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DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Oct 6th, 2016 10:42 am
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Sure, Dar: that story's in "Conquerors: The Roots of New World Horsemanship," in the chapter on conquest-era Mexico. But also, to get the background on that, you should read the chapters on the Caribbean countries and Colombia; and the background to that in itself is in the first half of the book, where I'm talking about Spain, North Africa, and before that, ancient Persia where the bosal ("hakma") was first invented and used. Because, after all, if the Mexican equipment is upside-down, then there must be some equipment somewhere that's right-side-up! That's the whole fun of history study....everything turns into preface to everything else; nothing ever stands alone.

You can get a copy of "Conquerors" by going to our main website, http://www.equinestudies.org, then click on "Bookstore" and then click on "books on paper."

If you want a specific question, though, write back; I don't force people to buy my stuff. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Fri Oct 7th, 2016 08:33 am
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I attended Buck Brannaman's clinic in Walkertown, NC last weekend, and he gave a huge list of skill requirements needed (for horse AND rider, of course), before one should move from snaffle to hackamore.
I did take notes on all the qualifications he listed, but it seems to me to be a sequence achievable only by an enormous amount of experience, knowledge, and focus.
He mentioned the gear had become quite fashionable, much like cowboy dress attire, by many who had no idea of it's true meaning.
As a side note-by the third day of the horsemanship clinic, every horse in the arena had the "V ears" I note from the Birdie book for a balanced/connected horse with rider. Every rider was plumb exhausted from the amount of focus and presence.
The clinic provided for me an exposure to the holes in my fundamentals. I'll be happy to get as much as possible improvement in my timing and awareness of what is really happening versus what I think is happening both on the ground and under saddle. Clinics with the right people are unsurpassed for a huge enlightenment in one's horsemanship.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Oct 8th, 2016 10:54 am
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Dear Capparello -- Right! That's why we offer those clinics.

I'd like to pick up on one of your comments -- the bit about "what is really happening vs. what I THINK is happening."

This could mean several things, and I'd like to hear back from you as to which of the following you actually meant:

"....what is really happening vs. what I was HOPING would happen."

"....what is really happening vs. what I had FANTASIZED ABOUT having happen."

"....what is really happening vs. my PRECONCEIVED IDEA about what ought to happen."

It can't be, you see, that you were confused about what was going on right in front of your eyes. I doubt you're reporting that your eyes were blinded by dust, i.e. "gee, I THOUGHT that was what was happening, but until the dust cleared I couldn't tell."

So you're using the words "what I THOUGHT was happening" to really mean something else. Which meaning did you mean?

I put you to this task of clarifying because I think it will add to your clinic experience and move your "thinking" into a new level. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

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 Posted: Tue Oct 11th, 2016 06:47 am
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 DrDeb: Thank you for your response. I will certainly read the chapters you mentioned as soon as I can. Was there a specific incident, battle, invasion, individual, guild, edict, economy, shipwreck, community, school of horsemanship...which resulted in the Mexicans putting the rein of the hackamore under the chin? Just wondering. Phrases like "quirk of history" and "a good story unto itself" have a tendency to pique my curiosity.   Dar

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Oct 11th, 2016 07:25 am
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Dar -- it was entirely due to Gravity. Read the chapters and you'll see! :-) Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Tue Oct 11th, 2016 08:53 am
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I apologize for my tardy response! We had a hurricane in NC and I have been offline for a bit.

Regarding the bit about what is really happening vs. what I THINK is happening;

There are so many times I realized I was not as aware as I should have been. Simple things such as Buck talking about "situational awareness" his example being, you are focused on the filling the water tank and not even realizing the interactions going on with the horses and you. This is fundamental stuff.

But specifically to your points-what is really happening vs. what I was HOPING would happen/FANTASIZED ABOUT having happen/ and PRECONCEIVED IDEA about what ought to happen.

Sometimes obvious things have gone right by me-I have noticed a shoulder in quite often in groundwork and I will get focused on it to the exclusion of the whole horse-how can I support him to move straight on the circle-how can I encourage the bend-and under saddle, is MY shoulder dropping in. I get so focused on the shoulder in that I haven't figured out WHY, and what may encourage true straightness. And do I really KNOW what true straightness is-in theory, yes, but in real life, am I really seeing the lessons I learned from Woody, and my own self crawling around on the floor to feel something similar (though I have a bit different anatomy).

