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Sidepull vs Snaffle bit
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jun 14th, 2008 06:33 pm
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Miriam, the VERY place that "feel" comes from is your hands.

The hara, or core, or "center" is the oven, or engine, in which "the life in the body" is thought of as being made or stored, or its primary locus or whirlpool. But that whirlpool flows up the spine and through the chest and down the arms. It goes also down the legs, through the whole area of the seat, down to the feet and out through the soles of the feet. As an aside here, if you want to really understand this, then go look at Joseph Campbell's "Transformations of Myth Through Time."

The "life in the body" has historically sometimes (metaphorically) been spoken of as "blood", since to a literal-minded student "blood" represents the fluid of life. This is why in virtually all representations of the crucified Christ, he is shown with the nails penetrating the palms of the hands. If you were really to nail somebody up in this place, the anatomy is not such that it would hold; the weight of the dying body would cause the nails to rip right through the palms, splitting out between the fingers. In reality, crucifixion nails went through the lower part of the forearm, above the wrist; here the anatomy is such that the nail would not pull through.

Why then is the crucified Christ always shown with the nails in the palm? Because in all Oriental religions, as well as in the martial arts today, the "exit point" for the "fluid of life" -- i.e. for the "life in the body," which is a kind of energy, and which is the essence of that which we call "feel", is the center of the palm of the hand. Likewise not only in Christian, but in Buddhist and Hindu iconography, when the diety is shown in a pose of blessing, the palm of the hand is shown facing the believer; two fingers are raised, while the ring and pinkie fingers touch the place in the center of the palm where "the life" flows out.

Ditto Spiderman.

So, Miriam -- how you make the energy go is entirely up to you. But I encourage students to become aware of their 'hara' but also to feel the life in the body flowing out of the soles of their feet and also out the palms of their hands. There is no other way for the life to get into the reins. The vector of flow within the reins must always go from the rider to the horse.

As to reins attaching at any point below the level of the mouth, i.e. under the horse's chin: this is for mechanical reasons. Obviously, if your horse is rigged this way, if you direct-pull on the right rein it is going to twirl the animal's head to the left.

There's nothing wrong with learning to use the Mexican equipment (all other 'bosales', i.e. from Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc., plus also all the historical 'cavessons' of the European classical High School, have the reins attached above the level of the mouth). But if you use Mexican equipment, then you will hopefully commmit to using it properly, which means, you cannot use the headstall in the same way as any Snaffle or any of the other abovementioned cavessons or bosales. Instead, before you can use your hands in Mexican equipment, your horse has already got to be at a relatively high level of understanding and responsiveness, such that he turns from your head, seat, and leg, and by the Birdie, so that the hands are not used in a direct-pull way at any time. In Mexican equipment, properly used, you lift the inside rein without taking the slack out of it, and the horse turns on the weight of the rein alone; and/or, you "block" the outside curve of the neck with the outside rein, which is to say, you use a bearing rein or "neck rein".

You can, of course, use a bearing rein or neck-rein in a snaffle or leverage-type bit too; but in all cases, for it to be correct, when you apply the rein to the outside curve of the neck, the outside curve must REMAIN in a curve, i.e. when you pick up the outside rein, the horse must maintain the curve in his body previously established by the head, seat, legs, and Birdie (to be clear: you would turn left by bending the horse to the left, and support the turn by the use of the right rein used as a bearing rein). This is how you do rollbacks/pirouettes.

So, the question for you, Miriam, as for anyone else interested in this, is whether you can effect at least a one-quarter pirouette correctly, while tacked up in either a sidepull or a snaffle bit. This is why you will see this apparently "little" exercise called for twenty, thirty, or more times per hour in a Ray Hunt horsemanship ride: because Ray really does want you to "get there". Please see to it that you follow such good advice! -- Dr. Deb 

 

cyndy
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 Posted: Sat Jun 14th, 2008 08:22 pm
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Oh my, thank you Dr Deb. This explains so many things in life...  even far more then horsemanship.  Everyone senses the truth in what you speak about feel, every horse  lives what you speak.  Few people grasp the true meaning of it, let alone live it. 

sammy
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 Posted: Mon Jun 16th, 2008 09:17 pm
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Dr Deb,

I am sure I would not be able to 'effect at least a one-quarter pirouette correctly' on the horse I have on loan right now. At halt, after some practice I can now get a nice soft bend to either side, but it's a different matter once we are on the move. When I pick up either rein (although things are worse to the right), the whole horse 'falls' into the turn while her neck remains braced and straight or even in a counter bend. If I hold the rein and wait, she continues to turn like a boat on an ever-decreasing circle, until eventually her feet stop. Then she will suddenly let go of the brace and bring her neck and head around rapidly, so that her nose ends up on my boot.

