Horses with accents, fact or fiction?


Tina Womelsdorf still enjoying her wine these days

I spent all of the 90s with Tina womelsdorf as my instructor, to me it was like some kind of religious experience when I found her, she was amazing. She is now in her 90s I recently shared a bottle of wine with her, and I must do it again. Tina once said to me, though she had been in Australia for 40 years or so, that she still thought in German, occasionally in a lesson when she was thinking fast I would cop a German expletive I’m sure. She used to call me a “blighter” when she didn’t like what I did, who uses the word blighter, I’m sure it wasn’t so polite when translated to German.
Tina’s language discussion got me thinking, Ebony who is one of my students and staff is Finish, she said the other day that she now confuses Fin with English and sometime there is no translation from one to the other so she speaks some mongrel hybrid, finglish it isn’t quite that bad but it is interesting.
Last week ebony came with me for her first lesson with Miguel Tavora. Now Miguel is Portuguese and though I wouldn’t say it to his face, (he can be a fiery little rooster), it is sometimes very difficult to work through his accent, so when hybrid finglish speaking ebony met the difficulties of “kunter, kunter ” (translation “counter canter”) with Miguel it was quite an amusing experience.
Ebony was riding down the long side. “Too straight” said Miguel ebony rode onto a curve” too straight “called Miguel, ebony rode a small circle “too straight!!!” demanded Miguel.
I have to say I was totally confused, Miguel jumped up from his seat “stop stop stop stop Ebony”. Ebony stopped “kin you no ear mi” now I’m sure ebony could hear him but I knew she wouldn’t say she couldn’t understand him, “sometime it is not so issy mate” replied Ebony, Miguel turned on his sound system, now she was in real trouble, the Sound system is a shocker, it distorts every word and the louder he yells the worse it gets, to make it worse still, some times when you are at the far end of the arena and you are following the odd sentence it cuts out, Miguel keeps talking like a character in a silent movie for the next 10 seconds and your lost again.

“Ok, ride de diagona let im stretch”, ebony responded “too straight ebony”, ebony rode a curve “relax ebony too straight” called Miguel. Well at this point it dawned on me what he wanted, Ebony was too stiff in her position, he wanted her to soften and relax, “too straight” yelled Miguel. Ebony rode onto another circle she was exasperated and gave up trying to understand, she shrugged her shoulder and slumped in the saddle her legs hanging relaxed on the horses sides,” that’s eet that’s eet vedi good eponi vedi good” Ebony turned to look at him with a confused expression, anyway the lesson progressed Miguel weaved his magic and ebony left very happy and motivated.

It got me thinking about how when ex racehorse come to us they come with a language, let’s call it “racing” now if the horse is not taught another language he will speak racing for the rest of his life. If he is ridden spasmodically he may pick up a little ” pigeon trail” but raceing is still his preferred tongue. If some one rides him regularly but they are uneducated as riders he will start to speak some broken “Equis” somewhere between human and horse. Remember as with Tina womelsdorf and German, his first language is” racing” and under pressure that’s what he may speak. Most riders who haven’t ridden track work don’t understand “racing” and they have no idea what he is saying, so they get frustrated yell and scream in broken “equis” and an argument ensues. Someone may get hurt simply from bad communication it can be a very serious issue. I wonder if that’s what happened between Turkish air command and the Russian pilot ?
Anyway if we take the ex race horse and put him through a systematic Language course, start with ” how do you do” and gradually, without over facing him, lead him along on the course of “classical equis” he will eventually get it, we both will, he may still have a “racing” accent but with careful work on his pronunciation we can have him fluent. Just like our own Pygmalion or for the younger readers “women in red” if you are too young for these use google.
So now he speaks fluent “equis” and life is good but remember we have a responsibility to speak clearly and eloquently as well, if we don’t he may well scream” you blighter!!!!.


finglish v spanglish

Scott Brodie author of” Horses from courses “is Manager of the Racing NSW Thoroughbred Retraining Program. A NSW Mounted Police horse trainer and classically trained rider, Scott has a has a generously empathetic philosophy to handling horses and a unique spin on the retraining of retired racehorses. Utilising a surprisingly smooth synergy of natural horsemanship and the practical application of classical dressage, Scott’s systematic approach to this often difficult and dangerous endeavour ensures the smoothest and fairest transition for the horse from racing machine to a pleasurable riding partner. 
Purchase as an e book from Amazon or I books store. Under $10

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