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Dr. Deb, what is your beef with Clinician X?
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Leah
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 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 10:26 pm
Tutora wrote:
Some years ago while innocently flipping through a book by a well known female clinician, I'm pretty sure I swore out loud in my local bookstore. The book was about how to "understand" a horse's personality based on its head shape! Apparently this woman forgot to include in her book, next to photos of horse's heads, the historical precedent for her methods-- Hitler's posters meant to educate people on how to classify Jews as inferior based on the shapes of their heads, to say nothing of phrenology's earlier use against black people. Yet among all the equine professionals who should have spoken up against this book, I heard no-one utter a peep but Dr. Deb.      As Helen said-- Peace- Elynne                        

I am often amazed at the information and tidbits I pick up on threads on this forum.

In the middle of a negative thread, here is an interesting piece of information that I never knew!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Oct 20th, 2008 11:16 pm
Folks, on this thread -- Adam predicted I would pull it completely, but you know, I'm inclined to leave ugly posts in many cases, so that the person -- in this instance "Billy" -- will have time over the next several years to re-read what she has written and perhaps mature to a place where she will be able to hear herself.

The reason Billy writes in the tone that she does, is of course because she's a fan of the clinician we're referring to as XXXX. Her work along his methodological lines, she feels, has benefitted her horse; and as I suggested at the actual seminar where she heard me say it, maybe this is because the level of her horsemanship totally sucked eggs before that time.

It also must be pointed out that at NO time during the seminar that "Billy" attended did I ever say clinician XXXX's name out loud. I never do this at live presentations anymore than I do it, or will permit it to be done, here in the Forum. It is Billy herself who has twice broken this rule, because Billy wants to get this discussion into the zone of "I want to defend this clinician," or "I think clinician X is better than clinician Y". I never permit this, not only because it draws the discussion away from principles and into the muddy area of personalities, but also because the issues at stake here are not, for me, at all personal. You see, I could easily have been referring not to one particular clinican of whose work I disapprove, but to about a dozen wannabees and third-rate performers who are currently victimizing innocent horse owners -- they are all alike.

"Billy's" vehemence has another root as well. We have all noticed that people who go through the schools of these well self-advertised and ego-driven individuals quickly become indoctrinated. They become invested emotionally, and also financially, and then display the very human tendency to defend that which they have already spent considerable money on. After that, any criticism of their guru certainly does become a personal issue to "Billy" and others who are stuck in the same pit as she currently is.

Because I've been in the game a long time, however, I also know something else: 99% (no kidding, I mean "damn near all") the people who go to these schools and clinics, and who become indoctrinated, and who initially believe with all their heart in the particular guru, quit him in the end. Billy will also leave in the end -- when she figures out that they are going to take more and more of her money, and that this is their primary interest in her. This is most likely to occur when her local "licensed" instructor figures out that SHE is nothing more than a toy and a loser in a pyramid scheme, and in bitterness quits the chief guru and starts speaking ill of him to Billy and her other students. This is the way is has repeatedly worked in the past, and this is the way it will continue to work, because Billy and her kind are, to the people at the top in her organization, mere fodder.

So Billy asks what's my beef, and I am telling you. What drives me to do this? Concern for Billy, of course, even if Billy can't quite see that. To be specific, I am telling you that the techniques taught in clinician XXX's school are mis-taught. That the effect on the horse and the inner meaning to the horse is not considered, and that's why Helen reports that clinician XXXX's flashy horse, though it performs, is pissing down its hind leg the whole time. I have of course seen this with my own eyes. I see the same tension in all the horses that are asked to lie down, or jump, or "come" in the roundpen, or do any other form of performance, during clinician XXXX's public demonstrations. To knowledgeable horsemen -- which means "to those who have the eyes to see" -- this is proof positive that in a very deep and serious way, the chief guru does not know what he is doing, and worse, cares more about his personal fame and the admiration that Billy might give him, than he cares about horses.

When Billy came up to me to explain that HER teacher practices "natural dressage," I had to disabuse her of this false idea also. There is no such thing as "natural", whether it's in clinician XXXX's school, or in any other context in which we work with domesticated horses. Like very many other people, Billy hasn't yet realized the power of that word "natural" to muddy up peoples' thinking. "Natural" is the all-time champion way to sell bars of soap. When Billy, and others like her, brag that they are doing some form of "natural" horsemanship, what they really mean is that their horsemanship is superior, and they derive a secret (or sometimes not very secret) glee in believing that THEY are doing it the "right" way -- the "natural" way.

