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sammy
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 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 08:08 am
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Dr Deb - I read your translation of Baucher in the Inner Horseman a little while ago, and have re-read it a couple of times since to refresh my memory and clarify my understanding. I am now about to embark on it again, in the light of having just read Racinet Explains Baucher. Racinet makes a clear distinction between Baucher's first and second 'manner', which he dates from the 12th edition of New Method of Horsemanship, and two things (at least!) really hit me between the eyes, both stemming I think from Racinet's explanation that: 'Direct flexion of the poll is prepared by flexions of the jaw practiced with the head as high as possible, the forehead in a horizontal position.'

As I read on, Racinet appeared to be saying that Baucher makes a distinction between flexion of the jaw and flexion of the poll/neck (and Racinet gives his own procedure for addressing the jaw directly - the horse's relaxation/release indicated by moving the tongue up and down without any jaw movement from side to side). This is the first time I've really come across this distinction (my understanding had been that we address relaxation of the neck muscles, not the jaw), and I'm wondering how real and significant it is.

The second thing that struck me is the idea of the trainer/rider raising the horse's head and neck up, and Racinet's explanation of how this will automatically lift the withers - desirable, he says, because the mere presence of the rider on the horse's back causes the withers to sink. I have come across classical riders who are working their horses 'up' pretty much from the start of training (maybe the fact that they have Iberian horses has a bearing on this) and feel they are achieving lightness quicker and better than ever before. I'm not sure how this ties in with the prerequisite of the horse working 'in release', as I had thought that this would cause the horse to work lower at the beginning of training.

I expect I have missed and/or misinterpreted some things I have read, but before I read any further and perhaps disappear up somewhere I'd rather not, it would be great if you could find time to comment on these points and any others that could clarify this area.

Many thanks - Sammy

 

Callie
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 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 02:44 pm
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I want to make a quick correction here.  In Bauchers 2nd manner the rider requests that the horse hold his head up, but does not force the horse to keep his head up.

If you keep contact on the reins all the time then the head would be up, but the withers will sink, and the horse will develop his underneck, not what you want at all.

What Baucher wants is for you to ask the horse to hold his head up, and then release him.  Correct his posture if he gets out of position, yes, but under no circumstances sustain "contact" when the horse is correct.

I was fortunate to study under a student of Rene Bacharah, and I would consider myself well versed in the 2nd manner.

I'll let Dr. Deb take it from here, since you asked her, but I wanted to get that cleared up because it is a very commen misunderstanding that Baucher wanted the horse held up.

sammy
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 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 08:39 am
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Callie - many thanks for your reply. I have re-read the relevant paragraph in my post and I can see how you might think I had interpreted Baucher in the (incorrect) way you describe, so apologies for my lack of clarity. I am actually thinking more along the lines you describe as being Baucher's intention, although I admit my grasp of all this is still a bit woolly, hence my questions for Dr Deb.

I think my 'confusion' comes also from what I have gleaned from discussions among riders working in this way, which seem to centre on how 'up' is 'up' and how 'low' is 'too low'. The implication seems to be that a horse, however young and/or green (and, perhaps, of whatever breed), should never be allowed to carry his head lower than a certain point - on which they don't agree! I am having difficulty reconciling this with the young/green horse dropping his head and neck, when he is in release, often quite low - at least, below the withers, which seems to be the level most generally referred to in these discussions. So, when you say 'Correct his posture when he gets out of position, yes' I guess my question is: 'What constitutes "out of position"?'

All the best - Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Thu Feb 7th, 2008 03:11 pm
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Sammy-  I am rather hyper about that particular misinterpretation of Baucher because it is the most commen (dressage people are obsessed with contact and they can't imagine  a method without it) and the most distructive to the horse.

Have you read Beaudant's book, The Training of the Horse, Outdoor and Highschool?  It is availible from Second Story Books in Lexington Virginia.  It is excellent.

What I learned, and what I have the best results with is the idea that in the begininning, for every step you take "up" (and we will define that in a minute) you should that 3 steps on the buckle at a brisk walk, allowing the horse to stretch down, but not on a contact (you need long reins for this- 60" from bit to buckle is a good place to start.  My 17 hand mare needs 64" reins)  You don't want your too short reins to distort the position of the horses head when he is streaching.

So, how up is up?  A way to describe the second manner would be that the horse is in front of the leg, and behind the hand.  Wait!  Behind the hand?  That violates everything "Dressage"!  If the horse is behind the hand (hense the lack of contact) he should be able to change his position/gait/movement/ etc. without slamming into the reins.  So if the horse is falling into the bit during a transisition, he wasn't "up" enough.

