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christie
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I have been riding my horse for several years, on a loose rein.

I have your true collection article, Birdie book, and have looked through past posts. Also studied any other thing I have found about this subject. I recently purchased 2 books by Jane Savoie called cross training.

When I read what you write Dr. Deb, I get the feeling that what everyone does is 'wrong' in regards to how they go about getting their horse to carry a rider in the state that is the best for the horse physically. 

In fact, it makes me feel like I should not even try, as I will just get it wrong.

Even though I have much more to say, I'll probably just be rambling on and on. I think you get the gist of this post. I am trying to now ride my horse in a way that is best for her physically(which I gather collected is best..), but just feel totally confused about how to go about it and get the feeling that what everyone else is doing, from reiners to 'tv' trainers is wrong.  So if the world is doing it wrong...thinking that feels so disheartening.

I'm wanting to show the horse I am riding, she is an Arab that is a bit butt high, not sure how that should fit into my strategy. She is 14.

I'm editing trying to think of what you might want to know. What I have been doing is trying to get her soft (but then what does that mean exactly?) on the bit, however I'm reading that that does not connect to the backend..ok, I'm stopping now! :-)

 


Attachment: perfectly clean.jpg (Downloaded 488 times)

Last edited on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 05:10 am by christie

DrDeb
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Christie, help me out here a little bit if you will, by answering a somewhat personal question. How old are you? -- Dr. Deb

christie
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BTW, I didn't mean that I want to 'show' as in take my horse to horse shows, I meant just show a picture.

I will be 41 in a month.

rifruffian
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Hey, I like the look of your compact horse; very similar in appearance to the horse my partner rides. They go to endurance meets and thoroughly enjoy it, by and large they do very well together. Sounds like you're suffering from information overload.......maybe try  more time with horse, less time on internet?

DrDeb
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OK, Christie, fair enough and thank you for giving your age. You see, I thought I might have been working with a teenager, in which case the style of answer would need to be somewhat different. Since you are an adult, we may conclude that you are not "having hormones" but are merely discouraged. So Rifruffian is giving a good prescription: more time doing something enjoyable with horse, less time on Internet, and I will only add -- when discouraged, there are three little words to always keep in mind:  "just...start....over".

In your above post, and I think (if I recall right) in some other recent post by you, you are telling me that you ride on a "loose" rein. In the other post that I'm remembering, you are asking about a "draping" rein, and the way that was phrased it sounded to me like you don't know the difference between a loose rein and a draping rein.

So here's a series of surprises:
  • A loose rein is not desirable and is not what you should try to ride on.
  • A loose rein is not the opposite of "contact".
  • Continuous backward traction upon the reins, whether the amount of traction is large or small, kills true contact.
  • True contact has nothing to do with the amount of pressure felt either by your hands, or by the horse's mouth.
  • Draping reins can only be achieved, or will only result, after the student understands how to establish true contact.
Here is a series of truisms:
  • True contact means connection with the horse.
  • True contact is primarily about energy flow within the reins -- as if the reins were hoses rather than straps.
  • Energy flow within the reins MUST ALWAYS be from the rider to the horse.
  • When energy flow within the reins flows from the rider to the horse, that does not necessarily mean that the reins themselves get longer, and they certainly do not become "loose".
  • "Loose" reins are reins so long that they exceed the rider's ability to generate energy and flow it up into the reins.
  • "Tight" reins are reins held so firmly that they choke off the energy flow, and may also be painful to the horse, making him want to escape rather than seek.
  • The rider OFFERS contact and the horse GOES TO contact. You can rephrase this: the rider OFFERS connection and the horse SEEKS the same connection.
  • Some horses, that have become resigned to being ridden with continuous backward traction in the reins, when offered contact do not seek it. Such horses have to be re-educated by a rider who knows how to get the horse to start hunting up that feel again.
  • Draping reins are a side effect of the posture offered by the horse. The rider causes the horse, or cajoles him, into using his "ring of muscles" to round up or collect. This is the posture that causes draping reins.
Here is a brief and effective definition of collection:
  1. Collection starts from, and is always primarily the product of, coiling the horse's loins.
  2. Collection is continued (almost simultaneously) when the coiling of the loins causes the horse to arch the freespan of its back.
  3. Collection is completed when (again, almost simultaneously) the above two actions assist the horse in raising the BASE of its neck.
Christie, here's the mental picture. If you were to mount a trained horse with a friendly disposition, you could have dressmakers' tapes instead of reins. If you then took all the slack out of both reins, just so that you could feel the horse's tongue, the tapes would allow you to see exactly how many inches of rein there were between the bit-rings and your hands.

