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Blue Flame
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 Posted: Sun Sep 5th, 2010 01:46 pm
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Thank you DrDeb for your reply,

Last night, before the ride today referred to in my previous post, I had indeed read again the "Who's Built Best to Ride" article. I noted in particular the parts about raising the knees for women and the difficulties of women pointing the toes forward with my daughter before the ride today.

With regards to hyperextension of her back, I don't think she is doing that. Rather, she rides with her lower back as much as possible in it's natural curvature - as if she were standing - and she has been putting effort into her posture for the last several months. However, there was a time years past - after a few years of lessons with the kind of "dressage" instructors you refer to - that she used to hyperextend her back. Indeed, one day when riding that way, her horse stumbled and she hurt her back as a result. Not badly hurt, as she is young, but still hurt more than she should have been due to the hyperextension. For a couple of years after that, she learned to ride "on her pockets" as much as she could manage during a time of learning from the self well advertised NH guru . That solved some problems while creating other different problems.

This year, we have been working toward what we would call "Classical" riding, trying to interpret and implement what we think reasonable from the likes of Mairinger, Wynmalen, Belasik and Loch, whose materials we have read. As a result, she is no longer tense or stiff like she was after the early dressage instructor years and no longer feels behind the movement like she was during the well self advertised NH guru years. I have been very happy with her progress since making this last change to her riding. After reading your "Who's Built Best to Ride" article again, I came to the realisation (duh!) that much of what we've been working on (with the exception of Loch) was written by men for men.

I have noticed that the two women around here whom I would consider the most competent riders (one of whom spent time with XXXXXXXX) do "appear" to ride with a noticeably flatter back  than everyone else, but not so much the elevated and open chest.

With reference to chipping away at the training with the horse, we are able to get a nice slow yet uphill canter from the horse doing just that. I referred earlier to how we can bring that about by cantering 1 circle and then stopping a short while, then cantering another circle and stopping again. The horse appears more willing to make the effort to move well once he gets the idea that he does will get a rest very soon.

However, following your instructions as best we could, we were unable to reach that nice slow uphill canter. So far as I can determine, the only things that we consciously changed were 1. Making sure not to run the horse up into the canter and 2. Sitting back. The result of our efforts were slightly better departures and a more adherent seat. It is just the speed that was off and not so much uphill - although there were some really nice moments of movement in amongst it all.

I will certainly study your reply again in the morning after a good night's sleep and review the "Who's Built Best to Ride" article again before the next ride. Will also check she is not clenching her butt etc.

One last question for now . . . My daughter rides in a XXXXXXXX saddle whereby the balance of the saddle seat is made very easy to adjust while still on the horse. Given the anatomical differences between men and women, is there something I might do with this saddle balance to help the female position?

Respectfully, and gratefully,

Sandy

Last edited on Sun Sep 5th, 2010 09:01 pm by DrDeb

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Sep 5th, 2010 09:29 pm
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Sandy, you will not find classical horsemanship in the parts of the German literature or tradition which you have named, nor in most parts of it.

The work of Lorke is to be utterly rejected; most of the mistakes and mis-conceptions which "inform" the competitive dressage community can be traced to that source.

Regarding Wynmalen, and very much like him Podhajsky: years ago, when I used to give talks to help people learn to identify good movement in horses at all the gaits -- and this will reveal really how antique a bird I am getting to be -- I used to fix up two carousels of slides. Then I would use two carousel slide projectors and two screens, so that the audience could see a bad vs. a good example of each and every gait, transition, or movement. Easy characteristics to pick out in bad movers and in badly-trained, badly-ridden horses is that they are stiff, high-headed, above the bit, go with a hollow back, and go crooked. And to demonstrate these things, my carousel of bad examples was filled with Wynmalen and Podhajsky. I would therefore advise you to dispense very largely with both of them. Wynmalen, in short, couldn't ride a lick to speak of, and like all bad trainers did not understand how to put the horse correctly to the bit; but he was an idealist and he could write an evocative essay.

So what Wynmalen IS good for is the first two chapters in "Dressage: A Study of the Finer Points of Riding", which are a simply lovely essay on WHY a person would want to have a dressed horse. No knowledgeable or caring horseman disagrees with the points made there. The problem comes, however, in the fact that Wynmalen EQUATES "finer riding" or "better riding" with dressage of the form which his teacher, Podhajsky, practiced, i.e. German-influenced. Many people who read Wynmalen's essay then make the same false assumption, that good riding = competitive or German-style dressage. A huge mistake.

With Podhajsky, and also Lorke and Museler, we have deeper problems than with Wynmalen. All were Nazis and perpetuate ugly aspects of Nazi philosophy, such as "levels", which are no more than civilian imitations of the kind of segregation between enlisted men and officers which characterize the army.

