ESI Q and A Forums Home

 Moderated by: DrDeb  
AuthorPost
danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline

Last edited on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 01:46 am by danee

Ben Tyndall
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: British Columbia Canada
Posts: 47
Status:  Offline
The question reminds me of a dressage clinic I was in a couple of years ago. After about a half hour of trotting circles and getting yelled at, I noticed that the yelling stopped if I twirled my horse's head ever so slightly, to which he would respond by dropping his head. My perception at the time was that any time my horse dropped his head to the vertical, the instructor said "good!" and the yelling stopped. At the time, I assumed that the instructor was fixated on head position, but in the time that has passed since then, and I have learned a little more about what collection is (thanks largely to what I've learned on this website), I realized the instructor may well have not been looking at my horse's head (or neck) at all, but was probably relieved to see my horse trot a few steps with his loins coiled just a wee bit.

I think the ansewr to your question lies partly in your suggestion "I'm sure it has more to do with engagment of the HQ...". The engagement comes fairly naturally once the horse is relaxed and moving straight. Getting your horse moving relaxed and straight under saddle is the big trick for many of us, but it sounds like you are well on your way with that. Increased suspension starts with collection/engagement, but then also requires a high level of fitness, and that  requires lots of consistent exercise and training.

...Ben

diane
Member


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Vale View, Australia
Posts: 15
Status:  Offline
danee wrote: SO how does one go about raising the base of the horse's neck?... ...I'm sure it has more to do with engagment of the HQ than it does "head set", but knowing how NOT to do it doesn't exactly tell me what TO do.

Danee, your instincts are on the right track - try this thread: http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/forum1/97.html (Kissing Spine).  There is a fairly comprehensive explanation there without repeating it here.  Along with these pages: http://equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/woody.html and http://equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/true_collection.html

Other materials... the video: Secrets of Conformation Analysis and the DVD set The Anatomy of Bitting (DVD #4)

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Hello Danee - Maybe it would help if you think of this question another way:

However the horse chooses to carry his neck and head, is absolutely correct and appropriate for what is happening in the the rest of his body at that particular moment.

This is usually a confronting statement when I'm talking with people on this subject, but I intend it to shock them into thinking of a horse's posture from a different viewpoint.   If a horse is slopping along, half asleep, with his head dangling at knee level, then that is exactly where his head should be for the relaxed shape of his spine at that moment.  There will be little or no muscular effort from the iliopsoas/abdominal complex to support the spine (with or without a rider) so the weight of the head and neck is needed to put tension on the nuchal ligament/supraspinous ligament which pulls the tops of the withers forward and lifts the spine a little.  To make a horse lift his head and neck while his spine is in this posture, would be damaging, he will have no internal protection for his back and will be vulnerable to injury.

If a horse is tense and nervous with his neck vertical and nose pointing to the stars, then that also is where his head should be for the hollow, contracted shape that his spine has adopted.  This in itself does not harm the horse for short periods.  The damage comes when a horse is forced to lower his head (by draw reins, side reins, rider's hands, etc) while his spine is still in a hollow, hammock-shaped posture - he ends up with his spine taking on an S-bend shape that overstresses most of the vertebral joints.

So coming back to your original question, Danee, we need to think about why the horse chooses to carry his head and neck any particular way at any particular moment.  If we want him to raise the base of his neck, then he must choose to do that himself, to the degree that he himself chooses - he will not make a mistake, whatever his choice it will be perfect for whatever his spine is doing.  Our job is to help the horse organize the rest of his body so that he then chooses to lift the base of his neck as the last part of the 3-stage process that we call collection. 

The most important thing we need to do first is teach the horse to be straight whether we are working from the ground or in the saddle.  The horse can do this by himself in the paddock during those fleeting moments of play or display when he takes on a collected posture, but we need him to be straight for the extended periods of our ride or in-hand work.  We can forget about collection of even the tiniest degree until we have straightness.  After that we need to work on strength and energy, slowly building up the huge muscular strength needed for a horse to maintain even slight collection for longer than a few seconds.    Have you ever tried to get a photo of your horse in those moments of spontaneous collection when he's playing in the paddock?  So hard to do because it barely lasts long enough to raise the camera, let alone focus and push the button.

Are you certain that the 5-yr olds you saw were showing the same natural elevation and collection that they would show if playing free in a paddock?  Anything else is likely to be a damaging faux-collection.  If you are not sure, I can give you a few pointers to look for.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

 

Leah
Member
 

Joined: Sat Sep 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 256
Status:  Offline
Pauline I would be interested in the pointers you have to offer!

Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
Pauline,

Thanks for your explanation!  By the way I did manage to get a picture of my horse at play with his buddy and he is in perfect collection with the base of his neck raised.  It is a sight to behold.  I guess I got lucky there.  I keep the photo on my wall at work and at home so I can have a good visual of my horse in natural collection and know that it is possible, maybe someday from the saddle.

Pam

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Hello Leah - Took me a long time, years, to get my 'eye in' so I could tell at a glance whether a horse was moving with the natural, full body posture that qualifies to be called 'collection' or whether it was the artificial, imposed posture seen extensively at competitive horse shows that has stolen the term 'collection' and given it a different meaning.

The body of every horse tells a story, the record of what he has or has not been doing over the last few months.  This story is often very different from the one told by the rider.  Just as with ourselves, every muscle that is worked regularly gets a little bigger, the muscles that aren't worked stay smaller and/or flatter.  Many of the muscles the horse uses for collection can't be seen externally, but some of them can be seen and these are the ones we can look for.  The horse does not need to be moving - even while snoozing the muscles of collection will be prominent if they have been used habitually.

The neck is probably the easiest area to look at first.  During collection (even simple rounding where the neck is close to horizontal) the muscle in the centre of the neck bulges in and out with every stride.  This is the complexus (semispinalis capitis) which attaches to the top of the skull, all the neck bones except the very top one, some of the thoracic vertebrae and fascia.  Part of it's function is to help raise the base of the neck, assisting the longus colli group which can't be seen.  This muscle looks like a soft bulge going all the way down the centre of the neck on each side.  It starts at the top not far behind the ears and is about a hand's width at this point, getting wider as it follows the curve of the neck, finally vanishing behind the oblique line of the shoulder, this point being the widest visible part of this muscle.  Some horses, such as those with a downhill conformation who have to work hard to lift the base of their necks, will develop a thick, prominent complexus that you can cup your hand over.  Compare this with most dressage horses who are flat or even hollow in this area of the neck.

It is easy to mistake this muscle for a different one when looking at a moving horse.  Go to any dressage competition and you will see horses in a high 'frame' who have a bulge starting at the top of the neck just as described above, but the bulge does not go all the way down to the shoulder, instead it finishes some 2/3 of the way down, tapering to a point as it disappears behind other muscles.  This is the splenius muscle which does not attach to the base of the neck (C7) as does the complexus.  The splenius elevates the head but has no role in raising the base of the neck.  When this muscle is prominent, it is absolute proof the horse is not raising the base of his neck and therefore is not collected.

From the saddle, looking down at the horse's neck, it is very easy to tell if your horse is raising the base of his neck at all (keeping in mind that the horse can have his nose at ground level and still be lifting the base of his neck).  If the complexus muscles are being used, the neck will look narrower at the top just behind the ears, progressively getting wider as it nears the shoulder, and you will see the comlexus pumping in and out with every stride.  If the horse's neck looks like an hourglass, i.e. wide at the top, then narrowing down to a 'waist' before joining the shoulder, you know the horse is not raising the base of his neck, but is using the splenius muscles, regardless of head position.

Looking at photos is a good starting point, especially if you have splendid snaps of your own horse as Pam does (well done Pam, I envy your camera skills).  Some of those glam horsey coffee-table books have great photos of horses in many phases of natural collection and every dressage magazine will have photos for comparison.  Being an observer at a whole range of horse shows is a great way to learn.  Go to any high-level showjumping comp and you will see most horses showing at least a glimmer of complexus muscle - mostly the same muscles used for bascule over a jump as for collection.   Watch the warm-up ring as the riders canter around, you will see elevation of stride that is beyond the dreams of any dressage rider.    Ditto cutting/reining comps.

That's probably enough for starters - there are plenty more clues I'll write about later if anyone's interested.

Best wishes - Pauline

Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
Pauline,

Your knowledge base is vast!  I'm all ears for anything else you want to add here.

Thank You,

Pam

Julie
Member
 

Joined: Mon Jul 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 56
Status:  Offline
Thank you Pauline for your clear explanation and what to look for.  Am just trying to work on correct twirling and rounding back at moment.  But I am noticing the muscle either side of neck is only there when my horse stretches his neck a little forward and down.

thanks Cathie

Leah
Member
 

Joined: Sat Sep 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 256
Status:  Offline
Thank you Pauline!

I am still uncertain whether my horse has been lifting the base of his neck...now you have armed me with some information!

 

Please do continue! I would love more information.

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
Leah wrote: Thank you Pauline!

I am still uncertain whether my horse has been lifting the base of his neck...now you have armed me with some information!


Please do continue! I would love more information.


Interesting subject, huh?  I am playing with this same thing.  I can tell when my horse has raised the base of his neck because there is a distinct, discrete sensation attached to him doing it.  It feels almost like a physical jerk or hiccup inside him; not violent, but distinct and unlike anything else. 

I have felt it happen when he was walking or jogging calmly and suddenly had to check out an object at his feet without needing to break stride. Also when he knocks a fly off his chest with his chin.  I learned what it was that he was doing from reading this forum. 

Earlier this summer, on a trail ride I had been playing with leg yielding and one rein stops, he was very relaxed and released all along his topline. We did a lovely jog for a couple minutes where he didn't brace or tense, he just let me feel his mouth with the bit gently. Very pleasant and soft.  The trail gullied out at the end and he stepped up out of the gully at the jog when it was about 5 inches deep. To accomplish this small thng, he shifted his weight back and lifted the base of his neck, and we continued the jog in this delicious and heavenly state.  

As you can tell, we do not habitually ride with him raising his neck. :-(  That's why it's so distinctive to me when it happens.

There was a very good discussion on the old site about how to arrive at this. The original post on the thread was about the website sustainabledressage.com, and the thread wandered, as threads do, to a discussion of release, finding and holding the energy from the reins, and finally how to raise the base of the neck.  I archived it as a Word document, but don't know how to put it here, or if that's allowable. 

val

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline

Last edited on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 01:46 am by danee

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Cathie - It's good that you have seen the complexus muscles in action in your own horse, this is an image you can keep in your mind to assess how your horse is progressing, you'll want to be able to see those muscles most of the time when you are riding.

Many horses, for whatever reason, do not have the strength to lift their neck base very far at all, unless they are momentarily turbo-charged from the excitement of play or meeting a new horse.  One of our challenges is to communicate to the horse that we would like him to arrange his limbs and torso into the posture that results in him then raising the base of his neck, but first we have to ensure that he is physically and mentally able to do so.  The head twirling you are already doing is a vital part of the relaxation, or total absence of bracing, that allows your horse to be straight - if he's crooked he cannot raise his neck base, the joints just won't move in those odd configurations.  You'll know your horse is straight when he has no preference for one direction or the other and he will automatically arrange himself into a rounded posture without you doing anything at all - this is the first or tiniest degree of collection where he will have briefly raised his neck base just a little.  From this point on it's a matter of maintaining that relaxation and straightness, and building strength and suppleness - the possibilities are then endless, limited only by our own capabilities.

Getting back to clues about whether a horse is really collected or not, we were talking about the neck area, so before moving on from that region there are a couple of other things I look for.

There's a gap between the edge of the jawbone and the edge of the first neckbone, almost directly below the ears, running  down to the throat.  With the horse standing relaxed, this gap will be around 1, 2 or 3 fingers wide.  In even the highest collection, this gap will widen and look deeper as the head and neck are stretched forward as well as up.  Look through any dressage magazine to see photos of horses who look as though they have a sausage beneath the skin in this area, going right around the throat.  This 'sausage' or bulge, is lymphatic and other soft tissue being squashed out between the jawbone and 1st neck bone, as the head is held in by fixed hands and/or the memory of fixed hands/reins.   The horse kept in this position does not have a raised neck base and is not collected.  Look in a mirror to see something similar with your own neck.  Push your chin away from your neck and you will see a clearly defined edge to your jawbone and a gap between it and your neck.  Now pull your chin and jaw towards your neck, and even a skinny person will see rolls of soft tissue being squashed between jaw and neck - the resulting constriction of the throat feels awful too.

Look also at the shape of the underline of the jaw, throat and neck.  A collected horse will have a soft, open, upside-down 'U' shape at this juncture.  A jammed-in horse will have a sharp upside-down 'V' shape here.  Is the underline of the neck concave or convex?

Moving on to the body, visualise the line of the horse's back without saddle or rider.  Does it sag, following the same line as a drooping belly below, or are both back and belly fairly level as far as the haunches area?  Look at the gluteal muscles of the rump on either side of the croup - they should be softly rounded, not flat or pointy.  I still hear dressage riders & trainers speak of wanting to see muscle development behind the saddle but in front of the croup.  If this area is noticeably higher than the areas immediately in front of and behind it, then the horse is likely using the tongue of his gluteus medius muscles to align his pelvis with the hollow shape of his spine.  These are the horses whose riders struggle to get 'engagement', not understanding that their horses are struggling to save their spines.

Lastly, look at the feet when the horse is trotting.  This takes a bit of practice and some slow-motion film segments really help.  Focus on one diagonal pair of legs, then compare the front fetlock with the diagonally opposite hind fetlock as they land (hopefully together) - which fetlock is consistently lower to the ground, ie. which leg is bearing most weight?

