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Harry Whitney Clinic, MN, July 09
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Penny Johnson
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 Posted: Sat Jul 25th, 2009 03:31 pm
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I saw two things that really impressed me at the one Harry Whitney clinic that I audited. The first thing was how Harry Whitney worked with the hinney. The second day he worked with people who wanted to work their horses and mules in hand. He was teaching how to show the horse to walk across a teeter totter. He broke this down into the smallest little sections possible and slowly built and put all of the little secctions together. I remember that there was one lady there who had a real hard time working because she was a little crippled up. But she just kept at it, walking in the sand of the arena and doing what Harry said to do. She had a very kind horse or mule, I forget which, with her. You could see how hard this horse was trying for this lady. By the end of the day this lady was just so crippled that you could just see how hard it was for her. But she kept at her task and she kept listening. She never asked a question. She just listened and worked with a good heart. Harry never even talked to her. But I saw him watching her. And I saw the kindness there in his eyes. And by the end of the day, that lady's horse was doing the teeter totter and LOVING every second of it. And the lady was almost as joyful as her horse.
Penny Johnson

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 25th, 2009 07:47 pm
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Dear folks -- When someone has been banned from the Forum, they soon discover that they can compose posts but that the posts will not "post". This causes them to wonder if there is something wrong with their computer, so that they may then try moving to a new machine.

Each and every computer that a banned user attempts to use will be banned as soon as we identify it. If the banned user is attempting to post from a friend's machine, it is the friend's machine that will be banned. The fury of the banned user thus can work to harm innocent people who might at some later point like to be included here.

In her insistence on being able to post content that we asked her not to post, Reata has twice in the last 24 hrs. shifted to a "new" machine. This is another sign that banning Reata was the correct decision -- vis. what I mentioned in my last post about how the problematic student is typically self-involved, insists that their voice be heard above all others, and is immature and emotionally needy. I did not mention that they are also often vengeful, in a petty and ineffective sort of way.

It will probably take a few days for Reata to completely give it up -- as a four-year-old having a tantrum may take some time before he realizes that no matter how much noise he makes, it will avail him not. My request to everyone else here is to please completely ignore any post made by Reata -- please do not reply. Our office will delete any post she makes, along with any reply to such a post.

Thanks to everyone, and once again, let's get back now with our good students to the productive discussions and work we were doing before. Penny, that was a terriffic story, thank you very much for that. -- Dr. Deb

miriam
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 Posted: Mon Jul 27th, 2009 02:06 pm
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As a participant at Harry's recent MN clinic I feel a burnin need to comment here. My 8 1/2 hr drive home was so full of ideas, information, inspiration and plans that I didn’t even listen to radio! Unfortuantely (or perhaps fortunately) I’ve missed “Reata”s pre-edited comments. I do have a notion of just which person at HW’s clinic she REALLY was however....

First, let me thank Fitz and Harry from the bottom of my heart for offering another opportunity for what has become the bedrock of forward thoughts and the highlight of summer. Harry gives up his summers to travel around and help us, and hosts like Fitz and others open up their homes/farms for us. How marvelous and generous of you all.

And Rahfie, your "old mare" and you are so beautiful! Your mare looks like a young mare these days as you work on correct movement and good mental posture. You and your terrific travelmate (and her nice mare) have proven that following Harry’s directives will have such positive outcomes. I hope and dream for this too. You lucky people who got a couple extra days with Harry had some good info to share about those round table talks.

