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Helen
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Posted: Sat Nov 13th, 2010 01:01 pm
This thread is fantastic, thanks AS & DD. I've worked with leg yielding quite a lot and attempted shoulder in occasionally, but always been confused about where the borders lie between them and also the distinction between them and other lateral movements. So clearly put! Thank you.
DrDeb
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Posted: Sun Nov 14th, 2010 02:41 am
Helen, I'm afraid you've jumped the gun a bit with  your reply. Just because the questions were asked, and answered, does not mean they were answered correctly. The reason I start certain discussions this way is so that I can get a feel for how mixed up the questioner actually is.

So, A.S., you have some things right. A lot of what you're saying is word-for-word repetition of my own words, which you have learned or imported from other threads -- just as you mention. This is fine; sometimes repeating what the teacher said can help you get clarified. In other cases, though, you have it bassackwards.

To begin with, "to go on the left hand" means to be on the arena track, or else on a circle, which puts your left hand toward the center of the arena or the circle. "To go on the left hand" = to go on the left rein = to go to the left of the arena = to go anticlockwise.

Movements of the Leg Yield Family have the following characteristics:

*There is a small to moderate bend, which is to be maintained so long as the horse continues to leg yield.

*By convention, the concave side of the horse is the "inside" and the convex side the "outside", no matter what position rider and horse may occupy within the arena.

*The horse moves from the rider's inside leg obliquely forward, so that if you are going on the left hand, the sense of the movement would be obliquely from left to right.

*None of the horse's legs are to cross at any time during a leg-yield. This was not intended to be a trick question. The adducting leg can come as far as the midline. If it goes any farther, you will tangle his legs up, which can be done if what you intended was to lay him over rather than leg-yield. In a leg-yield, adduction and abduction rhythmically alternates from the front to the hind pair of legs, which, depending upon the angle you view the horse from, may make it look like legs are crossing; but no adducting leg should ever cross the midline.

The leg yield is developed from circles and corners correctly ridden. And for any circular figure to be correctly ridden, indeed for the horse to bend at all, he must weight the OUTSIDE pair of legs. Your confusion about this is the root reason why you ask about how the rider is to use her own weight.

I usually explain this to students in terms of pitching and catching. When the horse is moving obliquely forward from left to right, it is true that the thrust for this comes primarily from the inside hind leg, secondarily from the inside fore leg. The leg is adducted toward the midline, so that it steps under the body shadow. When it touches down, it is 'weighted' in the sense that the animal uses the muscles of his haunch and legs to PUSH THE HOOF DOWN against the ground. Frictional contact of the hoof with the ground, plus the continuing effort of the muscles, creates thrust.

The inside or thrusting legs cause the body to move obliquely forward, from left to right when on the left hand, because they push down but there is also an abducting effort. This is precisely similar to the Venetian gondolier who poles his boat. If he wants the boat to go obliquely forward from left to right, the gondolier pushes his pole down into the mud, then uses his muscles to make the pole go backwards and to the left. It is very simply the principle of "equal and opposite reaction".

Where you are making your mistake is to confuse this -- which is 'pitching' or thrusting -- with 'catching', which is what I term 'weighting'. For when the horse pitches or thrusts his body forward-and-right, it is the OUTSIDE pair of legs that catch or receive the weight. These are, therefore, properly termed the 'weighted' legs.

Thrust from behind and to the left causes weight to flow from the left side of the horse's body forward and to the right side. Additionally, the horse is bent, which means his belly and chest, which are quite heavy, are displaced to the right -- toward the convex side -- the OUTSIDE.

Notice that it is the horse's body that is doing all of this. Even a 600-pound pony outweighs you by hundreds of pounds, and a full sized horse by upwards of a thousand pounds. You could no more lift or drag this much weight than fly, and you are no more to the animal than a fly on a fence rail, unless you up and start wiggling or jerking around up there -- and then you make yourself into an interference and a hindrance. ALL you have to do is JUST SIT -- sit quietly, sit in rhythm, sit with a nice elasticity, but sit all the time right over the middle of the spine as it curves beneath you. You just fix it up so he knows what you want him to do, and then you go along for the ride.

