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Rider's eyesight and the birdie
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Philine
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 Posted: Fri Feb 12th, 2010 09:21 pm
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Hi Tammy,

 

I've gone to lots of Josh Nichol clinics, some around the Edmonton area and many in Meanook (close to Athabasca) where he lives.  I can highly recommend his clinics.  He's very good at pinpointing the most important thing(s) to be working on (because we all have lots of things) and at coaching both horses and people so they 'get it' at a level where they can be successful and continue to progress when they get home.

Meanook is in beautiful country.  I go up there for horse holiday clinics not only to work with my horse, but because it's a feel good place for me.  The people at the clinics are very supportive and we have a lot of fun.  There's a large covered arena so the weather doesn't matter.  My horse loves it there because good stuff always happens for both of us.

Philine

Dorothy
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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 08:17 am
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Hi Philine,

thanks for drawing my attention back to the 'safe brown bottom' image!

Dr Deb, I realise that you have talked about the 'returning home' situation, with your anecdote about Painty and the 'cow'. I'm feeling a bit muddled at the moment about how to go ahead with Solo,  I don't feel that I am helping him much.

I think that this is going to be a much needed lesson in patience for me - I so want to 'do' something rather than wait and 'not do'.

Dorothy

Jacquie
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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 08:30 am
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I think its time for me to read the birdie book again too. Its always interesting to re-read books generally and discover what was missed or misunderstood during previous readings. I don't think I read it properly the first time either - I freely admit that I was probably not really ready for all it had in it - and I probably still am not.

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 08:41 am
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Dorothy wrote:
 Going towards home, his head was up, ears all over the place, and he was very crooked, bulging his shoulders left and very bracey in the left hand side of his neck. I don't think I really got OK-ness when facing home at all.

Do I just need to wait longer when facing home for the Birdie to settle before moving?

Thank-you,

Dorothy

 



Wow Dorothy, I loved your description of your ride.  Isn't the reason for his crookedness on the going home is because his birdie and his body are not in the same place.  When his mind and his body are in two different places "there is trouble in the household" (Harry Whitney).  So his birdy has flown home but his body is still outside the yard?  I would think trying to still his feet and wait for his body and birdie to join is very troubling for him.  Would there be a way to ask him to move his feet in such a way that his mind and body have to join up again?

I can relate, as I think we all can, about the daunting realization of how "un-ok" our horses had been for so long prior to our "awakening" to how they are really feeling.  Kudos to you for wanting your horse to be ok!  I look forward to Dr. Deb's thoughts on your rides.

Best,

Kathy

 

Dorothy
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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 09:32 am
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Hi Kathy,

thanks for your words of empathy!

Yes, I think keeping his feet still when his Birdie is not with him is troubling for him, but did seem to get some connection of Birdie and body in a way that having him move does not. Or, I haven't yet found the way to achieve this, but I am very aware of my tendency to 'ride the body' and not the Birdie, and trying to get his Birdie by the Lesser Path has been unsuccessful to date.

I think I need to stay closer to home - and yesterday I was only tens of yards away, so that he can have his Birdie and feel safe while keeping still and facing homewards, and only very gradually move away a few yards and then turn round  and so on.

oooh errrr.

Dorothy

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Sat Feb 13th, 2010 11:42 am
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Hi Dorothy and all,

I have worked with this very thing with my horse.  He however can be tense and "excitable" leaving our yard.  He anticipates that we are going for a ride and really wants to so much so that his birdie flies down the road before we have left yet.  So, what I do is ask him to soften to my rein and basically ride some small serpentines in my yard.  In each direction as he softens, I release him.  I learned this from Josh Nichol.  I keep doing this until he holds the thought and softness on his own.  Basically until his birdie is back with us in the yard.  Then and only then do we "softly" start off down the road.  On the way home, I will do the same thing if needed.  At times going out, he will tense a bit and I bring him back around (like Dr. Deb describes) to where he is ok and wait.  I keep him looking where we want to go until he decides he wants to go that way and I back it up with my body saying "yes".

So, sometimes, I have to work the body to get the mind but in other circumstances, I have to work the mind to get the body.  Either way the end result will be the same, birdie with body.

