Many old traditions of training have valuable insight and wisdom to offer us still today. Since I’m only really familiar with two, those are the only two I’ll talk about here: the vaquero tradition, and the classical dressage tradition. The former works to develop a horse in lightness, and the latter seeks to develop a horse in gymnastic strength (to condense it into simplistic goals, obviously there is more to each). Both have great value.
But I believe that holding to tradition firmly can be dangerous, and as modern understanding of equine behavior, thinking and physiology becomes more understood, it’s important that we look at some traditions with fresh eyes.
As in everything, it’s important to take the good and continue developing what doesn’t suit the horse.
The following photos are from the book “Hackamore Reinsman” by Ed Connell, which recommends tying the reins to the horse’s saddle for a length of time to promote lightness. The next are from one of my favorite books “The Art of Classical Horsemanship” by Egon von Neindorff, which advocates the use of side reins for in hand work.
Obviously we know now that the above mentioned methods do not encourage elastic or healthy use of muscles, but in fact can damage them, as well as create anxiety and stress.
We should examine our beliefs frequently with a critical eye, but you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water.