Now, once the weight has been pitched to the outside and received there, the outside legs are going to touch down, and while they are in contact with the ground, that is the time when the thrusting inside legs become completely unweighted and can be picked up and once again adducted. The inside pair of legs 'steps under', then the outside pair of legs 'steps out'.

The most physically difficult part of leg-yielding is the stepping-out of the outside forelimb. The reason for this is that the abductor muscles of the forelimb in the horse are small, weak, and are not advantageously located to create leverage. So the anatomy is a good reason not to use heavy aids -- you do not need to shove -- if you do shove, you'll shove him so far to the outside that you'll make it impossible for him to get the outside limbs picked up, and that's when any lateral movement will get 'crabby' -- the more the rider shoves, the crabbier it will get. But of course, you would not shove your good friend if you were dancing with him either, would you? No, of course not; you would trust that a touch would be enough to indicate to him what you want HIM TO DO, and you're not going to step in there and, by some kind of pushing and shoving, TRY TO DO HIS JOB FOR HIM. Touch him -- and then let the horse carry you!

The smallest-diameter manifestation of the leg-yield family is the turn on the forehand. In it, the inside hind leg adducts largely, while the inside foreleg adducts minimally. In the classical era of European horsemanship, the turn on the forehand was also called 'going large behind'.

The 'formal' turn on the forehand is pictured in but one modern book that I know of, other than Mike Schaffer's, and that is Bengt Ljundquist's 'Manual of Dressage'. Considering how crucial this movement is, it is amazing to me that it is not emphasized in the dressage literature more. Nuno Oliveira also understood perfectly where the stepping-under of the inside hind leg fits in, but he (quite rightly) objects to long-line leg-yields; I will explain this further below.

Where it IS appropriately emphasized is in the pages of the 'Eclectic Horseman' magazine, where we see the 'loose' form of the turn on the forehand continually used and taught. And you will also see it on any DVD or videotape featuring Ray Hunt or Buck Brannaman. And again you will see it in Mike Schaffer's books and DVD clips. The 'loose' turn on the forehand differs from the 'formal' version only in that the horse is permitted to adduct enough in front that, instead of circling over a single point located beneath the animal's breast, the horse's body drifts somewhat, so that while the hindquarters still go larger than the forequarters, the forequarters describe a circle of more than a meter's diameter.

This leads directly to the correct answer to another question, which is that the exercise most useful in helping a horse to transition from knowing how/being able to perform leg yields to knowing how/being able to perform shoulder-in is the one known as 'expanding the circle'. To expand the circle, you first set the horse up on a circle of the smallest diameter he can comfortably make at whatever gait, i.e. perhaps 8 meters at a walk, perhaps 15 meters at a trot. You go around this circle twice, being careful to ride with precision; and when you get to 'noon' the second time, you then touch the horse with your inside leg in time with the swing of his inside hind leg, and you direct your eyes out over his OUTSIDE ear, and he will then, while maintaining the exact-same bend he had on the circle to begin with, move obliquely forward-and-outward until he arrives on a circle of some larger diameter, say 15 meters at a walk or 20 meters at a trot.

When the leg-yield is done on a circle, it is only a hair's-breadth from being a shoulder-in. When the horse has learned that it is possible to move without holding any brace -- neither in the poll or jaws, nor in the neck, nor in the lumbar back, nor in the haunches or in the muscles of the hind legs -- in other words, when you have suppled the front end and the back end -- then it becomes possible for the brace that is always in the center of the horse to also let go. And in the moment when the horse yields in the ribcage, in that moment the leg-yield transmutates into a shoulder-in.