Kindred talked about clarity. And perhaps that was Harry's theme this trip b/c that's exactly what he observed is missing in me, and what I need to work on. He talked about ‘lying to your horse’ by not meaning what you say. This sure gives the horse the impression that you aren’t reliable. Some horses can’t ‘fill in’ as easily as others. Maybe it’s b/c they’re young or just have internal demands for clarity, and that horse will expect that you are clear. Harry gave me tools (posture, behaviour) to use to be better with this. My horse showed me how much he really wants this. It seems that my horse is one who wants this so bad that if he doesn’t get it, he goes into a zone where he merely resides but doesn’t participate. I have to keep his curiosity alive by being interesting. Here is where I have a confliction (is that a word?) b/c to get big, but not too big and without emotion, then back to small, and all within seconds IS HARD. I’m often late! Wrongly I equate high feathers with emotion so removing that conflict from the agenda is a bit of work. Oofta! One lady asked how she could be more interesting? Any ideas or tips on THAT Professor Bennett??
All this to say that just being around someone like Harry for a few days is an honor and a real opportunity for better horsemanship. If Reata thought we were to unquestioning, let me say that if you internalize the information, you moll it over and over. Many of us are repeat participants and we’ve been thinking about this for a LONG time. Plus if you watch closely, soon you too feel/internalize the synchronized motion b/t human and horse. Like the ride home without radio, there’s plenty to think about and you’re awfully busy and thoroughly self entertained. This teacher is very approachable for queries too, thus I would recommend anyone who can do so, take advantage of what this fine horseman has to offer.

AdamTill
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 Posted: Mon Jul 27th, 2009 05:34 pm
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At a recent clinic that I audited, Josh Nichol also talked a lot about how hard it is for most of us to get big without getting mad or hyped up - I know it's something I've always struggled with. It's not surprising, when you think about it - the only time most of us own our space is when we're upset. Most of the time we have tiny little space bubbles, and pushing on other people's space by owning our own is almost verbotten (think of people in an elevator - even eye contact is uncomfortable).

As a result, a few years ago I had no clue how to get big, because I couldn't do so without the negative emotions coming along with it. As a result, I tended to not do enough, and ended up with a dull, lifeless horse. That tendancy still rears its ugly head if I'm not careful, though now O tend to have to make sure I'm not letting emotion get into things since I know how much energy to present...sort of the flip side of the issue.

I think that's why the touchy-feely methods that supposedly never use pressure exist - people don't understand that being clear and loud without emotion is even possible, and that doing so isn't "cruel". If anything, like you said in your post it's harder on the horses when we're NOT clear.

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Mon Jul 27th, 2009 05:55 pm
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Adam, it is true that it is difficult to keep our emotions out of it.  I have come to realize for my little emotional self that I need to look at the outcome I am striving for.  I look to have faith that I am there to help my horse feel differently and respond differently.  This has really helped me keep the emotional meter low or as close to neutral as possible.  The only thing I think of on an emotional level (or try to) is how good it will feel to both of us to be present and feeling good about it.  Should my emotions slide into the equation on a negative level I recognize this, apologize to my horse and hit the reset  button and try again.  I try to spend more time dwelling in the good spots. Someone called them joy spots~

Miriam the question about being interesting.  Good one. I keep coming back to "be clear" for me.   Because if I am clear and able to offer the horse something that says hey lets do this together and feel good about it (dammit, lol) then the horse is often more engaged in the process.  Even as something as simple as clearing small stones in the pen, I try to present this in such a way that my horse might think that checking out the ground with me could be interesting.  (And he might get his favorite itch scratched too.)

Checking the fence line, riding to piles of poop, or strange looking shrubs, investigating, having a plan and riding your plan.  There are many things to keep a horse engaged and interested but I have found for me, what I am offering from the inside is what the horse is feeling the most of, and if it does not feel good to me I know it is not going to feel good to the horse.  I each and every day try to find joy in the smallest of things when I am with my horse. They feel that, I know they do.