Taken in isolation, none of these clues about collection are conclusive, especially if viewed on a photo, but together they paint a picture that indicates how the horse is using his body at any given moment and also how he has habitually used his body over recent months.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Danee - Sorry to be rather dim, but I'm a little confused about what you are really asking.  In your first post on this thread you referred to the young horses who 'really, really lift the base of their necks' in comparison with photos of Painty, but in your last post you say 'the poll is not really that much higher than the wither' and that they have 'so much muscle at the base of their neck that the scapula and neck tie in together etc'.

Perhaps you are thinking of something completely different, but the complexus does  not blend into the shoulder, there is a defined line where it disappears from view behind the scapula and it's musculature.  I have seen many horses who have hugely developed cervical trapezius muscles which makes the neck and scapula look as though it is all one muscly mass but this is something we definitely don't want.

Given that you have a strong dressage background, I am wondering if you have read the Woody articles and understand that the straightness of the dressage world is very different from the straightness we speak of on this forum?  The former will not induce the horse to lift his neck base but the latter definitely does.

There's a really easy way to see this in action, especially if you can have someone else ride the horse while you watch or failing that, get someone to video you.  You need to know which way your horse leans for this experiment, but let's just assume he leans to the left and flexes to the right.  Have him trot on a large circle to the left on a completely free rein (or bridleless if both of you are accustomed to that).  I'm also assuming your horse already knows the signal to step under with his left hind leg.   The horse will be completely relaxed and happily trotting along in his preferred posture which will be slightly flexed to the right, nose out in front.  At a point you feel comfortable with, ask the rider to signal to the horse to step under with his left hind leg - this should not be a full step across, just a quarter step is enough, about one hoof width.  At that moment you will see the horse swing his head and neck to the centre of his body, his neck will arch very slightly and his nose will be close to vertical, then he will immediately swing back to his right-flexed posture and his nose will return to it's poked-out position.  For that one step, the horse raised the base of his neck because his body was straight (blink, and you really will miss it).   From here we can slowly build up so that the horse will be able to do this twice on the large circle, then three time, etc etc until eventually he can do a whole circle, then later still he can maintain that straight posture while we do other things, laterals etc.   The higher the neck base is raised, the greater the strength needed, the more slowly we aim for that and as always, we release and reward every step.

Once the horse has worked out how comfortable it is for him to be straight, then he will readily offer to raise his neck base - we barely have to ask.  It goes without saying that teeth,  saddlefit and placement, feet - all have to be comfortable as any of these will prevent a horse from adopting a straight posture.

Danee - still photos are a good learning tool in the early stages, but cannot give an accurate picture of how a horse really moves, so I would prefer not to comment on your slide clips.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

 

Wendy
Member
 

Joined: Tue May 8th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 13
Status:  Offline
Hello Pauline,

Could you please elaborate on the "the horse is likely using the tongue of his gluteus medius muscles to align his pelvis with the hollow shape of his spine" comment in your reply to Cathie.  Do you think that the straightening exercise would help this type of incorrect muscle development?

Thanks for your great input.

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Wendy - When a horse is ridden in a posture where his head is held in, the base of the neck drops and the back is hollow or 'in extension'.  As you know, this is the exact opposite of how a horse should carry himself but the poor horse has no choice so he does the next best thing which is to try to minimize the damage.  If the horse has a lowered neck base and extended spine, then it is better for him if all his vertebral joints are extended rather than having some flexed and some extended.  Think of your own back - if you hollow your own lumbar spine, you will be more comfortable if the rest of your back is following the same shape, it's not a good posture to maintain but better than hollowing your lumbar area and trying to flex your thoracic shoulder area or hips at the same time.

However, the 'held-in' horse is generally not allowed to extend his whole spine, but is made to 'engage' or bring his hind legs further forward.  There is no coiling of the loins, just a swinging of the limb from the hip joint.  You may have seen these horses at some competition or other, standing on their front legs while their hind legs do a bit of a shuffle in imitation of piaffe - their croups are higher than their withers.  These horses are doing their best to safeguard their spines by using the medial glute where it attaches to the thoraco-lumbar fascia to line-up their pelvis into a matching extended shape.  In many horses the tongue of the gluteus medius goes right back to the saddle area of the back and it's this part that becomes obviously overdeveloped.

My reference for this comes in part from Prof Jean-Marie Denoix, Ecole Nationale Veterinaire, Alfort, France, in his book 'Physical Therapy & Massage for the Horse' 2nd edition, p.50 under the heading 'Extension' - "The (lumbo-sacral) hinge joint also benefits from the powerful action of the middle gluteal; this muscle, via its cranial attachments to the thoraco-lumbar fascia, is used to bring the pelvis into alignment with the vertebral axis."    Prof Denoix' writings on biomechanics blend beautifully with everything taught by Dr Deb - he also writes at length about the necessity for relaxation and mental well-being in every horse as a priority.

Straightening the horse as per suggestions in the Woody papers will benefit every horse.  If you come across a horse with this type of loin muscle development, Wendy, the first priority is to persuade the rider to abandon their current riding style and instead teach the horse how to be straight, then round.  This will allow the horse to abandon his self-protective postures and those bulging loin muscles will disappear by themselves.  Hope this makes sense.

Best wishes - Pauline

Wendy
Member
 

Joined: Tue May 8th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 13
Status:  Offline
Hi Pauline,

Thank for the reply.  I have the book I will hunt it out and see if it give me some more insight.

 

Helen
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 147
Status:  Offline
To clarify, Pauline; once straightness, impulsion and rhythm are created (as per "Woody" and "True Collection"), the base of the neck will raise by itself? I understand that it cannot raise without these things, but is it a step further that the rider needs to take, or one that the horse will take by itself?

Val
Member


Joined: Thu Apr 5th, 2007
Location: Near Philly, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 116
Status:  Offline
Good question, Helen, that's what I interpreted Danee's original question to be asking about.  I tried to write a post describing the actions I have been experimenting with to raise Bye's neck, but it started to sound like a one-two-three, do this twice and hold X seconds, mechanically by rote kind of procedure, when I think what one does depends totally on what is happening right there and then.  And no doubt I am missing something important that would make my description half-assed and misleading, so I am keeping my mouth shut and mind open.  The entire thread has been really informative and fascinating. 

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Helen - 'Yes' - if we remember that lifting the neck base, or flexing the joint between the last neck bone and first thoracic bone (C7-T1), is the final part of the collection process, and is never done in isolation.  We will already have helped the horse organize himself into the posture where collection is possible by asking him to be straight and asking for enough energy to sustain the muscular effort needed to contract his iliopsoas/abdominal complex - these are the two things we do need to actively influence.  I don't mean 'speed', just that he is attentive and moving actively, not falling asleep,

The experiment I suggested to Danee which can even be done without a bridle, demonstrates that straightness alone will induce the horse to raise his neck base - just a little.  At this stage the neck will be more or less horizontal, but with the slightest arch which may be hard to see at all - in some horses the neck may be lower than horizontal.

I think part of the confusion on this subject arises from the lack of being able to see what a raised neck base looks like.  It is helpful if we permanently eradicate from our minds those superficially glamorous images of competition Grand Prix horses.  They all have the same high head-set but I have yet to see one with a raised base of the neck.  When we truly understand what is happening to those horses, any admiration will be replaced with a deep sorrow.

It is certainly possible for a horse in 'True Collection' to carry his head at the height seen on those Grand Prix horses, but it will not have the same look - the truly collected horse will be carrying his neck further forward, stretching away from the withers as well as upwards.  The extent to which a horse can do this will depend on individual conformation and the level of muscle strength he has attained throughout his body.  Horses with a downhill conformation will not be able to raise their neck base to the same height as a horse with uphill conformation, but that doesn't mean the end result is any less valuable or beautiful - it's just different.

To maintain a high level of collection beneath the weight of a rider, takes enormous strength that must be slowly conditioned over a long time, at least 2 - 3 years of consistent work.  It's the same as weight training for us.  Have you ever seen bodybuilders at a gym?  They'll put a lot of effort into a very short session at one machine, then sit around chatting for 10 minutes before going on to another short session etc, doing this maybe 3 times per week.  Our horses need the same slow build-up, literally one step at a time for both mental and physical wellbeing, with lots of breaks inbetween.  For example, if a rider is out for a gentle 1/2 hr trail ride, she can start by asking her horse to straighten for 1 step only, then let him go back to his crooked posture for 6 or so steps.  Repeat this twice more then let him be for 10 minutes before repeating those 3 single-step sequences.  In the whole 1/2 hr ride, the horse will have made the effort to straighten less than 10 times, but it is enough to start with.

For the weekend rider who only wants to quietly stroll the trails, the degree of collection achieved by having the horse straight for the entire ride, will be enough to keep that horse happy and sound for his whole life (there is nothing wrong with that) but he will never have the strength to maintain a high collection, whatever his level of aerobic fitness.

We cannot expect the green or young horse to be able to raise his entire neck, including the base, to the height that a well trained and conditioned horse can do.  If we want our horses to adopt that high posture, then we must be prepared to put in the time and work over a long period that will give the horse the strength to do so.

Best wishes - Pauline

 

Helen
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 147
Status:  Offline
Thank you for your invaluable insight, Pauline. If you do find a photo or video of a horse with a raised neck base, could you post it here?

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Pauline, I also want to express gratitude here for your posts. The perfection of your understanding of the whole process, biomechanics, and physical appearance of collection in the horse is quite rare. Of the many students I have encountered in the past 25 years of teaching, it seems to me that you have grasped this the best. I do not say "understood me the best" because I suspect that all I did for you after we met was confirm what you had already perceived, and then perhaps validate it by supplying a terminology by which it can be expressed.

Danee, I second Pauline's query to you, and to be very clear about it, your post makes me think that you do not really understand what "raising the base of the neck" means. This is the same comment I offered you some time ago regarding "twirling the head". I don't recall if you have attended one of my events in Australia or New Zealand -- if you did, then this is certainly my fault for not having explained things well enough. How we can straighten this out is by having you come back in reply to this with your own description of "raising the base of the neck". Specifically, I need you to tell me the following:

a) When a horse raises the base of its neck, does the poll rise or drop relative to the withers?

b) When a horse raises the base of its neck, how does that change the shape of the crest?

c) When a horse raises the base of its neck, how does that change the width of the neck? Where is the horse's neck the widest (from side to side) when it is NOT raising the base of its neck? Where is it widest when it IS raising the base of its neck?

Helen, in reply to your earlier query: Pauline has correctly (not to mention politely) pointed out "between the lines" that there is no special need to post a photo in this Website of a horse that is raising the base of its neck. Not only are there several drawings and photos in "True Collection" showing this, but my grand old Painty Horse is doing it too. Indeed, after the first year I had owned this horse, it was hard to get on him and NOT have him do it; this is the normal result of correct practice. Luckily for the previous owner, I have never published the photos I have of Painty (with the previous owner riding him) before I bought him. That man had no inkling of how to ride correctly, and so the results he got were neither pretty nor physiotherapeutic.

And Wendy, as to your query: The 'tongue' of the gluteus medius muscle of which Pauline speaks is its anterior portion that reaches forward from the area on top of the pelvis (croup) to overlap the rear one-quarter to one-third of the back. The higher the quality of the horse, and the greater its potential for speed, the longer and larger will be this tongue, which is a powerful extensor of the loin joint (the sacro-lumbar joint). However, part and parcel of this is that if the horse braces this tongue -- bilaterally contracts it -- then it will excessively and inappropriately maintain the back and loins in extension, in other words, it will work with the longissimus dorsi to hollow and harden the back.

I do hope, people, that Pauline's posts will help you all to achieve a clearer understanding of these important concepts. Don't make it harder than it is. One of the best ways (and Pauline has mentioned, one of the ways she also used) to solidify her understanding was to just go out and sit on the pasture fence and watch horses. See what they do with each body part when they get up and play, when they rear, when they canter, when they trot with bouncy joy. This is when horses collect themselves, without caring about our input. These times are every aspiring horseperson's best window into their true nature. -- Dr. Deb

Helen
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 147
Status:  Offline
Wonderful, and thanks to you too Dr Deb for your insight. I was confused by various things said on this thread which conflicted with things written elsewhere; what you said is what I originally thought and I'm glad to have it confirmed. I feel I am slowly getting a grip on the biomechanics of these processes, thanks almost entirely to this website. Thank you all again!

Callie
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 53
Status:  Offline
The Complexus-

I am just looking for some reassurance that I am seeing the complexus developed on a horse.  I can pick it out of an anatomical diagram, but looking at a real horse is a bit different.  I know what I think is correct, but after Pauline's discription of all the other possibilities, I want to be sure I'm right, LOL!

I would love it if there was a book that showed pics of real horses with various muscular development patterns where the muscles that are developed in the pics are labled, maybe with the horse standing and in motion?  Anyone know of a book like that?  I am not as good at looking at an internal diagram and seeing it on the outside of a horse...

So I am looking at Mike Schaffers website, on the page with the videos, at the second photo down on the right (the one right after the "kisses" pic).  Is that the Complexus in the middle of that horses neck? (here is a link directly to the pic in question http://www.mikeschaffer.com/slinks/butts/indeed_7_29_b.jpg

Last edited on Thu Nov 15th, 2007 01:46 pm by Callie

micol124
Member
 

Joined: Wed Nov 14th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 4
Status:  Offline
Hello, everyone! I am new to this forum, so if I am chiming in and asking inappropriate/already asked questions, let me know!

I wanted to ask on this post, if the feeling of the horse raising the neck is that of going uphill. Sound dressagey, but I have asked my horse to step into the birdle and up, and on a few occasion he has offered more, so I I felt as if his front legs were not touching the ground, and we were literally going uphill. Is this raising the base of the neck?