This 'giving up of the ribcage' is something that the rider can definitely feel. It is especially promoted by the correct riding of circles, followed by correct and THOROUGHGOING change of bend. Read Mike Schaffer's book where he's talking about changing the bend by 'drifting' from one bend to the other. Or read my own series in EH magazine where I confess also that this is one of my very favorite exercises, to combine circle-drift-change bend-circle. The 'drift' is leg-yielding.

The 'drift' is also untracking. There is no difference between untracking and leg-yielding. Untracking is a form of leg-yielding. This is the main point I make in the 2nd installment of the EH series.

Nuno Oliveira never talks about leg-yielding because to him, the leg-yield exercise meant causing the horse to go on long straight tracks, i.e. on the long or short diagonals of the arena, as particularly practiced by the Germans. Oliveira astutely points out that there is a reason why it's called the 'turn ON THE FOREHAND': because leg-yielding on long straight tracks does tend to teach the horse to carry himself on the forehand.

Oliveira thinks of each and every corner of the arena as being crucially important. He is absolutely right about this, because every corner is one-fourth of a circle. No circle can be ridden without a bend (because to be 'on a circle' the horse must be bent). To bend, and to maintain the bend, the horse must step under the body-shadow with the inside hind leg; he cannot bend unless he does this. And as soon as he does this, he is untracking/leg-yielding; but if he does this upon a circle, or upon any part of a circle, he is, as soon as he has gone past the most elementary degree of suppleness, actually performing (as Oliveira says) 'a small moment of shoulder-in'.

Thus, the commonest way to ride shoulder-in is on circles or in corners in which the horse is properly weighted to the outside. This is what it means to go straight on a circle -- please review the Woody paper under 'knowledge base' if you're not clear on this.

Later, one rides the shoulder-in on the track, and still later, on the center line and quarter-lines -- this primarily because in the beginning the wall is very helpful in maintaining the RIDER'S orientation and precision. For in a shoulder-in on the track, the horse's inside hind leg must step into the track, while his outside hind leg is either in, or slightly to the outside of the track; the primary effect of the understepping is to cause him (as laGueriniere said) 'to track more narrowly behind' . The inside hind leg steps straight forward while the body is curved; because of the curvature, the inside hind leg steps straight toward the heels of the outside foreleg, while the inside foreleg tracks slightly to the inside of the track.

The turn on the haunches has nothing to do with leg-yielding, but belongs instead to the traverse family of lateral work. 'Turn over the haunches' is merely the term used to describe the zero-diameter traverse when executed at a walk; 'pirouette' is the term used when the animal does the same thing at a canter.

A.S., you are correct in figuring out that the reason why you shouldn't move your inside leg very far back if you want the horse to leg-yield -- because you would be liable to cause him to invert the bend and in that moment, of course, he will no longer be leg-yielding but traversing. But I also suspect that you're thinking of using way too much force -- please let us not have any pushing or shoving. For a leg-yield, you just leave your foot right at the girth, in the normal place, and TOUCH him IN TIME with the rhythm of the hind legs. And look out over the outside ear.

The thing that makes me suspect that you've been into using way too much force is your question, 'And what effect, if any, will the position of my outside leg have if it is just there and not actively touching him?' My dear -- it is ALWAYS 'just there', and it is ALWAYS touching him. You caress the horse as you sit on him. There is to be a 100% 'seal' between your butt, crotch area, inner thigh, and calves and his body. You are so close to him you couldn't get any closer. But there is also absolutely no tension; no muscular activity AT ALL in your buttocks, the small muscles up at the top of your legs, the big adductor muscles of your legs, the muscles that lift your toes, or any effort whatsoever to turn your toes in or to lower your heels. Your knees should be flexed with no 'stomping down' into the stirrups. No tension at all! Reiner Klimke used to say 'like a wet towel thrown up against a tile wall'. I usually say, 'like an old pair of chaps thrown over a peg'.

