis. After all, for hundreds of years, this is the main goal of every master horseman in every country, in every royal stable and by every horse afficionado. Because of this, there is an automatic assumption that collection is good. This is an obvious truth, which can make any training formula based upon that premise difficult to disprove.
These fads or new training systems have at heart the first assumption that collection is good. It is hard to argue with that assumption.
The second assumption is thatramener, which is the head on the vertical, is synonymous with collection.
The third assumption is that collection is the final stage.
If we don't understand where collection leads or how collection has different levels of both difficulty and success, we can't see how, with certain training programs, what we think of as successful is actually limiting not only us but our horses as well. There are those that look further and look for something far more difficult and unique. Something that goes beyond the concept of collection, and tries to be expressed in the concepts of ramener and rassembler. These riders understood that these goals were sometimes almost unattainable, but, like the Holy Grail, something that at the same time was well worth a lifetime searching for. These horsemen were more than happy if they had the opportunity to even feel a few short moments of their Holy Grail. It is only when we understand the entire journey, only when we understand the concepts of rassembler, that we can then understand how ramener andrassemblerare related, yet can be two different things at the same time. And it is then that we can perhaps begin to understand why there are no shortcuts, and how many training fads, fashions and programs today are based on a falsehood. The falsehood that a head on the vertical automatically confers the mantle of correctness and goodness.
“'Collection' is a limited achievement, wherein the horse goes truly up to his bridle; the rider feels the forward impulse of the horse come up to the tips of his fingers (la mise en main); the fingers and the bit are the limit whereto the horse can go".
"The rassembler is an unlimited achievement, wherein the bridle, horse and rider have become absorbed into one entity; the bit possesses a limiting effect no longer, the forward impulse travels right through it, without let or hinder; actions of hands and bridle-effects have become mere messages to the horse’s nerve-centre.
"'Collection' is a form.
"'Rassembler' a quality!"
From Henry Wynmalen.
Feeling the energy in "the tips of the fingers," the words evoke a feel of the lightest touch - a touch so light that a breath of air could separate hands from the bridle.
But how to achieve this effect when we are well aware that the bit can often be the first place where we set up limitations for our horses?
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