But we can plainly see that this is not so. There is nothing whatsoever superior in riding a horse in a rope halter, longeing him with a rope and spinner rather than a web line and a whip, touching him with an orange or white-colored stick than a stick that is colored brown or purple. Bitless, bareback, and barefoot are not better; these are mere slogans, oversimplifications that are very effective with beginners when their actual knowledge and experience is limited. The point is that unless the person understands what their each and every approach and gesture means TO THE HORSE, their practice of horsemanship will be destructive of the horse, and of their relationship with their horse.

The names I certainly did name out loud at the seminar that Billy attended were those of the people whose names I regularly name here: Ray Hunt, Harry Whitney, Tom Curtin, Bryan Neubert, and (since the seminar was in Canada), particularly Josh Nichol. I told Billy and everyone else to please go out of their way to find these folks, who will tell you straight, who don't operate pyramid schemes or licensing systems, who don't need Billy or anyone else to fill up some kind of howling black hole within themselves, and who have a good understanding not only of technique but more importantly of deep work.

This is it, Billy: now you have been personally answered for a second and even a third time. You can take it or leave it. And if you want to be a priss, you can go right on complaining about my sometimes colorful vocabulary -- everyone else laughed, when you were being grim, petty-minded, and judgemental. So if my language offends you, honey, let me remind you that there's a whole great big wide world out there, and I invite you to go find some teacher you like better. The rest of us had a total ball at the seminar you attended -- I haven't had such fun at a weekend intensive in a long time, and they have already invited me back for next year. 

I understand that this is all rather hard for you, and want to make sure that you know that, if you choose to study with me, you're still welcome; you can start over fresh anytime you choose. But you WILL have to start completely over, beginning with a sincere apology to me and to others who read here -- make no mistake about that.  Best wishes, and in the interim, please go find Josh Nichol -- Dr. Deb

 

Apples
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 07:33 am
I am thrilled that UofG has invited you back next year, Dr. Deb. I will be there. After a year of reading your writing, it was enormously helpful to hear you speak as it really solidified things in my mind. Going back to the Principles of Conformation now, I find that I understand so much better. The timing was terrific as well. They say that when the student is ready the teacher appears.

I have a young mare who I have started using Mike Schaffer's techniques in his Right From the Start and watching his working videos. The results have been amazing, and now I feel I have a much better understanding of WHY they work.

Thank you again, for visiting our part of the world, and being so generous with your knowledge. Your love of the horse is evident. And I like your style.

Cheers

Victoria

 

Billy
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 11:39 am
Dr.Deb
 
Wow.. You really are a self-righteous women aren't you? Convinced, like many others in your profession that you are correct and the others are wrong. I keep an open mind as in evidence in the fact that I went to your seminar and many others for that matter.. And childish too, do you really think referring to someone by there initials somehow clears you of name calling? You may be a self proclaimed brilliant horsewoman, good for you, but you come across more like someone who cleans the stalls.  Sad that you supposedly have a PHD and yet you never took a marketing course.  So while you teach to a venue of 40 students, others in your profession fill stadiums. Their success must annoy you even more than their lack of horsemanship.  I'd like to think you have better things to do than to try and educate me on your forum, the chance to do that was at your seminar.  


Billy, this is Dr. Deb.

1. Marketing success is not "success" as I would define it. I have no desire to fill stadiums (it's hard to talk to people the way I want to talk to them -- one on one -- in a stadium setting).

2. Referring to someone by their initials or by a characteristic (i.e. 'they're on TV') identifies the person only to those who already know the person, such as yourself. One of the reasons I did this was to make sure that you, Billy, got the message. Others in the audience may or may not have known who was being referred to, and many of them probably didn't care. But I thought I would try pretty hard to help YOU.

3. It's true, Billy -- I've cleaned many stalls in my time. Very satisfying work, too, that is, and an integral part of horsemanship.


I must say you are a very intelligent woman and this, I never doubted.  However, your "colorful language" as you say can leave someone's feeling quite "turned off" with you.  I approached you to ask you about"dressage naturally" and if you had heard of it. I didn't even ask you about Clinician X until you cut me off and started your rant on "natural horsemanship".  These are only semantics, Dr. Deb.  What someone chooses to call their method is entirely up to them.   And no I do not believe that I am "superior" because I use the term "natural".  Again, these are only semantics. 

There's no such thing as 'natural' in any form of horsemanship, Billy. 'Natural horsemanship' is a contradiction in terms -- an oxymoron. This is about the tenth time I've mentioned this to you. There might be a reason -- what could it be?


