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Freedom
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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speedboat
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Joined: Sun Jul 19th, 2009
Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2009 04:59 am
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Hi
I have just undergone, without a doubt, the most important transformation as horsewoman I could ever hope to make. It happened during our Dr Deb clinic in Edinburgh. The funny thing was that it was not one of the questions at the forefront of my mind going into the clinic but the effects of the answer are monumental.

I hope that by reporting this into the forum I might make contact with others like me.

So what was the big learning? I don't do dressage! That's it. One little change in my thinking leading to huge benefits in my horsemanship and to me and my horse being a whole lot happier.

By not doing "dressage" I have taken myself out of an arena where there is "correctness" and the "right way to train a horse" and "failure" and "you don't train with so and so do you" and "you have to know in the first five minutes of meeting me that I've done EVERYTHING". I don't need to be here. I don't need to speak to these people and don't need to have the arguments. Heck I don't even play with the same shape ball as them!

So what does that free me up to do? I ride my horse like me, happy with whatever movement she gives. I find it interesting not incorrect. I can ride with whomever I like, if I like the feel of what they do.
 However, I have a home and I will study that home well and become more comfortable in it. I don't argue with anybody about dressage because I don't do dressage. I have nothing to prove and no race to win. I am on a journey not a ladder and as such there are no levels.My only judge is my horse. I am free

hurleycane
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2009 08:11 am
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One of my most favorite inspirational posts of all time!

Thank You and Thank You!

Indy
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 Posted: Mon Sep 21st, 2009 09:07 am
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You can insert and type of competitive riding/horse sport where dressage is written in this post and it still rings true.  Crazy how we can change when our inner shark starts to come out.
Clara

janb
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Joined: Wed Sep 16th, 2009
Location: Edmonton, Alberta Canada
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 Posted: Tue Sep 22nd, 2009 01:15 pm
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How exciting and wonderful for you to hit this realization.  If you were a student of Eckhartd Tolle, I'd say you discovered the presence of stillness and experienced the joy of riding in the now.  Cheers to you,

JanB

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Sep 23rd, 2009 12:00 am
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Yes. What you are all talking about is also what St. Paul meant when he said, 'love -- then do as you will.'

The horse comes before the maneuver, and the maneuver comes before the competition. The person who does not understand what makes a horse tick will not be successful in competiton, because not only the mental and spiritual, but even the physical building blocks for success will not be there in her daily practice.

Why this is, is that horses, more than most other creatures, embody their feelings and thoughts: they 'body them forth'. No horse that spooks and runs away does it because of effort by his muscles, even though effort by his muscles is what moves his legs. A horse runs away because he is frightened: the adrenalin is pumping: the thoughts are not focused on any task but mere escape and survival. The muscles are the slaves of the emotions, and thus, any rider who tries to stop a runaway with the bit is addressing the wrong part of the animal. Getting the horse stopped once the emotions have taken over is both difficult and chancy.

Nobody with any experience would disagree with this, I think. What I was encouraging the people in Edinburgh, and what I encourage all students to do, is to extend this thought to any and every situation: for if a horse's emotions govern his muscles when he's out on a trailride or going cross-country, they equally govern his muscles in the arena. It is therefore not only incorrect, but foolish, to think that your aids are what cause horses to do things. True, if your aids are clumsy enough, they can prevent the horse from doing what he knows or guesses you want him to do. But skillful or clumsy, your physical pushes, prods, pokes or pulls on the horse are not what cause him to do anything. The cause lies much deeper.

I love to quote Franz Mairinger (a former Spanish Riding School bereiter) on this, who said: 'Any time your horse is not doing what you were hoping he would do, it will be because he does not understand what you want him to do.' I would also add, 'it will also often be because he is not confident that he can do it. He is not at peace with himself concerning it.' But Mairinger has it right, because one of the prime sources of internal angst for a horse is that he does not (mentally) comprehend the thing; all the pieces about it have not fallen into place for him. As the Edninburgh students learned from studying the triangle diagram on their handouts, the emotional level of a horse governs not only the physique but the mental level too.

So the horse must be comfortable physically and clear about things mentally before he can feel calm and confident emotionally. This is why I tell students, 'you are not the horse's owner (he cannot grasp that concept); you are not the horse's master (I'll be amused to see who wins if you make it into that kind of a contest). No, you are the horse's teacher. That is your title.'

The teacher's task is to explain what she wants the student to do, in a step-by-step manner. The greatest challenge for the teacher is to find and maintain the maturity, mental flexibility, and creativity to be able to RE-explain something when the horse doesn't get it the first time -- re-explain it in a different way, with variety in the variation, so as to give the horse a different angle on it to help him to get it. When the penny drops, you might say, the physical tension in the horse will long since have dropped, too. Curiosity and engagement are the primary antidote to fear.