I thought maybe my experiences with this may help you.  Also I have found that doing the softening to the rein exercise, it also stretches his body and he is stepping under in each direction and it helps to get and braciness out while getting the mind.  Therefore is does more than just get his birdie back.  Maybe this will help with your horse getting crooked and tense on the way back home.

Tammy

 

Dorothy
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 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 11:44 am
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Hello All,

This afternoon magic happened! I HAD to go for a ride as it was one of the nicest sorts of winter afternoon, soft and calm with broken cloud and gentle sunshine, and cool, but not cold; it has been dry here for a while so the ground underfoot is really good.

I resolved to focus on projecting the 'safe brown bottom' and directing Solo's Birdie to stay with it. He walked out really happily (he is generally more Ok on the way out than the way home), and if he told me that he needed to stop, I let him take the time he needed rather than my habitual response of hussling him on. He carried his head lower than he frequently does, and moved in a very unhurried way.

On the way home I really had to project the 'safe brown bottom' very strongly to keep him unhurried and his focus ahead, but then I found myself having an amazing 'conversation' with Solo, tiny little touches of my legs, a gentle ask for a head twirl with my hands, or a loin twirl with my seat, all responding to his Birdie's and his body's wriggling. The last mile home is downhill, and generally where I 'loose' him, but we had the most intricate communication going on, and I became aware of his regular, rhythmical footfalls in a completely even 4 beat walk - very measured and calm.

He walked all the way home with his head reaching forwards and low, with his ears lightly pricked, I have never had this degree of him being 'on the aids' whilst out hacking EVER. He felt what I imagine whoever coined the phrase 'between hand and leg' must really have meant.

Whilst my primary focus was on projecting, and on keeping his Birdie quietly with the safe brown bottom, the way it really happened was by me riding his body as well, but in a secondary way. The intertwining of the Greater and the Lesser Paths?

I have a teacher for whom I have great respect, who says when someone has had a particularly good ride, 'be careful not to think "I've got it!" but to say "well that will be an act to follow"!'  This cautions the elated rider from expecting the same to 'happen' the next time without the same ingredients being mixed together in the right way. Well this afternoon will be an act to follow......

Dorothy

 

 

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Sun Feb 14th, 2010 12:12 pm
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Dorothy, congrats on your joyful ride! I would equate it to riding every step.  Which was important and meaningful to this horse.  You caught his thought before it became an action, between your hand and leg.  You changed thus your horse did the same.  You were able to support your horse.  Awesome!  And some days, that support might mean you never get out of the yard.

Kudos to you!

Kathy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 03:18 am
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While I've got a few moments this evening, I want to tell all of you who are participating or reading this thread a story. The original story is in The Birdie Book, so those of you who are students of that may remember it; but now there's an addendum, because back when Bill Dorrance was alive, my gelding Oliver had not yet entered the circle of my acquaintance. Bill, of course, was Tom's older brother. He was 92 years old when this exchange occurred.

Bill had been given an ex-polo horse named Beauty, who was a very unhappy camper: so unhappy that she had decided that she had no use for humans and would certainly try to kill anybody who tried to ride her. And she did to Bill just about all that a horse can do: bolted, reared, walked on her hind legs, cow-kicked, struck, tried to scrape him off on limbs or against fences. She was given to him when Bill was 90, and although I had seen them initially then I didn't see them again for two years.

So when I saw them when Bill was 92, Beaut was the most OK horse I had ever seen in my life. Deeply, deeply OK. And I was glad to see this, because really, Bill was a very nice person and despite his having been an almost unshakeable rider since a little boy, one still did worry a bit, as after their grandfather. So when I saw Bill with Beaut so OK like that, I asked him "Bill, how long was it after you got her that she quit trying to kill you?"

Bill said, "Well....it was about a year."

And I said: "But Bill....why did you put up with this? Why go through it? You could have had any horse in the world. Why did you stick with her?"

And Bill replied, "Well, Debbie.....I knew it would be all right."