His poll height did not change relative to the ground, rather the relative height between the poll and the withers diminished, the neck felt more evenly rounded in the topline.
He was incredibly light in the bridle, but we only kept this feeling for a few steps. Is this raising the base of the neck?

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Thank you for the compliment, Dr Deb - it means a lot to me, but I think you underestimate the extent of your influence, without which I would not have been able to put together so many of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is the horse.

This is your real gift to all of us, you've shown us the 'picture' on the lid of the box - explained in easy language how a horse works, what happens under his skin and inside his mind - thus improving the life of every horse within the care of those who listen to you.

I used to think that factory farmed animals had the worst lives, but at least their stress is as short as their lifetime.   For the horse there is no such release.  So many, maybe the majority, endure 20+ years of unrelenting distress - sore feet, mouths and backs, aching bodies, the anxiety of social isolation and the confusion from not understanding what is expected of them by an unpredictable dominant other species - the list is endless.

I know of no-one who comes even close to yourself in terms of single-handedly alleviating the plight of these beautiful animals - because education is the key.  The best way for all of us to honour your gift of knowledge is to pass it on, do whatever we can to repel the tidal-wave of misinformation that swamps the horse world, help our own horses but aim to help others too.

I'm very appreciative for all your generous help and look forward to continuing to learn with you for a long time to come.

Very best wishes - Pauline

 

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Callie - Yes, that photo shows the complexus quite well, and you'll also notice the concave shape to the underline of the neck.  I can't see clearly enough on my poor quality screen, but it could also show the gap between the jawbone and the first neck bone, although the horse has momentarily tucked his head in a little so I can't quite tell on that one.

Best wishes - Pauline

Callie
Member
 

Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 53
Status:  Offline
Thanks Pauline- Thats what I thought, but it's always nice to have a little verification.

and thanks for the great posts here as well.

Julie
Member
 

Joined: Mon Jul 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 56
Status:  Offline
Hi Pauline your understanding of the horse is obviously great and hopefully more of us can understand more to help the horse under Dr Debs guidance.

Your way of describing the average horses life is ofcourse true and very sad.  The more we can learn the more we can make a difference and hopefully in time others will see it.

Thanks for your input dont stop its helpful.

Cathie

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline

Last edited on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 01:46 am by danee

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline

Last edited on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 01:47 am by danee

Helen
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 147
Status:  Offline
Going by what Pauline has said, that would be a matter of practise and patience - at the moment your horse physically cannot obtain or sustain a higher level of lifting.

Is that on the right track?

Also, just to clarify, the muscle shown bulging here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/erreeffe/135790363/in/photostream/
Is the other that Pauline was talking of? It is often seen in dressage horses, no?

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline

Last edited on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 01:47 am by danee

Helen
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 147
Status:  Offline
Still, going by the answer to my previous question and the rest of the discussion, you just need to keep going on the track you are on; no one has mentioned any 'cue' to give to ask for higher lift. I still say that from my current understanding, you need to continue working on your collection and straightness as you now have it, and the lifting of the base of the neck will be a by-product of that, not a goal.

Just throwing out there what I would think; it could be completely off-base. :)

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Danee, so long as you continue to insist that you DO know and that you HAVE understood Woody, True Collection, and the other materials, the more you armor yourself from any benefit here.

You have many confusions, and they become more obvious every time you post. Since that is the case -- instead of saying, "of course I understand", "anyone who looks at my horse will agree that I'm doing OK" -- what if I have looked at your pictures, Danee, and find merely average work from a rider who does not really understand collection, release, softness, balance, or contact?

Likewise, again, so long as you say "well most of the people involved in dressage MUST understand what it is to make a horse straight", then you will not be able to make the very progress that you desire. For the fact of the matter is that they do NOT understand -- in other words, Danee, I am advising you not to turn to that world as your standard for excellence. It will play you false every time.

What you originally wanted to know, I have understood from the very first post. What you are asking -- about "when can I raise the head" -- is discussed even in Podhajsky, an author whose riding I do not much admire. Even there; in other words, your question has been asked many, many times before, by other students, better than yourself.

But, as I said, even though I understood what you were really getting at, I did not answer it in the first post. Why do you think that would be? It is like what they say about buying a Porsche, Danee: if you need to ask the price, why then, you can't afford it.

I, of course, also asked this question. My teacher answered it to me in the same way. He said: "When Painty has to fill in for you a little bit less, Debbie, it will happen all by itself."

I don't really expect, Danee, that this saying is going to have a big effect on your consciousness. In my own case, it took more than a year for it to penetrate and have the effect that my teacher intended. Nevertheless I include it here as a kindness to you; perhaps you're a better student than I am, and a better student than I take you for.

In lieu of that, however, we can tell you in biomechanical terms: you must never raise the horse's poll higher than the strength he has in raising the base of the neck justifies. If you raise the poll higher than that degree permitted by the strength a horse has to raise the base of its neck -- on that day, and in that hour and moment that you try it -- the base of his neck will instantly fall out, and you will be left with nothing more than a horse gasping for breath, gasping in pain, struggling to retain its balance and rhythm, and well above the bit. -- Dr. Deb

Obie
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 28th, 2007
Location: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posts: 57
Status:  Offline
I've heard this statement before; "Placing the head at the optimal height is a matter of tact; the rider should feel when the elevation of the neck and withers creates the maximal engagement of the pelvis. I like this one.

Linda-

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Helen - Yes, the photo on your link is showing the splenius - in some horses it will look as though it tapers to a point a little closer to the shoulder.  'Yes' also to your other remarks - you are on the right track.

Best wishes - Pauline

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline

Last edited on Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 01:48 am by danee

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Danee, I want you to think about this quotation from C.S. Lewis:

"Any man who says 'I'm as good as you'....isn't."

When I go to see my teachers, I don't say much, because I'm not there to try to justify myself or to teach them, or to offer them anything. I ask a few questions perhaps -- key questions -- and then I think for a long time about the answer that I receive. I chew it over quite a bit, because I believe in my teachers -- they are offering me something that might have more to it than would meet the eye just at first.

Danee, you have been answered here very eloquently by Pauline, and more directly by me. But you're still trying to tell me how "good" you are. This makes me doubt that you are really ASKING anything. 

When you've thought about that C.S. Lewis quote, then maybe I will be able to help you. Shy of that, I don't think it will be possible. I'm not interested in just talking for talk's sake. -- Dr. Deb

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline
Dr. Deb,

It is utterly amazing that "correct" dressage existed before you- how could it?  Maybe it didn't.  Maybe Painty was the first and the best and the others were unaware of their own ignorance.  How can anyone do it without you?

If only more of us would give up not only our egos, but every last speck of dignity and self respect- because only than are we worthy to talk to you.  If only you were in front of me so I could wash your feet with my hair- than maybe I could prove my desire to learn.  Only than could I hope to smell the dust of your amazing foot prints.  It isn't at all posible that maybe you dont know the answer to the questions I"ve posted- we all respect that you are all knowing.  No human could ever intimidate you.  It must be me in my pathetic ignorance...how could I possibly understand an article after reading it five times.  After all, you wrote it- it must be so far above me that I can only look up and dream.  My poor horses will be nothing more than week mangled skeletons for eternity.

Hear me pray,

Amen

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Danee, your immaturity is showing. Would you like me to do you the favor of removing your post, or shall we leave it up?

Not only I, but others here, have given you much time and attention in an attempt to answer your questions and concerns. You do not understand what you have been told, as I have said, perhaps because I haven't explained it well enough; but also perhaps because you haven't really devoted the attention to the material that you claim you have. I feel also that you are muddled through trying to make what is said here "fit" with other things you have been taught. As I mentioned in my previous -- this will not be possible -- they will not "fit".

It does look very much like the corn is being wasted when it is "thrown" into the ground at planting time. We have to give up that corn and not eat it. But when we do that, we get back a crop a hundredfold. What this parable means, Danee, is that you, and everyone else who hopes to succeed, has to give up everything they think they have before there is room for the teacher to put anything new in.

I wish you would put as much effort into study of this parable as you put into defending yourself. So long as you continue to defend yourself, you declare that you are unwilling to give up anything that you think you have. By this, you armor yourself against gaining the very understanding that you seek. Then we must ask -- to quote the famous Dr. Phil -- Danee, how is that working out for you?

When you've thought about this a little more, you may want to post again. You'll be welcome when you come back with the attitude of a student. -- Dr. Deb

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline
Danee, I want you to think about this quotation from C.S. Lewis:

"Any man who says 'I'm as good as you'....isn't."

 

I still think you need to listen to your own quote- you are the one who is so sure you are better than I.  Maybe you offer me nothing because you have nothing to offer- how am I to give up any previous knowledge I have, when all you give me to replace it, is 'read it again', or go 'study more.'

I have read Woody and True Collection over and over.  I've gotten out of it what I've gotten out of it and reading it yet again probably won't make any lightbulbs come on.   Pauline gave a VERY good discription of what collection looks like - it agrees readily with my previous knowldge, so maybe, just maybe, I know one or two things that are correct even by your definitions.

I have completely "started over" more than once and I am very willing to do that again for good reason- but I see no good reason, and even if I did, I would start over and do what exactly?  You have not really told me what it is I'm lacking understanding of.  I post a few times and you know my whole set of equestrian skills and knowledge?  I've learned a heck of a lot on my own or through literature or by observation and experimentation.  I've laid my ego to the side to learn form people Ive detested.  There is nothing wrong with me as a student.  If you give me a real reason as to why you think I am misinformed in my equestrian knowledge, or have no concept of relaxation, straightness, release, etc, than by all means I will lay out the red carpet you demand- but don't crown your self by simply knocking my accomplishments out from underneathe of me.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Danee, once again: you cannot be a student until you are willing to empty yourself of what you think you have; in other words, you have to stop clinging to and attempting to defend what you think you know, because, indeed, you yourself have indicated, by the very fact that you came here supposedly to ask questions, that you do not know.

You have asked me to give a specific list of all that you do not know. This would be difficult because extensive. And it is not necessary. You are asking me to thump you, when I have been trying rather hard not to thump you.

The essence of the problem that I'm trying to articulate, Danee, is that you see, hear, and understand "on the surface". You're bright enough to be able to grasp a fairly technical description of what the physical body of the horse is doing, but without really understanding what it means. Like many people, you're ambitious to learn and practice "movements" in order to display whatever level of technical expertise -- but you fail to see how much you are calling on your horse to fill in for you.

In the same way, you mistake "success" in terms of prizewinning, being on an Olympic team, or being recommended by other competitors, for mastery. When I have mentioned this in previous posts, you make no response to it, which makes me believe that you have not heard what I said. Yet this is the most important part. I am really only interested in mastery.

But let us begin at the beginning, for I am willing to go on with you despite the defensiveness, cattiness, and pettiness that you have displayed in your last several posts. And there are two possible places for us to start. One is the area of the horse's physical body, and the other is the area of its inner life. You have correctly stated that Pauline's descriptions of collection are exact and beautiful. It is now necessary for us to examine what ACTUAL impact such descriptions have in your own practice.

Specifically, would you describe for me please what the relationship is between a horse's inner state of equanimity and the shape of its topline, contrasting its physical appearance when it has deep inner equanimity vs. when the animal has lost its inner "okayness".

You may also add comments regarding other physical aspects of the horse besides just the topline, for example its breathing, the shape and action of the tail, ears, eyes, etc. In other words, I would like to hear from you a description of what a horse looks like when it is "okay" vs. "not okay".

I need you to be as brief as possible and as directly to the point as possible in your reply.

Thanks for hanging in there, and I'll look forward to something pithy. -- Dr. Deb

 

Sam
Member
 

Joined: Tue Jun 12th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 149
Status:  Offline
Danee,

Please listen to Dr Deb as she speaks only the truth, and comes from a place of only the best intentions for us and our horses.  For us to learn and totally understand our horses we MUST let old beliefs die and as Deb said to me very early on, first we must know ourselves.  We may not like what we discover, but is completely our choice to change or not. 

Dr Deb

Thanks for your awesome guidance.

Best Wishes

Sam

danee
Member
 

Joined: Wed Oct 3rd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 28
Status:  Offline
WOW  I'm suppose to desribe the horse's body language in regards to its emotions and be brief!  I'm game.

I'm going to  put this in catagory form to be more brief, but these lists are far from complete...

Horse OK: 

~Relaxed convex out line          ~long neck             ~soft eye,blinking                 ~loose muzzle/relaxed lips   ~movements slow (can be ear movments, eye movements, tail etc while ridden)  

Horse NOT OK:

~shortened neck/jams neck into shoulders     ~raised poll    ~hollow neck and back    ~muscles tight on back  ~eyes wide OR glazed over (sometimes eyes half closed when in constant pain)   ~fast/quick movements (again ear, eye, tail included along with gross motor movements)  ~tight lips  ~clenched teeth  ~over developed underneck if often in this state  ~flared nostrils

 

I won't get into behavior details- like a horse not wanting to look directly at you or bulging shoulder as he looks away, etc or my attempt at brevity will fail pathetically!!!

Last edited on Tue Nov 20th, 2007 06:02 am by danee

Helen
Member
 

Joined: Fri Sep 14th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 147
Status:  Offline
All I wanted to say, Danee, is that Dr Deb has no motivation to 'sell herself' to you. It is not for her to show you why you should learn from her, it is you that have come to learn from her. So either be ready to learn from her, or don't ask her for help. When she refers you to her other works, it is her way of saying that she has already written down the information you require, and it is up to you to seek and use it.

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
OK, Danee, very good. Just what I was looking for -- to the point, and correct.

