EAST CHAIN - It's one of the hottest days of the summer. Liane Mosloski is working with her apprentice, Toni Chojnacki, and her triple grand champion pinto Dazzle.
Dazzle is not behaving today, at least according to Mosloski. To most people, the horse would appear just fine. Dazzle isn't bucking wildly; she isn't rearing up; there are no whinnies or neighs. But Mosloski knows better.
Sure enough, there is a crushed pop can in the exercise ring.
Toni Chojnacki gives Dazzle a warm-up, or “lunch,” before attempting to ride. As part of Dressage training, horses are “lunched” before riding. Photo by Jennifer Brookens
Liane Mosloski, left, helps as Toni Chojnacki attempts to mount Dazzle during a riding lesson. The two women will conduct Dressage riding lessons beginning next week. Photo by Jennifer Brookens
Dazzle has won numerous awards in horse shows. “We’ve never been to a show where she didn’t place,” Mosloski says. Photo by Jennifer Brookens
"The first thing I do (when the horses act up) is check for injuries," Mosloski explained. "If I can't find any injury, then I know the horse is trying to tell me something."
It's just one of the differences between horse training in English riding and Western riding. Mosloski soon will undertake the training of horses and riders in the English riding style referred to as "Dressage."
"Dressage is the safest riding sport in the world," Mosloski explained. "Horses are trained 100 percent different from the Western horses."
Mosloski points out the differences, from the design of the saddle, to training methods.
"In Western training, it's like they strap on the saddle and let the horse buck it out," Mosloski said. "In Dressage, the horses are soft in the mouth; they love their job."
The training shows in those moments when Mosloski knows Dazzle is misbehaving.
"Some of the Western methods just seem cruel and barbaric to me," she said. "Our horses are voice-trained. We give lots of praise immediately, and for discipline we say 'No' and correct the behavior. We don't give treats as a reward while they are working, but if they do a real good job, they might find an apple in their feed bucket later."
As Chojnacki attempts to "lunch" Dazzle - giving the horse a warm-up of sorts before attempting to ride - Dazzle responds to Mosloski's commands, and occasionally listens to Chojnacki.
"Slow," Mosloski says as Dazzle's canter threatens to turn into a gallop. The horse immediately slows to a trot.
"Good girl," praises Mosloski.
Chojnacki will be a beginner trainer.
"I'm having her work with Dazzle more now, because Dazzle is considered my horse," Mosloski said. "Once I retire, I'm hoping Toni can take over."
Chojnacki, 16, has the special touch, according to Mosloski.
"When I lived in Ceylon, she was riding by my house bareback on a horse that was 30 years old, out of proportion and antsy," Mosloski recalled. "It certainly wasn't a horse I would try to ride. So I just asked her what type of horse it was, and then I asked if she was interested in learning more about riding."
Mosloski saw Chojnacki catch on quickly.
"I had about a year's worth of plans for her, and she managed to work her way through them in about three months," Mosloski said.
After Dazzle follows a series of commands from Chojnacki, it is finally time for the ride, with some help from Mosloski. Understandably, the high heat and humidity wear the horse down quicker than usual. After 10 minutes, Mosloski and Chojnacki call it quits for the day.
This also plays into why Mosloski's horse-handling lessons only go for about 10 to 20 minutes.
"A horse's attention span is usually not more than 20 minutes," she said. "Some of the older horses have a little more and the young ones are less. But some trainers ride the horse to the point of exhaustion, and end the lesson on a bad note."
Eventually, Mosloski wants to expand to a year-round horse facility.
"The goal is to open the communications between the horse and the rider," she said. "There are lots of experience and things a person needs to know before getting on a horse. Some people may think they are horse people, and later learn that they are not. There's training to be had for the horse and the rider."
Mosloski will host a grand opening for the horse lessons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 9. Depending on weather conditions, two demonstrations with the horses will be held, and lunch will be available. For more information, call Liane or Toni at (507) 773-4280.