Depending on the amount of Baucherist one is, will depend on how far you take that from the start.  The one I learned from and the horse's  neck up as though she were a grand prix horse right from the get go, though her nose would stick out almost paralell to the ground (the head will drop back into the ramener as the haunches supple)  right from the first lesson, but he only asked her for one oor two steps before he would release her to the long walk I described earlier.

Those who are less extreme will often try for a lower, more "acceptable" frame and work the horse in it longer gradually encouraging the horse to a higher frame over time.  They tend to do more "work" and less walking in their rides.

The argument from the man I worked with (and I can hear him in my head as I typed that) Take the steps you really want!  Do not waste your time or the horses body taking steps you aren't truly in love with!  Yes, today the horse can only make two of them, but tomorrow he will be able to make 3 and at the end of a year he can go as long as you want!  Why waste yourself making all these medeocre steps!

Was that helpful?

sammy
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 Posted: Sun Feb 10th, 2008 08:08 am
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Callie - Once again, many thanks for all your input. Your explanation is very clear. I was relieved to get to your last paragraph - here is something I'm familiar with and aiming for already! As you say, what is the point in taking steps that aren't what you want, that at best will teach the horse nothing or, worse, a whole lot of stuff you don't want him to know?

My confusion after reading Racinet was, of course, about what exactly are the steps that you want. Clearly, different people/schools have different views on this. I will read the Beudant book, and was also thinking of trying Racinet's Another Horsemanship - have you read this?  

By the way, do you have any insights into the other question in my original post - how real and significant is the distinction between flexion of the jaw and flexion of the poll/neck?

Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Sun Feb 10th, 2008 03:49 pm
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Sammy-  My view on the flexxions of the jaw vs the flexxions of the poll is that you need to be able to "relese the jaw" (make the mis et main- a soft chewing of the bit) before the horse offers any flexion at the poll.  So another way to say that is start at the very end of the horse and work your way back.

So when I solicit somethig from the horse, I want him to softly ponder the bit with his mouth, and then release his poll into position.  This is best helped by having someone show you how it should feel.

Yes, I have read all the Racinet books, as well as a whole host of other books.  I also run a book club for my students.  If you what to check out the books we are reading, you can pop over to my website, (Callie, if you want to communicate your personal website address to people here, please ask them to EMail you for it and then give it to them privately. Thanks -- Dr. Deb) and click on 'Read, Ride, Reflect'.

So, back to, How do you know what steps to take?  I alluded to it when I said- if he falls into the hand in a transition, he wasn't up enough.  There is a very real element of feel in decidig how high to work your horse.  Part of it depends on what you want to do with the horse, if I was training a horse for western pleasure, it would not be as high as grand prix dressage horse.  Some of it comes from the horse himself.  a horse with ideal conformation goes higher than a horse with lousy conformation.  The tact of the rider is also important.  If you do not have a truly independent seat, do not take the horse as high as if you do have an independent seat.  Above all, never hang on the reins!

And even if you follow my trainers advice, and start as high as you can and only take a step or two, over time, the horse will be able to get higher as he gets supple and stronger.

Internet advice is a dangerous thing because it is impossible to know how it will be interpreted and used, but the way I judge how up to take my horse is- will he willingly sustain it with the withers raised for 2-3 steps before falling apart (which can be very subtle or very dramatic), can I make a transition to a lower gait without feeling the weight of the horse in the reins, and does the horse emotionally object to the position (ears back, tail swish, etc.)

Remeber that much of what you will do in the begining in the 2nd manner is at the halt or very slow walk when the horse is up.  Loads of lateral work and transitions, like super slow walk to very slow walk and back to super slow walk checking to be sure the horse stays in balance.  If he doesn't, halt, and/or rein back or something to resume the posture and try again.  Do not try to "fix it on the fly" or ride through a balance problem.

And always, always atempt to predict when the horse will make a mistake and trnsition away from what you are doing befor eit happens.  So if you think he will fall on the forehand in 5 steps, transition in 4 steps.  Be smart!  Don't look to pick fights with the horse, look to be happy with him.

Better?

Last edited on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 09:45 am by DrDeb

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 04:23 am
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Dr. Deb- Sorry about the website.