Now that we have established that you can recognize the relationship between inner OK-ness and the outer shape and style of movement of the horse, we have a basis for further discussion. In other words -- from here on out, I will be able to refer you back to your own words.

So, the first thing to be mentioned would be THAT you can recognize that there IS a relationship between the horse's inner OK-ness and his outer shape and doings. Your post is proof that you know there is this relationship.

By implication, then, we may conclude that you acknowledge that the horse has an inner life -- in other words, that he has emotions and feelings that are, if not exactly the same as your own, similar or analogous; in other words, you believe that he can and does experience feelings such as fear, worry, happiness, frustration, curiosity, anger, sadness, joy.

I am now going to repeat for your benefit a little story which I have told in some of the writings which you say you have read "five times" -- maybe this will serve as a little prompt toward getting you to see that further review of the suggested material might be to your benefit, even if it would mean reading this material many times more than five times. Some very fine students, you know, throughout history have been known to re-read their material daily -- I mean students like St. Benedict, the Dalai Lama, or Abraham Lincoln. Surely if they can stand re-studying their core material, you can stand another hearing of this:

Once upon a time, there was a woman just like you who decided she was going to give her horse a day off from schooling in the arena. So she tacked him up and rode him out away from the stable, down the quiet and beautiful trail that led out across the meadow. And the day was just beautiful: the sun was shining and the birds were singing, and all was right with the world. The horse was happy and focused, stepping out with long and fluid steps, and the reins, held only on the buckle, were swinging freely from side to side. The woman was so pleased with this that she reached down to pet her horse on the side of the neck.

All of a sudden -- a big ol' rabbit exploded out from some bushes, practically under the horse's nose and cutting right across the trail. (Or it might have been a flock of quail, or a snoozing deer they nearly stepped on, or even a paper sack blown by the wind). The horse instantly reacted with a hard shy, throwing its head up, snorting and blowing, and pitching its shoulder so hard out to one side that the woman nearly lost her seat. In an effort to quell the situation and calm the horse, she reached down once again to pet her horse on the side of the neck.

Now, Danee -- that's the end of the story. And as with all my stories, this one is followed by the next set of questions:

1) How did the horse's neck feel to the woman the first time she reached down to pet him? Specifically, what was the quality of the muscle tone?

2) By contrast, how did the muscles feel the second time, when the horse was scared?

3) What universal law may we then conclude from this story? In other words: in anatomy class, we are taught that the brain and nervous system control the horse's muscles. Is this really true? What is the ultimate controller of the horse's physical state, including not only muscle tone but posture and bodily position?

Food for thought -- looking forward to your reply. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

 

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
That's correct, Danee, again very good.

So now that it's a given that you know this -- and because you have previously said you understand all of what it says in the "Woody" paper concerning the physical definition of straightness -- we can proceed to the next part, which is:

If a horse is not moving straight, what is the most basic or "deepest" cause of his crookedness?

Your answer to this will be the answer to the second of the two questions which were contained in all of your previous posts.

Also, by the way: I have not viewed the movies for which you previously supplied the link (my computer does not have the capacity to play them), but I have looked at the Home Page of the website upon which the movie links are posted. Are you one of the two people whose picture appears upon this page? In other words, are you an instructor or proprietor of the school that this page advertises? -- Dr. Deb

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Danee, you are misinterpreting my reason for wanting to know whether your photo appears on the Web page mentioned. I don't give a hoot "who" you are, because I don't believe that anyone is anybody. So just tell me which photos are of you, and don't screw around making me guess. If your motives are as clean as we require them to be here, there is nothing in this for you to be afraid of.

The reason I want to know which pictures are of yourself is that you have requested several times that I make judgements about the quality of your riding and training. Since I can't play the movies, I need to know whether any of the stills are photographs of yourself. This is in an effort to give you the help you say you are looking for.

There is another reason for my asking about this also, however, and that is that I think the list of our materials that you have not read includes our Forum Guidelines. This relates to what I said above about your motives being clean. In the Guidelines, we ask people not to make use of this space to -- in any manner -- advertise or promote themselves.

The purpose of this Forum, the cost for which is underwritten by me personally and by the Institute, is to make it possible for people to come here to ask questions of me and to receive answers. Discussion around any number of topics is also welcome, as are contributions made by any disinterested person.

To be "disinterested" means that you never use this space to toot your own horn, for example by telling us that you're an instructor or how accomplished you are, or -- and believe it or not this has been tried several times -- by "playing dumb" so as to highlight or prolong your presence here. This rule stems from the idea that anyone who toots their own horn certainly cannot need any help from me -- since the person is already helping herself....not to mention also that fake "questions" are essentially manipulative and abusive.

A student is the most important "disinterested" person of any, and therefore, students are always welcome here. Students are people who come not in order to tell us what they already know -- I do not care at all what you already know or think you know -- but to ask about things they don't know, and to share their experiences with other students. The student asks, and is glad when she is answered, because answers are what she came for.

My definition of "the best student in the school" is, I think, very relevant to mention at this time:

The best student in the school is the one who is the most help to all the other students.

So, Danee, if you haven't read the Forum Guidelines, you'll now please go do that. They can be found by clicking on the hotlink at the top of the front page to the Forum.

Now, as to the last set of questions I posed for your consideration: once again your answer is correct -- emotional tension is what causes crookedness. As I mentioned in my previous, this is the answer to the second of the two questions you originally posed, vis., "what causes crookedness" or "what is crookedness". The whole point of the Woody paper is to bring the reader through the anatomy to a point where she understands very clearly the physical basis for crookedness, i.e. how the anatomy and biomechanics work -- and then boost it to a much higher level, where the realization dawns that there is something far more powerful and determinative that drives the physique.

Since you have correctly answered this part, you will then be able to answer the following:

1) What is the primary purpose of using a drag or lure in the education of a horse?

and

2) What is the primary importance of "releasing maneuvers" such as head twirling and untracking?

Your answers to these will constitute the solution to your first question, way back at the beginning, which was, "so how DO you raise the base of the horse's neck". I have already answered this question for you by the saying, "when your horse has to fill in for you a little bit less, it will happen all by itself." You did not appear to understand this saying, but what has been succeeding with you in terms of a teaching technique is making you repeat each step slowly and explicitly. So if you really did want to know the answer to your original question, Danee, I think that you are on the brink of actually finding out. -- Dr. Deb

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Danee -- Yes, there are some disturbing problems with what you have been doing here.

For one -- you say that ours is a "quiet little Forum" and you seem to think you're doing us some kind of favor by brightening it up with your chat. You have already been told that "chat for chat's sake" is not the purpose here. Apparently it had not occurred to you that having a "quiet little forum" was our preference.

For another -- Danee, again, if you had actually bothered to read my writings posted here, in our "Inner Horseman" newsletter, and elsewhere, you would know that there is NO SUCH THING as "natural horsemanship." We are not interested here in anything of the sort. My teacher, as you might know, is the old man himself; but neither he nor Ray Hunt have ever spoken of what they offer as 'natural horsemanship'. That term is the invention of one of the well self-advertised nobodies -- an almost terminally incurable ego who has harmed and misled thousands of people, including you.

What I mean by saying "there is no such thing as natural horsemanship" is that the term is an oxymoron: the term 'natural' cannot go with the term 'horsemanship'. Many people today are fooling themselves, or being fooled by others, into thinking that they are doing something good or something better than the next guy because they are doing something 'natural'. But it is not so. There is no style of riding, type of tack, training process or methodology which is natural. They are ALL un-natural.

In fact -- they are all by choice, by human decision. Everything that happens to your horse is because you, Danee, have decided that it shall. Even to leave a horse that you have responsibility for alone is to decide -- to not decide is to decide. There is no escape from this.

I would really prefer, for these reasons, to leave the term 'horsemanship' unadorned and  unqualified. What I teach is horsemanship, plain and simple. This is what my teachers teach too, and I greatly appreciate that approach. However, if you insist upon a qualifier, then I'll tell you that what I teach is CONSCIOUS horsemanship. This is the opposite of the approach taken by the well self-advertised clinicians who are trying to lull you asleep with the swansong of 'naturalness'. I want every student, instead, fully conscious, fully independent, unique, and ultimately having no need of any teacher other than God and the horse.

Since you have repeatedly asked for my judgement as to the quality of your training and riding, I will tell you again what I said before (previously I said it on the basis of your writing and attitude alone, but now I say it in all fairness, having actually reviewed the available evidence): you are an average rider doing average work. You have an average seat with some evident faults in balance and some tension that could go out of there. You produce a less than average quality of communication between the seat/leg and hand. You are out of time with your horse to a degree, and you are very much unaware of what the animal is actually thinking and feeling. Your horse is rather dull in movement and appearance, and show 'pseudo-suppleness' from your having done 'pseudo-head twirling' and 'pseudo-untracking'. ("Pseudo" results from the person thinking they understand release, when in fact they do not yet have the feel. It is a common problem with students in the first hour they meet me; after that, it begins to clear up. But clearing it up requires the student be directly with a teacher who knows what the proper feel is).

So again, I am going to repeat: so long as you continue to insist, Danee, that you have 'arrived' as a rider -- so long as you are the least bit proud of being able to stand up on a horse's back, or tool around without a bridle -- so long as you have any desire to be judged and found superior by me or anyone else -- you armor yourself against the very progress and enlightenment that you seek. And, you continue to require your horse to fill in for you. This is the MAIN problem.

You have said that you are impatient of always doing "fourth level 'movements' with training-level 'movement'". This is a direct confession that, despite the correctness ON PAPER of your answers to my questions, you do not have a real understanding of the inner life of the horse, release, suppleness, straightness, or collection. It is also a direct confession, again, that you do not understand the saying, 'when your horse has to fill in for you a little bit less, it will happen all by itself.'

It has been noticeable to me over quite a span of years now that many of the so-called 'natural' horsemanship students -- those who have had so much of their money and their time thieved away by the well self-advertised clinicians -- that they are very frequently hungry to be taught 'movements' in just the same way that you, Danee, are expressing. So I understand your desire.

And here is the solution that I am going to propose:

a) Stop posting here, and just read.

b) Read everything that has been suggested to you. If you have read it before, read it again -- but with a new eye, an eye tuned not to the technical content but to the deeper meaning of the words and the concepts presented. Stop resenting the fact that you cannot get all that is in some of these works without considerable study. The more you resent it, the less you will get out of it. Other students in this school will be glad to tell you how many times they had to go over even the simplest of my writings (i.e. "Principles of Conformation Analysis") before some of it began to sink in. The same applies even more to reading Tom Dorrance's book; no one can 'just read it' and figure 'that's it'. When the teacher is capable of giving a deep understanding, the student -- if she is a student -- must be willing to dig.

c) Until you have read and studied everything, don't post here again.

d) When you have a question BASED ON THE READING then you may post again. If you post in this way, post only ONE question and then WAIT FOR and DEEPLY CONSIDER the answer you are given before replying. I take a good deal of time to work with you; I expect the same consideration in return.

e) If you post here again in any other manner, I will help you by deleting your post.

f) Go find Harry Whitney, and go find Ray Hunt. Spend all the time you can afford to spend with these men, over a span of from about seven to ten years. This would be the time it will likely take, based on the experience of other people who began, as you are going to begin, as 'average' riders.

This program will assist you in developing the inner depth that it takes to become the great horsewoman that you want to be.

Shy of that, I feel that I will only be contributing to the problem with hubris that you already have. I once spent a year and a half teaching a tall, skinny man with a moustache and a cowboy hat how to perform 'movements'. I did not have the wisdom at that time to take care of his hubris problem first. Unfortunately, thanks to the fact that this individual did learn how to 'go sideways' on horseback, he is now on TV, busily engaged in the business of undermining thousands of peoples' ability to progress in horsemanship. His basic problem is like yours, Danee; he just wants what he wants, and this prevents him from quitting when he should. He over-rides every horse until it becomes either resentful, desperate, or dull. You will understand by this that I am not going to be twice guilty of the same error. -- Dr. Deb

miriam
Member


Joined: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007
Location: Minnesota USA
Posts: 90
Status:  Offline
It is simply amazing to me that we can have all we need with the horse by just letting go of all else except this one piece! Harry says this, Dr Deb says it, Dorrance says it. That if we (seek to) understand the inner life of the beast, that all else will fall into place. It just seemed like it was too simple (or complex), so I kept thinking there is more that I need, more moves, more knowledge, more equipment. It's another example of how less is more with them.

Pam
Member


Joined: Wed Mar 21st, 2007
Location: Lafayette, California USA
Posts: 146
Status:  Offline
Well said, Miriam!!!!!

rebecca g
Member
 

Joined: Sun Sep 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 12
Status:  Offline
Dr. Deb, I have been following this thread with ever growing interest.  As I have read and re-read Danee's posts I have seen more of myself reflected. Sometimes we can really get in our own way  ( and our horse's) without even realizing it.  Compared with what I knew and could do with my horse and other horses three years ago I have gained a lot of confidence. However, I can see now how an overdose of pride can stand in the way of true understanding. I have enjoyed this journey and I don't want it to end and I certainly don't want to block my own path.  I am re-reading "True Unity" in hopes of understanding more about how my horse is having to fill in for me. Sometimes when I am working with my horse and have been dealing with some inner turmoil my horse is reluctant  to give 100%.  It feels like he is holding back. My teacher says that  my horse feels that he is having to "protect me". I think that he is meaning that the horse is having to "fill in".  May I ask for other members to give examples of "filling in" so that I might develop a better picture?  Also can you explain about "pseudo- disengagement"? I think that  I have an understanding of "pseudo-head twirling".  I have been reading "Right from the Start over and over the past few months and it has helped my understanding of contact  and releasing the topline greatly. I also have a message for Danee. It is hard to look at one's self objectively, but you have helped me to do so. I hope that you continue the journey. Dr. Deb, I hope that I haven't rambled too much. Thank you for your time. Best wishes, Rebecca

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Rebecca -- Yes. Here's another paraphrase from C.S. Lewis ("The Screwtape Letters") which I think fits in here. Lewis said that he thought God's intention or desire is to move a man to the point that he could be the greatest architect in the world, and design the greatest cathedral ever built, and know that these things are so; and yet be able to go outside of that building and stand back and look at it and have no more pride in it than if it had been built by another man.

