This photo allows me to point out three very important concepts that I feel can never be reminded enough!
Firstly, if I posted this photo on Facebook I would get lots of like and people saying how expressive it is…In reality this photo is horrible. Why? Because Batialo is active in front, and some might even say that he is active behind, but THIS DOES NOT MATTER! If you look at a horse that is active in front, and active behind but the two do not match each other, it is not harmonious, nor is it correct. If the horse is reaching out in front he is simply pulling himself along, and is not stepping up and under and pushing from behind. The legs must run as parallel diagonal lines, or more importantly the cannon bones of the front and back legs must be parallel.
Secondly, a photo must provide us with information. It’s obvious that this was one of my more difficult moments with Batialo. He had decided that he knew far more about this dressage thing that I did, and took over. I was actually so proud of myself this day, because it was one of those make or break competition moments. I somehow managed, despite the bucks and side flips, to maintain my composure and finish the test, even with my idol Kyra Kyrkland standing at the sideline. When looking at photos it’s important to remember that there will always be a bad moment, but you have to look at the big picture. At my first ever test on Batialo they took 200 photos and 4 were ok. In the last test we did they again took 200 photos, and 4 very pretty average, mainly because my tongue was poking out or my right leg had flown off into outer space.
Finally, if my mum knew I posted this photo for people to see she would have my guts for gardens. It is absolutely crucial that in your team, or family, or riding circle, that you have at least one person who will tell you, with no bullshit, and no rose coloured glasses, exactly how it is! It’s great to also have a person to tell you you are fantastic, but you need at least one person, in my case my mum, who tells me “Sarah this photo is just fling ding front legs, it’s not through, it’s not correct, and it’s not harmonious…
This is your only hope of searching for true beauty, parallel diagonals in the front and back, and a horse whose posture and back muscles can grow and support him (aka a happy horse!)