Perhaps you and some friends have decided to taste all the entries in The Great Covertside Sip-Off. You each have your flask filled with a different brew. You are all is gathered on the edge of a sunny field, the quarry put to ground, and the huntsman calling the hounds. Everyone is on perfectly behaved and trained horses that happily swing that left hip over or move one small step to the right so you can pass flasks.
Maybe for you; my reality is usually more like this. The wind is blowing and things are flapping. My horse, a youngster, is sometimes quite sure THIS time the cue to step right really means he should swing his haunches to the left and back up. Then my friend’s horse has a crabby moment and makes a face. Now how are we going to pass?
Dressage. Cringe. Yes foxhunters, we need dressage. If it makes you feel better we’ll call it practical dressage. And, the first order of business is a movement called the flask pass. Unlike classic dressage, this movement is not always the same though typically performed with both reins in one hand. It is judged on obedience, and the ability to take the shortest path into passing position. Two common positions are most typical, the side along or the head to tail.
I won’t go into the details of training for ‘the pass’, but next time you’re out hacking take a minute to practice those, turns on haunches, turns on forehands, and leg yields! You’ll be glad you did!