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swallowing and chewing while the bit is in mouth
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Julie
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 01:34 am
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Dear all have just viewed the new Phillipe Karl video.  A while back I tried to by as he suggested lifting the bit in the horses mouth to acheive chewing and swallowing and I guess therefore relaxation of the jaw.  I did not do this for long enough to become a useful habit.  I am now wondering if this is necesary anyway. Could the mouth be still and not braced and relaxed?

Cathie first name (middle name julie)

Last edited on Fri Jul 13th, 2007 01:49 am by Julie

charity
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 03:36 am
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    i find this post interesting, because i recently returned from a clinic (joe wolter, which i mentioned in a previous post), where i learned a whole lot about bit placement. the host of the clinic is working quite diligently with a mustang mare that she found running wild through wisconsin (obviously this litle mare had jumped the fence!). anyhow, joe and this woman have helped this mare very much over the last couple of years. the mare was worrying and worrying the bit, and both the host and joe decided to drop her bit down, and i mean WAAYY down. the bit, if she didn't hold it, would touch her teeth very easily. it was amazing to watch this little mare decide where to keep that bit for herself, her own choice. for the remaining two days, she packed that bit quietly all by herself. joe also mentioned a young stud he rode that would work and work a bit, and it took him (joe) a long-ish time to think about letting that bit drop down enough to touch the teeth. problem solved. this probably doesn't relate much to your concerns here, but i learned that a bit loose or a bit tight doesn't always seem to work in helping the horse come into his/herself.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 06:13 am
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Julie: Msr. Karl is a Baucheriste of the classic school, and it is a delight to watch him ride and work with horses. What you are viewing on his videotapes is a living re-enactment of the "jaw flexions" as taught by Francois Baucher beginning about 1813.

When I teach "head twirling", this is a simplification and modification of the very same.

And yes, it is very important indeed to get the horse to carry all the muscles from the middle of its neck forward to the tip of its tongue un-braced and "turned loose" all the time.

One thing that many people don't realize (out of sight, out of mind I suppose), is that the horse's tongue is a muscle. In fact, it's the largest muscle from the middle of the neck forward. It's also a very complex muscle, having over 200 sub-parts, which allow it to make all the complicated movements it needs to make to pick up and orient grass blades, help load the mouthful onto the cheek tooth-tables, move the bolus along the tables, push it past the palatal drape preparatory to swallowing, and then aid in swallowing it. That, plus licking, suckling, vocalization, yawning, and facial expression.

The tongue is attached at its root to the hyoid chain, which are small bones in the horse's throat. They're located between the jawbones and are thus not visible or palpable, but that doesn't mean they're not real important. They are crucial in both breathing and swallowing. When the horse carries tension in its tongue, it messes up his ability to either chew or swallow in the normal manner.

Of course, we bit the horse by laying the bit on his tongue. When the bit bothers the horse, it is liable to cause the horse to tense up his tongue.

If you want to see all about this in three-dimensional living color, then you can get the Bitting DVD set that Dave Elliott and I produced last year. We use skulls, many different bits, a model horse head with movable jaws and a tongue in it, graphics, and dialogue between the two of us to explain so that it is very clear.

But the tongue is not our only concern. The hyoids contain six joints; if the tongue is tense, that's six joints already that aren't going to work right. Then there are the jaw-muscles, which can also be tense; those govern two more joints. Finally there are the muscles that overpass the poll, and that adds two more joints (atlas to skull and axis to atlas). All of this is, again, gone over on the DVD program.

Dropping the bit down is done, as Charity learned, in order to give the horse free choice as to where he wants to place and carry the bit. No horse wants the bit hitting his teeth, so they will pick it up and "carry" it when it's adjusted real low. Some horses respond to this offer on the knowledgeable horseman's part. Others respond to having the bit tied up to the top of their face, i.e. tie the rings of the bit to the foretop or use a bit-lifter that causes some of the weight of the bit to come on the horse's nose instead of its tongue. Still others will respond to the use of a "soft" chain-bit, that offers complete flexibility not only as to placement up-down in the mouth but also conforms very closely to the contours left-right as you go over the "hump" of the tongue.

You can tell when one of these options has been effective when the horse gets quieter and gets a kind of thoughtful, concentrating look on his face. He's trying to figure out how to use the equipment, just the same as if we had shown him the teeterboard or the circus drum or a set of cavalletti. We show it to him; we allow him time and space to figure out what we suggested or offered that he should do with it; we watch attentively to see if he asks us a question; then we respond to the question. In the case of bitting, this will probably mean further adjustments, until finally the bridle and bit will be pretty much standard -- some version of standard. In other words, the bit-lifter or low adjustment or chain is temporary, like a crutch, to help the horse get to where he can understand and deal with what we're asking of him.