Only when the normal activity of your legs and seat is the absolute minimum will tiny touches, light taps, or little movements of your calves or feet have any meaning to your horse. Such small, light aids cannot even be heard if they are 'drowned out' by a stiff back, rigid waist, knees that clamp into the saddle or are rigid with the effort to stomp down into the stirrups in wrongheaded effort to lower the heels. And especially, if the rider continually pushes and shoves -- what Buck Brannaman likens to using a crowbar to move the horse -- then the rider needs to make major revisions in their thinking and in their actions. For horses are both very sensitive and very intelligent, and this is the idea we BEGIN from.

These are things I want you to think about, in terms of what the first change you intend to make might be. I cannot assess your riding without actually seeing it, but YOU can self-coach from this I think. Every normal horse in the universe has been leg-yielding since it was a foal; they all know how to do it without needing much 'help' from people and their so-called 'aids'. Just show your horse what you want him to do, and then let him carry you; and don't get suckered into the idea that if the horse does not respond, that the best response on your part would be to increase the force of your aids. -- Dr. Deb

A.S.
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Posted: Sun Nov 14th, 2010 06:22 am
Thank you very much, you've certainly helped me solidify some things!

Of course, it makes complete sense that the expanding the circle exercise is useful for shoulder in - we did this exercise many times at our riding school (first spiraling into the centre, then slow leg yielding out), I'm ashamed to not have realised. Looks like this exercise needs to be incorporated into my work a lot more often than it currently is.

I hope I have not been using too much force, being still and not using any leg muscles is exactly what I've been focusing on in my riding these past few weeks! I really did mean by 'not actively touching' that my leg is, of course, on him but not constantly nagging or pressing.

I do get suckered into using more force than necessary if he doesn't respond, but not at the walk. At the walk he's been doing well with shifting his weight to the outside, all I do is repeat the same light touch, and as soon as I feel he does it I take the pressure off. No, rather I have issues doing corners in the trot and canter - the lean inwards is so much more pronounced, and he just doesn't seem to notice my inside leg at all. I've been forced to ask him to stop and walk if he leans at all, to prevent him speeding up and acting like a motorcycle, but I would like to be able to just have him respond in the trot and canter. In fact, it almost seems like his leaning issues have become worse at the trot, since I've started working on his walk so much more.
DrDeb
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Posted: Sun Nov 14th, 2010 06:38 am
Dear A.S.: Lighten your hands, especially your outside hand. Let the horse show you how his inside hind leg, which bends him and also sends weight and energy to the outside, will SEND it into your outside hand. You need not and should not 'take' anything with your outside hand. It's just out there, at the right distance that you know is 'right' from your feel of the whole horse, and it WAITS FOR THE ARRIVAL of what the horse sends.

Too heavy an outside hand will certainly throw the horse back onto his inside shoulder, and of course can even counterflex him. -- Dr. Deb

Darling lil
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Posted: Sun Dec 3rd, 2017 06:29 pm
Enjoying reading this. I am starting to ride my green paso fino mare more frequently. I am riding in a harvested soybean field with nice footing. I have a riding buddy with me and my mare was offering a perfect turn on the forehand. It was lovely and I wish I had set her up for it. We were resting our mares facing the woodsy edge of the field and my mare spontaneously did the turn. I asked her to stop then because I did not ask her to move. After a short bit we walked off and turned away from the magnetic force of the barn and got some nice calm walking. We reached the end of the field and turned back and my mare sped up a bit so we worked on some serpentines and she was great for them. My friend wanted to canter some so i gaited and she cantered some and we circled around and slowed to a stop. My mare wanted to go toward home so I let her do some small circles hoping to get the start of a turn around or a canter pirouette. She hit my foot with her front leg a few times. I have never had a horse do that before. She is 14.1 hh and I am long legged my sturrips hang an inch below her belly. She seems really willing to turn and I had a lot of fun with her doing a lot of transitions in this field. She offered a half pass for a very long way across the field in her gait and I was just amazed. I just wish I had asked. It was such fun but should I stop her from doing what I haven't asked for? She has been reluctant to canter but has did a few strides of canter for me going uphill on two different rides. I'm just concerned about letting her do things I haven't asked for,especially when it involves going toward the barn. When she is playing in the pasture I have seen her run backwards and sideways and turnaround beautifully and easily and it was neat to feel a little bit of that under saddle. I just wonder if it is a bit too soon to let her do these moves with me on her because I didn't ask. I don't want to discourage her but I don't want her to get dangerous habits either since she is green. Around 50 rides.
DrDeb
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Posted: Mon Dec 4th, 2017 04:58 am
Lil, I am assuming that you have read and studied the "Lessons from Woody" free downloadable .pdf that you go pick up by going to http://www.equinestudies.org, clicking on "Knowledge Base", and then clicking the button on the righthand side of the page that has that title.

