Tuesday thoughts: in defence of my schoolmaster

I saw something on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that got my back up as some people felt the need to bash schoolmasters. Some of the comments that I saw were along the lines of: "the idea of a ready trained horse isn't my thing", "a made horse doesn't excite me much, I wouldn't say no if someone offered me a schoolmaster to teach me the ropes at higher levels, but I think the novelty would wear off" and "I prefer to being able to sit back and think 'I created that'." Now I know that these people are not actually criticising my horse, and in no way do I believe that they are insulting me personally but I am still under the impression that my schoolmaster horse and I are not as 'good' as these people and their horses who they have trained themselves...
Apparently he's not as special...
I have never felt the need to go around criticising anyone's horse or to judge whether someone else has trained the horse before or whether the owner/rider did the training themselves. I've trained Basse to elementary with a lot of help from different trainers and I was lucky to be given Vallu who has been trained to small tour level by my brother. BOTH of these horses are equally special and I have as much love and admiration for both of them - they are equally important to me as they have taught me so much. But the fact that Vallu was trained by someone else and is a schoolmaster doesn't not mean that my relationship with him is somehow less important than with Basse who I trained myself.

And let me tell you, no the novelty has not worn off yet and it has been 5+ years with Vallu now. He is SO incredibly special as a horse that even if he was stuck at Prelim level I would still adore the ground he walked on. So no, please don't try to belittle my schoolmaster.
Yeah he piaffes...
And does a mean medium trot
(All photos are by Waris-Wörlin Photography and have been purchased)

This is similar to what The Sand Arena Ballerina wrote a couple of months ago in her fantastic post about winning on made horse: "Lets assume that what people mean is that winning on a horse you trained is much harder and requires a greater degree of skill and therefore is more rewarding than winning on a schoolmaster. I would argue that one is not better than the other, they are merely different". DIFFERENT. They are different, but Vallu is equally as important as a non-schoolmaster.

Our horses are our lives, so why does anyone feel the need to belittle the journey that another rider and their horse is on?


  1. Generally the only reason why people say rude uppity things like that is because they're JEALOUS.

    1. I think so, I just wish they weren't jealous. Each horse is special so there is no need to be jealous?

  2. So, the first thing I think when people say things like this is "wow, they are so ignorant." But, really. I've ridden schoolmasters and I've trained my own horse up to 4th. Both were HARD AF. Why? Because I've never gotten on a horse, had it ask to read the test, tell me to hold on, then execute everything flawlessly and in order. Why? Because we RIDE horses, we don't sit on them. Riding schoolmasters taught me more faster than I could learn on my horse, because the horse knew those things. However, I was not ready to show those levels sooner. And there were great heaping gaps of knowledge between where my horse was trained and where the schoolmaster was trained (and there's a lot of gap between 2nd level and grand prix, let me tell you). Plus, schoolmasters give nothing away for free. I got so much piaffe from that schoolmaster you'd have thought I was Steffen Peters... only, I was really asking for a canter depart. Whoops. ;)

    This makes me angry, but I find the only people who say such things are young and ignorant. They do not seek to know how to ride dressage, only to do well or perform fancy movements. For most dressage riders, there is more joy in a supremely balanced, controlled, and forward medium walk then there is in riding a passage you can barely start or stop. The joy comes in doing it right, and in the confidence of your own partnership and skills. And those things can happen with any horse.

    Also, creating your own horse when you don't know wtf you are doing is incredibly hard, and more than a little hard-headed. While every horse is different, it is difficult to teach a horse to do something you have never felt before. Unless you have excellent and constant training, it is easy to frustrate a horse and go wildly off track. Progress is not as linear as it should be. Plus, the relationship often struggles because of this. Many people would benefit from riding a kind schoolmaster of a level they can control (please, people. Don't buy a fancy GP schoolmaster just because you can. If you can't stay on it or control it, it's not going to be a good situation. I see this a lot, and it's kind of sad.) and enjoy. Then learn the sport as well as you can, and enjoy every minute of it.

    Sigh. Rant. Over. I'm so sorry these people have made you feel so poorly! Vallu is a superstar and you're lucky to have and work with him (and I know it's not easy!!)

    1. Oh god yes, I love EVERYTHING that you've just said! 💞 This "The joy comes in doing it right, and in the confidence of your own partnership and skills. And those things can happen with any horse" I think sums it up perfectly!!

  3. idk i think ppl who bash the "school master" as boring miss the point. and miss it by a wide margin.

    horses will never ever be easy. ever. they have yet to invent the coin-operated horse. but a schooled, well trained horse who knows how to do things should the rider figure out how to properly ask? there is *nothing* boring about that horse. and certainly nothing shameful in learning how to show that horse to advantage in competition.

    1. I agree 100000% with you. No horse is easy and every single horse teaches you something new as a rider, so I don't understand why anyone would say that the "novelty" would wear off a schoolmaster when for me the novelty of riding horses hasn't worn off after +15 years of riding!