But the object is, to get back to your query Julie, to get the horse to learn that:

(1) he can move forward freely, the bit isn't stopping him;

(2) he should move forward freely (he should respond) at the slightest touch from the rider;

(3) he can move without needing to brace any muscle;

(4) so that the result is that he moves "turned loose" physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

And yes, a horse can be 100% OK and not be constantly moving his jaws. His jaws can be quiet and he's OK. He doesn't have to be chewing and smacking every moment, any more than we want students in a class to be constantly repeating, "I get what you said teacher, I get what you said teacher..."

There isn't anything about good horsemanship that should be stagey or wierd. There's nothing exaggerated. There's nothing out of the ordinary, even, except for one little thing, which is that when both the horse and rider are "turned loose", then it is just positively heavenly.

As we all hope all our rides would be! -- Dr. Deb

 

Julie
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 08:00 am
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Dear Dr Deb, Thank you for your information about how the tongue and jaw works. So by head twirling this keeps relaxation in the whole area of head to first and second vertebrae including jaw and tongue? Seems easier to me.

Many thanks Julie

Sam
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 08:24 am
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Hi Cathie,

Here we are on line together again!!!  Aren't we learning so much!?  Thanks for asking this question and thanks to Dr Deb for explaining the mouthing.  I loved watching Phillip Karl's dvd this morning and saw so much more contained within because of this forum. Its seemed he hardly ever rode the horses in a straight line, and there was a vast number of transitions, if the horse became unbalanced he halted and corrected the balance before he would continue. If they made an error it was no big deal, just stop and start over. All the movements took no effort on the mans part, the horses were totally with him but able to freely express how they felt.  It was the stuff of dreams!  Yipee!

Smiles, Sam the First

Pam
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 08:16 pm
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Can anybody tell me where I could buy the Phillipe Karl video?

Thanks,

Pam

Pam
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 08:50 pm
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I just found it.  Thanks anyway.  Sorry for the misspelling of his name.  Should be Philippe Karl.

Pam

Pam
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 Posted: Fri Jul 13th, 2007 09:10 pm
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Dr. Deb,  Sorry if this is a dumb question and I'm not sure if I really understand head twirling.  You mention that Philippe Karl is practicing jaw flexions as taught by Francois Baucher, and I'll buy one of the videos so I can see.  Is this what Mike Schaffer doing as well?  I have noticed that Mike allows and encourages the horse to move his head/jaw around much more that your typical dressage instructor would want to see.  But it seems that this might make a huge difference in the suppling of the horse and getting the softness that separates good dressage from not so good dressage.  I have been told that the horses head needs to stay still and that when it does move around is is head wagging, and frowned upon.

Thank You,

Pam 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 14th, 2007 09:10 am
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Pam: We are not advocates of Competitive Dressage, whose origins are in 20th-Century Germany; neither their methodology nor their results are advocated here. Please have a look at the "Inner Horseman" issues for Year 2005 for the full historical reasons and documentation concerning this.

I am telling you not to mix up Competitive Dressage, or as it is commonly abbreviated, Dressage, with what Francois Baucher was doing. I am aware that Mike Schaffer does mix it up, i.e. he calls what he is doing "Dressage" and some of his students compete in that style and under that set of rules. But Mike himself will tell you that he is not a historian. Marie Zdunic, whom I also like very much, consistently also makes the same error, as did her mentor, Chuck Grant, by which I mean they lump everything they did or do under the term "Dressage," but that does not make it so.

And I have mentioned this to both Marie and to Mike, but I think that although both of them know I wish them well, neither of them really understood what I was trying to tell them. What I am trying to tell them is that if they would learn their history, and separate these things out, their life would be a LOT better, because they could quit having to all the time defend their practice (which is criticized by people who follow the German way). And when they could quit having to defend their practice, they could just live their life happily with their horses and to Hell with what anybody else thinks. They could (as they have always done) come out from their farm anytime and whomp the pants off of the Germanoids, and so play in more than one style, and I don't see anything wrong with that: because the great old school, the High School, of which Baucher was the greatest 19th-century practitioner, contains and completely subsumes that smaller repertoire called for by Competitive Dressage.

So you're going to have to decide, Pam, and that's what I'm telling you here. Your question is not dumb -- indeed it is far more serious than you might have realized. You can't have it both ways -- nobody can. Mike and Marie are PRACTICING correctly. Their horses are, and always have been, lovely, competent, comfortable, confident, and correct. They win frequently and in good competition when they go play Competitive Dressage. But neither of them follows the German PROCESS of training.

If you ask Marie, she'll tell you that she learned from Chuck, and that they are both followers of James Fillis (1890's), who, although he had studied with Baucher and with one of Baucher's chief instructors, hated and denigrated Baucher; this is also gone over in the "Inner Horseman" back issues I mentioned. And Fillis did make some (minor) improvements in Baucher's techniques; but I believe Baucher to have been far the greater man -- in other words, a modern follower of Fillis is still a follower of Baucher.