This reply is not about straightness or straightening your horse, but it is about seeing an analogy or parallel. Just as we consider it "crookedness" anytime the horse uses himself in a one-sided manner, we also consider it "disobedience" anytime the horse continues to try to use escape maneuvers in order to go back to the barn. What I want you to notice is that the very same thing that makes a horse "go crooked", i.e. the fact that he brings one hind leg always up under the body-shadow (his choice as to the preferred hind leg), we CURE the crookedness and cause the horse to carry himself straight and use himself equally by taking over who gets to dictate which hind leg it is. The maneuver that causes the horse to go crooked -- when he's running the show -- is THE SAME as the maneuver that causes him to go straight when we are running the show! Likewise, we CURE disobedience and cause the horse to FORGET HIS OWN IDEAS AND ADOPT OUR IDEAS by taking over when and how he performs anything whatsoever.

So the message you need to get over to your horse is that, when you are around, he is not the one in control; he does not get to choose to do anything whatsoever without asking you FIRST. And politely.

All the "lateral work" you have described is false, and must be considered to be false, because it is performed out of tension, that tension being the conflict that you describe that is going on within the horse, i.e. the tension between his wanting to go back to the barn and his expressing that desire by various squirmings in a sideways direction, vs. your desire to have him COMPLETELY WITH YOU when out on a trailride.

Ray Hunt used to say -- "if they'll mind you in the barn, they'll mind you in the field." The converse is also true: if they don't mind you in the barn, they won't mind you in the field. Therefore, we conclude that since your horse is not minding you in the field, he is also not minding you in the barn. And this tells you WHERE you need to be working; because only when you perfect his obedience when near the barn do you have any license or business whatsoever riding the horse someplace far from the barn. You have, in short, committed the classic "Birdie Theory" error of riding the horse's body away from the barn, without having the horse's mind accompany you 100% of the way, which means, EVERY SINGLE STEP of the way.

Many horses, but gaited ones in particular, will cast themselves onto the forehand while being ridden. This is because of stiffness, or maybe I should say, the animal being stiff through the neck and back makes it all the easier for him to cast his weight forward. When the weight is cast forward, that is to say, more even than the normal 60 to 65% being borne by the forelimbs, then it is extremely easy for the horse to do "turns on the forehand", because by golly, he's flat-out on the forehand anyway.

And likewise, some horses will cast their bodies into a twist which can pass for the posture required to perform a half-pass. Again, this arises out of tension, because one very common expression of tension due to wanting to go back to the barn or "Birdie not being with the horse" is that the horse is unable to TURN THE DRIVE OFF through the hindquarters. The speeding-up is also evidence of this. You tried to slow him down by blocking the mouth, head, and foreparts with the reins and bit; but because of the tension, it has no effect, it does not have its PROPER effect, on the hindquarters -- they just keep pushing. This causes the horse to want to raise the head and neck so that its forefeet can find space to "walk out from under" the base of its neck; and it also causes the rear end of the horse to slew off to one side, just the same as a semi-trailer will slew off to one side if the driver locks up the brakes in front.

