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Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Sun Feb 17th, 2008 04:46 am
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Hello Callie - I've been looking in on your chat with Sammy and find there're some things I'm having trouble understanding.  I readily admit to knowing little of Baucher beyond Dr Deb's translation, so doubtless the error is mine.  In your post of Feb 8th, you spoke of your trainer wanting to have the horse 'up' right from the start, albeit for only a step or two at a time before allowing complete freedom.   Your trainer is also quoted as suggesting we should not waste our time or the horse's body with any steps we are not in love with.

To my simple mind these two statements seem contradictory.  If the horse's head and neck is raised by means of the reins/hands so that the nose is nearly horizontal, this will put the cervical vertebrae into an extended/hollow posture by means of contracture of the topline muscles of the neck   - the very thing we are all trying to avoid.   What is the aim of this technique?  How does the horse then learn to raise his neck and head by means of the ventral/underline musculature?    How does this reconcile with only asking for the steps we really want, i.e. having the horse straight and collected throughout his whole body for every step?

Maybe you will be able to help me out on this one.

Best wishes - Pauline

Callie
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 Posted: Mon Feb 18th, 2008 03:15 am
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Hi Pauline-

The horses posture is not changed by the reins, but _at the request_ of the reins.  There is a distinct and important difference.

If the horse is persueaded to raise his own head, he will not choose to do it in a hollow manner if he stepping under his body with his hind legs, which he is trained/encouraged to do in all that free walking on the long rein.   Some training methodologies begin in the middle of the horse's range of motion and attempt to work their way out, this one swings from one extreme to the other to find the balance.

This work is more along the lines of a perfect extension of Bill Dorrance's leading without taking the slack out of the rope.  If you have to take the slack out of the reins for the rein effect to work, then somewhere the horse is disconnecting/you are compensating for a defect in the posture/balance/whatever.  But if the horse is free to be in control of his own balance, then for the rein effects to work without taking out the slack from the rein, the horse must be perfectly connected through his own body.

This work takes place almost entirely in the reins, the legs do nothing more then request the horse to go more forward by releasing.  Legs do not get the horse to go laterally, reins do.

The angle of the head between horizontal and verticle is ultimatly dependant on many factors.  THe horse's general conformation, the specific conformation of the neck/head, the tension he carries in his topline (which should rapidly get to zero, as you never work into tension, you always stop and release tension before proceding), the supplness in the hindquarters, which can be alternatly expressed in many ways, such as how easy it is to control them via the rein, and the amount of previous bad training/musciling you are trying to overcome.

But just as you shouldn't force the neck to go up, you should not force the nose to go down.  The horse should be free to determine how best to manage himself in the requested posture.

To me, this work is like I imagine shaping clay on the potters wheel is.  You are attempting to shape the clay into a stable, and self supporting form, by barely brushing against it, because if you try to grab and take hold, the pot will collapse.  It simply cannot remain in form if you do more than suggest a shape.  Over and over you can suggest, but grab and hold you cannot.  Now I have never actually thrown a pot, but that is how I imagine it works, based on what I have seen.

Now, the man I worked with came from Austrailia, and I believe he returned there, though I haven't heard from him in years.  He also had a very nice student who lived in Austrailia, though I never met her, she may be useful if you are interest, e-mail me for their names.

I believe Bauchers second manner isn't popular because of two things, 1) it goes against the "machine" of information that is being produced and consumed by equestrians, and 2) it is very difficult to transmit without at least some personal contact with someone who does it and their horse who will show you the feel.

So I understand your confusion and your feeling that this doesn't make any sense.   Believe me, you have my greatest sympathy.  The first place to go is to read some more books, I already reccomended a great one earlier in this thread, and I have a list on my site if you need more reccomendations, or anyone can e-mail me, I love to read! 

THe next place to go would be to find someone who is a practitioner and watch them work, but I will warn you that trainers who are real practitioners can be very difficult to find for 2 reasons.  1) many of the "real deal" people won't admit to it because they are tired of listen to the same old recycled arguments againt it from Bauchers time, and 2) Lots of people who aren't the real deal flock to its lable to try and differentiate themselves from the rest of their bad trainer ilk with every other name under the sun.

And many of the people I have learned from are somewhat egotistical and difficult to work with on the human side, though the horses love them.

Mostly in this discussion I have tried to address the specific questions from Sammy, so there are gobs and gobs of things that need to be happening that weren't even mentioned, which simply makes it even harder to understand Baucher's second manner from this exchange.  So I really don't have a clue if the rambling I just produced is helping you or not, so do write some more and we will see where this goes, LOL!