Podhajsky, like Kurt Waldheim, was an officer in the Nazi army and an enthusiast and cooperator, who should have been, but was not, prosecuted after the war. He very slickly tells out-and-out lies in his books, such as that he met General Patton. He does not directly say this; he implies it. The photo of the American officer saluting him which is printed in "My Horses, My Teachers" is not a photo of Patton. Patton had been called back to the front four days before, and the two never met. In other places, he does not so much lie as exert his considerable powers as a diplomat -- in, for example, expressing his disagreement with important points that his own teachers, bereiters of the Spanish Riding School such as Lindenbauer, tried to tell him. He should in fact have listened: I have a considerable dossier on Podhajsky, containing probably forty different photos of him on horseback, and there is not one single picture in which he has the horse soft, rounded, or correctly on the aids.

So these are people who you certainly would not want to expose your daughter to. My advice would rather be that you obtain photos of Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt, Harry Whitney, and more that appear in the pages of the Eclectic Horseman magazine, and start pinning those up all over your house. You can scan them out, enlarge them, and pin them up everywhere you are likely to see them every day. This is how you learn to ride -- by absorbing subliminally, and then bodying forth in imitation, the feel and the actions of good riders.

You should also go to YouTube and look at the clip of the bullfighter on the palomino horse (somebody here will know the link, I bet). And look anywhere you can to get film or still photos of Angel Peralta or his brother Rafael, who are the two greatest mounted bullfighters in the world. This is your ultimate goal: to ride like they do. As for being women, you can also look for photos of Conchita Cintron, a successful rejoneadora from a generation back.

The last thing I would suggest is that, if you are interested in classical horsemanship -- which is the form of horsemanship actually being practiced by the mounted bullfighters -- competitive dressage has almost zero connection to classicism and is not a 'classical' way to ride or train -- then you need to obtain the "Inner Horseman" back issue from 2005 which contains a complete, detailed review of the techniques and practices actually used in 17th and 18th-century Europe. You will find this fascinating; for example, there is not a snaffle bit in the lot, except on the greenest colt. There are all kinds of creative bitting techniques, some of which you most certainly would not want to use, while others are still valid and practical. But please stop listening to the nabobs and propagandists of the dressage community, who announce over the loudspeaker at every show, that what the audience is about to see is 'classical' horsemanship. It isn't. I wonder how long they could continue to get away with the ignorance and many cruelties, small and large, which are regularly practiced in pursuit of their prizes, if they did not cover it and justify it by calling it 'classical'?-- Dr. Deb

 

Blue Flame
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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 01:30 am
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DrDeb,

Thank you for again giving so generously of your time and knowledge.

First, my apologies for posting the brand name of the saddle - still feeling my way through the ettiquette here. In fact, it leaves me a little gunshy in mentioning the names of sources of information for the purposes of making distinctions on the good and the bad.

Thank you for bearing with my long, somewhat off-topic, posts in this thread - which are largely motivated by a need I feel to express where I think we are at and where we want to go - an introduction of sorts. I commit that in future, after this post, my posts will be much more concise and in the form of questions.

The materials of the authors that we've been reading, those that you discuss above, were read mainly because the materials just happened to come our way. We did not actively persue them nor purchase them but took the opportunity to read them as they became available to us.

You have helped me realise now why I was not enamoured of the photographs in Wynmalen's "Dressage". Also why I had a feeling with some of these books that they lacked integrity in the sense that the ideas put forth were often contradictory and did not integrate with eachother. Their ability to write sometimes seductively and to name drop where convenient, quoting the old masters, was similarly misleading.

I have never read or heard of Lorke.

The pictures that always did seem to look right to me, by contrast, were the ones of the people you suggested we pin up on the walls - Brannaman and the Spanish and Baroque images - with draping reins.

Our interest in our search for the classical ilk is borne out of a desire for good biomechanical movement in the horse to preserve and enhance him - not about performances. What we are seeking could carry any name or none, so long as it benefits the horse in this way. We are all about giving the horse the best deal we are capable of. We do not compete nor have any plans nor desire to. My daughter and her horse have seperately done that in the past and are absolutely over it. While competitions are held regularly the facility where we graze, we avoid even watching because for every one horse we see being ridden well there are another 9 or more moving in damaging ways.

Our major saving grace while experimenting with the ideas we find is that we take very seriously the idea that the horse will show us the truth about things. We experiment with new (to us) ideas and let the horse be the judge of them. With your help, we hope to become more skilled at seeing and interpreting what he showing us. Simlarly, by your good grace, we hope to learn to sort the good information from the misinformation.

Names that have intrigued me lately have been Philippe Karl, Racinet and Baucher. I see that you have in the past written an explanation of Baucher and also notice Racinet (I think) on your suggested reading list. Your list is so long that I really have no idea where to start there.