So, now you know what to do -- you need to go back to the barn and perfect your ability to get, and keep, the horse's Birdie with you. If your arena is near your horse's stall or pen, or wherever he feeds, you can begin in the arena. Ride from the entry gate that is nearest to where the horse feeds directly in the opposite direction. When you feel the SLIGHTEST change for the worse, which will be that you will at some point hear his breathing because it will stop being silent at the exact point where you have begun to hit the end of his thread -- at that point you turn aside and circle back toward the in-gate. Do this several times and see if you can encourage the point where the breathing changes to move farther away from the in-gate. If it does, reward the horse by walking back halfway to the in-gate and halting. But turn about before you halt; the horse must not be allowed to face or look at the barn/stall/feeding area while resting/being rewarded. You see, you must take care of all the details.

You will know when the horse has understood what you're telling him and acquiesced, or at least resigned himself to it, when you hear him sigh and when you notice that when, in going away from the in-gate, you feel that finally the brakes are off -- the horse moves freely. You have complete control of this, deep psychological control, so have some mercy with it; you are telling him 'look buddy you don't get to run anything', but you also don't demand every single time that he go to the very end of his thread. You need to find out where the end of the thread is, but you don't taunt him with it and you don't bully him; instead, you're teaching him RESPONSE WITH RESPECT and that RESPONSE WITH RESPECT equals reward, every single time. Like you're not going to fail to notice.

When you can FREELY go anywhere in the arena, then you can begin going outside of the arena but still on the stable property. At my boarding barn, you can exit the arena and go down the driveway to the entrance-gate, where the cars come in. I often take Ollie down there as a REWARD for good performance in the arena or for some other good performance -- note that in doing this we are going even farther away from the barn! But what is down at the end of the driveway is a nice patch of sweet moist green grass, and he knows that when we get down there he will be allowed to drop his head and graze with the bit in. And graze long enough that he grunts and sighs and almost says to me, 'OK, that's enough, that was real good.'

As a side note, I want to mention that I have been doing this latter thing with Ollie since Day One of our arrival at this particular stable. The first three to five days at any new place, I make a policy of riding the dickens out of the horse. I come back every two to four hours and ride him again, so that I ride for those days two or three times per day. I never otherwise do this. The purpose is, that during the first three to five days at a new place, the horse has no friends at the new place. He has not gotten married to his stall or pen or to any of the other horses. By riding him very often, I am telling him, "Look, buddy, it's me you depend on, it's me you go with". And as I said, I make a point of riding the horse at that time to every point on the periphery of the property that the roads or layout permit me to access. If there is no grass at a certain point that I intend to go to, I will have gone out there and brought a hay-net or a flake of hay with me and planted it there, before I go mount and ride out to it. This in my experience totally eliminates barn-sourness.

Once you've done all this, you can think about trail riding. Make your first trailrides someplace so far from home that the horse can't possibly even smell the barn. You will find that under these circumstances he reacts exactly as above described for the first three to five days at a new place: the only one he has to rely on for protection and comfort is YOU, and you set it up so that is the case. You can then go for a trailride at that location three to five times, and then you need to find another place to go for a trailride. Switching every three to five rides, you will cycle among the several trailride places that are probably within reasonable hauling distance, and you will do this for a period of at least two years. To get them perfect at trailriding you'll need to load up and haul out as frequently as possible; more than once per week would be ideal but if weekends are all that you can manage, then do that.

You will know when you have succeeded completely when the horse no longer is looking for something to shy at; goes with softness and no tension; listens and obeys whatever you ask; and this last one's the biggie -- OFFERS TO OBEY FURTHER by taking whatever you had just asked and expanding on it. This is the one and only way that we can accept an idea that comes from the horse, and when that starts to happen Lil, you can consider that you have achieved all the training your horse will ever need -- because from there on out, it's just relationship, just two friends who understand each other perfectly, having a conversation about something they both enjoy. -- Dr. Deb