 You behaved like a 'bully".  In the curriculum in Ontario, we are teaching children about "anti-bullying".  You are exactly what we are teaching our children not to be.  This is a sign of a very weak character.  I guess you could have benefited from these teachings when you were a child.   

Sometimes, Billy, when the student or the child -- and here I am referring to yourself -- is unable or unwilling to listen, it is necessary for the teacher to increase the firmness. The other option, of course, would have been for me to simply smile and give you a superficial type of reply -- or even lie to you just to get rid of you. So you feel bullied when the teacher is merely being frank and emphatic -- this is not my problem. Again, if you won't believe it when somebody who knows better than you is giving you a warning, then you'll just have to go and find someone you like to talk to better.


I'd like to address your comment that people in this program believe they are "superior". I do not think this is a fair statement to accuse any person who learns from the program of thinking they are "superior". Again, this is bully like behavior on your part and suggests a weak character.

It would help you quite a lot, Billy, to go and read some C.S. Lewis. You'll be better equipped after that to be a judge of character. Two of my favorites that directly speak to the often-obnoxious, often-infantile behavior of people who allow themselves to be indoctrinated are "The Screwtape Letters" and "The Great Divorce" (which is not about getting a divorce, but rather about the distance or difference between heaven and hell).

I understand what you are saying about the emotional and financial investment which may cause a person to defend their teacher and to some extent I do agree with your views on this. I see this with many of the students.  It is not their fault, do not blame or attack them.  YOU attacked me.  That is how I felt. 

Yes, Billy, I am aware that is how you felt. I was aware of it at the time. You did not then, and you do not now, HAVE to go on feeling that way. How you "take" something is entirely your own doing, you see. Try working at not feeling bullied -- you do have the power to do that -- and instead work on DOING what I have suggested, vis., go find Josh or Ray or Harry.

I am entirely open minded to study and gain knowledge from as many sources as I can.

If you were actually open-minded, Billy, you would take me on the up-and-up instead of nursing your feeling of being hurt. And you would also already have been working on doing what I have suggested.

That is why I ended up at your seminar.  I would be more than happy to study with any of your recommended clinicians but sometimes it is not so convenient. 

Ahh well, you see, life is sometimes not very convenient. We all have to decide what's most important. So what you could be doing instead, is saving up your shekels for how to get down to Arizona to see Harry or how to go over to Edmonton to ride with Josh.

The program in question did happen to be convenient when someone recommended it to me.  It was easily accessible, instructors around the corner, homestudy information etc.  I thoroughly enjoy the program and the results are undeniable.  I had an extremely dominant horse who did not want to be with people.  He did not like me, trust me or see me as a leader no matter what I did.  And no, I did not have any horsemanship skills at the time. I only had 15 years of riding lessons and no one spoke to me about "playing with your horse", 'gaining his trust", "reading his body language", "establishing yourself as a leader" or as you say a "teacher".  My horse has changed remarkably.  He now runs to me, follows me around in the pasture, I can play with him in an open field and he WANTS to stay with me. He finally LIKES me and ENJOYS being with me. 

We would be able to see whether any of this is true, Billy, only by being in the presence of both you and your horse. Generally speaking, as I mentioned at the seminar, I don't put much stock in the reports I get from people who have been to the schools of the well self-advertised gurus, and particularly not when the person had little or no experience beforehand. Your horse may seem great to you, and maybe he is better than he used to be. What I am warning you about is not this. It is that you are being mis-taught, and that this will lead to your harming your horse more the longer you work with "surface workers". This is often difficult for people with no experience to wrap their head around, and I must depend upon your obeying in that case, rather than believing me. You don't have to believe me at all, if you will only go and DO what I have told you -- i.e., find the right teachers instead of the wrong ones.

Do I believe this is the ONLY method of horsemanship. Of course not.  I am a well educated person and I know better than to believe that.  I'm sure there are many many horseman out there who can teach me more.  I am willing.  I am not stuck in a "rut" as you say.  I am advancing and seeking more knowledge.  I am interested in MASTERY with horses and I know you cannot achieve mastery by gaining your information from one source. 

This is a misunderstanding also that many people have. Mastery is gained not by flying all over the place, but by finding home. And anyone who is not home MUST find home; it is a law of the universe. It is evident to me that you are not home, Billy, but I am good enough, in the very teeth of your insults and your immaturity, to continue to try to point you the way. Many people have to go anywhere but home before they find home. ....if this is all a bit esoteric-sounding, then let me put it this way: if you want mastery, Billy, start cleaning some stalls.

As for your critic about the finesse you saw.  I also think that finesse is not this program's strong point.  The other areas they teach are.  Again, is it the best program even for overall horsemanship? I don't know.  I only know what I know so far.  Life is a learning experience.  I have lots to learn and so do you.