Nothing short of this attitude will, I think, ever do in horsemanship. Even more than in music, architecture, painting or sculpture, engineering, or manufacturing, in horsemanship one must realize that MUCH of any good outcome is due to factors beyond the rider or trainer's control, or even her ability to perceive.

This is the essence of what the saying, "your horse is having to fill in for you" means. The first thing to recognize is that the horse will ALWAYS be filling in for the rider -- no matter how skillful or perceptive she becomes, the horse will always be contributing something essential to the outcome, something that, if the horse withheld it, the outcome would not be good or would not happen at all. This realization should be grounds for a constant humility.

At this level, what the horse "fills in" are intelligence, curiosity, willingness, and physical energy and strength. The best discussion of this long list of "intangible positives" that the animal contributes to the human-animal relationship is in J. Allen Boone's "Kinship With All Life."

But what I was saying to Danee goes beyond this -- as if this weren't already enough! There is another saying that we often used to hear from our elderly teacher, and also not infrequently still hear from Ray Hunt -- and that is:

"That rider's horse is performing not because of what she is doing, but in spite of it."

In other words -- the rider is so totally unaware of the MEANING of her own actions that she is actually making the job harder for the horse, even close to impossible, and yet the animal manages to pull it off. In specifics, this might mean something relatively simple, such as that the rider is out of time with the animal's footfalls; but more often in my observation it has meant that the rider is a peculiar combination of dull and demanding. "Dull" that is, in the sense of not making it a priority to fulfill Baucher's first dictum from 200 years ago, which is to always "set it up" so that the desired movement is as obvious and easy for the horse to execute as possible. And "demanding" -- in the plain sense -- for this is the very rider who is likely to punish the horse for not doing what she has just made it darned near impossible for him to do. Sometimes this is so bad that it is a wonder that the animal doesn't actually attack the rider or at least, seek to escape. In many cases, however, what the horse will ultimately do is "shut down" -- that is, become just as dull, wooden, and mechanical as the rider herself is.

This situation can be plain and simple, clear to everybody spectating a given clinic or lesson ride. It can also, however, cut much deeper. This is where we get into "pseudo". Many students of the well self-advertised mavens exhibit the problem, and the longer they have been with these people the worse the problem tends to be.

These folks unfortunately have it in their mind that they have to DO something. In other words, that the point of untracking the hindquarters is to cause the horse to turn around, or that the point of twirling the head is to get the neck to flex. If they have any ego -- and they often do, in imitation of their teachers -- then they also want to "show how good" their horse can turn around or flex its neck, etc.

Blinded by the unexamined belief that the point of the operation is to PERFORM, and perhaps doubly blinded by the desires of their own ego, these folks blur right over HOW the animal takes the individual steps. And yet the whole path to mastery lies in those individual steps, and even more so, in the pauses or releases that happen between the steps. "Surface workers" see, in other words, only the movement in gross, or you could say they only see the surface. This is why our elderly teacher more than once referred to these folks, on the microphone to the reporting media, as "surface workers."

But the surface worker hardly ever realizes that she IS a surface worker -- I mean, presumably if she did realize that she would stop being a surface worker. I have had a number of such people become extremely angry when I hold the mirror of their own misdoings and misunderstandings up to them -- which is my primary function as a teacher. Let them be angry, then; let them have all the anger they can hold. Let them spit and gibber like the frustrated demons in C.S. Lewis's "Screwtape". This is an excellent way to get those demons out of them. Then, when they are exhausted from having whatever tantrum they are determined to have -- when they hit bottom in a way that has some meaning for them -- then perhaps they will be willing to begin.

What else can I say? It isn't too easy all the time to articulate specifically to a "hardened up" student what, exactly, is wrong, and yet the experienced teacher knows that there is indeed something way off. The horse's responses are wrong, and the student is restive. It's like the famous ditty posted on the Press Room door in Washington, D.C., back in the "Tricky Dick" era:

"I do not like thee, Mr. Nixon --

The reasons why are hard to fix on,

But I can say with some conviction

I do not like thee, Mr. Nixon."

 It is, of course, another characteristic of surface workers that they hardly ever know what delicious fun it is to be relieved of expertise -- to be allowed, yea encouraged, to be a beginner again -- to be a child. It has truly been said that only such as these can enter into joy, which again goes back to the C.S. Lewis quote I opened this post with.

There is a now-famous archive thread from a previous incarnation of this Forum in which we went into learning how to operate a horse one step at a time rather deeply. With the help of several participants who have lived this lesson and learned it, one of my students who reads here had an epiphany. He found out what it means to cause a horse to operate one step at a time.  

With the horse and rider who have been "hardened up" through exposure to wrongheaded instruction, this is about the only way I know of to help them break through and get back onto the right path. It is a way to teach them what "release" really means, because until they learn to cause the horse to operate one step at a time, they are never actually giving any release -- which is the MAIN factor that causes their horses to become either desperate or dull.

That, plus encouraging them to give themselves up.

I'll go dig that thread out and re-post it here if anybody wants me to -- it has also been reprinted in some issue (I forget which) of "The Inner Horseman", so Associate Members probably already have a copy of it.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

 

janer
Member
 

Joined: Thu Apr 26th, 2007
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 13
Status:  Offline
How well I can relate to this topic.  Our perceptions of ourselves and our abilities are all- revealing - the horse is such a mirror for this, and unfortunately long suffering but thankfully so forgiving!  From my own experiences I can say I really only started out on the right foot when I lost all desire to compete and realised what a gift it was to be given permission to go right back to the beginning - thanks to Dr Deb for this gift.  Ahhh, but such a long way to go still, but such fun the journey.  I now enjoy just having fun with my horse, whether ground work/play or riding, learning to trim his feet or just being with him.  I like to treat the time I spend with my horse as a sort of meditation rather than as a time to get something done, and I find through doing this I achieve much more anyway.  Certainly my horse enjoys it much more! 
I could very easily beat myself up over all the injustices I have done to my horse, but far better to say sorry, start afresh with a new attitude and really start learning by paying close attention to the horse and applying all the useful information available to us as suggested through this forum.  This took me much soul searching in the beginning, and a readiness to dump all prior ideas of my abilities which are so often very tangled up in our sense of self/identity (and this has nothing whatsoever to do with what is actually happening at any one time but it can be so strong as to blot out all true perceptions of reality).  It amounts to developing an emotional maturity.
I can only encourage Danee to take Dr Deb's advice on board, let go of the anger, and then really start learning - it will be such a different experience to what has passed for learning before.  
Cheers,
Jane.

Last edited on Sun Nov 25th, 2007 11:19 am by janer

Leah
Member
 

Joined: Sat Sep 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 256
Status:  Offline
I would be very interested in reading the thread, Dr Deb.

Julie
Member
 

Joined: Mon Jul 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 56
Status:  Offline
Hi Dr Deb and all,

I would like to ditto what Jane has just posted I have had similar experience and ready to do what it takes to learn more to help the horse cope with their life including their humans.

Yes I would like to also read the thread and any more info on filling in to understand how much they do for us.

Cathie

David Lee Archer
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status:  Offline
Dr. Deb, some one sent me your blog because we are like minds and just reading what you post I would say we are.

 I have heard alot about some of your remarks thru the past. Most I have heard it is refreshing....

 Keep up the good work.

 David lee archer

micol124
Member
 

Joined: Wed Nov 14th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 4
Status:  Offline
I would like to also!

rebecca g
Member
 

Joined: Sun Sep 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 12
Status:  Offline
Dr. Deb, thank you for your insight. Please post the thread. I am sure that my horse will also thank you. Rebecca

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Here you go, folks. Enjoy. This is one of the great ones. -- Dr. Deb

From John Pyle: Dear Dr. Deb -- I really wnat to thank you for your translation of Baucher in the last "Inner Horseman". I've studied him for sometime, mostly through Racinet's books and some other sources, but your translation into the American terms used commonly by our teachers has sure clarified and sometimes confirmed the meaning I was getting from the others.

"The force puts the weight in motion by causing it to flow from one extreamty to another" is a concept that I began to understand from riding with Ray and Brian and lately, you, but your interpertation has clarified it greatly for me. It is essential to understand the "effect d' ensemble", as you render it,"the combination of effects". At least it was essential for me, because I had previously understood "effect d' ensemble" as a static thing, but you have, once again, opened my eyes to other possibilities. Namley, when you caution us that "to oppose the forces of the hands and legs" means "to use the
forces of the hands and legs to regulate the flow of weight and energy from one part of the combined horse and rider body to another" you have put the "effect d' enseble" into motion. That's brilliant. A part of Baucher's real meaning, which I never got before. Thanks much. This brings me to my question.

You also translate that "the observant rider will notice that in every movement there are brief moments of immobility". Now, in the motion of every limb there comes the time when it slows, and stops in protraction and begins its movement in retraction, I'm assuming that that's the momemt, but perhaps I'm being too literal. I've been experimenting with feeling, and effecting, that moment, and I think it's certainly helped me find the location of the inside hind in the shoulder-in in walk and trot, and to help the horse, so to speak, "find the spot". I'm trying it also, of course, in all movements and gaits. Please, if you can, expand on this, and tell me if I'm close to being on track, or, redirect if necessary. Thanks again.
 


From Dr. Deb: Dear John -- It is pure pleasure to respond to this query. I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed the opportunity in the 2004 "Inner Horseman" to go into Baucher deeply. I too have derived much benefit from this study. Part Two will be coming out in the June, 2004 issue -- I think it's even more informative and stimulating than Part One.

The whole key to understanding Baucher -- and properly translating this greatest equestrian genius of the nineteenth century -- lies in grasping what he means by "the forces of the horse." Peter Mullans will probably chuckle if he ever gets around to reading Baucher in the original, because Peter really is a physicist; but it is abundantly clear from context in Baucher's writings that he is, at very best, an amateur in that field, and uses the term "force" in a highly idiomatic, rather than a technical sense.

So, as you have pointed out, I translate Baucher's phrase "the forces of the horse" either as "the flow of weight" or (especially in Part Two, where he leaves the static exercises and goes on to talk about riding the horse in the various gaits and movements), as "the flow of weight and energy."

This becomes of crucial importance in the most widespread, and worst, mis-translation and mis-understanding of Baucher, vis., that when he says "oppose the forces" he means "drive the horse forward from the leg and seat into a fixed hand." In a hundred small ways, and several times quite explicitly, Baucher says never to do this, and it therefore cannot be what he means -- no matter what the words, taken one by one out of the dictionary, may say. When, however, we follow the rule of translation which I have suggested, we can understand that what Baucher wants us to do is to regulate the flow of weight and energy. Yes: weight flows, and human beings are empowered to both feel this and see it!

I am going to supply a considerable number of illustrations in the June issue, just as I did in the January issue, with the purpose of taking us beyond the not very precisely-drawn images in Baucher's original. I think it's important to know something about what Baucher (writing in the early 19th century) means by "the traditional training methods of our grandfathers' time" -- he complains about certain things the “grandfathers” did, while retaining others, but since readers in our time are generally unfamiliar with 18th century practice, I thought I would present a selection of images from the latter half of that century which show the process of manège training then employed.

I am also going to put in some of my own "head pictures", i.e. the picture that presents itself to my mind's eye when I read certain things in Baucher. So, to get down to your question -- here is a picture I think will be most useful for an American trying to understand what Baucher means by the "effect d'ensemble" or "combination of effects." By "effects" Baucher sometimes means what we call pressures, but also he sometimes means the thing you do when you have your baseball glove on and you catch a ball. When you were a little kid, before your Dad showed you how, maybe when somebody threw to you, you stiff-armed it and got stung and the ball popped out of your mitt. Then Dad explained to you that you have to receive the ball with some "give". How much "give" depends upon how hot the throw is -- the hotter, the more. When you catch a ball with skill, you receive – and regulate -- a flow of weight and energy!

Now, another important picture I get here is of somebody playing with a "Slinky" toy. He's got one end of the slinky in each palm. He pushes upward (= sends energy) with one palm; the energy flows through the slinky, making the coils move like a wave; and the stack of coils and accompanying energy then arrive in the palm of the other hand (= receive the flow of weight and energy).

Baucher actually, repeatedly, refers to the horse's extremities (neck and mouth, the four limbs) as "his springs" and so I think the Slinky picture is more than apt. In riding an actual horse, you have several sets of Slinkies to pay attention to and whose flow you are to regulate, vis., the back-to-front Slinky of the haunches, loins, base of neck, poll/throatlatch, jaws, and tongue; the Slinkies connecting diagonal legs; and the Slinkies connecting lateral pairs of legs. Plus your OWN Slinkies, i.e. head, lower back, arms, seatbones, the calves of your legs. And then, of course, in the end your reins become Slinkies too -- a living part of the connected whole.

I like the Slinky picture not only because this toy makes "the flow of weight and energy" visible, but also because it works like a wave. Several times, Baucher talks about not "clashing" the flow of weight and energy, which gives me a picture of ripples that you might see on a beach -- one set of ripples moving one way, another set at an angle contrary to it, and then when they meet, there is vibration, some kind of bizarre moire pattern leading to stasis, or just plain turmoil. And "freezing up" or "turmoil" is just what Baucher warns you that you are going to get if you cause "clashing"!