But then, looking up at him from the ground as he sat there on Beaut, I looked in his old-man's face, a face like one of those apples you carve a smile in and two winky eyes and then you let it dry out until it is a completely unique concatenation of wrinkles. And I said, "But Bill....I think there's more to it than that," and he nodded, silently, "yes".

And at that moment I had a vision. There was a slot in Bill's chest -- right across the upper part of his chest, like a wide mail slot. And out of that slot there was pouring the purest and most beautiful water you could imagine, falling smoothly, sleekly downward. Coming infinitely out of the old man's body, it spilled down soundlessly, rolling down her neck, rolling down her haunches, drenching her completely, not as if she were wading in a pool but as if continually anointed, and mysteriously disappearing as soon as the drops fell away from her skin and mane.

Now, you all know the name of that water, so I do not need to tell you. I had an idea, though, in that moment what it would be like to be friends with Bill, or what his long-deceased wife must have experienced from him: to be totally taken care of, totally enveloped, totally accepted, totally "covered" as by a divine policy of insurance and assurance.

Well....now to rise up from those depths and lighten up a little bit. We have been talking here about the invisible calf, the invisible foxhounds, the invisible tarp being dragged in front of the horse. And these mental projections work, as several of you have testified and as I testify also.

But there is a yet greater, as you now most probably realize. So when Ollie and I are out on a trailride, and he gets a little afraid....another option that I have is to remember the vision of old Bill. Ray Hunt used to say to certain students, "whatever else you do, just don't be afraid." Like as if you could just stop yourself by an act of will from being afraid!

Well, any psychologist will tell you that you cannot do that and I agree, you can't. But you CAN stop being afraid anyway. I notice, and you will notice too when you go out next time and think about it at the barn, that the moment you start feeling afraid, your ability to have that beautiful water come out of your slot is instantly diminished or even shut off.

So you don't work on the fear -- you work on the slot. You keep that slot open, and the moment you start feeling afraid, you think about that beautiful water of life coming out of there. You cannot shut off fear because fear is not coming from your real self at all; it comes in from outside. What you CAN do, because it originates in yourself and is part of yourself, is keep the slot open so that the water can continue, of its own nature, to flow.

And never fear that there will be an end to that water, because there won't. This is the true "gospel of abundance." -- Dr. Deb

kindredspirit
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 Posted: Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 08:58 am
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Wow Dr Deb!

THANK YOU, for painting such a beautiful picture with your words.  I will take this to heart next time I feel a bubble of fear.

Sincerely,

Kathy

 

Philine
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 Posted: Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 09:46 am
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Ditto.  I remember that story about Bill from the Birdie book and have had it in the back of my mind ever since as the ultimate goal for my horse.  The picture of the water of life flowing from me instead of fear shutting things down is very powerful and I will certainly use that imagery.  Thank you so much.

Philine

Tammy 2
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 Posted: Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 10:26 am
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Thank you so much.  That is why I would love to hear more things like that in another podcast.  So very helpful to be reminded how much comes from inside and to use that in our everyday lives with our horses...and people.
 

Last edited on Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 10:28 am by Tammy 2

Jacquie
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 Posted: Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 12:03 pm
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Thank you Dr Deb - that was inspirational. You really do have a wonderful gift with words.

Your generous heart is the thing I love about you most though.

Jacquie

Dorothy
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 Posted: Thu Feb 25th, 2010 12:57 pm
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Hello Dr Deb,

I have been trying to find the right words to express appreciation for what you have shared, but I am struggling, so I will keep the sentiment as a feeling rather than trying to reduce it to words........

 

I took Solo out for a ride this morning, for the first time since having such a good experience (I have ridden him in the school in the meantime), with some anxiety that I could recreate the same thing. But he was amazing, and it was easier to project the safe brown bottom and keep his birdie quietly with it. I had short periods where I could be in 'neutral' when he seemed to need less 'hand holding' to maintain the quietness. I think he really appreciates and enjoys it as well. I did imagine the 'slot' pouring water out over us both as part of the whole process.

I have a 3 year old, and I am excited about being able to give him this from the start.

Dorothy

Sam from another computer.
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 Posted: Thu Feb 25th, 2010 02:21 pm
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Ditto from me too. Beautifully written, and thoroughly enjoyed. 


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