Darling lil
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Posted: Thu Dec 7th, 2017 03:07 am
Thank you. I will make sure she does everything I ask her to close to the barn. She will go down the path when I touch her sides lightly with my heels. She does seem very eager to go. I have read everything several times or more. When she does something I didn't ask her to should I stop her or ask something of my own. It's getting cold out now and the horses are full of energy. Trying to speed up and choosing their own path. I kept turning her when she sped up and doing serpentines. Seemed to calm her down. She always did everthing I asked but also tried to do lots of things on her own. We do stop to relax and eat grass. I bring carrots in the saddlebags too.
DrDeb
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Posted: Thu Dec 7th, 2017 03:49 am
Lil, think less about WHAT you are doing and more about WHEN and WHY you do it. Rewards must strictly follow good performance and must not be given in any form at any other time.

Anytime the horse feels like it wants to go back to the barn, it is a sign that you need to still be in the arena. If the horse feels OK in the arena and yet as soon as you leave the arena then they don't feel OK or start doing stuff, the reason is you're missing the smaller signs of not really being OK which the horse IS CONSTANTLY giving you in the arena.

You are to turn back not "sometimes" when the horse offers to speed up, but EVERY time. There is NO time when you get to say, "aww....that was good enough." Until it is perfect, and the horse is completely relaxed and 100% OK, it is not good enough. The reason for this is not because we have really high standards, but because unless you hang in there until you get TOTALLY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ROT, you still have infection in the tooth. Your dentist will absolutely refuse to put a filling in a cavity until he has drilled deep enough to completely clean the infection out first. Then, and only then, can he go on to the next step. Your dentist's insistence on getting the rot completely out, getting all the way to the bottom of the trouble, does not make him "mean" but professional. Neither are you being "mean" when you hang in there. Hanging in there means STAYING on the small tight circle ("winding down") until the horse gives in completely, you hear him sigh, and you feel him completely relax. Then, you wait two full heartbeats after you feel that, and THEN you release the aids and permit the horse to proceed in some straight line. When and if the horse offers to speed up again, you tighten the inside rein and compel the horse to be on the small tight circle again, until it finds its way out of this bind by releasing itself to you completely. And you commit to repeating this whenever necessary, each and every time, now and forever so long as you both shall live. This is what I meant above about "when". It's "when" you apply the bind, and it's also very importantly about "when" you release to the horse's release.

People say of Harry Whitney, "Harry always gets closure." This is one of the things that makes him qualify as a master horseman. But you also need to have the ambition to become a master horsewoman. Anything less is cheating yourself, cheating your horse, and cheating everyone else that you are around (because your horse will be a danger to their horses). -- Dr. Deb



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Posted: Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 08:51 pm
So serpentines are not as good in this situation as tight circles are? And do you mean a 10 foot circle? Thank you much for the great info.
DrDeb
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Posted: Fri Dec 22nd, 2017 10:25 pm
Come, Lil, are you really that stuck on precise obedience to a literal protocol? Are you really that stuck on mere mechanics? Do you not get the IDEA?

How are you going to "stay" on the curve of a serpentine until, as I said above, the horse totally gives up all idea of rushing, sighs, relaxes, and slows ITSELF down? The curve of a serpentine is one-half of a 10M circle. Would that be enough to accomplish getting the idea across to the horse? What has experiment shown you in this regard?

When, then, do YOU think a serpentine might come in to be actually useful?

There is no magic in any given figure or any given diameter. The "10M" mentioned above is approximate, both because I mean the directions to be taken flexibly (because your horse might be too stiff to perform a 10M circle with any comfort or "flow"), and because if your horse is too stiff for that, then any attempt to force it down to 10M diameter will also force the figure not to be a circle, rather a polygon, which helps nothing. So any magic there is, lies in your understanding of the reason and the purpose that we do things.