It is within this set of priorities that the 'total freedom' that is being spoken of in this thread lies. For total freedom does not mean anarchy, to inflict upon the horse whatever you please, but instead it consists in doing those things that will bring clarity, and thus peace and ease to all parties concerned. The teacher loves the student, as the shepherd loves the sheep; and the shepherd will go to any length to find the lost sheep -- in other words, to teach it and re-teach a thing creatively until it becomes clear to the student and the student gains confidence that he can do whatever it is with ease.

When the rider makes it a priority to present things to the horse in a way that the horse can understand, the horse has a chance of seeing what is wanted. It is the nature of the horse -- far more than it is the nature of the human -- to come from the other side to help us out. All they want is to please us, and there is no such thing as 'resistance', except insofar as the rider or handler herself creates it. In the place of total freedom, the term 'resistance' is never used, because there it has no meaning.

There are quite a few people who have been in the dressage world long enough that they have lost all playfulness and joyfulness. They have been drubbed with being judged so long that now, all they themselves can do is judge -- and they continually exercise their judgementalism, mostly upon other people -- like the lady who wrote in here to say 'aren't those reining people awful' and then turns around and tells us that SHE belongs to the highly superior dressage crowd. I often wonder if people like this can hear themselves; they would be outright funny if it weren't for the fact that their arrogance, aggressiveness, thoughtlessness, and ignorance so often work to hurt other people. And of course, they intend for it to hurt.

But those who have entered the world of total freedom can no longer be hurt in this way, because we have ceded the term 'dressage' to them. I do not practice dressage, and therefore I have no response to anybody who tries to hook me into arguing over whether one way of doing something vs. a different way is 'correct' (or should I say 'korekt'). I refuse to judge either the rider or the horse, because I am not a judge, I am a teacher. There are no levels, and there is nothing that a horse might do that is either correct or incorrect. Instead, they are just things that horses do. Some of them are useful in specific situations; all of them are absolutely fascinating to anyone who is more interested in horses than they are in anything else.

When you live in the world of total freedom, you are participating, all the time, in a process. It is the process that engages you. In this world, the building-block physical maneuvers are practiced to repletion, endlessly combined and re-combined, and endlessly fascinating. You get to watch the horse change from stepping through those maneuvers in a certain way when he is green or less experienced, to stepping through those same maneuvers with greater coordination and strength, deeper meaning, and deeper beauty as he progresses -- as if he were working his way up a spiral staircase, always on the staircase, always rising, but also always passing the same points as he goes 'round each turn.

When you ride in the world of total freedom, you ride in a bubble that includes only you and your horse (and God, if you believe in God). If you have a friend who is qualified to coach you, during the coaching session the friend is included too. The bubble gets stronger and stronger over time, and finally it becomes portable. When that has occurred, you can then ride your horse anywhere and you will have a wonderful time, because no matter where you are, it will be just the same as if you were riding in your home arena. Only in this manner is it safe for the horse to be taken to a horse show, a cross-country meet, or a trailride.

So you see that, if you are living in the world where I am living, it does not matter whether you go to horse shows, or not. If you go to a show, you will, of course, understand that the judge at the show will be following the rules, and you should make every effort to conform to those rules too, as a matter of courtesy and respect. When you are living in this world, you will not be going to horse shows in order to show that you are right and they are wrong, to make a demonstration, or to carry on a campaign. You can't be in the world of total freedom if there is still any interest or desire within you to compare yourself to, or compete with, anyone or anything.

When you go to the dressage show, you will enter the class and be judged. But what the judge says (the little piece of paper he gives you, with the score guaranteed -- no matter what your horse does -- to lie between 45 and 62) will make no real difference to you. Anymore, it is quite likely that at the local and regional show the judge they are able to hire will know considerably less about training horses than you do. So you pay your money, you go in and ride your test the same way you have ridden it in peace ten thousand other times at home, you have a happy day with your horse, your horse has a happy day with you, and then you go home and forget about it. If you keep 'forgetting about it' this way, it wouldn't surprise me to see you named show champion or champion-on-points at the end of a season. But 'success' in this sense would also not greatly matter to either me or you; what we would be really interested in is finding the next deeper level of meaning in something you and your horse were already familiar with, or teaching the horse how to use a new toy or a new bit of arena furniture, or some new maneuver or combination.

'Love and do as thou wilt' works both ways. When we say to the horse 'show me what you can do', for the rest of his life he will be saying back to us, 'Can we do that again?' -- Dr. Deb

 

CarolineTwoPonies
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 Posted: Mon Nov 2nd, 2009 11:28 pm
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This a very good post DrDeb. Thank you.

speedboat
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Joined: Sun Jul 19th, 2009
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 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 05:22 pm
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Thanks Dr Deb. I just picked up on this post in a very celestine moment, i.e when I needed to. Just what I needed thanks


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