As for your suggestions that the instructor's program is a 'pyramid". I do not agree. They are making a very good living.  I believe they do pay 'licensing fees' as I pay in the profession I work in, "professional dues" to  my professional college.  It is the same and a very legitimate way to make a living. 


 Dr. Deb, please do not cause another person to be the target of your disdain for other professionals in your field.  You get way more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. Please remember that. - Billy

Billy, I am not trying to trap any bees. Go and do what I have told you, and you will then find out what I AM trying to do.

This will be the last transmission in this thread -- we have now said enough, and you have been given the best instruction and help that I think I can give you for the time being. You can write us back in a year or so, after you've had time to consider what the teachers I recommend have suggested to you, and let us know what the progress and changes with your horse then are.

I would suggest to you, Billy, that you print out this entire thread and save it for future reference. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Wed Oct 22nd, 2008 09:41 am by DrDeb

ladycfp
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 01:18 pm
"Billy" your emotional fitness (or lack thereof) is showing. You may be the only example of the clinician in question's students that some people see in the horse world, and right about now I think, "what a shame." Your conduct is embarrassing.

This forum is a newly discovered resource for many of our fellow students. For that, I thank you. If you want to learn something, you should busy yourself reading what is here instead of trying to stir up trouble.

AdamTill
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 03:27 pm
Look Billy, you're not getting it...if you only came here to avenge your affronted feelings, you're wasting your time.  Nobody forced you to go to a clinic, or to come here afterwards, and this isn't a sunshine and butterflies board (thank goodness).

Dr Deb says it like she means it - no sugar coating of what she has found to be the truth. Don't agree with that truth - fine, but don't whine about the way it's delivered. I for one appreciate having a place to come to get that sort of honesty, and I can always be sure that nothing gets said without a logical path being available to trace WHY it's being said.

The whole horse world is chock full of "enabler" thinking where it's somehow okay to do wrong by horses, but darn it, don't hurt anyone's feelings. For example, how is it okay to take 15 years (!) of riding lessons without caring that you have no concept of horsemanship? Horses aren't sports equipment. Yes, most lesson barns are setup this way, but YOU accepted that. Bully for you that you think your clinician is a step up from that, but don't get pissy if the rest of us say that it's not much of a step up.

hurleycane
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 05:24 pm
I find myself here reading these posts not so much to see how others are wrong - but whether it helps me understand better what is actually offered up at this board.  It does.  Especially the picture (though I think it violates the posting rules as I  believe this is not Dave, lol).  

Looking at the rider with the critiques offered really helped me get a visual in my head of how "right" will feel when it comes and more importantly what to let go of.  And it reinforced to me that I will not get it with an expensive high tech bit/bridle.

 

jgpigger
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 06:42 pm
Hi Jen,

I just joined about 3 minutes ago, so I am going to take a stab at this one. I believe the rider is leaning or going in a different direction then the horse. I believe that this is not balanced riding.  take care, peace, candy

hurleycane
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 07:20 pm

If anyone is gonna hold themselves up as an example - well then an example they should expect to be! LOL 

But, truthfully, if you had put up who it was - I would not have posted and what I now see as an opportunity to learn - would have been lost.

Cause you see at first glance I surly did not notice much.  And heck who knows - I may be dead wrong about what I think it is I now see.  But it made me look more critically at it for sure.

Just love a pop quiz! 

Thanks! and sorry for the tease. 

Last edited on Wed Oct 22nd, 2008 04:29 am by hurleycane

ladycfp
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 08:47 pm
I must have a lot to learn. This is way too subtle for me to grasp today.

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 09:16 pm
Another thing I noticed (but may be wrong) is that it appears they are travelling on a circle by the position of the rider.  Therefore, the horse is not straight on the circle as his shoulder is leaning in.  A perfect example from the woody article of hurting your horse by allowing him to travel crooked and therefore the brace.  In which case, he should be asked to step under his belly with his inside hind in order to straighten through and push that inside shoulder out.

It does look to me like they are in a canter and this should be accomplished first at walk then trot.

Anyone think that is correct ?

Might as well take an opportunity to learn.  I will never pass that up.

Tammy

 

 

Apples
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 09:34 pm
I see tension. In the rider's shoulders, arms hands, in the reins, in the horse's expression, in the position of his mouth and in his eyes. I see the horse is attentive to the rider, but not in a curious or keen manner ('oh joy, what's next), more like he's anxious (oh brother! what's next). Reins are WAY too short.