I would be grateful for any advice you can give on how I can encourage this horse to bring her thoughts and focus to the inside of the bend and release her body into the turn. Several other things I have been working on with her have improved steadily, but so far I have not been able to find a way to help her with this. Many thanks.

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jun 17th, 2008 07:04 am
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Sammy, what are your legs doing? Do you only have awareness of your arms?

Think about this. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

sammy
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 Posted: Tue Jun 17th, 2008 07:48 am
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Dr Deb

Hmmm, when I thought about my legs I realized I didn't actually know what they are doing in the turn - I think maybe I have become so focussed on the bracing in this mare's neck that all my awareness has gone to my hands and arms! I will check this out carefully in my ride today and report back. Sammy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jun 19th, 2008 05:38 am
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Sammy, several days have gone by since your last post, and I am hoping that in the interval you will have recalled what was said in the horsemanship clinic that you attended about how the rider's legs are to be used. I think it is not merely that your thoughts have been focused upon getting the horse's neck to bend, because clearly, we do not bend the horse merely by use of the arms. When merely the arms are used, the results you get will be exactly the spiraling-in that you very clearly describe.

I think the problem that you are having, Sammy, is that your thoughts, even at the horsemanship clinic, were somewhere other than at the horsemanship clinic -- so although mention was specifically and repeatedly made of how the rider's leg is to be used -- especially on a one-sided and stiff horse -- little or nothing of what I said actually penetrated your consciousness.

You have all kinds of conflicts, Sammy, but you would be smart to start eliminating the conflicts that don't even have to be there. The first one I'd try to get rid of, if I were you, is to realize that it is always destructive to try to import stuff from a clinician that does not know what he is doing. As I said to Pam, she has wasted her time and her money, and hurt her horse, by riding with a martingale man. We observed your girlfriend at the clinic that you both attended having a similar problem: there is a clinician who has told you to stiffen and pry downward with your arms, and he also says that we don't train horses by bending them or twirling the head. Now I have said this in another thread to Pam, and the both of you also need to hear this: You cannot make of horsemanship a patchwork quilt; you cannot stitch together the teaching of someone who says you don't bend the horse with the teaching of someone who says that you must do so.

I don't really care which you pick, sweetie, but you must now pick and make it permanent, or else you waste my time and also the other clinician's. At this point, when you write back, I would enjoy hearing from you how you think the leg is to be used -- I mean, at least the most important points. It may help you to write or telephone some of the other people who were at my clinic, especially Jenny P., so that they can give you their "notes". -- Dr. Deb

sammy
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 Posted: Thu Jun 19th, 2008 09:17 am
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Dr Deb

Apologies for not getting back onto this thread earlier - my stepdaughter has just had a baby and we had to leap into action to look after her toddler, so no riding for some days!

I think you are confusing me with someone else - I have never actually participated in one of your clinics but am an avid reader of this forum, your various papers and the Birdie Book. Nevertheless, I read your comments about bending/legs/arms with interest.

I do hope to be back riding in a day or two and will take care to feel and report back on what I am doing with my legs, when hopefully you will be able to help me progress in my understanding of bending the horse.

Best wishes, Sammy

Pam
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 Posted: Thu Jun 19th, 2008 06:25 pm
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Last edited on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 08:46 pm by Pam

Leigh in SoCal
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 Posted: Thu Jun 19th, 2008 09:15 pm
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Pam,

Here was DB's quote:  "You have all kinds of conflicts, Sammy, but you would be smart to start eliminating the conflicts that don't even have to be there. The first one I'd try to get rid of, if I were you, is to realize that it is always destructive to try to import stuff from a clinician that does not know what he is doing. As I said to Pam, she has wasted her time and her money, and hurt her horse, by riding with a martingale man. We observed your girlfriend at the clinic that you both attended having a similar problem: there is a clinician who has told you to stiffen and pry downward with your arms, and he also says that we don't train horses by bending them or twirling the head."