I will shortly be purchasing many of your materials - the Birdie CD and Inner Horseman stuff - and we will immerse ourselves in them. I have read all of the stuff posted free in the knowledge base and will re-read them.

We have come a long way in giving the horse a better deal and we have so much more to learn. We are finally ready for this next step after years of slowly getting out of our own way in terms of ego. A couple of years ago, my ego was still too much in the way of my ability to take adavantage of what you offer. Looking back, the horse has been patient, willing and forgiving whenever we were going in the right direction and showing us where our new idea was BS. I often wonder whether we are doing the horse a dis-service with all the changes we try while we are learning to be better for him rather than staying more consistent, but stuck in that consistency. It would be one thing to be inconsistent and learning - entirely another to be consistently wrong.

One day maybe, but not today, I may ask you a big question about aids and cues . . . . . what works physically, what works metaphysically and what is just plain rubbish.


Looking forward to a deeper way,

Sandy

P.S. I, Sandy, am male . . . my daughter, Miki, is female. Even more reason to be careful, in light of your "Who's Best Built to Ride" article, that I do not expect her to feel what I feel in terms of position.



DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 04:22 am
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Sandy, just because a book is on the PDF that contains my "recommended reading" list does NOT mean:

1) That I approve of or agree with its content, or

2) That I would do all, or even any, of what is suggested therein.

For example, you will find Museler, Racinet, Podhajsky, and more on that list; and I absolutely assure you, that if they in the flesh had ever crossed my path, I would not so much as have allowed them to touch my horse.

Nonetheless, these books are on the list because they are "standard works" with which every EDUCATED rider should be familiar: you do need to know your enemies as well as your friends. And you need to know the milieu out of which better ways of thinking, better approaches to horse handling and riding, have come. And, as you note, this is also the only way for a person to develop a faculty for discrimination, whereby the bad and the ugly may be eliminated and the good and worthy things identified. These things do not come with labels; acquiring the ability to discriminate takes dedicated, prolonged work and attention.

Another type of book you will find on that list is exemplified by John Richard Young's works. He is, in my view, extremely sensible, and is not at pains to spare the feelings of anybody -- he tells you absolutely straight. We need more teachers like this, just as we need to get back to a society where the prime value in the school system is not "parity of esteem", i.e. protecting childrens' sense of self-worth above all other things. When young people, or anyone, fails because of laziness, inattentiveness, failure to maintain purpose, focus, and drive, then they should feel their failure and know and be able to admit exactly who that is down to. And likewise with success: much sweeter when one is aware that one has truly earned it.

Nonetheless, there are many things in J.R. Young's books that I would not do, and would not have any student of mine do, with a horse. In many ways we have moved beyond that part of J.R. Young's knowledge, though not in all parts. Again, it is a question of discrimination.

The greatest problem that all beginners have, Sandy, is that they do not have the ability to discriminate. This is because they are beginners, i.e., they have not been interested in or committed to horsemanship long enough to have devoted the requisite work of reading, nor have they experienced enough situations on enough different horses. Nonetheless, and here's the kicker, the person in all the world who is in the most urgent need to be able to discriminate, is none other than the beginner.

Do not expect, as implied in your last post Sandy, that there is, or will ever be, any "consistency" in horsemanship. Two quite knowledgeable and respectable horsemen may in good faith give you diametrically opposite advice, and what is more, both of them will be correct. So the solace you seek will not be found in consistency. Rather, it is to be found in DEPTH -- in the perception of where the horse himself is. Your idea that "correctness" ultimately must always go back to what is innate to, and good for, the horse is a very sound basis to begin from.

And notice what that implies: that there is no such thing as "English", no such thing as "Western" or "Paso Fino style" or "what we do with Tennessee Walking Horses". There is only ONE way to ride which is universal, or, to put that another way -- there are two ways to ride: you can either ride for the horse, or you can ride against him.

Your problem as a beginner, Sandy, will be not only to find the books with the best juice in them, but also to find the right teachers as opposed to the false gurus. For what makes the false gurus false is that they know nothing of the one right way to ride. But a lot of people can spout similar language. Our elderly teacher referred to such people, not in private only but also in the ears of the public media, as "surface workers".

Which brings to mind a saying of St. Paul: "everything is permissible unto me, but not all things are beneficial." Cheers -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 09:43 am
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DrDeb, of course your advice on 'knowing the enemy' with regards to reading materials makes perfect sense. I have in the past applied a similar strategy when selecting books from the philosophy section of the library. Having caught myself always selecting books that I thought I would find agreeable, I made a point to also select at least one book that I thought would irritate me. Doing so turned out to be very beneficial to increasing my understanding.