-Callie




sammy
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 Posted: Mon Feb 18th, 2008 06:27 pm
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Hi Pauline - The question you raise about the biomechanics of raising the horse's neck seems very similar to the one I posed in my very first post, we must be thinking along the same lines. I am now on my second reading of Racinet explains Baucher, in Chapter 6 of which (The Second Manner: the lifting of the neck) I see that Racinet actually addresses this question directly. (I am very new to this, and still trying to understand clearly, so please correct me Callie if I make a faux pas!) He says: '...raising the neck raises the withers. And if the withers rise, then the back can definitely not flatten.' He suggests an experiment: place your horse on a hard, level surface and measure his height at the withers with his head down on the ground, then in a normal position, then with a very high head. You'll find that the horse becomes progressively taller, because his withers raise (unless he has a physical problem that prevents this). 

Racinet then talks about what happens when a rider gets on: the withers sink. All this movement up and down of the withers is made possible by the fact that horses do not have collarbones. He then says: 'Given this phenomenon, one understands that any lifting of the withers is highly profitable for the mounted horse, if only because it helps him fight the crushing effect of the rider's weight, and in so doing retrieve under the saddle the equilibrium he had in liberty.' (Racinet's italics)

Racinet goes on to talk about what happens when you ask the horse to raise the head and neck once you are seated on him, and that this will still entail the horse raising his withers to some degree because it is the easiest thing to do (even though the effort is greater with a rider on board): hollowing the neck and back will cause the spinous processes of the withers to tend to 'kiss', so the horse will avoid this.

There is lots more detail and progression in this chapter (including making a clear distinction between engagement of the hind legs and engagement of the hindquarters; and how raising the head and neck will 'avoid any "dodging" from the demand for the mobility of the jaw'). The whole book covers a huge amount of ground - I found my brain ready to explode at several points on my first reading, but things are getting a little clearer second time around! I hope the few bits I've quoted here are of some help on the anatomy/biomechanics side of things.

Callie - I have located a copy of the Beudant book and am waiting impatiently for its arrival. From the direct quotes from Beudant that Racinet gives, it looks as if it will be a good read.

The possibility of releasing the horse's impulsion via the rein is tantalizing indeed, and if you can elaborate further (perhaps 'as with an eyedropper'?) that would be great. I have seen one or two people briefly working with students in this way in the past, but interestingly did not pursue this as I found the teachers very difficult people to get along with - is it just coincidence that some of your teachers were the same? Maybe I missed out, but I'm not too sad. I have faced plenty of challenges in working with my horses over the years, and in having to develop aspects of myself that were pretty well hidden, in order to do good work and help the horses understand, and at times this has not been an entirely comfortable process. But I have enjoyed it in the main because I have worked with people who, while they often made big demands, were never egotistical and difficult to work with. And, indeed, the horses loved them, too.

Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Mon Feb 18th, 2008 06:59 pm
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Hi Sammy-

Great post.  I would again emphisize that it is the horse that must raise his own neck.  If you are hanging on the reins, then all bets are off as to what happens to the back of the horse.

I think one of the reasons these people are so hard to get along with (as I myself have found encounters with "regular dressage folk" to make me want to bang my head against the wall, that is in no way directed at people here!) is after a while you just get tired of fighting with everyone.

And you get tired of having to argue over things like, the upper level horse's mouth dripping foam like a rabid dog is not correct, no matter how many times dressage magazines tell you it is.   Sometimes I think the difficultiy of the personality of the trainer is a test to see how much you really want to find out what he knows or if you are just there to argue.

The rest of us "nice" people, just hole up on our private farms and only work with people who are interested in learning from us, but we are mostly found by word of mouth., or when you coax us out of hiding on the internet, LOL!

Releasing the impulsion via the rein is proof of the connection of the horse.  Early on this looks like, if I take on the rein, the horse yeilds his jaw and changes his posture, but if I give on the rein, he reaches out to take up the slack.  Another way this comes about is, don't shorten the rein if you loose the connection you wanted, send the horse more forward to re-establish the lost connection.

The jist of this is, if you think of your aids as doors that you open and close, train the horse to look for the open door and go throught it on his own, rather than training the horse that you will press him out of the open doors by squishing him like a toothpaste tube.

If you are really interested in releasing the impulsion, play around with releasing the jaw and see what happens.  Then try to form some specific thoughts on the process and I will see if I can help.

It isn't a difficult thing to get to happen, but it is a difficult thing to explain via the iternet, where I can't see your horse and where you are in the process.  So I need more specific information from you on what you feel with your horse before I can try and make some sense of where you are.

