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kcooper
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 Posted: Mon Nov 14th, 2011 04:17 am
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Dr Deb I hope it is ok to post a video clip to show you where I am at with my horse in hopes of getting a push in the right direction.

I have been reading the information here and practicing and videoing myself then analyzing (endlessly) for months now and I am at a point where I have pretty much accomplished with my horse my very best rendition of what we are trying achieve here as far as I am able to recognize anyway.
The video clip is of me doing an exercise at a barrel clinic. The video is a bit grainy but it is taken from a vantage point where you can see the shape of his body and how he is travelling and carrying himself.

When I do 'dry work' (with no barrels and not on this clip) I will ask for more collection on certain parts of a circle and we have been progressing to the point where I believe that he is engaging his loins, abdominals and base of his neck (because I can see it bulging a little when I am on his back)and lengthening his top line.

So my question is... how much collection would you ask for in an exercise like the one in the video?


Do you see anything in how he is moving or how I am riding that I need to change? I realize my hands are quite far up his neck....I feel like I am in a position there where I am not interfering but am ready to help him around with out screwing up his momentum but I can change if its not the best placement.

I really know no one that barrels races let alone instructs as a barrel racer that trains in a way that emulates what we are learning here so I think my biggest struggle is how to overlap this physiotherapeutic way of training with teaching a horse to run barrels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgKUVjIUKAQ

Thank you in advance!

kcooper
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 Posted: Mon Nov 14th, 2011 05:21 pm
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It is too late to edit and I think my last line sounds a little dumb.... what I was trying to say is that I have the underlying tendancy to want to micro manage .... everything.... and I know now that that doesnt work well for me at least when working an exercise like the one in the video where you are adding a little more speed and multiple objects to maneuver around. So I am wondering what is the right approach? do I need to micro manage a little more or am I way off all together?

Last edited on Mon Nov 14th, 2011 05:22 pm by kcooper

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Nov 15th, 2011 06:07 am
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OK, Kim, I appreciate what you are trying to do here. In general I don't want people to ask me to view their videos, because generally they take up more of my time than they are really worth. You will remember that what you're really asking me to do is give you a riding lesson -- for free.

Nonetheless I viewed your video because it was reasonably short and contained a good deal of information in the short period. Also, because your questions are to the point.

We will start with what you say about your tendency to micro-manage. I find this rather amusing, Kim, because although I think I understand what you mean by this, it is very plain from all that you and your horse are doing in the video that you have almost completely missed all the things that are really "micro". In other words -- you do not have an adequate awareness of the details -- the small stuff -- those things that are really the BIG stuff.

You seem to miss, for example, that when your horse is moving to the right hand (i.e. clockwise), he tilts his nose up to the right all the time. Would this have anything to do with him not being able to move straight, do you think? Would it affect his ability to produce a fluid lateral bend?

You also seem to miss that the horse, although he is really a beautiful animal, bends  better when going to the left hand than when going to the right hand.

Also, that when he bends to either direction, he swaps his quarters to the outside every time you make to go around a barrel; and you seem to not realize that this is because you've got him bending quite a bit through the neck, but not nearly as much through the ribcage. In other words, his bend is uneven, not smooth from nose to tail. Do you think this might have an impact, Kim, on whether he can hold his lead, or take the desired lead, going in either direction?

There are many problems with your own riding as well, which, again, you don't mention in your query so I must assume you hadn't "micro-managed" on these things, either. Why do you sit way out to the right when going to the left hand? Why do you twist your body, tilt your head as if to peer out with one eye from under the brim of your cowboy hat, and lead with one shoulder? Had you not realized that these are MANNERISMS adopted by "top" barrel competitors? A mannerism is either the result of faulty position and balance, or else deliberate. But if deliberate, these mannerisms can hardly be said to be helping your animal to do his job. Why not learn to simply sit up, sit quietly, and sit in rhythm? When you try to "sit" to the canter, you don't sit, Kim, you hork -- horking means you sort of jerk your upper body forward in rhythm with the horse's gait -- a bad habit that many unschooled riders have, and one of the main reasons that your horse goes on the forehand. There are many moments on this tape, Kim, when you are not trying to sit down -- and then the horse's mere canter seriously rattles your position and reveals your faulty balance.