AdamTill
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 09:38 pm
I would agree with what Tammy said - the rider is attempting to ride a bend, but the horse isn't following. Assuming that the rider is attempting to cue the bend with the rein, the white knuckles on the inside rein would imply that the horse is falling over his inside shoulder, and attempting to use his neck to counterbalance a counterbent turn.

I also get the feeling that the horse isn't moving forward very freely...very much a backwards traction look to things.

Tutora
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 10:52 pm
Hi Billy, from "someone who cleans the stalls" (though now it's just for my own horses) (as others here have noted, you're showing an attitude that's unbecoming). My horses have been willing, friendly, and generous for years- even if they came to me with real behavior problems. But I'm starting over with things I've learned from Dr. Deb, the Dorrances, and Harry Whitney's website- not as icing on the cake, but rather as an even better foundation. The difference in the horses has been both subtle and startling; more so than I could tell you- you'll just have to silence yourself and try it for yourself.  If by "natural dressage" you mean dressage according to the true nature of things , you're standing on solid rock right here. --Sincerely, Elynne

Last edited on Tue Oct 21st, 2008 11:29 pm by Tutora

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Oct 21st, 2008 11:53 pm
Folks, I have had to be out teaching all day today, from the early morning onward, and thus had not had a chance to see any new posts since last night.

I appreciate what some of you have been trying to do here, but: pictorial comparisons of any rider whatsoever, including myself, are not what will be most helpful in educating "Billy".

None of you seem to have heard what I said. The primary objections to the teaching of clinicians not listed on our recommended list are:

1. They do not understand the meaning that their approach to the horse has TO THE HORSE. They are "surface workers" who continually (and largely unknowingly) call upon their horses to fill in for them. You can assess this in some photos; but not very well in the example that Dave originally posted. You need a photo where you can see "into" the horse's eye. The Birdie Book is full of such photos, and I would greatly prefer that everyone go and look at that. Another very good place to see the approach of someone who very well knows what his approach means, and cares what it means to the horse, is to look in back issues of The Eclectic Horseman magazine, and read any article at all featuring Buck Brannaman.

2. The student is "fodder" to fill the emotional needs of the clinician. This is one reason why I enjoy Ray Hunt so much: he will kick your butt just as soon as you try to bullshit either him or yourself, because he is not afraid of losing anyone as a client. The almighty buck does not rule Ray when Ray is in class. Emotionally, Ray does not NEED anyone else, although I am certain that he does appreciate good students who "work for the perfection". So, as a result of this, there is no attempt with Ray to have a fan club, found a movement, run an organization, or to engender a following. Ray has often said, "The first thing you people need to understand is that this is for the horses, not for you. Whether anyone had showed up to see me work these colts today, I would have been out here working these colts."

3. Another objection is that the business is run as a licensing franchise or as a pyramid scheme. Ray has been charging just about the same amount per student per day since the 1970's, and interestingly, his charges are about one-third to one-fifth of that of the well self-advertised gurus. Further, there is no trailer full of halters, sticks, and other gimmicks that are so very profitable, and so very easy to sell to beginners. Somebody asked me at last weekend's seminar whether I had brought any copies of my books. I snorted and said, "of course not." There is no need to encourage consumerism, and in any case everyone at the seminar was told where to find this website and that we have a bookstore section. Let them buy that way; it may slow 'em down a little. What I DID do in the way of having goods there was donate about $600 worth of stuff to the school that sponsored the seminar.

4. Last objection: Overt attempts are made by the well self-advertised clinicians and their licensees to indoctrinate students. Among these attempts are out-and-out lies told to the students concerning the chief guru's personal knowledge of, or period of study with, Ray Hunt or the Dorrance brothers. It needs to be emphasized that Ray and the Dorrances have never enfranchised or advocated anybody. During my private conversation with Billy, the reason I said to her that Clinician XXXX is an asshole, is that Billy was insisting to me that SHE had heard that her favorite guru has been a favorite of the great men. This is untrue to the point of being laughable. Billy did not want to believe me when I told her that she is being systematically lied to -- but it's easy to lie to students when they have no means of knowing any different.

It would be MUCH better if Billy would just go find Ray, Harry, Tom Curtin, Josh, Bryan, or Buck; then she could begin all over again, and not need to join any "school" or organization whatsoever. She would be entirely free, and would be encouraged to grow entirely on her own -- which is the only way that anyone has ever actually learned to train a horse.

Now, folks, if you please: I think this is enough on this thread, and let's get back to other things that are not only more fun, but more important. We have work to do. -- Dr. Deb

 

 


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