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 Traditional Dressage / articles

WORK IN PROGRESS: read while I am writing !!! The page is unfinished, so read while I try to write my souvenirs about Pat Manning FBHS and great lady rider which international dressage continental riders thought so highly of.

I rode in front of Pat and learned from her. But there was a problem. An interesting problem: we did not communicate very well.... My continental ways, her very English ways.... nothing could be so far apart, but we got on so well that we became friends.

And this story, teacher to pupil is rather interesting! We talked a lot yes, but the teaching itself was "silent" and rather deeply touching.

We both love food and wine and spent much time cooking and going out to great restaurants around Berkshire..... But of course, the creme de la creme was to be able to daily be learning and riding in front of Pat. She was "understanding the response given by the horses so well, she was expert with the quality of "the contact" given to the horse from the whole body of the rider.

I also enjoyed her tremendous sense of humour. As I rode rather sharp and difficult horses, she saw me flying in the air rather often and would stay absolutely "imperturbable", face like a stone, and as I was walking back in the arena after being ejected outside by a 17hh3 good old dear... and landed amongst the rusty farm machineries scattered there, she said nothing.... but we both just exploded in laughters. We could not stop.

What was amazing with Pat is how much she got a way with. It was hilarious at time. Parking in front of shops, being given authorisations to stay longer than allowed (before she had the sign for her disablity). etc.

Berkshire council would allow her to leave the muck heap next to the road, where people who come and help themselves..... They would even help her with things all the time, signs on the roads, etc.

I think Pat had a way with men: the feed delivery man would not only deliver, but open the bags and Pat trained him to put them in the right place, the right way and so all was well. And the man was honored to do this.. There was a magie around her. Certainly not always! But there was magie.

Working with Pat, running her yard was an experiment in itself. Both being Pisces, we got on very well. Too well at times as we discussed late in the night about dressage, horses and people. My ultimate technique, which I was proud of was to slowly turn a gardening programm conversation into a dressage one...

But everytime I met, saw, walked with, shopped with, talked with or had a meal with Pat, I felt this "silence", this rider's silence- the quality, texture of the air around her - as there was no unecessary aids and total relaxation. I felt she was family as my own mother, back in Switzerland, behaves in a similar way. I loved her company but the best of the best was when I was riding with Pat watching.

And when I say watching, it was Watching..

The greatest lessons taught by Pat were: 

The seat bones,

The feel,

the contact,

The lower leg,

Length of reins, in all situations.

I will try to write about my personal experience in discussing and practising what Pat taught on the subjects above, as well as the aids system, the timing of the aids and the receptivity of the "points of aids"... this is what I got from Pat: our whole body is intelligent and can receive "through" messages, not just the brain..

She also talked and discussed in length after a particular ride:

Difference between horses spoilt by average riders and those spoilt by advanced very efficient riders...

and also:

dangerous horses vs young, overly fresh, natural horses.

But everything had to be done with FEEL for life, the horse and his responses.

She also taught me to teach differently than I was taught on the continent: the British way is certainly different ! This is very interesting to write about, so I will take my time another day to do so..

(to be followed)

Below: The late Pat Manning, FBHS, teaching last year at Great Farm Stables.

"Improve the rider, in order

to improve the horse".