I can THINK we are moving straight in a circle, but the tracks don't lie. When one is getting the same response from several horses, it is time to investigate the common denominator-which would be myself!

The "true" soft feel has taken quite a bit of time for me to really get. In addition I have come to realize my releases are oft times of bad timing. I would prefer they not have to fill in for me as much as they have, though I am grateful for their willingness to do so.

My eyes certainly were not blinded by dust, but by unawareness, or over focusing on certain steps.

I typed up several pages so far of my notes from the clinic, until the power went out, and will probably have a virtual tome of notes once they are all typed up. I hope to translate the learning into the doing though.

So in apology for my natural bent for loquaciousness, I would say the answer to your educational questions for my study is that I THOUGHT I was communicating properly and I was not being effective as much as I had thought.

I will have to think more upon your questions and really sit with them-especially the PRECONCEIVED IDEAS, as that is what has really stuck with me as a problem area. Perhaps I am thinking I am seeing and/or feeling what is not really happening properly or refined enough.

I can tell you what I saw with Buck was incredibly beautiful, refined, and his horses always looked totally okay at every moment. It was true artistry. Interestingly he also had everyone else's horse's okay with what they were working on. The humans might have been tired from the focus they weren't used to, and didn't have the timing and experience of Buck, but good that we all acclimate to that kind of focus.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Oct 11th, 2016 10:27 am
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Cap, your reply is more or less a rumination. But that's OK -- sometimes when you are exposed to a lot of new things, it may help to kind of skip from one idea to the next, talk about one, then talk about the next one, then come back to the first one. This is how a lot of people shake the ideas down until they begin to connect up.

There is no "right" answer to what I asked you. I asked it of you in order to GET you to ruminate, to think about what might have been blocking you in the past.

And I totally agree about the preconceived idea thing. I meet a lot of people who have difficulty getting even one thing of what I or Buck or Harry or Tom Curtin, for example, would be presenting. It just does not come easy. And that's because there's this back-drag on the inside, this voice in the student's head, that says, "this isn't how I thought this was supposed to work" or "this isn't how I thought a person was supposed to do this." I even have one guy I sometimes work with who says out loud, "But this isn't what the teacher I took a lesson from last week said." Never mind that teacher isn't from our school, and never mind the fact that I could care less what the last teacher, whoever they were, said. We are in THIS lesson TODAY -- or I am, anyway.

Educators know about this difficulty....it's a maxim in adult education that "adults only hear what they were EXPECTING to hear."

And this can come down to real, real simple things -- so that even the simple things don't happen when the teacher asks them to happen. For example, when helping somebody ground-handle their horse, I might ask them to take two steps toward their horse's butt. This would be because I see their body in the wrong place with respect to their horse's body; they need to step back so that they are behind the Green Zone on the horse's body (the Green Zone is where our legs would fall when riding).

But because, like you say, they've got their focus on the shoulder -- or maybe they've got some other priorities, who knows what -- when the teacher says "take two steps toward the horse's butt" then they just stand there. They do not necessarily mean to disobey, but unfortunately, the end result is that two steps do not get taken toward the horse's butt AT THE MOMENT WHEN THAT NEEDED TO HAPPEN. So the bottom line is, the teacher has to wait until the right moment would come around again, and that may be some time. This is why it takes students so long to succeed in getting even very simple things done.

Another example of this, again from ground handling, would be when I ask the student to push slack into the line. Most people who "lunge" their horses are so totally used to pulling on the line all the time -- I mean they pull continuously, not continually, the meaning being, there is never a moment when they are not pulling -- this is one of the factors that makes what they are doing into the despicable "lungeing" instead of the desirable "longeing" (see the latest issue of Eclectic Horseman for more on the difference between lungeing and longeing).

The student is so used to continuously pulling back on the line that she is not even aware that she is doing it. She is generally unaware that there is no bend in her elbow, and that her arm is angled down and back so that her fist is behind her butt. But the teacher certainly sees it, and so I say to the student, "push slack into the line." And usually, when I say this, nothing whatsoever happens; the student does not step toward the horse, nor either does she bring that fist that's behind her butt around to the front of her body and then extend it toward the horse -- either of which would effectively push slack into the line.