If you then touched the horse with the calves of your legs (remember I said he was a finished horse), the animal would instantly begin to round up.

As he rounded up, you would not move your hands, you would not take up the rein, and you would not feed out any rein. You would just wait and see what the horse was showing you.

As he rounded up and collected more and more, the base of his neck would rise. His head would then become fully vertical, and more importantly, he would arch his neck along with rounding his loins and back.

When the horse did this, given that you did not move your hands or change their position on the tapes, the reins would become draping but NOT "slack".

The reason they would not be slack is that, presumably, when you first adjusted them "straight" they were short enough that you could fill them with life and feel. We know this because you could feel the horse's tongue.

After they become draping, you will still be able to feel the horse's tongue. The connection between you and him will still be there, and that connection is one of the important channels of communication between you.

So you never change the length of the reins on a finished horse. You offer him contact and he seeks contact. In rounding up, he does not "drop the bit".

Notice that nowhere in this description have I said anything about an amount of pressure that should or should not be there in either your hands or in the horse's mouth. This is a question asked all the time by beginners who are at the stage in their riding that you are at, Christie. True contact is the same as the contact that exists between your arm and your torso. How much pressure does your body exert to hold your arm on?

That's a question that is, of course, impossible to answer, not so much on technical grounds but because the questioner is thinking in the wrong terms. Do not think in terms of pressure; think in terms of connection, communication, and energy flow.

Now as I look at your horse, I see lots of nice things but also a rather "soft" or saggy back, and a somewhat unfit underline. Your saddle will fit better, and your riding will go better, if you get about putting the horse over some cavalletti, learning to back her up correctly, perform leg-yields and turns on the forehand, and transitions, that are the basic repetory by which all horses, everywhere, become capable of carrying a rider in collection. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

 

 

 

Brenton Ross Matthews
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Dr Deb--that is the best post anyone has ever written--thankyou.

 I have made a copy for myself !

Brenton

christie
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rifruffian wrote: Hey, I like the look of your compact horse; very similar in appearance to the horse my partner rides. They go to endurance meets and thoroughly enjoy it, by and large they do very well together. Sounds like you're suffering from information overload.......maybe try  more time with horse, less time on internet?

Thanks, I think she's downright adorable and then some!

I've been spending all day, every day, with my horse :-)

christie
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I am home late and will study your post tomorrow at the barn Dr. Deb. Like I said to Rifruffian, I'm at the barn all day, I actually have a couple months off from work.  I do this so I can spend all the time I want at the barn. So lots more horse time than computer time. 

I would be interested to hear your description of how to do a proper back up.  I agree about the back and the underline. She's a little bit plumper now too so that doesn't help.

I was actually doing complete forehand turns today. I do transitions every day. Cavalletti...  I have been riding her up the manure pile(mixed with shavings) for something different to do, will this help? Pushing herself uphill? I think she enjoys standing at the top feeling 'tall'!

Cavelletti every day? How high and how long?

DrDeb
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OK, Christie, I put some of those things in there as a kind of way of seeing which of them you'd bite on, like tasty bait. I mean things like transitions, backing, cavalletti.

Actually these things are the very basic elements of horsemanship, without a knowledge of which you will not be able to make much progress. Neither you nor anyone else. You have to have the bricks in hand before you can build the house.

Without a knowledge of these basics, riding safely is a matter of just sheer luck or Providence (and don't we all know that God loves neophytes). Riding effectively is hit-or-miss, because you never really are sure why something worked or how to get it to happen again. And over time, the whole thing tends to degenerate into just petting and grooming rather than progress in engendering the kind of motivation and clarity in the horse that make for satisfying and pleasurable rides that literally sparkle.

I also want now to pick up on something from your previous "discouraged" post. One of the things that is bothering you, from what you say, is that you are not hearing from me what you hear from most other riders or instructors. That's absolutely correct.

There's a reason for it, too, and this is it: horsemanship nearly died in this country between WWI and 1965. This was the time of the rise of the automobile and of power tractors on farms, and it was during this period that the population of horses in the U.S. reached all-time low numbers. Many of the older generation of good horsemen died without passing their knowledge on to younger people, because very few of the people who were young at that time saw any future in being horse professionals or having horse knowledge.