People do get "hung" on particularities, and I have to warn quite a number of students about this, just as I am warning you now. -- Dr. Deb

Darling lil
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Posted: Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 01:28 am
Got it that it doesn't have to be perfect. Just wanted to know if the circle is better then serpentines and rought iDea of how large of a circle . I started doing serpentines with my other mare when she got a little excited and it seemed to give her something to think about. The green mare is flexible and easily circles. Very enjoyable to ride. We are both having fun.
DrDeb
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Posted: Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 09:45 am
No, Lil, you misunderstand....it absolutely, positively DOES HAVE TO BE perfect. Perfect is absolutely the only thing we want to settle for, and never settle for less. It's that you misunderstand the part that has to be perfect, which is, your timing; the mechanics and techniques are merely the servants of the timing, the set-up or context in which perfect timing can occur. Only perfect timing gets the message through to the horse. This is what I meant two posts above, in the longer post, when I said you need to think more about "why" we do things and "when" to do (or not-do) them.

If the horse is a pleasure to ride, then why do you write to tell me she tries to rush off? You either have a personal standard for when a horse is a pleasure, that is to say when it is obedient; or you don't. Might want to firm up a little bit on that within yourself, might want to get a little clearer on that, might want to stop kidding yourself -- that would be my advice. -- Dr. Deb

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Posted: Mon Dec 25th, 2017 04:36 am
So a perfect little circle is what we will shoot for. I take it the serpentines will not do what the circle will do for it?
DrDeb
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Posted: Mon Dec 25th, 2017 11:59 am
Again, Lil, it doesn't sound to me like you've taken any time to think this through -- you're "just" doing what I have told you to do. Funny enough, I gripe pretty often because people DON'T do as they are told; they go off and do something they made up themselves instead -- something that seems right to them. They hear what I tell them to do but they don't do that; they run my advice or instructions through some kind of internal 'filter' which changes what I said into what they hear. And then they do what they hear.

But you are not doing that; you are really trying to do as you have been told. That's great but there's another part to it too: and that is, you have to think through WHY I might have told you to do a certain thing. WHY would a circle or 'winding down' be preferable to a serpentine in a certain horse's case? What would make you decide to choose to make a circle rather than track a serpentine?

That's the first thing I want you to answer, before we go any farther.

And the second thing is this: you have replied about perfecting the CIRCLE -- as you say, 'perfect little circle.' But Lil, if your horse is stiff, you will not be able to perform a perfect circle, nor will any refinement in your technique, nor any delicacy of your aids, nor even any degree of perfection in your timing be of the slightest avail: because THE HORSE is unable to perform  the figure. This is because the figure, however it comes out -- lopsided or egg-shaped or polygonal or perfect, is the product of the degree of suppleness of the horse's body. YOU cannot perform a circle; and YOU cannot cause a circular set of footprints to appear in the footing. It is the horse's spine that puts the footprints into the footing. Only after the footprints are stamped into the footing can you say, 'oh, look how round my circle was' or 'look how yucky and irregular my circle was.' But, mind you well, there was never a circle there, or an irregular circle, BEFORE the horse put it there. The fact that you can have a picture inside your mind of a circle is utterly and totally irrelevant ! A mirage, a delusion, and a constant temptation to shove and pull !

What I indicated, twice again in my posts above and once more here, is that it is your TIMING that needs to be perfected. It is not the figure that needs to be perfected, or that you should aim to perfect; it is your timing, particularly:

1. The timing of the application of your aids -- this tells the horse most clearly what you want it to do.
2. The timing of the RELEASE of your aids -- this is far more important than no. 1, even though no. 1 is very important; no. 2 is much more important because it is the timing of the release that tells the horse that it did what you wanted, and from this and this alone does the horse learn.

No. 1 plus No. 2 create a situation where the horse no longer has to guess what you want, and this will in and of itself take a lot of the steam out of the animal's desire or need to protect itself or get away from you or shorten the ride, by speeding up or only partially performing (performing a mere sketch of) what has been asked.

Lil -- before you write back again -- T-H-I-N-K. -- Dr. Deb



roma
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Posted: Thu Oct 22nd, 2020 05:08 pm
I am grateful for a clear explanation of a such complex concepts. Thank you.



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