Jec A. Ballou

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Teaching is a funny business, especially when one endeavours to teach something as elusive as horsemanship. It’s a cruel pursuit of seeing students achieve success for a few seconds and then fall apart just as quickly.

Jec Ballou, horse trainer, jec aristotle ballou, western dressage, jec ballou, dressage exercises for horse and rider, jec ballou, equine fitness, beyond horse massage, Jec Ballou

The topic of love came up last week, which produced a sobering dose of self-reflection. It probably came up because it’s the one thing that unites us all to the selfless and expensive concept of owning horses, an endeavour that leaves most of us asking, “Why do I do this?” far more often than it answers that question.

Jec Ballou, horse trainer, jec aristotle ballou, western dressage, jec ballou, dressage exercises for horse and rider, jec ballou, equine fitness, beyond horse massage, Jec Ballou

Interestingly, the average riding lesson never delves into the skills necessary for a maneuver that faces nearly every equestrian at some point – the emergency dismount. Sometimes also called the unscheduled dismount, this rapid exit from a horse’s back includes a moment of urgency, a little terror, and a brief heroic belief in one’s superhuman capabilities. In a nutshell, it involves voluntarily flinging yourself off the back of your horse – most often at high speeds – onto the hard ground.

Jec Ballou, horse trainer, jec aristotle ballou, western dressage, jec ballou, dressage exercises for horse and rider, jec ballou, equine fitness, beyond horse massage, Jec Ballou

Non-horse people naively assume that “whoa” is one of the most important words in a horse person’s vocabulary. In reality, “whoa” has little significance in the horse world. Unfortunately, the word’s lack of directive power is almost comical. It’s as if horse people use it just to see what might happen.

Jec Ballou horse trainer jec aristotle ballou western dressage jec ballou dressage exercises for horse and rider jec ballou equine fitness beyond horse massage, encountering dangerous wildlife

At some point, every rider has endured a hair-raising, nail-biting moment of time when one’s life flashes before one’s eyes due to a wildlife critter that would under normal circumstances seem adorable and charming. In these moments, though, wildlife seems like one of life’s great cruelties.

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I’ve often heard that people choose pets that look like them. And while I’ve never actually decided whether my friends’ dogs look like them, I can attest that their pets do eventually act like them. With enough time, a pet will take on the characteristics of its owner, for better or for worse. Horses have proven this repeatedly to me over the years.

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My student’s husband said it best when he quietly murmured, “You guys are insane,” before climbing back into his warm truck and pulling away from the arena. We, meanwhile, watched him drive down the road to a warm office somewhere as we stood in a combination of rain/snow, wind/hail, and frigid temperatures.

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Riding Vactions in California with Jec Ballou