You also don't have much skill with your hands -- they're all over the place -- every place but where they should be. Had you noticed that every time you pick up the reins in order to steer the horse from the bigger peripheral circle down around one of the barrels, that it surprises your horse? It's like you're coming at him from the moon -- there's no connection there or communication between you and him. You seem unaware that you need to tell the horse several steps ahead, and prepare him to position -- set it up so that you make what you want him to do as obvious and as easy as possible -- BEFOREHAND. BEFORE you go to turn. The key word here being "BEFORE" you come to the spot where you intend to begin to tighten the circumference of the bend. No horse can "snap" into a bend -- they need three or four strides to get all their legs and their body into the right shape and positions.

You see, Kim -- barrel racing is really nothing, just like jumping or dressage or racing are also nothing. If you could just manage to really micro-manage -- if you could just manage to thoroughly take care of each and every one of these things that I have noticed, all of which contribute to balance, straightness, responsiveness, and fluidity -- then you would not have to be worrying whether you could "add speed". You will never need to add speed, Kim. All of the people that you think you need to go faster than are actually rusty, angular, jerky, inefficient, and slow. You will not need to add speed -- your horse will add all the speed that's needed, and he will do this voluntarily, and as if he hadn't even noticed he was doing it -- when the time comes.

What you need to do right now is stop trying to add speed. Speed will kill every effort you're trying to make, because until and unless you get aware of the so-called "details" that I have outlined here -- these things and more -- then if you add speed without taking care of those things, you will be just another cipher, just another clone in the clone-army of barrel racers who are all just about alike, all being within a few split-seconds of being able to run the barrels in exactly the same time. They are all alike because not a-one of them is aware of, or willing to take care of, the so-called little things that are really the big things.

You have indicated that you want to fully apply what we teach. The first step in doing this is to give up 100% of any of your ambitions to compete. You may become competitive at a later time; or you may not. It is helpful to be able to totally accept this, to accept it with perfect equanimity, because only under those conditions will your horse be able to give you, at a later time, far more than what you originally thought you wanted.

You'll need to be thinking where and how you can get some of these "details" to come more strongly into your awareness -- that will be the next step for you, Kim. You need to be with a friend who has a good eye, so I'd advise you to take your horse to Josh or Harry and pay for the private time. -- Dr. Deb

kcooper
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 01:47 am
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Dr Deb
I appreciate you taking the time to watch and critique my video. I just thought it would be the most accurate way for me to make sure that the pictures I create in my head from reading the material are the pictures the material intended to create. I do realize little stuff is really big stuff thats why I was looking for more guidance at this point.


This quarter horse had 58 starts at the track and had a right and left side that were as different as night and day... they still are really its just not as bad.
Back in May he would swap ends like a coke bottle being spun on the table so we have come this far and can definitely go further.

More bend in the rib cage needed:
I think when I tweak that one thing then it will actually help solve the rest of the problems I am having. Like going to the left when I throw my weight to the outside in an effort to quickly adjust his shoulder after it has fallen into the circle. And then going right where I now see that his nose actually does tip up and too far in because I am asking for bend and not getting it from anywhere else in his body but his mid-neck to nose-tip...deffineatly hard to maintain the hq's in their proper place when that is happening.


In regards to my body:
I was kind of 'pumping' him for energy.... is that what you mean by 'horking'? and OK I will stop that.... its just that he used to be a wound-up typical hot race horse and he has become so realxed and laid back. I practice both slow,controlled loping and faster loping.
I dont know what is wrong with moving faster as long as things hold together (mentally and physically)??? I have found it kind of crucial for my safety with this guy that I can go out in the field and open him up at a gallop for 50-100 yards then bring him back down to a lope,trot,walk and he stays with me and doesnt run through and off. I dont do this a lot but I do want to know we are a cohesive unit at any gait.
I will be making a serious effort to not be tossed forward and to stay more square and consistent with my hands. Balance is a slightly up hill battle when you have short thick legs and a long back, oh well.
I have been trying to do less with my hands and more with my body and birdie.... I thought it was working well but I guess an exercise like that it would be too much like a surprise attack.


As far as mannerisms.... you bet I study the top pro barrel racers and pick out the common denominators. At rodeos and races there is always a photographer taking pictures when you are about a stride and a half into your 2nd barrel and you can tell the pros from the novices easily in one frame. But I also study people like Martin Black as well as you and your teachers and and most recently I saw Buck Brannaman when I watched him at his clinc over the weekend in High River and I let every word I hear from these special knowledgeable people resonate because every day you can have a revelation about something!!! My revelation from this weekend was about stopping your horse and how only a dummy would practice hard full stops every time as a rule because that might work in the arena or on dry ground but it wont work very well in a slick feedlot or on ice!


I have recently made arrangements to work with Josh for 3 full days in a row per month from now until April and I am SUPER excited.