I had the opportunity to visit  the libraries today. Slim pickings there. However, I did book out Sally Swift's 'Centered Riding' and Buck Brannaman's 'Faraway Horses'. I'm a little way into Sally Swift's book now and have so far been pleasantly surprised by how much it resonates with my experience of internal/meditative martial arts. The soft eyes, the breathing, the awareness, the centering of oneself, visualisations . . . so many parallels. My daughter does not have my martial arts experience so I am so glad to find that this book may introduce her to these concepts in a way that more directly interests her.

There was another book that I left on the shelf for now - Udo Burger's boastingly titled 'The Way to Perfect Horsemanship'. The illustration on the cover caught my eye, but the images contained within were disappointing by contrast. Glancing through the index, the layout and way that the book was arranged was uncannily similar to Wynmalen's 'Dressage'. Incidently, the reason I purchased Wynmalen's book is because it has been said all over the internet that, along with 'Kinship with All Life', it was recommended by the old teacher.

While my post is not so brief as I initially commited to being, I do have a question about the Burger book mentioned above. . . Is it worthwhile reading considering it gives the initial impression of being another version of Wynmalens 'Dressage'?



Bruce, indeed one of the main things I remember from Mairinger's book is his expressions on how the supports balance the load and not the other way around. Unfortunately, that book was loaned to me by a friend and has since been returned - but I do know of a copy sitting unloved on a shelf in a 2nd hand saddlery that I may get hold of. . . .

Last edited on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 09:48 am by Blue Flame

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 10:18 am
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Sandy, the most worthwhile two books you could spend your time with are Sally Swift's "Centered Riding" and Mike Schaffer's new E-book (which you buy as a PDF download off his website), entitled "Riding in the Moment". Buck's book is good too, but it is an autobiography, not a "how to". If Pop Konyot's wisdom resonates with you, you will love Mike Schaffer.

As to our elderly teacher's mentioning Wynmalen's "Dressage: A Study of the Finer Points of Riding", yes, I heard him recommend it too. But for my own part, I do not believe that he ever read past the 2nd chapter of that book, nor was he recommending it for its "how to" content. What our elderly teacher seemed to me to be interested in more than anything else was the relationship between horse and human, and that is what those first two very good chapters are about.

As to the book by the German you mention, I took one glance at it and put it back on the shelf. I do believe that subliminal "inner pictures" are a major force in enabling (or perverting and crippling) a person's progress as a rider. For this reason, I avoid so much as looking at pictures of bad work -- pictures that show forceful, aggressive riders drubbing their stiff, crooked horses through various maneuvers, whether "Western" or "English". I myself avoid, and I seriously advise my students to avoid, looking at any picture of a competitive dressage rider, whether in a magazine or on the Internet. Instead, I suggest as I did in the post above, that the person obtain pictures that show "right work" (to put it in classic martial arts terminology).

And what is "right work"? Once again -- the person has to learn to discriminate. And to begin learning that, the person must look inside him- or herself, and ask: "do I have a 'button' in here for this? If I do, have I not been using it? Maybe it is less a button than a 'speaker system'!"

So one must find out! -- Dr. Deb

Blue Flame
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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 11:04 am
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Thank you DrDeb.

Swift, Schaffer, Inner Horseman and Birdie Book . . . got it. I now have plenty of homework to go on with.

Gratefully,

Sandy

Last edited on Mon Sep 6th, 2010 11:06 am by Blue Flame

DarlingLil
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 Posted: Sun Jan 18th, 2015 08:00 pm
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Another favorite post.

kcooper
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 Posted: Wed Sep 30th, 2015 06:12 pm
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I have this article on my 'watch post' list so when the spammer below made it go off as an email notification I revisited it. And what an opportune time for me to have done so. Funny how that works.

Kim C

JTB
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 Posted: Sat Dec 8th, 2018 09:56 pm
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Bump for further reading! :-)

kuuinoa
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 Posted: Sun Dec 9th, 2018 03:55 am
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JTB wrote: Bump for further reading! :-)Thank you for the "Bump for further reading! :-)" JTB.  This thread should stay up there!
~K~

ilam
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 Posted: Tue Dec 11th, 2018 11:17 pm
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Yet another event of synchronicity - as it has happened so many times in here at the time when I am working on something particular with my Arab. Dr. Deb's post on tempo on page 1 is exactly what I needed. It seems I never have to even formulate a question, if I have something rummaging around in my mind and am working at it, if I need to know it, it shows up (or gets bumped up by someone...). Of course I read it in 2010 also, but then it didn't have that much meaning yet.

Isabel

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 Posted: Sun Dec 16th, 2018 07:07 am
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It is often the way isn't it, you are pondering something and the answer appears here! I was looking for something completely different and got side tracked on this one!
Best Wishes
Judy


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