Kathy 

 

 s

miriam
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 Posted: Wed Jul 29th, 2009 02:42 pm
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Harry has followed some of us participants for a few years now and we've all become better with his help. Although his standards for us are high, you can see why he demands them. It's for the horse's benefit. This year he was telling me that although I was doing the right things generally, I was leaving out important components in my conversations with caballo. My feeling with my horse was that I could MAKE him do things, but I could sense that inside him he wasn't interested, and even somewhat annoyed by my requests. Harry got blunt and said I WAS annoying in how I handled the rope for instance. I've been using meaningless, minimally focused drivel and expecting him to care about and respond to it. Caballo was giving me back exactly what I gave him; mediocrity. His eyes would be on me but dull. His responses would be slow and would take seconds. He'd be biding his time until the pressure was off and then he'd close his eyes and retreat mentally. So I said to Harry; "OK, I'll do some roundpenning every night before doing anything else with caballo" and he said "no you don't have to do that, just make sure everything you say to the horse is clear every time, and mean it! Keep him curious and participating, engaged. If he leaves you, get big (exploding box) until he understands what you ask." And with that, caballo became brighter!

So I see now that it's not JUST focus, it's a refined kind of focus. So last night I took mare who's in season (which by the by, makes a mare show you what they know or don't know) around the block (my backwoods trails) and kept thinking ahead (like Kindred said) to around the corner or a destination up ahead, or forgetting the thundering, whinneying, newtered clod hopper back at the barn etc. She was licking and chewing throughout. Harry says that if you see licking and chewing DURING movement that it denotes good understanding.

Rahfie, your new avatar is the vision I recall of you both at the clinic - TERRIFIC! What other revelations did you encounter this year? Wasn't Harry's foal work interesting?

Jeannie
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 Posted: Thu Jul 30th, 2009 10:29 pm
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When I rode in Harry's clinic, I asked him why a horse would leave their herd/pasture and do something with us if there was no pressure to do so (no halter and rope, crop, etc). Was it simply training? He replied it is because they want to be with us, and told us about being with a horse out in the back beyond somewhere, and how the horse stayed with him even though she could have gone off in any direction by herself.
 That answer changed everything for me in regards to working with my horse. And if we pay attention to Harry's way of being with horses, we can learn a lot about why they would want to be with us.
            

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 09:15 am
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Jeannie, there are some wonderful stories about this very thing from back in the middle 19th century. They are in the diaries of George Catlin, the Western painter, who was often out on the Great Plains when they were mostly uninhabited and trackless. This is the sort of stuff that our Forum history buffs, Joe and Bruce, would also gobble up. If you want the short version, I summarize and cite Catlin's writing in "Conquerors", but the original is better, of course. -- Dr. Deb

miriam
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 01:29 pm
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On the forth day of the HW clinic, a lady with a beautiful bay mare was working her on the ground. All the horses and people were doing so well by this time. You can see how people and horses advance over the course of the clinic. Anyway, the mare was jumping barrels and looking so nice as we watched. Suddenly, as sometimes happens, the rope must've pulled away from the lady as the mare cleared a barrel. The rope dropped out her hand and the horse just quickly turned around to face the lady, stopped and waited with ears to the lady. That lady walked up and took up the rope. We all clapped and Harry commented first 'we have a loose horse' and then, the horse 'came back'. This was a beautiful and reassuring thing to see. That lady was smiling really big!
I met a lady last week who is quite debilitated by lung disease. She is on O2 and carries a portable pack. She bought an older Arab gelding who had been trained and treated right by a trainer (R Hunt styled) whom we know does real good work. And that gelding, he actually takes care of her. It's such a marvelous thing for this lady. So about this 'filling in' part or the 'coming from the other side'; my gelding comes in, but he demands that I hold up my part it seems. He's not cutting me any slack b/c if I'm less than clear, he's gone (mentally). Is it with age and confidence that this develops more in the horse, if he's trained/treated correctly? This lady isn't the best rider and can't even get on without a step, I see she's late and slow often, but that horse just moves along with his ears and eyes to her all the time.

Joe
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 01:42 pm
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You know, I don't understand why, but horses often take care of children and disabled people.  It is not true of every horse, of course.  However, in my youth I remember a couple of horses who were challenging to adults, but who would seem to try to keep children on their backs.  The same s true of some of the therapeutic horses.