Thank you again Dr Deb... and if you want to pass on any more advice (or hints because I am a bit thick in the head) on what exactly I should be doing with my hands I would very much appreciate it.

kcooper
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 04:17 am
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I meant to say that I was going to make a serious effort to keep my upper half from lurching forward and keep my body balanced and more square to the horse and to be more consistent with my hands.....
not 'square' with my hands like I made it sound above.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 05:53 am
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Let me say first how pleased I am that you're going to go be with Josh for a few days. After you do that, what I am telling you here will not seem quite so stark.

Another bit of advice: absolutely STOP looking at photos of "top" barrel competitors. What you look at will get into your subconscious, under your skin, and then you will manifest it forth whether you will or no. This is where the ugly, useless mannerisms come from that so much get in the way of your progress and your horse's ability to carry you well.

I give the very same advice to people interested in dressage -- STOP looking at photos of "top" competitors. You do not want to be doing what they are doing.

Replace these photos with images of riders who are worthy of your attention and emulation. Get images of Francois Baucher, Nuno Oliveira, Ray Hunt....grab pictures of Josh off his web. Get a copy of Ray Hunt's "Turning Loose" and look at that five-second little clip in there where he comes down the lane at the start of a clinic, and he's walking his horse....there is SO much packed into that little five seconds, and you need to view that over and over and over until what he is doing there sinks in. Look at Bettina Drummond when her images appear in the pages of The Eclectic Horseman. Look at any amount of pictures and videos of Buck Brannaman on the Web and/or YouTube, and definitely go see Buck's movie. View the beautiful Portuguese and Spanish rejoneadores that are on YouTube, particularly Angel or Rafael Peralta if you can find them: they are the very best in the world. This is the only level of quality that you should bother with. Why would you settle for less?

Now you are going to say, Kim, "well none of these people barrel race." That's right. But you will recall that barrel racing is really nothing, and I'm asking you to give it up entirely for the time being. That means 100% entirely give it up, without asking "how long is the 'time being' going to be." You have to not care whether it is five minutes or you maybe die first.

You put your money on simply becoming an excellent rider. I want you to grasp the PRINCIPLE THAT UNDERLIES ALL styles and types of riding. When you integrate that, you will begin to body it forth. Then, and only then, will you be in a position to say that you are ready to specialize. The biggest error that you have been making, Kim (and I told you this in other words in the previous post) is that you are trying to polish details that are really superficial -- details like the things that make a barrel racer look different from a dressage rider -- before you even really understand how to sit on a horse, or what a correctly moving horse looks and feels like.

You are very fortunate to own the horse that you own; he is just beautiful, and he has such a good face and good expression, even when you interfere with him. Think what the situation will be like when you become able to STOP interfering with him! -- Dr. Deb

kcooper
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 02:56 pm
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OK Dr Deb and thank you SO much!

I would like to get one last thing straight in my head about plumbness of the horses head when traveling.... I am going to guess that their head should stay plumb with the flat earth (so perpendicular)... would this not be the same way the cat rights and aligns itself with the the earth and gravity when it has jumped or fallen from something as you have mentioned?

So how their head is set in realtion to there body is going to change slightly depending on what kind size of circle you are on and the speed at which you are going?

I am just trying to see the subtle differences and recognize what is right... because when I think about what images are right to emmulate I have studdied images of Bettina Drummond and Nuno Oliveira in my head and it is obvious that their horses are properly engaged and I can see the drape in the reins but I feel (and clearly I know I'm wrong) that their (the riders) bodies, just their trunks and not their limbs, are stiff. I am not trying to discredit them WHATSOEVER..... But I do notice that when I have seen video footage and even pictures of Ray and Buck and Josh in real life that there is this 'loosness' in both the bodies and their horses bodies ..... like they really arent trying or thinking about tightening their pelvic floor muscles while holding their shoulders down and back and heels down and yada yada yada..
So I guess I want to know if I am really seeing what I think I am seeing and what the purposes for the differences are because I know and you have said that they are both right and proper.

Thank You again!