Another note on reins- I have english riding on the brain, so those rein lengths are a reference to english style reins.  Most horse size (and many warmblood size) english bridles come with 54" reins.  (measured from bit to center buckle.)  Many english bridles also come with flash nosebands, and a useful little recycling can be buckle the flash into the center of the reins to give you extra length or looping it aroud the center buckle giving you a "tail" to hold when the horse stretches down. (flash/dropped/crank nosebands should not be used)

These measuremets would apply for roping style western reins as well, but obviously if you ride with split or romel reins you shouldn't have a problem letting the horse have his head.

sammy
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 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 09:30 am
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Callie - thanks for your explanation, it makes lots of sense. It seems I've been thinking/working somewhat along these lines in recent times, just without the actual concept of 'up'. That is, I've been building up (my idea of!) good steps gradually, not trying to ride through balance problems, checking what happens during transitions - your way of putting it is very clear: 'if he falls into the hand in a transition, he wasn't up enough'. 

The flexions, too: I have of course seen/felt horses put their head/neck in a particular position without 'letting go' in any way, but found it hard to believe that if a horse released it's poll it wouldn't also release its jaw (would it actually be physically possible for one to happen without the other, even if it makes sense to start at the 'front'?) - hence my question about the reality and significance of the distinction. As you say, the feeling of the horse softening and releasing is quite distinct, so maybe none of this matters too much if you know what you are aiming for feel-wise. 

I find all this really exciting: I've been working on my horsemanship hard over probably the last five years, in all sorts of areas, which are now beginning to blend in together - as they must, being all one to the horse, I'm sure. But I've only relatively recently started to look in such detail at the sorts of things we are discussing here - they've kind of just arisen as a result of working with the horses, trying to work out what is happening with them, watching trainers like Harry, and so on and so on. I guess if any of us goes on for long enough trying to make the horse the focus of the work, we're all going to end up in a similar place.

Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 04:16 pm
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Sammy-

on if the horse can relese the poll without the jaw, yes, I think they can be trained to do that.  I usually deal with "retrains" and haven't started that many horses myself, (though that will be changing shortly, lol) but I have seen horses that have been trained in "dressage" that will yeild in the poll (or more often in the front part of the neck) that will not release the jaw.  This is trained into them with this constant obsession with "contact" and helped with tight nosebands that prevent the horse from moving his jaw at all.  So he clenches his teeth and may wag his back and forth at the poll (I have heard this refered to as "flipping" where they want to see the nuchal ligament flip from one side of the neck to the other as the head wags from one lateral fexion to the other- sounds rather mideveal doesn't it?)

I don't believe this is an issue in unstarted horses, but remember all of Bauchers horses were re-trains as well.  So I am sure part of his obsession with the movement of the jaw of the horse, and the mis et main, came from the poor training the horses he worked with had as well.

Through training in dis-association, the poll and the jaw become seperate, but I believe in the natural horse the relaxation of one will likely produce the relaxation of the other, though that is mostly conjecture on my part.

sammy
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 Posted: Wed Feb 13th, 2008 09:40 am
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Callie - very interesting. I have come across a lot of badly trained horses over the years, and no doubt created a few myself (though not in the way you describe, more of a totally unconscious mess-up!). Many years later, I believe I am on a much better - and more conscious - path.

Would you be able to talk a bit more about 'Through training in dis-association, the poll and the jaw become seperate'? That is, how you would go about this training?

Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Wed Feb 13th, 2008 02:05 pm
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Sammy-

You wouldn't want to train in this disassociation, but where you see it is in things like tight nosebands and heavy contact in dressage horses, or in "Natural Horsemanship" you see things like the one rein stop where the horse gives his neck, but the jaw stays hard (if you want to do that manuver,  wait for the jaw to release as part of the expectations).  You didn't used to see it in show hunters, as they wanted the "natural" horse to shine through, but more and more as they rely on devices (draw reins, side reins) and are moving away from knowing how to ride, it is showing up there too.

Really, if you want a rule of thumb, you should be able to release the jaw without changing the neck, but if you release the poll it should also release the jaw automatically.   Keeping the jaw release in your mind as a desireable and wonderful thing can go along way to getting it right.

sammy
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 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 09:06 am
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Callie - just shows how easy it is (for me anyway) to misinterpret the written word! I see what you were saying now - I'd interpreted your words as meaning if you had a horse that was 'yielding' the poll but without releasing the jaw, you'd want to train him to release the jaw without doing anything with the poll (yet). If you see what I mean.