During this same period of time, we saw the establishment of most of the breed registries that exist today (most breeds did not exist "on paper" until after 1940), and also the rise of horse showing in the form we are familiar with today (prior to that time there were relatively few horse shows and almost no breed shows).

All of this set the stage for rampant abuse, much of which stemmed from plain ignorance. During this time (photos document it) we see people beginning with the weighted shoes, the tail-sets, the martingales, and the patent "developers" and bits. Riders were taught to pose on horseback. The art of quality saddlemaking nearly died. Cheap teaching tricks were used to get riders over fences -- never mind whether they could ride a curving line or rate a horse. Some western trainers got big press in the national magazines for openly advocating very rough methods.

It was all of this that prompted our elderly teacher to come out of seclusion and teach a wider group of students (he had been teaching a few people since the 1930's). His greatest student was, and remains, Ray Hunt, but there were a number of us younger people who also greatly benefited, and who carry on this style of horsemanship today -- an "attitude and approach" as it says at the top of our Home Page, that puts the horse first and that assumes that the horse is sensitive, intelligent, and capable of being educated if only the owner will go about presenting things in a way that the horse can understand.

Our teacher was the "deepest" horseman I ever met or heard of, and his line of thought in this area is documentably unique in history. It is "deep work" or "deep understanding" from which true control of the horse ultimately comes. It is this kind of insight that empowers "....true unity and willing communication between horse and human".

So, to tie this up, Christie, what I am telling you is that what you commonly hear is merely common. This is where "developing your filters" as Dave G. mentioned becomes a priority. All students, no matter where they finally land, have to decide who to listen to and who not to listen to. So here we are in the Forum; have you not read some of the other threads? Have you been impressed that I, and some of the other folks here, know whereof they speak? Ahh -- or perhaps you have not. This is exactly what I said to Pam, if you read some of the threads where she got bothered and left. It is no different for any person: you MUST decide. You cannot listen to all advice, because much of it is going to conflict, and some of it will cripple you or your horse. You cannot have it all ways, your own way, or just any way. You cannot "quilt" your horsemanship together by taking a little bit from one place and a little bit from a different place. You have to decide. And the heck of it is, as Ray Hunt says, "the thing you needed to know first is always the thing you learn last."

Now, what I want you to do before we go into any of the "basic bricks" that I mentioned above, is to use the search function at the top of this Forum to look up the following key words:
  • backing or backing up
  • cavalletti or cavalletto
  • teaching a horse to go downhill
  • transitions
  • collection
I also want you to download and study the following articles in "Knowledge Base":
  • Lessons from Woody
  • True Collection
And I would love it if you purchased some of the "Inner Horseman" back issues, in which we cover a wide variety of basic horsemanship topics. Particularly in the early issues, I give you old Forum threads where people ask these same questions and I answer them. I have been answering the same basic questions for thirty years, Christie, and it isn't because people have been too deaf to hear me. Rather, it's because new people enter the world of horsemanship every year -- people just like yourself. They might enter at the time they purchase their horse, or they might, like you, have already owned their horse for some time before it dawns on them that horsemanship might be something they'd like to master, something that could benefit their horse, something that might make the whole experience ten times or a hundred times more enjoyable, just as master joinery makes a Victorian home or a Lincolnesque or an Antebellum mansion more enjoyable to be in than a shack. For the common standard of horsemanship in our country remains abysmal, and this is exactly why I founded the Institute with its motto "fostering higher education in horsemanship". -- Dr. Deb

 

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My God, Dr Deb.  It is without apology that I tell you this.  In my endeavors to ride the good ride I have had some wonderful moments that made me want for more.  I have had and still do have great horsemen that observe and teach me more than I have ever thought possible to learn.  I have been wowed by what some can accomplish.  But never in my life have I ever read works such as yours that introduce me to such fantastic possibilities that each time I peak in to this forum I find I am covered head to to with goose bumps and end up reading each last line through tears!!! 

We are all so blessed! 