And great job finding a copy of the Beaudant book! You will love it.  If you read French he wrote and even better one, but it was never translated into english...

-Callie

Last edited on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 07:01 pm by Callie

sammy
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 08:36 am
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Callie - yes, I will experiment with releasing the jaw and come back to you when I have some coherent thoughts and questions. This may take some time! My disadvantage is that I'm not a highly trained dressage rider well versed in technique. My advantage is that I'm not a highly trained dressage rider...

I know this because some of the things you say make absolute sense to me - I am doing them already and know what they feel like. Others might as well be double Dutch - I can make a stab at understanding them intellectually, but I have no idea what they feel like. However, unless I run out of years (I'm not in the first flush of youth!) I am confident that as I go along things will fall into place, piece by piece, as they always have done, eventually, up to this point. Just hope the horses can continue to put up with me in the meantime.

Sammy

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 10:51 am
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Many thanks for your replies, Callie and Sammy.

Callie, I can't agree with your statement that a horse will not raise his own head in a hollow manner if he is stepping under his body with his hind legs.  Watch any horse, free in his own paddock, who has just caught sight of something unusual in the distance and walks towards it to get a better look.  The head and neck are raised to their fullest extent and the hindlegs are stepping well under, ready to propel the horse in whichever direction, if he decides he needs to run for his life.  The spine of this horse is extended from poll to end of thoracic or lumbar vertebrae, thereafter flexed.  Without the weight of a rider, there is no harm in this.  Alternatively, go to any racetrack and watch horses as they approach the starting gates - the calmer ones can be seen walking briskly forward on loose reins, stepping very far forward beneath their bellies, heads and necks raised as they anticipate the race to come - no-one would suggest these horses are in any way collected, this is the posture of flight.

Sammy, I would also disagree with the statement you quoted from Racinet about the back not being able to flatten if the withers are raised.  I have not done the experiment he suggests where the height of the withers is measured with the horse's head in varying positions, but have no reason to doubt his findings.  However, I think it is more important to observe what happens to the rest of the back when the head/neck is raised.  An easy way to do this is to spend an hour watching a group of horses grazing.  Specifically, watch how the shape of the back in relation to the withers changes.  When the horse is grazing, nose to the ground, the profile of the dip where the withers blend into the back is shallower, i.e. the level of the back is closer to the level of the withers.  This is because the weight of the head puts tension on the nuchal ligament, which pulls the withers forward, which in turn tensions the supraspinous ligament, which lifts the back.  The grazing horse has a slightly flexed, raised back through no muscular effort.  Contrast this profile of the withers/back to when the horse is snoozing under a tree - you will see that dip behind the withers is deeper than when the horse is grazing.  This is the neutral position of the spine.  Look again at that area when the horse occasionally raises his head the better to see something far away - the dip will be even deeper as the spine takes on an extended shape, even though the withers may be higher than the grazing horse.  If you have someone to help you, do Racinet's experiment, but along with measuring wither height from the ground, also measure the depth of the dip behind the withers.

As I see it, the important thing is not raised wither height per se, but how the horse raises his entire front end.  A crucial part of the mechanics of collection is tension on the nuchal ligament to assist in lifting the back.  We want the back-shape of the grazing horse but with a raised neck - this can only be achieved when the neck is lifted by means of the underline muscles.    If a horse's neck is 'up' with the nose close to horizontal then it suggests the topline muscles have been used to attain that posture and the nuchal ligament will not be able to have any influence on the back.

Callie, please do email me the names of your former trainer and student, maybe I already know of them.  I'm not looking for a trainer but am always interested in understanding what others are doing and why.

Best wishes - Pauline

sammy
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 11:37 am
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Pauline - yes, most of these things went through my mind when I first read Racinet's book, and I am still pondering them as I re-read. No way am I an expert on anatomy or biomechanics in the horse, so I have not made any real judgement on all this yet, I am still thinking and wondering! I am going to explore it all further, in any case: I am off to a clinic/demo this weekend, I have a few books on order that I hope will help to further my understanding and I will try out a few things with my horses.

The great appeal for me of this French tradition of riding in lightness, especially when contrasted with modern competitive dressage, is that I may yet be able to realize the vision of riding I had as a kid: that beautiful (white or black, of course) horse with mane and tail flowing, neck arched, body rounded, floating along in perfect harmony with ME, the rider! Yes, I know this is what is discussed on this forum in any case, and through all Dr Deb's excellent writings, so I guess we are back to the same question we both started with - can release of the topline square with working the horse 'up'? I need to watch riders and horses working in this way, and try things myself, before I can get beyond much of this being a bit theoretical (for me, at least) at the moment.  