It's clear that the "we don't train horses by bending them or twirling the head" comment was directed towards Sammy's experience with another clinican. 

When you have consistently ridden with the caliber of clinicians who are Friends of the Institute, you know, prima facie, that a clinician who rides with a martingale is subprime, much the same way one would learn not to hire a prospective employee who is casually late to his first interview, or retain an attorney who doesn't know what prima facie means, or solicit marital advice from an inveterate batchelor.   Closer to the point, however, each time a horse is ridden with a tiedown or running martingale or similar gadget, it learns to tighten the muscles along the crest and underside of the neck, which is the very antithesis of teaching a horse to release and bend through its entire body.  To that extent, yes, every time we ride with such gadgets, we "hurt" our horses ("just another brick in the wall"), and if you think I know not of what I speak, please look at photo D in "True Collection," because that chestnut and white pinto is my horse, shortly after I began riding him when he came to me as a tied-down, overspurred, blown-a-fuse roping horse.

I really like reading your questions and comments, and I hope you stay here.  This deeper horsemanship is tough, because we have to check our egos at the door.   There are tons of clinicians, gurus, and trainers who are willing to take your money and blow smoke up your a**; the straight talk and real learning, and the credentials to dispense both, are right here.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jun 20th, 2008 05:59 am
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Yes, Sammy, I beg your pardon for mixing you up with Sam, who was at one of my clinics with her pony and her girlfriend on the Arab, and who has been trying to make a patchwork quilt out of horsemanship. These things can happen because your monikers are similar and I can't see your face. Thank you for not taking it badly, and just going on with the question. I look forward to your report.

And Pam: whatever it was that you posted and then pulled just above, I wasn't in time to see it. Maybe Leigh's pointing out that you'd missed the analogy with Sam's situation was what caused you to "take it back".

But let us be clear as to why I replied to "Sam" the way I did, i.e. because I thought I was replying to someone who had in fact been to one of my clinics.  Besides the problem with the patchwork quilt philosophy, I have to confess that the teacher gets AWFULLY tired of having to repeat herself.

Pam, to go back to something else you said previously: I think it's somewhat strange that you don't know what clinician I was speaking about in telling the story of the clinic with the people with the martingales. Really? You don't know who our elderly teacher is? Well -- in actuality, it's OK if you don't -- WHO the teacher is, is much less important than what he taught, and how he taught it.

I agree with Joe's and Ben's commenting that the best class of teacher never spoon-feeds students, but rather sets the situation up so that the student who wants to do it "her way" rather than the right way, gets herself into a tangle.

I had to chuckle in reading your initial reply, Pam, when you got off on blaming our teacher for not telling people that martingales are unsafe. They are not particularly unsafe, and he would never have encouraged anyone to do anything that might have gotten them hurt. We all know that thousands of people use martingales every day. No; you're missing on another level -- you don't seem to realize how subtle were the "little situations" our teacher was putting these people into -- I mean things like asking them to pass through a corner or make a quarter-turn away from or back toward the rail. I think getting in a huff damages peoples' ability to hear -- this is the main reason Leigh is suggesting, Pam, that you park your ego at the door -- so that you can hear what is meant. Because unless you hear what the teacher means, I don't know how you could learn.

To go back again to another point alluded to by Ben -- Pam, did I say that our teacher never hurt my ego during the time when he was teaching me? It frequently hurt like hell to see myself effectively held up in a mirror, and to realize that I had been shortsighted, selfish, stupid, lazy, peevish, cowardly, or wrongheaded.

Nor was I the only student he did this cosmic-level favor for. Observing not only myself but others over the course of many years, I saw two general types of reactions to when the mirror was held up: one, where the person would get huffy and defensive, and they would say, "well, I don't see that so-and-so doing any of the things he's telling me to do! Nobody could possibly do what he's asking!" The other was that the student would look about her and notice that other students, who had been with the teacher longer, didn't seem to be having that much trouble. They could do what was requested fairly well or even superbly. I had that same choice, and what I said to myself was, "well, if those other students can learn to do rollbacks without a martingale, then surely I can learn to do them that way too."