Again -- just reporting -- don't understand the phenomenon.

Joe

mares tales
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 Posted: Sun Aug 2nd, 2009 02:28 pm
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Nothing feels better to me than to be chosen by a horse. I have a mare that leaves the herd just to walk around with me in my large pasture to check fence, even when all the other horses are out of site.  I have had this mare since she was a foal. When she went away to get started for two months, the first thing she did when she got off the trailer was come over to me and smell my breath, I was so honored.

I remember one time when I had just gotten her as a 3 month old foal, we were walking down our very long lane alone and the wind was rustling through the tall dry corn bordering our driveway, pretty scarey noises for a little foal just away from the protection of her mother. She reached over to me and put her nose on my arm, just brushing it, then looking back ahead. I knew she was asking me "Is it ok?", just like she would have asked her Mom if she had been there. I took my hand and ran it over her neck and shoulder reasurring her and I could feel her let go of the fear. It has been that way between us ever since, only now as a 6 year old she is a very confident horse and not much scares her.

About this subject, I once wrote about my "deer story". I`ll repeat it because I love writing about it and recalling all the details.

It was late summer/ early fall and I was walking down in my wooded pasture as I often do to check for woodchuck holes, weeds that aren`t supposed to be there etc and just taking in the sites and sounds of the wildlife. Off in the distance I could see a yearling deer so I decided to see if I could hook it on. When the deer would put its head down to graze, I would do something with my body, make a movement of some sort, to get it`s attention and get it to look at me. At first just getting its attention was enough, I had to get its attention with very subtle movements without sending it bounding away in fear and self protection, a fine balance. I know in theory, a deer being a prey animal was supposed to respond similar to a horse but, I couldn`t believe that I was actually getting some form of communication going with this wild animal. A few minutes later, after the deer would raise its head and look at me, I would lower my eyes, breathe out and draw. It wasn`t long before the deer was brousing just 30 feet from me. When it got that close I stopped drawing, it kept nosing around in the grass, as if I was the most common site in the woods. Not a bit of tenseness or fear. I tried to keep my own pulse low and my breathing regular which was pretty difficult since I was so excited about what had just happened. We just hung out together for about ten minutes and then I turned and walked away and went back home.

 But that was not the end of the story. About 3 weeks later, in a different area of the wooded pasture, I was fixing fence. I had my attention on the fence and my back to the open area that had a few scattered trees. My concentration was on the fence but I could hear the shuffle of leaves and dried matter behind me, so I slowly turned around. I couldn`t believe it, there was my deer, up the incline but only about 30 feet from me. he was nosing around in the leaves, same as when I walked away from him three weeks ago in a different part of the pasture. I did not look directly at him,  but I could see the tiny buds of his antlers starting to show on his head so I knew it was a young buck. I kept my attention as if I were continuing to work on the fence with my back to the young buck, all the while not believing the commune with nature that I was just experiencing........this young deer was actually looking ME up and he remembered me.....three weeks is a long time. I never thought I would see him again, I was so satisfied with what had happened three weeks earlier. As the time went by the deer slowly made his way down the pasture, I kept my attention on the fence, only to glance up and see where he was. As he left and was about 300 feet from me, he looked back at me, I looked at him. We stared at one another for about 2 minutes and he drifted away into the woods. 

miriam
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 Posted: Mon Aug 3rd, 2009 05:07 pm
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Super GREAT story MTs! Were you the person who wrote about being pulled out of an icy ravine by their horse's tale? Now there's another great story! Any other good stories MTs??

Last night on a rainy evening's ride, caballo was super polite and light, it felt connected. I wanted to move the mare out of the way and he took up the task readily so I felt like he was sort of 'taking care of me'. I've consciously been working for clarity, and being forward thinking with verve! Harry's tips have sure paid off.


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