The Racinet book is well worth a read, by the way - he has a good turn of phrase and there is masses of detail, so this may help your musings. I imagine his other books (Another Horsemanship and Total Horsemanship) give more of a picture of his own thoughts and methods. I shall give them a go.

Sammy 

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 01:29 pm
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Pauline-

The argument you present is really the same argument that has been rehashed about Baucher's second manner since he invented it.

Here, in this discussion, I can confindently say that the issue is the context.  The first problem is we have no horse, as they are the touchstone for any discourse on horses, and the second, is this discussion in no way encompases the entirety of preparing the horse, the ground work that is done, the flexxions, the feel, understanding the release in the jaw, the poll, the neck, etc.

If the topline of the horse, the jaw, the poll etc are in release, then he isn't using that to lift his head.  If the horse is not being pulled on, then the underneck is not stimulated either. 

This all takes a great deal of feel and understanding to make it work.  Bauchers second manner is a delecate undertaking.  The elevation of the head alone, can be like a razer in the hands of a monkey, if not accompanied by clairity in the rest of the ideas.

There are several books that may bring you closer to an understanding if you are interested.  L'Hotte, Beaudant, Racinent, Kerbrech, are all good authors that write good books.

If all one takes away from this discussion is that the release of the jaw is a useful and important concept, then that alone would make a great difference to the horse.

-Callie

Ben Tyndall
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 05:13 pm
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I was wondering what Baucher/Racinet mean by "flatten" in the context of the statement: " And if the withers rise, then the back can definitely not flatten".  I would have expected the message to be that the back cannot raise up or cannot hollow out, but to use "flatten" leaves me wondering what the point of the comment is.


Can anyone help me understand the use of the word "flatten" here?

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 05:30 pm
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I would not presume to speak for the author, but I think you cound substitute "hollow out" for flatten in that statement.  From my experience that would be consistant.

-Callie

sammy
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 07:37 pm
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Callie - I worked with two horses this afternoon on just the releasing of the jaw, on the basis of Racinet's 'aside' explaining this in his Baucher book (for want of any other source at present), and the relaxing effect on these mares was quite obvious. One is a very anxious horse that only yesterday was overbending terribly whenever she even thought that the rider (my husband) was going to pick up the reins; today, after working on releasing the jaw from the ground - no doubt in a fairly amateurish manner, feeling my way - she was quiet and relaxed for almost the whole of the ride. When she tensed up a little, mostly we could relax her again relatively easily with a tactful feel on the reins (especially when not in motion). We didn't ask very much of her at all, just walking and halting - I don't think my husband would have coped with a whole session in halt! - but the change was very marked. I don't think she had ever had any conception that such a thing was possible with a bit in her mouth.

So, for me, certainly something worthwhile to pursue. I won't be trying anything else we've talked about until I've read, ridden, watched, questioned and reflected further!

Sammy

Callie
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 Posted: Tue Feb 19th, 2008 07:56 pm
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Sammy-

Super!  That's so great!

Don't be afraid to take your time.  The early work is the most important work, so just go slow and take your time.

There is a reason why I call my book club Read, Ride, Reflect... <lol>

It makes me very happy to hear a horse was happier :) (and a rider too)

-Callie

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Wed Feb 20th, 2008 11:27 am
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Thanks once again for your replies, Callie and Sammy.

Sammy, yes it is certainly possible for a horse to work 'up' and with total release at the same time.  Just last week I was lucky enough to see one of my own horses doing just that, out in the paddock, entirely of his own volition, as part of an exchange he was having with the youngster.   This horse put himself into a posture where his neck was as close to vertical as I've ever seen on any horse, ears pricked, face vertical, back raised, loins coiled.  Perfectly stationary, he held this posture for close to 2 full minutes but at least 3 or 4 times during that period, slowly twirled his head to the left to look directly at the colt.  Perfect collection with total release.  The twirling of his head is the proof there was no tension anywhere - it is not physically possible for a horse to twirl whilst holding on to tension.  Those short muscles that  go between skull and first two neck bones on each side have to let go in order for the movement to happen.  When these little muscles are contracted bilaterally, the nose is raised, hence my original query regarding the horizontal nose mentioned in Callie's post - I just can't see how a horse in that posture could fail to be contracting at least some of his topline, he would have to defy gravity, so therefore what is the point?

