Tatyana Kosterina on working with mares, pirouettes and not only
Today our guest is Tatyana Kosterina, a Nizhny Novgorod horsewoman based in Germany. Tatyana is a world-class master of sports in dressage, a prize-winner and winner of many international competitions, together with her main big-priest horse, Dialess, she takes 74th place in the world ranking. The athlete has extensive experience working with mares, it is she who knows how to find an approach to capricious ladies and reveal their talent! We managed to talk about this and not only with Tatyana.
What features of working with mares can you highlight? What exactly cannot be allowed in working with them and what secret about the approach to them you can reveal.
Tatyana: I can say for sure that when working with a horse, be it a stallion, gelding or a mare, the most important thing is health. By nature, horses are not aggressive creatures, and, in principle, if nothing prevents them, then they willingly cooperate with us. In most cases, if a horse resists something, then most likely it is not comfortable in some place, somewhere it is in the way. Therefore, I carefully monitor the health of my horses: for example, I always have a chiropractor and a woman acupuncture specialist in my stable. She knows very well the needles, which, in combination with homeopathy, can even regulate the hormonal background of mares.
The geldings are always in an even mood, while the stallions and mares are different, they have hormones. Mares have their own cycle, and many of them become unbearably sensitive during the hunt or before it, apathetic, not wishing to work. In addition, mares are more sensitive than geldings, and their nervous system is more mobile. I think this is precisely the main features of working with them.
We always have chiropractors at the stable and one woman who does acupuncture and homeopathy, as I said above, we maintain the health of our horses, even if they are not sick and do not limp. They watch horses to prevent serious injuries and illnesses and then not get big bills from veterinary clinics when something happens. Firstly, prolonged muscle blockages in a horse cause a headache, and secondly, if the muscles do not work properly, the joints begin to suffer. Any horse must be healthy!
And also, I really want to say that many athletes have completely relied on horse breeders and see their horses only in the arena. This is very bad! Firstly, they do not have the opportunity to observe their animal, its behavior and changes in behavior. I always try to walk with my horses on my own, and during the preliminary cleaning, I see if everything is in order with the horse, or, on the contrary, its behavior has changed, and she does not like something. Immediately you begin to wonder what is wrong. Secondly, to become a horse’s friend, you need to spend some time with it, and not just sit on top and poke spurs.
– Tell us about how you bring the horse to the exercise “pirouette at a gallop”, how to understand that the horse is ready for pirouettes and what mistakes cannot be made in this exercise?
Tatiana: For my Dialess, pirouette is the most difficult exercise, it is very difficult for her. I believe that a horse is ready for pirouettes when it can carry itself well on a short gallop, provided that you cut the gallop from the body in a straight line and the horse holds it.
How I start to do pirouettes: naturally, everything depends on the horse, if it is flexible, then I ride a gallop in a spiral, reducing the diameter of the volts, making them a little more, then a little less. If the horse is not flexible, then I work on the volt.
At pirouettes, the horse should not be allowed to make them by itself – it would slow down, turn around and ride on. I believe that this error is then difficult to fix. This cannot be exactly allowed, therefore, during training, you need to make large working pirouettes and sometimes small pirouettes, as in riding, to check how much the horse has balance for a small pirouette.
Sometimes it’s useful to do not even whole pirouettes. There is a good exercise that is done at a gallop on a square of 20x20m, but instead of the corners you perform 1/4 pirouette. On young horses I often work pirouettes and half-pirouettes with a counter-galop on the diagonals. You can repeat the semi-pirouette several times on the same diagonal each time at the end of it, and then the wall will not bother you.
– What is your favorite dressage exercise and why?
Tatyana: My favorite exercise is the passage, I like the sensations themselves: when the horse pushes and hangs in the air, all this force, push is felt. And, most importantly, the passage should be uniform!
– Tell us how to get the right passage and teach the horse to push.
Tatyana: Passage is a fairly strong exercise that requires a lot of energy and tension from a horse. For example, horse piaffe is much easier to do, because the main thing in it is balance and rhythm, while in the passage the strength is also important to push yourself together with the rider.