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KevinLnds
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Joined: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009
Location: Leona Valley, California USA
Posts: 20
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Posted: Fri Jun 29th, 2012 04:58 am
I recently attended Dr. Deb’s horsemanship clinic, and I thought I would share some of what for me were the highlights. The clinic was a mixture of lecture, round pen, and arena work. The facilities at the Lazy S Ranch were excellent.

For me, the small serpentine lesson delivered the greatest benefit. Basically, you ask your horse to make a series of left and right hand turns while keeping his body straight on the curve. Being straight on the curve means the horse’s body is shaped to match the curve. My horse immediately relaxed during the exercise, and regularly stepped under himself, something I have been trying to get him to do for a long time. His stepping under himself did not surprise me, but the loss of tension did. I assume that the exercise is therapeutic in itself, but I also think that in the past, I inadvertently asked him to bend with my inside leg and blocked the bend with my outside leg, creating conflict in him by giving him contradictory cues. Dr. Deb solved this easily by asking me to visualize my outside leg floating off to the side, creating room for his inside leg to step under, and removing the contradictory cues. To me, this seems a basic lesson, but also a deep one. I have read dozens of lesson plans extolling the virtues of riding figures, none really addressed the horse. They all concentrate on the correctness of the shape of the figures.

Another interesting lesson for me was refining the use of the flag to draw in the horse, something I had already started doing at home. Watch the common clinicians, and you will see them use the flag to drive the horse forward. The flag becomes an amplifier for their body language. It is a lot more fun to use the flag as a cape to draw the horse forward. My problem was that I was at times too big, and trying to make something happen.

Other highlights included insights into my horse’s character, and videos of the Peralta brothers and the Circus Knie, both of which showed what horses can accomplish with proper training, and a great standard to strive for. Examining a horse’s and a human’s skeleton was enlightening. And I even got to bring up Shakespeare, my other great passion (specifically, a passage in As You Like It where Rosalind compares the passage of time to a trot, an amble, and a gallop).

I had a great time and learned a lot, definitely a worthwhile experience. Attend a clinic if you can.

Kevin

Blue Flame
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Joined: Tue Oct 21st, 2008
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 58
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Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2012 01:25 pm
Thanks for sharing the insight on the short serpentine. It seems there is always something more and deeper to learn about this exercise.

Interesting about the flag as a lure as well. I'd really like to learn more about the correct use of a lure.

Sandy

Shelly Forceville
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Joined: Mon Jun 27th, 2011
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 47
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Posted: Mon Jul 2nd, 2012 01:07 am
Hi Kevin,

Great to hear you enjoyed the clinic. I also had a great time at Dr. Deb's clinic (although we didn't work with the flag or short serpentine then) when I went this year. I thought it was one of the very best clinics I have been to for the sheer volume of new information I learned and the clear manner in which Dr. Deb explains everything. Video of the Peralta brothers was also a highlight.

I did learn the short serpentine exercise when I rode with Buck earlier this year. At that time I found it extremely difficult to get my head around, I think because my feel and timing were off, and my horse was still very stiff.

Having tried the exercise again recently, now that I am a little more in tune with my horse and she has become much more supple it made much more sense. I could feel how my horse was having to step out with the inside hind and inward with the inside fore to keep on the tight circle. However, I could also feel a little heaviness or a little delay in how that fore leg was coming over so it was a great diagnostic. I can now go away and work on this some more.

These are the types of clinics where you come away with some serious thinking and practice to do, but it is very much worth it.
KevinLnds
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Joined: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009
Location: Leona Valley, California USA
Posts: 20
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Posted: Mon Jul 2nd, 2012 07:23 am
I started using the flag as a lure by accident. I noticed that if I held it in front of my horse, he would reach for it with his nose. When he touched it or got close to it, I made the flag "fly away" a few feet, at which time he would follow it. Eventually, I was leading him around my yard, holding the flag over a spot on the gound until he touched it, which "caused" it to fly away again.

I believe that in the Birdie Basics CD, Dr. Deb says that the original purpose of the flag was as a draw. After hearing that, I tried using it as a cape with some success. As noted in my original post, becoming too big with my horse is very easy to do, and that's where I got some help at the clinic.

Kevin
KevinLnds
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Joined: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009
Location: Leona Valley, California USA
Posts: 20
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Posted: Mon Jul 2nd, 2012 07:27 am
This may seem a strange question to ask after almost a month has past since the clinic, but what is the reason for insisting on an energetic walk from a horse (5-7 mph depending on size)?

Kevin
Jeannie
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Joined: Thu May 7th, 2009
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Posted: Wed Jul 4th, 2012 09:00 pm
Hi Kevin, someone mentioned Buck Brannaman saying that there is a proportional relationship between the amount of life in the horse and the amount of softness: the more life you have, the more softness that is available to the rider. So that might figure into it.
                   Jeannie

DrDeb
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Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
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Posted: Wed Jul 4th, 2012 10:20 pm
Yes; exactly. Here are some correlations:

-- The more life you have, the more softness is POTENTIAL (you have to ask for it and at times work for it; for example, the horse may need you to twirl the head or untrack him so that more energy doesn't just cause him to become stiffer. He needs to be at least on the way to inner OKness before an increase in energy will translate into an increase in softeness).

-- The more life you have, the more control you have. This is in the same sense -- and we did repeatedly mention this at the clinic -- as that it is difficult to steer a sailboat when there is no wind; difficult to steer a motorboat when the engine is switched off.

-- The more life you have, the more feel of the horse's back and feet you will have. We mentioned this too at the clinic. If the horse dawdles, there is little signal coming up to the rider from the horse.

-- The more life you have, the more different 'asanas' you can do. You cannot even ride a good circle without an adequately energetic walk, let alone do correct flying changes, or pirouettes, or even a canter strike-off....it is BECAUSE the majority of riders do not have enough life in their horse, have not asked for it, and have not worked for it, that when they go to canter the only way they can make the transition is to speed up! And all other transitions are the same, just more subtly so. In other words -- they rely on momentum, because they muddle this with life. Momentum is what lazy or untrained horses use to get by. But as Ray Hunt said many times, "I hope you're not just riding to get by." -- Dr. Deb

KevinLnds
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Joined: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009
Location: Leona Valley, California USA
Posts: 20
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Posted: Thu Jul 5th, 2012 02:18 am
You did give all those reasons. Well, no one said I had to be quick of study. But that explains a few things.

1. As mentioned in my original post. My horse kept relaxing during the exercises. I believe this was partly due to me getting out of his way during the serpentine exercises, but he relaxed while he was going straight too. Actually, he never did feel stiff during any of the exercises.

2. I definitely remember the boat metaphor and its implications.

3 and 4. The life and feel does come through. When he rushes, he (and I) feel stiff. When he pokes along, he (and I) feel leaden.

At one point, we were doing an exercise where we were to do as little as possible to go faster. I had mentioned earlier that when I want him to amble (gait), I usually just think about it, and off we go. He was walking and I thought about departing in a left lead canter. With the softest of cues, he departed on the correct lead, and the departure and the few strides I asked for felt so good, I laughed. You were helping Geoff at the time, so I don't know if you heard the laugh, but if you did, that was what it was for.

Now that this is in writing, I don't have any excuse for not following through.

Kevin



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