Callie, I certainly appreciate the difficulties of any discussion online but given that you are a teacher  "well versed in the second manner"  and my misunderstandings are a "rehash" of other similar confusions you must be well-accustomed to hearing, I'm hoping you may be able to more precisely identify where I've gone wrong.  I have read some of the authors you mention, and of course applaud any quest for lightness, but I cannot question those writers as I can a contemporary who has actually learnt and teaches the technique.   Perhaps it will be easier if I ask the question a different way.    I know you will have read Dr Deb's translation of Baucher, and assume you have tried the form of release she has named 'head twirling'.   This I understand clearly, have used it, and felt the release through the entire horse.  How does this compare with the jaw and poll releases that you have been talking about with Sammy?  Which do you prefer?  What sort of differences do you feel in the horse with each technique?

Not sure if you emailed those names to me or not, but they don't seem to have shown up here yet - I'm still interested.  Sorry if all this sounds like nitpicking, but I do like to have all the details straight in my own mind.  Thanks for your help.

Best wishes - Pauline


Callie
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 Posted: Wed Feb 20th, 2008 02:10 pm
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Hi Pauline-

It isn't that I'm unwilling to do the discussing, it's just that your talking points in your last post cover so much ground that I would better to write a book and mail it to you than post here on an online forum.

So if you have read some of those books, and have a general scope of what is going on, keeping your questions to a more specific point, as you have here, will be easier to discuss.

As far as the head on the horozantal, it doesn't last.  The head might stay out on the horozantal 6 weeks or so, before it drops down to 45 degrees or so.  The head may or may not ever approach the verticle depending on some other factors.  ANd the purpose behind mentioning it is because the average "dressage" rider I have encountered is obsessed with the head on the verticle, which defeats the whole point of letting the horse find his own balance.  And the less damaged the horse, the closer to verticle the horse can start out.

I think the reason that the head can come out on the horozontal and not suffer from the things you mentioned is because of the streaching of the topline.  In the other discussion on streaching, Dr. Deb remarks the topline runs from the tip of the nose to the heels of the hind feet.  If the horse has been in contraction in the topline (remember most of the horses I have worked with, as with Baucher, have been re-trains) then he can't simultainiouly put the hind leg under and the nose down.  That would simply be too much for his overcontracted body.  By keeping to just a couple of steps at a time, and insisting they be in release, then the horse can streach and re-form his body back to it's original state.

The releases-  The poll release of Dr. Deb and Baucher are one in the same.  But I believe that the Jaw release is the core of the matter.  As I previously stated, I think that everything between the thing doing the releasing, and the place you want released should also release.  So if you are releasing the poll with the rein, and the jaw stays cleched, then you aren't getting it done.

Again, on reasonably undamaged horse, this would go along hand in hand automatically.  But on one that has been trained his whole life in that evil crank noseband, or a flash, or whatever, he may never have released his jaw at all.  So in that case, I think you need to specifically be able to release the jaw, and then the jaw+the poll, and on and on.

My outgoing e-mail server was down for maintence when I tried to e-mail you yesterday, I'll try and resend it today.

I hope this answer was more helpful to you.

Have you seen Phillipe Karl's videos?  He has a new book coming out in English soon that is supposed to fabulous as well.

-Callie

Pauline Moore
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 Posted: Thu Feb 21st, 2008 10:28 am
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Thank you again, Callie.    I'm happy to keep to specifics if that is easier for you but please say so if my questions are becoming tiresome, my objectives are to engage in a discussion that may be of benefit to all of us, but I have no wish to irritate.

In stating that the horizontal head carriage is there for only some 6 weeks or so, are you not agreeing that it is not desireable?  Which brings me back to my original query about your trainer's comments re not wasting time on steps we don't love. 

You are right about 'retrain' horses having contracted toplines, I'm confronted with them almost daily in my work, and not just the ex-racehorses.  The majority of horses I start working on cannot even reach their nose to their front hooves whilst standing square, they're lucky to get past knee level.  However, even the worst of them are able to move in a softly rounded manner once they are straight, while their bodies learn to let go of the habitual bracing that emanates primarily from their inner fear and confusion.  Sorry to have to say it, but I still cannot believe that a horse with a high neck and level face is free of all tension - I am not able to visualize how any releases are possible - it is the body-language of stress, so perhaps we will have to agree to differ on this one.

Good to know that you are already doing the head twirling as per Dr Deb's definition.  I have found the domino effect of this easy exercise to be a one-stop-shop for initiating release of all bracing throughout the horse, add in the half-step under of the hind leg and the horse becomes as soft and malleable as the clay on your potter's wheel.

Best wishes - Pauline





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