As to "brief moments of immobility": these are entirely different from the "freezing up" just mentioned. I agree that by "brief moments of immobility" Baucher means exactly the moment when a baseball, thrown upward, reaches its apex, pauses, and then returns.

But the system he's trying to describe is far more complex than the simple arc of a thrown ball. Baucher is highly concerned with balance -- finding perfect balance is his main objective. Missing this point creates another total mis-understanding of Baucher, because if the reader misses how important perfecting the balance in each and every step is -- what we call "finding the spot" -- then he will be likely to remember only the times when Baucher is talking about position. Again, if you take Baucher too literally, he seems to be saying that position per se is the whole objective. But it clearly isn't, even though in Part One Baucher has to tell the recruits again and again that they must get the horse's head and neck in certain positions.

What most translators seem to have missed is that there is a REASON for positioning the horse -- and Baucher is the first person that I know of in all history to have realized this: that only when you get the horse in the right starting position -- what Ray Hunt has for 30 years been calling "prepare to position" -- only then can he execute the maneuver in balance and therefore with perfect ease.

The first synonym of "ease" in this sense is RELEASE. So if we twirl the head, flex the neck, ask the animal to step under its belly with its inside hind leg, move the inside foreleg more to the inside so as to induce it to "turn equal" -- in all cases, the sole and only purpose for which we position the horse is to obtain REAL EASE.

Let me close by saying again how delighted I am that you, and very likely some of the others, are taking the time to study the January issue of "The Inner Horseman" in some detail....there is a lot to be gained. Happy riding indeed!


 

From Diane: Hiya - this thread prompted me to look at this article again. Baucher refers to ramener ("Direct Flexons of the head and neck or ramener") and the only other mention of ramener that I've read is by the French rider/author, Jean Froissard in his book "Basic Dressage" 1971 translated by Lily Powell-Forissard.

To share a portion of what is said in Froissard's chapter on "The Ramener"...

"The term 'head carriage' is loosely applied to both a natural and an acquired attitude, but it is incomplete because it does not include the very important participation of the neck. Therefore dressage experts keep using the French term ramener, which has been a part of equestrian terminology for as long as the concept itself has existed in equitation.
This ramener consists of a head position close to the vertical with the poll at the apex and is achieved by driving the body, and the neck, forward, the hands exerting a measure of opposition to this forward movement. This leads to a tightening of the angle formed by the first two cerivcal vertebrae and poll joints. The hand opposition must be so minimal and skilful, however, that it 'filters' rather than blocks and, far from coercing the horse, causes him to yield willingly.


The ramener, let me repeat, must be obained, not by a retreat of the head towards the body, but BY THE ADVANCE OF THE BODY TOWARDS THE HEAD, the neck coiled in strict proportion to the extent to which the head is bent to the rear.

The pitfall for so many is that this near-vertical position of the head can, indeed, be obtained both ways, but the results are not at all alike. And yet it is the result that counts, because the ramener is not an end in itself but a means toward two ends. These are that it allows the bit to act with the greatest effectiveness on the lower jaw and it 'tautens' the top line of the horse.

In obtaining ramener by a retreat of the head we should only be teaching the horse 'to flee the bit', to pass behind it, whereas all training is directed towards teaching him to make contact with it. We want the horse to remain on the bit, even at the halt, yet not allow himself to be carried by it nor to pull against it. ..." (pp 43-44)

There are two sketches accompanying the text. I small chapter but a formidable one I feel, I first read this book around the same time as I read/saw Dr Deb’s works.


From Dr. Deb: Dear Diane -- Froissard's comments are generally useful, although like most modern Europeans, he does not quite understand where raising the base of the horse's neck fits into the picture. Baucher did understand this and so did DeCarpentry. It is not merely a matter of bringing the body FORWARD. It must be “brought forward” in a certain, very specific, way – i.e., things will only work out beautifully if the horse raises the base of its neck. Otherwise, although Froissard is correct in saying that “the results are very different” if the hand is brought back vs. if the body is shoved forward, in both cases, in the absence of raising the base of the neck, they will be ugly results.

In any case, it is generally wiser to go to the original source. Baucher did not, I think, invent the term "ramener", but he says in his text that (at least to him) it means the vertical carriage of the head.

Baucher has been, since the day he first put pen to parchment, one of the most widely-discussed of all equestrian authors. Partly this is due to his highly idiomatic way of putting things. He invented his own terminology wherever he felt it necessary -- so necessarily those words do not appear in any lexicon or dictionary (except Baucher's own, and he wrote one of those too, specifically for horsemanship terms).

The exact equivalent occurs with Tom Dorrance -- this master horseman too had his own, highly idomatic, way of expressing what he had experienced and what he hoped we would be able to learn. Like Baucher, Tom was also extremely careful in his selection of words -- he tried very hard to find exactly the right word or phrase to express each concept, and in some areas he spent years honing the most succinct and appropriate way to answer the student's question. Yet, it was still idomatic, and as a result those who did not know him often have a very difficult time understanding what he was trying to say. Baucher is the same -- even French speakers did not and don't, I think, always understand him correctly. If you turn the picture around, imagine the difficulty in translating Tom Dorrance into French!

But ultimately, with both of these great horsemen, each student and each reader is going to have to decide for himself. "The text says what the text says", and after the author's death there is no further recourse. Froissard is French and an experienced and highly qualified horseman. Racinet is also French, also an expert, and he published a whole book just to "explain" Baucher. There is, likewise, a translation of Baucher into English made by Green, an American language scholar who also rides. And yet here comes Dr. Deb presenting yet another interpretation (for all translations from one language to another are interpretations).

So, you have several choices, and another one besides, which would be for you to read Baucher yourself in the original French. The real object is to find a translation that helps you to put Baucher's ideas and brilliant insights into actual practice -- to make them a part of your daily interaction with your horse. That's when any book about horses becomes really useful.
 


From Peter Mullans: OK, I realise this post may not be in the spirit of this thread, but here's a view:

A lot of horsemanship involves terminology. (As do many other disciplines). What I notice about horsemanship is that many people use technical terms incorrectly, with the result that nobody really knows what they mean.

Terms like 'force', 'energy', 'momentum', 'weight', 'centre of gravity', etc, etc. have a very specific meaning, and if you don't understand them, you can't really use them correctly. To use them incorrectly simply causes confusion. This is one of the reasons why there is so much difficulty in understanding what people really mean in this area.

Suppose there was a very accomplished farmer who had a reputation for extremely good farm management and husbandry. But he didn't know the names of the animals, so he called them by different names, randomly. For example, he would refer to cows as 'geese' and to horses as 'chickens' and to ducks as 'pigs'. Another time he would call all horses 'pigs', and so on...

If anyone else wanted to learn his skills, they might find it difficult to do so by reading his book. In order to learn how he managed his farm so well, they would really have to go and take a look, and maybe hang out with him for a while, so that they could then interpret his idiosyncratic (or ignorant) use of language and find out if he really did feed hay to the chickens or keep the horses in hen coops.

If the farmer was no longer of this world, then the only recourse would be for someone who understood all these concepts to try to interpret the farmer's wisdom to the rest of us. This is what Dr Deb has, very commendably, attempted to do. She should be thanked for this, because the 'Inner Horseman' is indeed a remarkable work that deserves much study.

In my own (rather limited) experience, I have found that to try to understand these masters, past and present, is simply not possible by reading their words. I read Bill and Tom Dorrance's books a few years ago and came away with nothing. So I worked with my horse for a while, then I tried the books again a couple of years later. This time they made much more sense. In fact they were a joy to read. This was because I was able to apply my own interpretation to their words, so the specific words became less important to me, but more important was the general feel of what they were trying to convey. (I hasten to add that this only applied to about 10% of the books - the other 90% still remains a mystery).

It's more like poetry than science. The meaning is behind the words. Once you have experienced love, or loss, or joy, then you can understand poems about those things, and can gain from the experience and teachings of others.

But I think you need the experience before the words.




From Dr. Deb: Absolutely correct, Peter. More on this later, when I get a minute.

 

From John Pyle: Peter, I don't know if your post is in the "spirit" of this thread, but it's sure within its scope. You're right on with it, as Dr Deb has said, and I'm looking foward to her comments. As for me, I can only speak from my own experience. I remember clearly a conversation with my Dad some twenty or so years ago, where I was complaining that I couldn't get much from the "experts" published in the popular horse magazines because no one seemed to use the same definitions of their terms, and some of the terms they did use were so subjective that I couldn't, some times, tell just what they were talking about. The Old Man, unlike me, doesn't waste time in futile conversations, he just grumbled, "Why don't your just go ride the damned horse". (He also believes in going straight to the source). He was right, of course.

I worked on that for a long while, and at one time, thought I had a useful ratio of time riding required to understand time reading. Something like 20:1. I realize now that's not nearly high enough, for me, at least. Of course, it would be different for everyone. But, as you point out, horsemanship is more of an art than a science, so the whole idea is silly.

Most of the masters that we like to study, somewhere in their works, point out that trying to convey a feel with a word, or words, is very, very hard. They all have to use the best words that, in their belief, would to just that. The problem, that you have made crystal clear, is that their meanings are from a lot, to just a tiny bit, different from mine, or yours. Now, Dr. Deb, with her interpretations of Baucher, has jogged my deffinitions just enough to open, for me, a whole new meaning to his words that was really close to an epiphany, but it might mean nothing to someone else. The only real Rosetta Stone that we have -- and it's always infallible when interperted correctly -- is the horse.

"There's the rub". Horses, as you know, have their own rich and complex language and we have to be very careful of a mistranslation. Now, it's possible to learn a language by immersion, I'm sure. If we're stuck in a foreign country with no interpreters and no help, eventually we would learn the language. If we're stuck in the middle of a horse herd in those conditions, we damn well better learn the language. It would sure be a lot safer for us if we had an interpreter. To me that means that we need to "go find Harry", or Ray, or Brian, or anyone else, and certainly not necessarly American, who can honestly, and in the deepest sense, be called a "Horseman". We need an expert.

I'll give an example. One of the ground work exercises you may know is, what Dr. Deb calls “twirling”.



With a haltered horse, and this exercise is really valuable for colts, and a long lead, carefully bring the lead along the side of the horse opposite the one you are standing on, all the way back to his hindquarters and around them above the hocks. With some horses you can do this almost in one single motion, with others it will take some slow carefull work untill he can accept it calmly, but when he finally does, slowly tighten the rope untill he realizes to take a step with his inside leg, the one that's away from you, under his belly. Then another step and so on, untill he's gone about 90 degrees. Then, if you’re slow and careful, you can work on getting the front legs to step across. After some time you can move the rope from the hindquarters to the cantle of a saddle, then to the horn, and sometimes just to the neck in front of the withers. When done correctly, the horse learns to first twirl his head, then release through the ribs, then through the quarters, then untrack or  “disengage”.

This can save your life when you're on that colt, because you have a way to "bring him around" that he already understands. Brian Neubert calls this your "emergency brake", Brannaman calls it "doubling", I don't know what Ray calls it, but he's just pretty fair at getting it done. It's not hard to teach, but in my -- literally painful -- experience there is a BIG caveat. Horses can do this real pretty and just glide around, but if they're not gliding ONE - STEP - AT - A - TIME you're not getting it done right and if you need it later, it just might surprise you what you get -- I know it did me! Belive it or not, this can be really hard to tell. Horse can move one step at a time, when they’re actually not moving ONE STEP-AT- A- TIME. Telling which one they're doing takes some fluency in their language. This can't just come from the book masters, or from the just the horses, or from just the real live masters, or really, from all three; it has to come from you, too.

This has gone on too long, I'm sure, but I sometimes have a hard time stopping once I start rolling. At any rate, Peter, I enjoy your posts, and I really appreacate this one. I think it is necessary to this thread. Thanks --



From Peter Mullans: Thanks, John. The movement you describe is one that I do with my horse (it's a standard move in the school of one of the well-self-advertised horsemanship gurus) but I haven't heard it described as 'one step at a time' before. We tend to do it (rather unthinkingly) in one fluid movement - thus avoiding any brief moments of immobility!

I'll try it your way next time...

From Dr. Deb: Yes, Peter, what you are noting here is a basic problem we have seen again and again in people who have been through some of these “schools”: they are not taught to go at it one step at a time, and as a result they are "blurry" in WHY the move ought to be made, and therefore they cause their horses to "blur" through the move. Nothing is accomplished, except to make a performance which is no better or "kinder" than conventional competition. One is not to do any maneuver merely to please the teacher (or a judge), or to show to anyone that they can make the completed motion. The completed motion is to be the composite of iterated smaller motions, i.e., of the horse weighting or unweighting one limb at a time, and being conscious of the fact that this is what he is doing and that it is what the handler is asking him to do. -- Dr. Deb


From Peter Mullans: John, I tried your twirling excercise one step at a time, and it's much harder than doing it in one go! I appreciate Deb's description of the movement as 'blurring'. Taking it one step at a time involves much more feel and sensitivity from both me and my horse! And a much greater willingness to immerse yourself in the moment.

In fact, so far he hasn't managed a single isolated step - he just wants to blur the movement, but today he was trying to understand what I wanted, and we both knew that something new was taking place.

From Barbara: "The completed motion is to be the composite of iterated smaller motions, i.e., of the horse weighting or unweighting one limb at a time, and being conscious of the fact that this is what he is doing and that it is what the handler is asking him to do."

Why? The answer must be in the discussion above, but can someone put it another way? I am feeling a bit lost here.

Maybe, like a dancer or martial artist, who moves always from the center instead of just randomly or going through the motions, without being careful to preserve her balance?