Instead, she just kees doing what she was doing before I asked her to push slack into the line, as if she did not understand the meaning of the English language. What about "push slack into the line" is so hard to understand? Well, it's impossible to understand if the student does not even hear it! And they do not hear it, because pushing slack into the line "does not compute" with their preconceived, previous, imported idea of what "lungeing" a horse is all about.

This is where coaching tricks come in. A good coach knows lots of tricks, because when the student is like this, like a dumb bump on a log, it's because they're stuck. So the good coach tricks them into doing the right thing, despite themselves, despite the resistance that's coming from that voice in the back of their head that is saying, "that CAN'T be what Dr. Deb meant me to do."

My favorite trick for getting somebody to push slack into the line is to tie a ribbon onto the lead rope or longe line at about the halfway point between the handler's hand and the horse's head. Then I tell the student, OK, now whatever you do, make the ribbon go toward the horse's head." And if they're willing to just play along with me, just give me a tiny grain of good faith and do what I'm telling them even though it does not seem to them to make any sense, then in five seconds they are doing everything right, the horse becomes calm, smooth, fluid, soft, and beautiful, and this change is so obvious that thereafter, the student obeys. And there is usually, from that point onwards, no further difficulty.

Doing what the teacher tells you to do even though it does not seem to you to make any sense is what "trusting the teacher" means. And it is very unfair to all parties for any student to go into any horse clinic, any dojo, any mathematics classroom --BEFORE they have fully decided within themselves that they are going to trust the teacher. George Leonard talks about this in his book on "Mastery" that I often recommend -- I wish all students would read that book.

Deciding to trust the teacher means that you are going to do everything the teacher tells you, so long as it is within the bounds of reason and courtesy, no matter how nuts that may sound to you. This is the student's recognition and admission that their own judgement in matters in which they have admitted they are not expert, is absolutely worthless.

Let me say that again: the student must acknowledge that their own judgement is absolutely worthless; they must admit that they do not know how to train a horse, not even the first thing. Because unless that happens -- the situation is entirely hopeless, and will be entirely nonproductive, for both parties.

And by the way, we are very sorry about the hurricane; we see it in the newspaper and it looks just awful. Hope you and your horses got through it without major mishap. -- Dr. Deb

 

Bryy
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 Posted: Wed Oct 12th, 2016 04:32 am
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Hi Cap-

I saw Buck the weekend before in NJ and my response is about the same.  I had no idea what soft and no-brace was until I witnessed it myself, talk about an eye opener!

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 Posted: Wed Oct 12th, 2016 05:51 am
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Thank you-this response gives me even more to ruminate upon-a sort of mini treatise regarding one's responsibility (and tendencies) as a student.

I read in either the Mastery book or perhaps one of the inner game books that one starts one's learning "not knowing that they don't know," then progresses to "knowing that they don't know."

As a teacher myself (of music) I sympathize with what must be quite frustrating. Sometimes the cacophony created by my students makes me wonder if they can hear correctly. I have also encountered the ubiquitous "so and so on youtube says…"

Luckily in my profession no one can be hurt or killed, or create mental or physical harm in another (such as the horse in horsemanship lessons), by mishandling.

I am sure my teacher (who is of this school) can relate to all of this. I try to be a model student, but certainly can be an oblivious knot head.

One thing that has helped is that (with my teacher's permission) I have voice recorded all of my lessons. I turn on voice memo and forget about it. It takes me over an hour to drive to the barn, so I listen to previous lessons on the way there and back. I have noticed many times when I wasn't listening as well as I should have, or gotten so attached to asking a question I wasn't being present. I think this has helped me become a better student over the years. I have a little reminder sign that says "shut up and listen" to which I can add your underlined statement of "the student must acknowledge that their own judgement is absolutely worthless."

Thank you for all the detailed examples!

Luckily we are not located in the most hurricane devastated part of the state, so all the horses and folks are okay. It is a very difficult time for those just east of us.

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 Posted: Wed Oct 12th, 2016 05:54 am
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Yes-we are lucky to have access to such excellent schooling!


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