In fact, the same idea as when in your latest post you say: 'Really, if you want a rule of thumb, you should be able to release the jaw without changing the neck, but if you release the poll it should also release the jaw automatically.'  I think I can 'feel' what you mean when you say 'Keeping the jaw release in your mind as a desireable and wonderful thing can go along way to getting it right.' - similar to when I said a few posts back 'the feeling of the horse softening and releasing is quite distinct, so maybe none of this matters too much if you know what you are aiming for feel-wise.'?? I may or may not be right in thinking you are saying that 'technique' will only take you so far on this (as on many other things with horses). But, I will now aim to be more aware of the jaw release as I work with my horse. I've already been taking our discussions into the things I am doing with her, and feeling our way. I am really enjoying myself and she seems interested, relaxed and happy to try things, too. Can't ask for more, really.

Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 03:09 pm
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Sammy- Another way of putting the Jaw and Poll thing into perspective is:

If you release something correctly, then not only should that thing release, but everything between what is doing the releasing (in this case the hand) and the place released should release.

So when you release the jaw, the rest of the horse remains stable, if you release the poll, the jaw should release too.  If you release the mid neck of a brace, then the poll and the jaw should also release.  And on and on and on.

With poor training, you get things like the poll releasing, but not the jaw.  Or the base of the neck releases, but not the mid neck, or the poll, or the jaw.  This "rubber necked" horse becomes very difficult to train, especially if you don't understand bauchers flexxions to re-educate the jaw and poll.  Because the rubber necked horse just "skips ahead" to releasing the base of the neck, while maintaining the tension in the poll and jaw.

My belief is that the horse is born united and acts as a single being.  But horse trainers come along and teach him how to disconnect, and once he learns how easy it is to disconnect, it can be very difficult to teach him to re-connect.

That goes to why I don't believe in the movement leg-yeild, because it teaches the horse to disconnect.

sammy
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 Posted: Fri Feb 15th, 2008 12:55 pm
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Callie - this an interesting and very clear way of describing things, thank you. I have watched a couple of 'rubber-necked' horses in clinics in the last couple of years that had definitely 'disconnected' the head and neck from the rest of the body by releasing at the base of the neck, which was causing the rider big problems just getting simple turns. One changed his understanding hugely in a single, fairly intensive session, the other had not improved much by the end of the four-day clinic (but was completely different when I happened to see him again about six months later). In the first case, it seemed the horse had just hit upon this disconnection himself (or, rather, the rider had taught it to him inadvertently); in the second, the horse had been put through a programme that included a lot of 'lateral flexion', so had actually been rewarded for disconnecting. Perhaps this was reflected in the time it took to get each horse to make a change and understand things differently.

A horse I am about to start riding had the beginnings of this disconnection going on when I saw her ridden last summer. She was very anxious and tended to rush most of the time, and her rider had spent a lot of time turning her tightly to try to show her that such speed was not required. The upshot was that she became extremely good at turning very fast, with a 'rubber neck', but didn't slow down much, or at least not consistently. Unsurprisingly, she was also very braced and the rider had worked hard on getting release at the poll, but I suspect now that this did not mean a relaxed jaw. I am hoping that now I have a clearer picture of what is going on, I may be able to help the mare better than I could have otherwise - I had an idea of how I was going to start tackling the rubbernecking, but now I think I may be able to progress on from this in a more productive manner. I'll let you know how we go!

Sammy 

Callie
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 Posted: Fri Feb 15th, 2008 06:50 pm
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Sammy-

That's great!  Anytime a horse and their rider can be helped is a wonderful opportunity.

Once you understand this releasing of tension in the horse, you then have to understand how to release impulsion in the horse.

If you get this right, you should be able to do halt to canter transitions just by releasing the rein. (no squeezing the legs or the seat, just releasing the rein)

The removal of tension from the jaw back should free the flow of energy from the hindquarters forward, in french there is an experssion that translates- "The hind feet come out the mouth".

I am hinting to you the opposite side of the reins, so that you do not inadvertantly go too far in the direction we have been talking about.  There is not only a softening/anti-tension function of the reins, but an impulsive one as well. 

The impulsion is freed not just my the lack of tension in the horse's topline etc, but the natural correction of the balance and straightning of the horse that takes place when he is connected.

Chew on that a bit, and let me know if that generates questions.  It is very hard to communicate this stuff in the written word, so easy with a horse in hand.

I am glad you are finding this helpful.

-Callie

PS.  I added my web address to my profile if anyone is looking for it.  I have recieved a couple of PM's about it, but I don't know if everyone is recieveing my responses.  My e-mail is there too.

Last edited on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 08:00 pm by Callie


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