 

From John Pyle: Peter, Great. I'm glad to hear you're trying this. That is just typical of the usual response. Doing things one step at a time can really show up any weakness in our relationship with our horses, just keep at it. As you know, there is no hurry, if he want's to take over, just start again, eventually it will come through and you and he will have a more sensitive relationship. Of course the concept applies to any movement you want to try.

I have a pretty well trained Arab gelding here who is one of my best friends, I felt we had things pretty straight between us untill I tried to back him in a circle one step at a time. He will just glide around circles and serpentines all day with no trouble at all. I thought this was pretty cool, but if I asked for just one step we were lost. It has taken about six months of steady work to get to the point where I can control each step, one at a time, but the enhancement in our communication is amazing. It has filtered down to all our work together. So, just keep at it, whatever improvement you get will be well worth it.
John.


From Dr. Deb: Barbara, you have hit the nail on the head: yes, it's ultimately about balance. But, I will also say to you, "the answer can only be found in the doing". Nobody can really TELL you this answer, but you can see from Peter's and John's posts that they are certainly getting "something important" out of what they are practicing.

Now John, I also want to say to you -- yes, think about that pretty well trained Arab gelding of yours! Or anyone's horse that they are kind of used to riding. Where is the BIGGEST place that nearly everyone "blurs"? Why -- riding forward in the ordinary manner! So often we miss the very first step, because our "birdie" has flown ahead -- we've got our mind on riding to "point A" and so our birdie is already AT "point A". Some horses, not all but some -- the ones who want to take over and rush -- this is what gets it started. Your birdie and his birdie have to be together EACH step -- as Ray says, "you're going to do some things TOGETHER".

Another common side effect of not being fully conscious of the very first step when starting up in the forward direction from a halt, is what Buck Brannaman calls "wallering off" -- Buck's term which covers both the mental "blurriness" but also the swaying, dis-coordinated, heavy look of a horse that is just being pushed forward to somewhere-or-other and nobody has specified to him which foot he is to start up with or which foot or feet he's supposed to have his weight on.

All of this is why I tell people in nearly every clinic -- "this is why I love to teach you to back up -- because most people have only taken one-onehundredth or one-onethousandth the number of steps backward on their horse as they have taken forward. So if we go backward, I can 'get to you' because you don't have any bad habits!"

I am really quite enjoying this thread.


From Mare’s Tales: I have found the exercise that Ray recommended of slowing your horse down to a very slow walk, then increasing it to an extended walk, then slowing it down again, so valuable. I love teaching this to a horse that wants to rush ahead, not pay attention or is distracted. When you slow the walk down to one step at a time, it gives you a chance to really feel the horse and the horse to wait for you. You start being conscious of where the feet are at what moment. The horse starts waiting for you and if he’s waiting, then he’s not looking at other things. If he`s waiting, then he’s not taking over. You and the horse are then dancing, you are both waltzing together not him fox trotting and you jitterbugging but you’re both walzing together with you leading the dance and him WANTING to follow.

This timing and being with the horse and the horse being with you then transfers to your half halting. When you get to the advanced levels of dressage you can start transfering this to your piaffe work and piaffe becomes no big deal. You have become very conscious of what foot is weighted and which is airborne and what part of the stride you are in and when the best time is to ask for something so you don`t throw the horse off balance and make it impossible for him to follow your request.

This kind of riding establishes a special bond between horse and rider because you are both in balance and not working against one another.

A person is much more likely to be able to bring a distracted horse back who has this foundation laid in them if you just slow down the walk and ask them to wait for you one step at a time. It opens up a whole new line of communication between a horse and a rider. It seems like such a simple exercise but it means so much, just like alot of things that Tom and Bill and Ray taught seem so simple. I get a chuckle when Buck B. will say while working a horse "It`s just a little thing" because you can bet it`s a big thing to the horse and Buck knows it. My ears perk up when he says "its just a little thing" and I start ponderng about how the horse views whatever he`s doing because I know its important.

Looking back, before I knew the importance of this timing, I don`t consider what I was doing riding in harmony. I was just expecting the horse to put up with my ineptness and alot of them did but it wasn`t really riding. I was just lucky enough to have had kind horses that filled in for me.

Just when you think you have gone up a notch in your horsemanship, you peak over the hill to the next horizon and it opens up a whole new vista. I know I will never reach my destination but oh what fun it is to make the little personal discoveries along the way.


From Peter Mullans: I've been trying John's twirling excercise some more, and it's really difficult! It forces you to have a connection with your horse which you don't get if the movement is just 'blurred'. It also exposes the fact that I don't really have a connection at all! This is a bit disappointing for me...

We did the 'slow walk...fast walk' thing at Deb's clinic in the UK last fall, and I now realise that even when we were going slow, we were STILL blurring. It's not just about going slowly, it’s about feeling each step.

I hope I'll be able to see a few more vistas before I hit that final valley...

From Mare’s Tales: Peter, another interesting thing that happens, you start really feeling the foot falls through your seat and you start learning how to hold them with your seat (shorten stride) and how to let go (lenghten stride). You become very conscious of your seat and many people are too tight in the hips to really follow so if they do this exercise, they learn how to let go. You start being conscious of how flexible you need to be so you don`t block your horse. You start learning how to follow with your seat and the horse learns how to follow YOU and gets hooked on to your seat. Soon you start seat riding instead of hand riding and your movements and your horses movements start to blend. (this is the beginning of harmony) I compare this to the way a school of fish or birds all turn in unison so that they don`t run in to eachother. They have this physical and therefore mental connection to one another, they have to BLEND. They have to work together or what a disaster! Horses do this in a herd too. By learning this little exercise, you become one of them. They know you know.

I have to confess, the first time I watched Ray put a group of riders through this exercise I thought “Well, I can do that. A lot not hard”. Then I started riding a spooky distracted horse that I just couldn’t give confidence to and I remembered the exercise. A whole new relationship with that horse opened up as a result. I started to understand what Ray wanted his students to discover by doing the exercise. Sitting there auditing the clinic and thinking I could already do it was VERY arrogant of me. I did not, in the least, understand the depth of it at the time and probably still have a lot of benefits to discover. Learning this was just another layer of the onion peeled. I still have a lot to go. It really made me listen to and feel of my horse and thus my horse started listening and feeling of me.

”It’s just a little thing”


From Peter Mullans: Mare’s Tales, have you ever thought of becoming a teacher? I think you would be very inspirational!

From Mare’s Tales: Thanks very much for the compliment Peter, but it’s hard deciding when you know enough to pass it on. “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know!” I consider people like Tom, Ray, Bill, Buck, Harry, our own Dr. Deb and our horses to be the true teachers. I`m certainly not in that class but your compliment made me feel very good. Thank you.

Funny thing about this kind of horsemanship, it`s the student who has to really want it. Many people I talk to are like I was at that Ray Hunt clinic saying “I can do that, I not hard” or “I do that all the time” when they really have no idea what it means to the horse and the scope of what level of understanding they COULD have if they just let go and embraced this and started listening to their animal. To quote Ray, “Most people don’t even know what I’m talking about exists.”

The changes in the horses become very significant but it`s the changes in the person that supports and understands the horses that astonishes me.

Looking at the big picture; in these troubled times it wouldn`t hurt for everyone to to take a step on the path of this journey. It would sure help in the understanding of one another.


From Reata: Gosh what a great thread and what a SMALL world too.. LOLOL Peter and I are old friends and Mares Tales is my best friend. You other guys can be my new friends..Thanks for the inspiring thoughts…

From John Pyle: Peter & Mares Tales et al., This is very good stuff indeed. I believe that every thing we do with our bodies, either on the ground, or on the horse, needs to have a MEANING for the horse. When the horse begins to understand the meaning of the slightest shift of weight, the change in tempo of our seat, the change in leg position or pressure etc., etc., then we've increased the value of our horsemanship and the ease and release of our horses.

Since we're getting a little philosophical here I'm going to offer a metaphore that's been in my head for some time now. A few decades ago there was an Englishman, Colin Fletcher by name, who gained some notoriety by walking alone, and at one time, the length of the Grand Canyon. Fletcher was a pretty good word smith and he wrote a book about his trip, called, I think, "The Man Who Walked Through Time". I thought it was a good book. The thing I remember most was that Fletcher said that before he entered the Canyon he studied it's history and geology and understood it intellectually, but after spending three months alone in the bottom of the chasm he came to an understanding of the awesome magnificence and age of the abyss that could not be had in any other way.

 I think that maybe Baucher, and the other masters, either ancient or current, have spent a long time in the Canyon themselves and have come out the other side with a depth of understanding that we all want. But, in order to get it, we have to get into the ditch ourselves. For whatever that's worth, Happy riding.
John


From Miriam: I like this thread too. I'm registered for a Harry W. clinic this Memorial Day and am really looking forward to it, am hoping to get a better understanding of the equine/human connection.

I seem to be able to GET my horse's attention, but am wondering just how to KEEP my horses attention without having to verbally chatter continuously to do it.
There must be a avenue that is better than the spoken word....


From Kathy: Yes there is, Miriam. Just let your "verbal chatter" run in your head without exiting your mouth! Then become aware of your body language and your horse’s body.Watch your horses eyes. When the eyes start to turn away from you move your body to draw the attention back to you. Experiment. It is fun! Today I turned my free mare into an open pasture gate with just my body and hands. Hard to explain but I raised my hand and made this turning twirling motion with my hands while I was at her hip.She was of course fully attentive to where I was but I was amazed that just by some body moves and the hand signal that she did a 180 and turned into an open gate when she could have gone anywhere else. Just like the time my 6 day old filly tried to climb onto the drum when I did.But beware when you start teaching these things as yesterday one of my 3 year old fillies had one front foot in the hay cart and was seriously thinking about climbing all the way in! And my farrier had a good laugh the other day when we heard this banging and looked up to find yet another 3 year old filly backed up to a large round water tank with her hind leg high in the air scratching the back of her fetlock on the rim of the tank. They are quite resourceful anyway.My farrier laughed and asked me if I teach them these weird things or if it's genetic --!

From John Pyle: Dear Miriam. Yes. Getting and keeping attention is sure a neccesity. Dr. Deb has an audio CD in which she deals with this, and other things too. It's well worth getting. As for myself, I can only offer my own experience, for wahtever that's worth. I'm currently starting a Morgan mare, just coming four, and a very nice horse, but I could say she has a little case of A.D.D. I mean “attention drift disorder”. She has lots of attention, but it's just everywhere but where we need it! Now, if previous experience holds true with her, this will happen: I'll get her attention by whatever means, probably just sending a coil up the lead rope till she looks at me with both eyes and says "What?" Then I'll ask for something pretty easy, like just a step forward, or back, or something. Then we rest for a minute and when her attention goes away, that's ok too. I figure a horse has a right to be aware of his environment, but pretty soon I'll ask for her attention again, and I will do whatever it takes to get it.

This time maybe, we'll do several steps, or a longer backup. We'll continue this process throughout her training untill, in a sense it almost becomes a litany, but we certainly hope, with more and more sublte "cues" on my part. She'll leave me in a couple of month, by then I hope all I will need is a touch of a calf, a change in the seat, a slight lift of a rein, to call her attention (her birdie) back to me and then, maybe, place it out on her forehead, where Dr. Deb says it ought to be. This is the only way I know. The actuall methods will vary with every horse, but I could never find how to "HOLD" a horses attention. I just keep asking untill they GIVE it to me. If anyone knows a better way, please enlighten me. And Miriam, please do get back on here and let me konw what Harry says and how he helps you. I really do waht to konw. Thanks – John Pyle

rebecca g
Member
 

Joined: Sun Sep 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 12
Status:  Offline
Dr. Deb, reading this has really opened my eyes. Sometimes a lesson is right in front of me and I am as blind as a bat.  What came to mind as I read this was an evening about a year ago.  I have a small covered arena (60'x60') with a row of stalls along one side.  In the stalls were a mare and a paso fino stallion.  Nobody was around and all had wound down for the night so I decided to let the stallion out for some exercise.  Well, the mare was in heat and all the stallion wanted to do was stand outside of her stall and and act like a stallion.   He had been taught in the past to walk beside my teacher without a lead so I thought that I would try asking him to walk with me. We could make it about 2 steps(2 of mine, 20 of his) from the mare's stall and his birdie would fly back to her and so would he.  The way that his little paso fino feet would buzz I imagined his birdie to be a humming bird buzzing at a feeder then zipping away. So I would call his birdie back and try for a few more steps.  It took about an hour before he would stay with me for one circle around the arena, but his feet were still buzzing. Then I decided to see if I could slow his feet down. I focused on one foot at a time stepping with mine. By the time another hour or so had passed I could walk anywhere in the arena with his feet in slow motion with mine. By slow motion I mean just that. I could raise my foot very slowly and stop in mid air and he would do the same and then from there decide which direction to place it. We played like this for quite a while and he seemed to enjoy it.  I never did correct him for running away. I would just either go to him or call him back and start again.  In the end I couldn't shake him loose.  In the days that followed he was so much more peaceful. I don't  know what was going on in his mind but he was more content that I had ever seen him.  Eventually he and the mare were turned out on pasture together and his old ways returned. So as I was reading the above thread and recalling that evening I began to wonder. Why, if I could do that with a paso fino stallion, do I "blur" the movements with my own horse? The answer that I arrived at is my agenda. That night I had no agenda other than just to see if this horse and I could do this thing together.  When I am working with my horse always at the back of my mind is a competion or an exhiibition or "what is my teacher (or whoever might be present) thinking",ect.  Basically worrying about everybody else's opinion but my horse's.  What a wonderful, forgiving soul he is! So now I am heading out to my horse to play with one step at a time. I'll let you know how it goes. Rebecca

~Kelley
Member
 

Joined: Thu Aug 9th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 1
Status:  Offline
Dear Dr. Deb,

I have been reading and re-reading this thread because I am just beginning this journey with a new horse. I have to say that reading everyone's responses to Danee, particularly yours, have been enlightening. The concept of blurring is huge for me. I had been reading about the horse filling in (yes, yes, I can see that, I said to myself). My revelation came when the thread started discussing the "blur."  Oh, I said to myself - that's exactly what I do!