And ditto for any other maneuver you can name: done incorrectly, or with most types of "devices", the maneuvers are actually pseudo-maneuvers which are ultimately destructive of the horse. They also, so long as the devices are used, totally prevent the rider from learning the feel of the movement or exercise when done correctly. My experience is: five minutes in a running martingale equals one year of remedial work. So don't try to tell me, Pam, that it's OK to use a martingale if you only use it once in a while. The photo-icon of your horse, with his thick, incorrectly developed neck muscles, is exactly what Leigh is describing, and now that we know what you have been doing, we can safely ascribe that to a history of incorrect work (rather than to the horse's having incorrect conformation -- he is a beautiful horse).

Now, Pam, you are hereby being invited once again to join my other students in learning how to ride and train horses. Start by throwing away your running martingale, and ceasing to ride with anyone who uses a running martingale or draw reins. Follow that up by riding with the same high-quality people that we recommend -- that is WHY we recommend them.

When our teacher would see (as he most certainly did see) how hurt I would get when that old mirror was held up to me, he said: "Debbie....I presented these things to you in this way so that you would learn it right down in your guts."

For this, I have been, and will always remain, utterly grateful. A true teacher is a treasure, very rare and very hard to find. -- Dr. Deb

miriam
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 Posted: Fri Jun 20th, 2008 03:49 pm
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This is such an interesting thread. I hope it's ok to go back to your post about the mexican equipment even though we've moved along nicely into other aspects of equipment too.

I rode a good bit last night in the rope halter and mecate, all the while thinking about how to best use this equipment.  The Buckskin 'neck reins' so nicely, and I worked on lifting with the same tension and using the 'bearing' rein as you wrote. The question arose as we played with this, and perhaps this is where the Romel comes in, do we hold the reins with one hand for neck reining? Is there a best way to use the hands? As a side note, I did notice that when I went back to the sidepull, I barely had to move a finger to cause him to look aside! In Mexican Vaquero horsemanship, doesn't the snaffle come before the Bosal?

Thanks, Miriam

Pam
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 Posted: Fri Jun 20th, 2008 07:10 pm
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DrDeb wrote:

Nor was I the only student he did this cosmic-level favor for. Observing not only myself but others over the course of many years, I saw two general types of reactions to when the mirror was held up: one, where the person would get huffy and defensive, and they would say, "well, I don't see that so-and-so doing any of the things he's telling me to do! Nobody could possibly do what he's asking!" The other was that the student would look about her and notice that other students, who had been with the teacher longer, didn't seem to be having that much trouble. They could do what was requested fairly well or even superbly. I had that same choice, and what I said to myself was, "well, if those other students can learn to do rollbacks without a martingale, then surely I can learn to do them that way too."

And ditto for any other maneuver you can name: done incorrectly, or with most types of "devices", the maneuvers are actually pseudo-maneuvers which are ultimately destructive of the horse. They also, so long as the devices are used, totally prevent the rider from learning the feel of the movement or exercise when done correctly. My experience is: five minutes in a running martingale equals one year of remedial work. So don't try to tell me, Pam, that it's OK to use a martingale if you only use it once in a while. The photo-icon of your horse, with his thick, incorrectly developed neck muscles, is exactly what Leigh is describing, and now that we know what you have been doing, we can safely ascribe that to a history of incorrect work (rather than to the horse's having incorrect conformation -- he is a beautiful horse).

Now, Pam, you are hereby being invited once again to join my other students in learning how to ride and train horses. Start by throwing away your running martingale, and ceasing to ride with anyone who uses a running martingale or draw reins. Follow that up by riding with the same high-quality people that we recommend -- that is WHY we recommend them.

When our teacher would see (as he most certainly did see) how hurt I would get when that old mirror was held up to me, he said: "Debbie....I presented these things to you in this way so that you would learn it right down in your guts."

For this, I have been, and will always remain, utterly grateful. A true teacher is a treasure, very rare and very hard to find. -- Dr. Deb

OK, Dr. Deb,  I had that one coming.  The truth is I don't really like any devices for training horses.  I don't ride with spurs and never want to, and I've just recently used side reins, and decided I don't really like them anyway.  As far as the martingale goes,  that is a no-brainer to throw away.  I have tried rollbacks riding in my dressage saddle and snaffle and have found that my horse does just fine that way.  I have quit riding with several instructors who insisted I ride with spurs, balked at long and low riding, and also another one who insisted my horse get hock injections (sorry if I have already mentioned this) and said I'd never be able to ride him in a draping rein because of his past.  I know that these are not high quality instructors that pressure me to do these things or make comments that I can never achieve the desirable with my horse.  So, I find myself alone, training my horse.  Funny thing is he seems perfectly happy now.  