Cheddar
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 04:00 pm
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a link to Buck:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSLpyfzihts

 

a link to Bettina and some old footage of Nuno:

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5gx0a_bettina-drummond_sport

 

Given the difference in dress, the formal suit jackets of the demonstration rides can disguise movement much more than a loose cotton shirt and fringed chaps, I think they are amazingly similar.  Buck's work to change balance, the amount of movement, etc. is not much different than Nuno's.  Bettina when she is working the young horse has very similar movement to Buck working his horse.  Neither is tight in my opinion, tightness translates into bounciness, more noticeable movement, the less movement in the rider, generally the more relaxed.  And we learn to keep our shoulders back not by balance and proper relaxation in riding lessons but all too often by thinking of it as forcing shoulders back and down, active muscle which tightens us, rather than getting balanced, using the core, and letting our shoulders fall back because that is the natural point for them when we are balanced.    There is a lot wrong with traditional instructions and the words we use.  This is where something like Sally Swift's work and images helps us realize that all the doing, force the heel down, pull your shoulder's back, hold your elbows into your sides, etc., is the exact opposite of what we need to do.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 04:25 pm
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Kim, I can assure you that none of the people I have called upon you to integrate and emulate ride stiff in the saddle, in some kind of way "holding" their position. Their position, like everything else they do, is the result of the fluid, dynamic, and rhythmic interaction of their bodies with the horses' bodies. No attempt, as Sally Swift taught, should be made to adopt or hold any position; only rather to become aware of one's own body, to become more aware of the horse's body, and to find the perfect balance for everything. From the point of perfect balance, little effort is required to perform anything, and it is only when the effort is little that there can be beauty and harmony. Even when a horse must jump a big fence -- at the moment of thrust the effort is tremendous if you measured it in foot-pounds or ergs -- and yet if that horse is brought to that fence in such a manner that he is in perfect balance at the moment when thrust is called for, he will to himself think, "this is very little effort."

To achieve this, Kim, it is of great help to simply go slow. Again, the un-wisdom of thinking that you could possibly benefit from "adding some speed." Adding speed deprives the horse of the ability to find the point of perfect balance; he never has time to find it, because you prevent him from finding it.

As to having your horse's nose plumb: it is to be plumb at all times, through all movements whatsoever. There is no time, zero, not ever, when it is OK to have his nose tipping up to one side. Remember, too, that the only time we see him doing this on the video is when you yourself are causing him to do it, because your hands do not know what to do, and because you don't really have a seat from which steady hands or educated hands could work. So HE is not doing it.

Let us know what you learn after being with Josh. -- Dr. Deb

kcooper
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 Posted: Wed Nov 16th, 2011 04:58 pm
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Dr Deb I agree.... and 'holding' is better term to described what I thought I was seeing rather than stiff.
I still think there are some differences and just because I openly admit that I desire to go down the rodeo road does not mean that I am unable to look past a persons attire and see and appreciate what is really going. I like timed events because the clock has no opinion....and it just so happens that the way that is the best for the horse is also the way that will stop the clock.
I won't write back here until after I get straightened out with Josh. I understand why I need to get racing out of my head until its time....whether its 5 minutes from now or I die first.

kcooper
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 Posted: Fri Dec 16th, 2011 06:52 am
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Well, I thought I would report back about my time spent riding with Josh Nichol. I have been riding at home now for a week since the work shop and feel like I have been able to take what I learned and make it work for us at home. I have my work cut out for me as far as practicing for the next 6 weeks before our next session.
What is so great about Josh is that he is so invested in his craft and invested in helping you grasp the concepts. I have to stop my self from asking too many questions but thankfully he is all about the details and the finer points and is enthusiastic about sharing his thoughts.

I laugh now when I read Dr Debs comment about me not having a clue what truly 'mirco' managing might look like..... because I would have to say that the most valuable thing I took home from my time with Josh was how to regulate my energy! so that I can be 'micro' ... think.... if your legs are always in 'semi squeeze' any cue you give over and above that is going to have to be bigger and/or louder so the horse can hear/feel you asking. And wouldn't you know... your seat and balance (and consequently hands) improve when you aren't trying to pop your self out of your saddle with your own legs! And from that balanced place where your legs hang from your hip sockets like a pair of old chaps hanging on a nail you ARE able to be micro and accomplish so much!
I never thought that I was an offender of leaning into a circle but that is where subtle really counts. Like say if you were in a circle to the right, Josh would say, you are balanced and square (to the earth) with your shoulders but you think about inflating your right lung and just that THOUGHT (along with twirling and untracking) is enough for that horse to know to lift that shoulder.
The other most important thing I learned was what self carriage FEELS like. I rode a few different horse as well as my own, one of the mares was one of Josh's more finished horses. It was really neat like a boat when it smoothly comes up out of the water on plane... like smooth propulsion.
I am so relieved to be at this point, getting the help I have been looking for.