I have to give my attention to get the attention of the horse. I can't blur, or the horse will look away from me, possibly to himself, for leadership. I have to do this on the ground and most importantly (for me, because I blur more often on the horse) while I am riding.

My mind right now feels wide open. The horse I'm working with has obviously been ridden so his neck has developed somewhat upside down, and without reading this forum, particularly this thread, I don't think I would have put the pieces together: the physical piece of his muscular development PLUS his mental state contribute to his current appearance, and IF I am successful then I will see his muscles develop correctly, in addition to his general expression and posture.

Thank you Dr. Deb, and to everyone who contributes to this forum. All of your stories, examples, anatomy explanations, The Birdie Book, all of it has opened my eyes and my heart.

Leah
Member
 

Joined: Sat Sep 22nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 256
Status:  Offline
I am so thankful Dr Deb, that you took the time to post this archived thread.

The discussion on "blurring" has literally opened up my world with my horses. I spent today (again) really REALLY focusing on ONE STEP AT A TIME...occasionally I could feel the flow of energy squeezing out the wrong way and at that MOMENT in time-the shift from balance to leading to imbalance the 'blur' was so so clear.

Then I would shift the energy of the slinky to shift from imbalance to imbalance, heading more toward the direction of straightness...doing this ever so slow and helping the horse through each foot fall.

The biggest kick was watching each horse CONNECT to me mentally. It was like the second they felt I was not being critical but rather had pure intention of helping him find the comfy balanced place, each horse put EFFORT in like I have never experienced.

Each one locked onto me-it was like our energy and intention became one energy and one flow.

Does this make any sense?

I have a little analogy that may sound silly but it really helped some of this to make sense. Last night I was watching the "Dancing With The Stars" finale (yes silly, but bear with me).

I was watching the dancers-and the good ones, the ones that had lovely executed dances had total control of EACH footfall-no matter how fast or slow, each step was taken with a strong intent...no blurring.

Then when a couple had mistakes in footwork, you could literally see the 'blurring'-the steps did not have strong definition, if that makes sense. It looks even worse when one partner was on and one was off.

So I translated this in my mind to dancing with my horse-when it works, there is a distinct stepping that can be fast or slow...but the steps are still very distinct. When balance gets off it is like the 'beat' of the dance/ride gets off.

This is just our first few days of playing with blurring and slinkies but so far it is brilliant!

Thank you again Dr Deb and to those involved in this thread.

Last edited on Wed Nov 28th, 2007 09:04 pm by Leah

rebecca g
Member
 

Joined: Sun Sep 2nd, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 12
Status:  Offline
I have been playing with "one step at a time" not only with my own horse, but with all the horses that I have to move about the farm.  It is as if I just focus then the horses automatically do too. In just a couple of minutes they stop trying to rush forward outside or trying to push their way out of a stall.  They are content to listen and wait for the next step. This focus has really helped me to relax and put all the other stuff out of my mind and to hear what my horse is saying.  My birdie has stopped fluttering from my horse to other people and back again.  I had a nice experience this evening. I was riding in the arena at a relaxed walk and my horse had a really soft contact. I began to picture each step of the inside hind foot as the vaulter's pole propelling him forward.  I think this analogy is one that Dr. Deb  has used  (perhaps on the audio  tapes).   As I thought of each step coming in and under more to give him more power his back began to really rise.  The feeling is wonderful, but hard to describe.  He was truely "connected" from front to back and so powerful feeling, yet relaxed and attentive.  We went two circles like this. I had only been riding him for about 10 minutes, but I felt like he had given me so much that  I stopped, got off, loved on him, gave him his supper and called it a night.  I have had years and years of lessons to try to get to this point.  Yet all that I had to do was relax, hold the reins and picture that inside foot.  I can't stop smiling.

Last edited on Tue Dec 4th, 2007 03:28 am by rebecca g

Jill
Member
 

Joined: Sat Nov 20th, 2010
Location: Idaho USA
Posts: 16
Status:  Offline
I've been pouring over this old thread and trying to see the external muscular signs that Pauline Moore talks about which indicate correct raising of the base of the neck.  I came across this photo on the Cavalia show website (link below, the photo I'm referencing is #8 of 13)) which appears to me to be examples of both correct and incorrect flexion.  The horse on the right shows the concavity at the base of the neck, the open "U" shape behind the jaw and the softly bulging long muscle running the length of the neck.  In contrast the horse on the left has slight convexity at the base of the neck, a tight "V" shape at the throat and what looks like a bulging splenius (?) muscle. 

Is this right or am I completely confused about what I'm looking at and for?

Jill

http://unrevedeliberte.cavalia.net/en/medias/photos.aspx

Last edited on Wed Nov 2nd, 2011 01:58 pm by Jill

Pauline Moore
Member
 

Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
Posts: 273
Status:  Offline
Hello Jill

Photographs such as the one to which you refer are useful for identifying anatomical parts on a static horse but cannot be used to determine if that horse is or is not moving with a collected body posture.

Rather than thinking in terms of 'correct' or 'incorrect' it is more helpful to assess whether a horse's posture is appropriate or inappropriate for what the horse is actually doing at that time.

Collection describes how the horse uses his body in certain situations, eg to send messages to another horse, to carry the weight of a rider efficiently. Whatever the motivation, collection is a complex, constantly moving, changing, fluid interaction of multiple body parts (bones, muscles, nerve impulses, thoughts). It is never rigid as in the 'frame' advocated by some competitive sporting groups.

The shapes of the head & neck of the two horses in the photograph are as you describe, but without seeing the whole horse or knowing the context of the moment when the photo was taken, it is impossible to say whether the posture is appropriate or inappropriate for either horse. If the camera had clicked a split second later, or earlier, the postures of the two horses could have reversed.

There are four separate 'conversations' happening in that photo, each of which will be influencing the posture of the horses. There is an unspoken connection between the two riders, a strong dialogue between the two horses, and an exchange between each horse and rider.

The horse on the right is extending his neck further than the other horse, but is not as relaxed. Note the tension in the jaw and poll area which is not allowing the head to hang softly from the neck bones, and the flatter angle of the ears. It could be speculated that this horse is sending a pecking-order challenge to the other horse, who may be confident enough to just ignore it. Conversely, the horse on the left may be acknowledging his lower status by not extending his upper neck and not raising his lower neck as much as the horse on the right. There is no way to tell which is which without knowing the horses and seeing their full, moving interaction. Neither horse looks as though they are being forced into that posture by the rider so we can assume the horses themselves believe their postures to be entirely appropriate for what they are wanting to convey to each other.

One of the best educational tools anyone can have is a movie camera with a reasonable zoom that can be played back in slow motion on a TV or computer screen. Looking at every external muscle on the body of a moving horse, frame by frame, at various paces, is truly enlightening. Comparing film of a horse moving freely without a rider, with the same horse plus a rider, adds another dimension. A great way to see what collection really looks like is to film horses who have just been added to an existing group or herd, most will likely adopt a highly collected body posture for a few brief moments.

Best wishes
Pauline


Last edited on Fri Nov 4th, 2011 12:37 am by Pauline Moore

Jill
Member
 

Joined: Sat Nov 20th, 2010
Location: Idaho USA
Posts: 16
Status:  Offline
Pauline - thanks so much for taking the time to reply so thoroughly. I truly appreciate it. I understand your point regarding the language we use and your explanation of "appropriate" vs "correct" makes perfect sense to me.

You mentioned that the shapes of the heads/necks "are as [you] describe". Can I take that to mean that the bulging muscle in the upper neck of the the horse on the left is indeed the splenius and the longer, curving muscle in the righthand horse's neck is the visible part of the muscle that the horse uses to raise the base of the neck? I am working to be able to identify what I'm seeing on the outside in hopes of someday being able to correlate with what is happening on the inside. A labeled drawing or photo in a text is much easier to feel sure about than a live horse or random photo! :)

Your suggestion to use video taping as a learning tool is a good one. I will get one asap. Thanks again.
Jill

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Jill, you might find it somewhat useful in answering your questions to refer to the many articles that I have published upon the subject. Specifically, "raising the base of tghe neck" has been addressed by 3 recent articles (a mini-series) within the conformation-biomechanics column in Equus Magazine -- this would be within the last year. Or you can read much the same material in The Eclectic Horseman, also published within the last year. Contact either of them online to receive a subscription and/or to buy particular back issues: http://www.equusmagazine.com or http://www.eclectichorseman.com. -- Dr. Deb

Jill
Member
 

Joined: Sat Nov 20th, 2010
Location: Idaho USA
Posts: 16
Status:  Offline
Thanks Dr. Deb. I do have the "How Horses Work" series - and a subscription to Eclectic Horseman. After multiple readings, I think I have at least a tenuous grasp of the "mechanics" of how a horse raises the base of the neck.
I just don't feel confident that when I look at a living, skin-covered horse, or a photo of one, I am able to identify the muscles involved - or the muscular development that Pauline was describing as evidence of how a horse has been moving. I want to pay attention to that as I continue working with my horse, even though I am nowhere close to the point where I would or could ask for anything like collection! Having been ignorant of this stuff for so long, I feel like I need to make up for lost time & understanding and it would be good to be able to identify changes as we go along.
Jill

DrDeb
Super Moderator
 

Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 3254
Status:  Offline
Jill, I think this is kind of a question of "balance". You do not really need to know the names of any muscles at all in order to ride well: for example, Ray Hunt did not, and most other good or great horsemen do not.

Neither is making students learn the names of muscles any part of the objectives that I have in mind when I teach my full-body anatomy classes. What I am after is that they learn the architecture -- the "layout" of the muscles so to speak -- and the overall "look" of a horse that is rounding up, raising the base of its neck, and achieving self-carriage and collection.

Pauline is expert in this subject, having been for some time one of our most enthusiastic students, so that she has attended the full-body class numerous times. However, Pauline was well prepared before she ever came the first time and has done nothing since that time but add to that. Plus, she rides very well and has nice horses to work with.

So what Pauline is describing is good and correct and helpful. You can read it and absorb it. What I'm really saying is that you should not let any lack of self-confidence get in the way of your being able to understand either what I write or what Pauline writes.

The sign that you've got your "balance" right is this -- that you realize that collection is something that you, yourself, right now, today, can be achieving and SHOULD be achieving. Collection comes in all degrees, from "rounding up" to the high degree required for rollbacks, pirouettes, passage, or piaffe. It is a fallacy to look at the horse and rider who can passage and say to yourself, "I can't do that". Of course you can't: that is Step Five while you need to work on Step One. The problem comes in when that voice in your head that says you can't do Step Five also cuts you off from even trying Step One.

This is a perfect example of why I reject "levels" -- because a belief in "levels" is, at root, the reason why you say "I can't". What that really might imply is "I don't have permission". From whom will you get permission, Jill?

ONce upon a time, long ago, I was giving a riding clinic in Ohio, and this very nice middle-aged lady rode in for her lesson. She had a very cute Morgan horse, very correct, very intelligent and willing; sweet-tempered as they generally are. The local DQ had already had her lesson, and I am sure you will understand it when I say that the local DQ had pretty good control over all the other ladies. Basically, they had all ceded to the DQ the right to give them "permission" to be at whatever level they thought they were at.

So true for this lady also. She rode in, wearing a pink sweatshirt, and had put matching pink leg-wraps on the horse and braided his thick mane up with pink pom-poms. What this lady was broadcasting by doing this is, "I may not be able to ride, but I sure can sew."

So we proceeded with our lesson, and the lady was doing just fine. There came a point then when I said to her, "well, it's time for us to start with some leg-yields." When she heard this, the lady said, "Oh! No, I can't do leg-yields."

"Why not?" I asked. "We went over the aid sequence for leg-yielding in class this morning. Were you unclear on that?" And I asked the lady to repeat the aids to me and she did so perfectly.

"So...." I said again, "why is it that you can't do leg-yields?"

The lady's expression became incredulous. "Why, Dr. Deb, it's because I'm only at Training Level."

So you don't be at Training Level, Jill, because it's a nonexistent place to be. You just be sure that your horse responds with respect, that there is no brace in his neck, and that if one appears, you twirl the head and/or untrack and get it out of there before going on to anything else. And when the horse is soft, then you ask him to step off on a 15-meter circle, and when he offers to drop his head and move in rhythm, you make sure you're not holding the head up, but instead you feel of his tongue all the way down. And when you do this, your horse will be rounding up, and you will be in the first degree of collection. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Jill
Member
 

Joined: Sat Nov 20th, 2010
Location: Idaho USA
Posts: 16
Status:  Offline
Dr. Deb,

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.  I have spent way too long worrying that I couldn't "do it right", that I would make my horse worse or hurt him, etc. and consequently doing nothing for months after abandoning the step-by-step guru program. But I know that, while I am not a great rider, I am certainly competent enough to begin experimenting in the way you and Buck and others are teaching.  

I am, in fact, a much better rider than I am a seamstress! :)

Jill

DarlingLil
Member
 

Joined: Wed Jan 25th, 2012
Location: Michigan USA
Posts: 64
Status:  Offline
Great thread here.




Powered by WowBB 1.7 - Copyright © 2003-2006 Aycan Gulez