So you're stuck with this choice -- either follow a practice which encourages the horse to move out of balance and to brace its body, OR follow a correct practice. Head-twirling, jaw flexions, whatever you want to call them, are intended to get the horse to turn loose of the key joints, i.e. those that lie from the middle of the neck forward -- so that he can THEN turn loose of the joints from the loins downward. Unless he does THAT, he cannot achieve the "equal and deep bending of the joints of the hind limbs" that is what allows a horse to coil the loins, "sit behind", and collect.

Of course, there is also a set of techniques that directly address the loins and hind joints, beginning with the all-important stepping under the body-shadow with the inside hind leg, called by Buck Brannaman "untracking" and that's a good term -- but I'll share with you here that "untracking" is just twirling the loins. Between the two forms of twirling, you address the front end of the horse and the back end, and you address whichever end of him needs addressing at whatever time. Finally as they turn loose, the middle of him will also turn loose, and that's when the shoulder-in begins to happen all by itself.

Hope this clarifies. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Pam
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 Posted: Mon Jul 16th, 2007 10:42 pm
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Dr. Deb,

Thank you for clearing things up for me.  I know I have to make a choice and I know  I want to learn your way, the inner way, because it is the correct way.  I'm still trying to shake the influence and confusion by my past instructors.  Just when I think it is behind me a question pops up to prove how much I have to learn.  I know Mike's way is correct because I see the changes in my horse as I practice his methods.  I was always told my horse needed suppling but I'll be darned if they would teach me how to achieve it.  I can now get my horse supple without an instructor present.

The thing is, You are a "true" teacher and I have been taught by "false" teachers.  The false teachers leave out important information so that you never really get what it is you need to know to become a really good and worthy horse-person.  You are a true teacher and I have complete respect for your knowledge and who you are.  I know you do not hold back a thing.  I will learn from you if only I can become a good student.  That I am working on wholeheartedly.  I thank you for your patience!

Sorry, Julie, if the subject matter got changed on you a bit. 

Pam

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 01:29 am
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Dear Pam: Well, thanks kindly for the nice words. But you will remember please that this is not "my" way. I am merely one of many people who understands what THIS way is, and believes it to be a better way. If it gets to be about being "my" way, then for many reasons I will want nothing to do with it. It is never going to be about the teacher -- we do not want students getting stuck to the teacher. It is always going to be about the content, about WHAT is taught and whether that has been presented clearly enough that the student can grasp it, put it into practice, and then derive the benefits of it.

Also, I should have said this before but neglected to: maybe one of the things that you were sort of asking in your previous (regarding the horse moving its jaws/mouth all the time) was whether, when we twirl the head, we are doing that all the time; in other words, whether the rider is to be doing something to the horse at every moment with the reins/bit. The answer to that is no. You twirl the head when it feels to you like he's starting to brace up. In the beginning that will be very frequently indeed, perhaps even every step. Often, it will be when you go to turn, because the horse is weak and unbalanced and stiff in the beginning, and so as soon as you go to turn, even if he's been pretty loose on the straightaway then he'll lose is balance on the turn and brace up. So you turn the tables on that situation and you twirl him before the turn and release him IN the turn, so that he learns he can go through the turn loose.

People who have been taught to have rigid, heavy arms and hands are often afraid, when they're asked to try riding THIS way, that what we're telling them is to saw the bit back and forth, or move their hands in some other way all the time. But it is not so. The hands and the mouth are one. The hands feel what the tongue, jaws, and neck need, and the hands that are connected to the mind then give the horse whatever support and direction that the particular situation seems to require. The amount of physical skill required for this is no more than any average person would have. The amount of awareness, so that the rider can do just the right thing at just the right time, is far greater than what most people use on a daily basis. So you can see from this where the majority of the work and learning is going to be.

Happy riding -- the weather's beautiful, so I hope you are out to the barn today. -- Dr. Deb

Pam
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 Posted: Tue Jul 17th, 2007 02:26 am
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Dear Dr. Deb,

Sorry, I'm not as articulate as I would like to be.   I didn't mean it as "your way".   I just meant to say you are a great teacher of the correct way. The way that I believe to be right.  Hope I didn't imply anything offensive to you.   Believe me I would love nothing more than to really understand how to ride correctly so that I may have more autonomy with my horse. 

You read my mind about the head twirling.  The part I have trouble with is not really why but how often.  Some days it seems I'm having to get the releases alot and other days it seems like not at all.  That is what confuses me.  I think as time goes on and I get more comfortable with my own judgement and feel this won't be so confusing.  I tend to second guess what I am feeling is needed sometimes.  Explaining it the way you did helps me to feel more confident in what I am doing. 

I do see where the majority of learning is occurring and I believe I am just starting to grasp this art of horsemanship...... Thanks to you and all of our fine forum members!

Thanks Again,

Pam


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