The picture of my horse in the icon was taken four years ago when I first got him.  He had been a show jumper and ridden in a martingale most of the time.  If you saw a picture of him now, you wouldn't see the improper muscling in his neck that you see there.  He has a very soft look about him now, maybe because of the relaxation in his neck muscles, I'm not 100% sure why, I just know he looks different.......Pam 


 

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 Posted: Sat Jun 21st, 2008 08:40 pm
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Dr Deb

I came on the forum tonight to write the report of my recent rides but first took a look at up-to-date posts, where I found what you had written on the 'Torquing or screwing hocks' thread. Well, it just fits exactly with what I discovered when I rode.

I first rode my old horse, who is pretty much OK with everything. This allowed me to check what I do in turns and on other curves - I 'just turn' and don't really DO anything with my legs at all. Because he bends just fine and takes the turn from me just turning (much as I would if I were walking along myself), I have not felt any need to use my legs in any particular way with him.

I then rode my loan mare. Everything was pretty much as 'normal' - bracey to the left, extremely bracey to the right. I decided to try using my inside leg to ask her to step under her body with her inside hind - no response. As I felt I was just looking for information to report back, I did not pursue this - and I wasn't really sure what to do next anyway!

Then everything changed - the horse that had been working at the other end of the arena left and the mare went into meltdown (this is one of the reasons I have her on loan - for years she has got all her inner OKness from being with other horses and has never really seen the human handler or rider as of any use to her in this regard). I had to be pretty determined and firm about things to restore order and some measure of equanimity - in the course of which, a number of times we passed about 20 yards from the arena exit and the mare tried to crab sideways towards it. By necessity, I found myself using my inside leg to get her to step under with the inside hind leg so that we could line up and go on up the arena (instead of her running through her shoulder towards the exit), and without thinking I did exactly what I now see you describing in the other thread - tapping with my inside leg and upping this to a pretty hefty kick until she responded.

After all this, when the mare was walking around pretty peacefully once more, I suddenly realized that the turns were really good with plenty of bend. When I thought about it, this seemed as if it could be due to one of two things, or maybe both: (1) her attention was now with the work we were doing instead of with her friends back in the field, and therefore inside the turns instead of outside; (2) I could use my inside leg very lightly and she would now notice and respond. I would be really interested in any comments you could give me on all of this.

The news that I am 'pulling through a brace' is a both unwelcome and welcome: unwelcome, in that I have been working hard to learn NOT to pull and thought I was doing quite well; welcome in that there is something specific I can now look at and work to change that will improve my horsemanship. On this subject, I wonder if you could give an idea of how you would work with a horse that when you pick up a rein (or rope, or whatever), meet a brace and wait, simply stays there without any effort at all to release himself from the pressure, and/or eventually lets go of his brace but repeats this scenario every time you pick up the rein/rope and there is never any improvement in the speed or quality of his response. Is it possible to increase the pressure in this situation without 'pulling'? Would this, or adding in some other form of motivation, be options for improving the horse's response (in much the same way as the tapping of the leg becomes kicking if necessary, to motivate the horse)? To be honest, I can't really think of any others!

Dr Deb, your help and insight so far has been invaluable and I await your response to all this with great interest - I hope I haven't written too much! 

Sammy

alex.brollo
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 Posted: Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 06:34 am
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I'll read again this interesting, but difficult,  thread, and my present style of riding is far too rough to post any comment about. Nevertheless here a link for you to face with different - and much more experienced and thoughtful than mine - opinions and experiences: the forum of the Belgian Josepha Guillaime, http://www.artofnaturaldressage.com/index.php . I found excellent people there.

hurleycane
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 Posted: Tue Jul 22nd, 2008 12:45 pm
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Alex ~ I think part of the etiquette on this forum would be to request permission to post links to other forums or products.   This forum lives up to its name:  Equine Studies Institute and offers teachings from masters that Dr Deb has selected and invited into it.

As to the degree of difficulty in the read, I agree.  Unlike other horse enthusiast forums, this place is not light reading and I do not think it was intended to be such.  Dr. Deb's style of presentation begins with a deep examination of  each situation and ends with a reader expanding and deepening their "well" of experience so to speak.  This enrichment and insight makes the effort of reading here very worth while.  

It may be free - but it is not without effort. 


Mary Ann


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