I wish I could post all the photos from my teaching trip to Belgium and Germany but there are just so many, so I have chosen the above ones to share with you all.
It was an amazing trip for me as I felt like I had gone back in time to the horsemanship of my youth where folks knew the importance and meaning of quality time in the saddle, knew the value of a solid foundation in a horses training before moving to upper levels, gaited or non- gaited.
The maturity, focus and dedication of time in the saddle in Europe I encountered was something often forgotten here or missed completely anymore.
Hundreds and hundreds of years of horsemanship history was so evident,
still solid and there is much we can learn from these people about it not being a fantasy but a reality one must work and work very hard for, it's the only way to get really good, no faking it here.
There were no ego's to work through, no blaming of the horses when things did not go smooth but the riders asking" what do I need to do to make my horse understand what I am asking".
I found it interesting and wonderful that all our male riders rode mares except one who rode several horses but his prized horse was his mare 'Emma".
They were kind , talked to and touched them often, the mares were dedicated and put forth every bit of try they had to give.
The caliber of horses reminded me of years gone by here, solid, well structured and naturally gaited horses, all going barefoot or in a simple keg shoe and the gaits were well in place and true.
Maybe this is where we need to go to find and purchase some of those good old foundation type horses once again.
Bits were either snaffle, pelhams or bit less rigs. No long shanks , strap work, weighted shoes, poor equitation or gimmicks here.
Even though many from the States have been there before me trying to bring some of the poor gaited horses baggage and myths to them, their commons sense and what the horses tell them has not allowed some of the American short cuts to take hold for the most part, I had none of it at my clinics while there.
I also received a copy of the ETWHA rule book and it is what I always dreamed what one in our own country would have long ago been put in place, but politics is politics and I doubt in my life time I will see such a rule book for Walking Horses here to compare, even the so called sound horse and humane treatment Associations should have long ago stepped up and had a rule book like this in place. I also find it interesting that Associations in the US are wanting them and putting on pressure to change the European rules to match the US rules. How silly would that be, also many of the rules allowed here are illegal in Europe now matter what breed, such as the use of turn backs on horse shoes.
ETWHA has no weighted shoe allowances of any kind, keg shoes for protection only. Wire, chain or twisted mouth pieces are not allowed.
Horses under 6 must be shown in snaffles bits and and horses older can also be shown in snaffle bits.
All horses must be 4 years or older to be shown in a riding class.
A horse can only compete in a total of 5 classes per day.
This is just a few of the impressive rules I saw in place.
There were many foals for me to have fun and work with on my own time in Belgium, I miss that not raising my own any more and Sandra had a Palomino spotted foal " Aro" born Saturday morning of the clinic, that was a big surprise event for all of us to enjoy.
Also lots of dogs to enjoy, Chico and Pella my favorites.
I had wonderful trail rides in both counties on awesome horses.
I am so looking forward to next years clinics there and I know the homework I left them to work on will be all done and done well.
I am very much missing all the great folks I met there and hope they will as they can come here and stay with us so I can show them the same wonderful hospitality they showed me.