Kim

kcooper
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 Posted: Fri Dec 16th, 2011 07:16 am
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I had a question that I forgot to add:
I notice that my horse breaths very shallowly when ridden for certain and maybe in the fied (probably not surprising to you). I feel bad about it because it must mean he is still not relaxed enough... its probably also partially habit from years of taking half breaths (I do it also).
My question is: is there anything else that I can do that I am not doing already by working on self carriage with Josh to help him? I have read about how putting their two front feet on the drum can allieviate the pressure of the organs on the diaphram and help encourage them to take deeper breaths.
Anything else?
How long should we work up to staying on the drum?

Thank you

Last edited on Fri Dec 16th, 2011 07:17 am by kcooper

kcooper
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 Posted: Sat Dec 17th, 2011 01:24 am
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Dr Deb,
I found some of your information on breathing and want to say that this that I copied from your response below is what is happening with the exception of the head going up or other large signs (that I can tell)...I do feel that he is soft and brace free but I know for sure he is holding his breath:

"As to holding their breath: actually, I think horses do this only when they're pretty uptight, i.e. you would also notice their head going up and other larger signs of worry and concern. If you're very observant, at times like this you'll also hear the initial INtake of breath -- like you would intake your breath as you slam on the brakes when a dog runs in front of the car. After the intake, you'll hear nothing for a number of seconds, and then there will be a big exhalation."

And I think, quoting you from the same thread, this also applies:

"This is why it is so VERY necessary that you not waffle, that you not have guilt. You know perfectly well that at no time in Harry's class are you ever going to be asking your horse to do something that the horse cannot succeed at, or couldn't handle. So you set it up and then you live out the consequences of your setup.

If you hear the breathing get loud, and you think it's not just warming up, nor either from a medical cause, then you need to STOP and set up again. Ray Hunt says: "you cannot go through something bad and come out good on the other side." That means even what seem to be the smaller types of "bad" things, like noisy breathing. Because, Kath, it turns out that there is in fact no such thing as a "small" thing in horsemanship; all the small things turn out to be big things.
Dr. Deb"

So.... this is not a new thing with this horse, he was breathing like this at Joshs and prior to this summer he spent 7 years at the track so I would think he did it then too. The first time I noticed it I was parked sitting on my horse next to Joshs wife on her horse and I noticed my horses short breaths and long held pauses compared to her horse (which is the more finished mare that I mentioned I had experienced self carriage on) who had breathing that was as it should be. Now, our horses were standing side by side with a leg cocked and eyes half a sleep.... so shouldnt that be a time when they would be as relaxed and OK as they could be? That is what led me to believe that it has got to be partially old habit. I forgot to discuss it with Josh when I was there and hope to be able to move in the right direction with this as you see fit.

Thanks again!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Dec 17th, 2011 06:19 am
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Kim, let's stop and ask a question here. Let's say that by some magic we could know for certain not only THAT your horse breathes shallowly but WHY he does it, in terms of some past traumatic event or series of events.

So what I want to ask you is: even if we knew this -- what exactly would you do to fix it?

I'm asking this rhetorically, not because I want you to answer it, but because I want you to THINK about where your question is actually coming from within yourself or within your own mind. The answer to the question is: there isn't a single thing, not one single thing in all the world, that you can do to MAKE a horse "breathe right".

What you do is you just LIVE right -- just do your best by him all the time, and beyond that honey, I want you to "fuggeddaboudit".

The horse's breathing is epiphenomenological. That means, it's the end result of myriad other factors. This is what I was telling Kate in the older thread that you cited. You fix all the other bozoisms that you are foisting off on your horse, and the breathing will clear up as a result -- "all by itself."

So once again, Kim, what I'm telling you is -- you're focusing on way the wrong stuff. You're also, in some subtle manner, pinning a fault on your horse. Your horse, however, has no faults at all, that I can attest. But he does have a monkey on his back.

You need to meet this monkey, Kim. This is the monkey Ray Hunt spoke of again and again, as he would recite this poem for us at the end of every clinic:

THE MAN IN THE GLASS

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

And the world makes you king for a day,

Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife

Whose judgement upon you must pass;

The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Little Jack Horner and chisel a plum

And think you're a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you're only a bum

If you can't look him straight in the eye.

He's the fellow to please, never mind all the rest,

For he's with you clear up to the end,

And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears

If you've cheated the man in the glass.

 

kcooper
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 Posted: Sat Dec 17th, 2011 06:45 am
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Well Dr Deb thank you,
I will go about work with Josh and not dwell on it. I do not in any subtle way want to pin fault on my horse, I think he is the best, and we're a team.... and if I was having trouble breathing I would hope and expect my partner would do something to help me out. I just thought that maybe there was something you could pay attention to and encourage or discourage with them that could change the cycle and show him that breathing deep felt good.. thats all.


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