Pam
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DrDeb wrote:

So, to tie this up, Christie, what I am telling you is that what you commonly hear is merely common. This is where "developing your filters" as Dave G. mentioned becomes a priority. All students, no matter where they finally land, have to decide who to listen to and who not to listen to. So here we are in the Forum; have you not read some of the other threads? Have you been impressed that I, and some of the other folks here, know whereof they speak? Ahh -- or perhaps you have not. This is exactly what I said to Pam, if you read some of the threads where she got bothered and left. It is no different for any person: you MUST decide. You cannot listen to all advice, because much of it is going to conflict, and some of it will cripple you or your horse. You cannot have it all ways, your own way, or just any way. You cannot "quilt" your horsemanship together by taking a little bit from one place and a little bit from a different place. You have to decide. And the heck of it is, as Ray Hunt says, "the thing you needed to know first is always the thing you learn last."


Geeze DD:   I left the forum because you are an Irrational Hormonal Bitch....and  I would never want to be like you.....horsemanship aside! 

 


Pam
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Oh Yeah, The last thing I learned about you was the first thing I needed to know!  Ray Hunt is surely right about that.

DrDeb
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Good to see you're still reading the Forum, Pam. Hang in there. -- Dr. Deb

Helen
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Wow, Pam, I am shocked. In the past I have really enjoyed reading your posts and was sad to see your argument with DD... but there comes a line when insults show more about the one who says them than about the one they are said to. You just crossed that line.

hurleycane
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And I think this is what Dr Deb picked up on in Pam's posts.  I do not believe that someone can write as well and effectively as Dr Deb does without having a good sense of all that the written word conveys and implies.

What heartens me most is the intent of Dr Deb's reply continues to "teach" the reluctant and struggling student.  

If a good purpose leads us, it invariably pulls us up no matter how troubled the path. 

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Well, Helen, you are certainly entitled to your own opinions.   I may have shocked you and crossed some sort of line, but I haven't done any harm to DD or anyone on this forum for that matter.  Yes,  I am the reluctant student, I question many things, that is my nature and I have been very upfront about that.   I am not here to win any popularity contests - after-all this is only the Internet and it would be delusional to think that everyone must be happy with everything I might have to say.  You don't have to read any of my posts, nobody has a gun to your head.  

By the way, I have been insulted on numerous occasions by DD and it hasn't killed me, it has only made me stronger.  I am actually getting to the point where I find it humorous.

DrDeb
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Pam, your intention in the last couple of posts was, in fact and obviously, to be insulting. As Forum Moderator, and according to our rules, I could immediately pull these items. However, I have not done so because, just as Helen and Hurleycane have noticed, and as I have explicitly told you before, I am committed to helping you actually learn how properly to train a horse, and sometimes in that process the little children have to have a tantrum where they hit out. I therefore sometimes leave the kinds of posts you have made because, since you are not in fact five years old, perhaps you will re-read them and come, thereby, into an ability to hear and see yourself.

You see, we have experienced all this from other students before. Sometimes, in the end, they leave, and as I have said, you're welcome to do that. But other times -- many other times -- they get mad, have their little tantrum, tell us they're never going to come back, etc., etc., just like a child who threatens to run away from home. But they do not, in fact, stop reading the Forum, and six months later, two years later, five years later, and twenty years later, I've had letters both privately and right here in the Forum from them which express a gratitude which, at long last, they were able to feel. So it may take you, Pam, any amount of time before you see why you ought to give up martingales, and abandon other cheap and destructive approaches to horse training. At that point, you will be able to BEGIN.

I am well aware as to why people, such as yourself, get angry: it is because I am telling you, both between the lines and directly, that:
  • You don't know what you are doing
  • You have wasted your time
  • You have wasted your money
  • You are hurting your horse.
The last time I had a letter here in the Forum from someone who, like yourself, had gotten angry, but who later repented of it, these were the items that she said had made her mad, and I think that's as clear as it can be put.

As to doing what you have been told: when my handyman shows me how to use a circular saw safely, or how to shim a door so that it fits the jamb perfectly and swings smoothly, or how to miter a corner-cut or hammer in a nail without splitting the two-by-four, don't you think I do as I have been told? Or what benefit would there be in it for me NOT to do so? For I have seen what the man builds, and it is quality construction every time. Sometimes people ask Ray Hunt whether they should ride with the same guy YOU have been riding with, Pam, because he is widely known in California. And Ray said, "I'll ride with that guy just as soon as he can do more with my horse, more quietly, more smoothly, or more effectively than I can," to which I echo, "yes -- and not one minute before."

-- Dr. Deb

christie
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DrDeb wrote: Now, what I want you to do before we go into any of the "basic bricks" that I mentioned above, is to use the search function at the top of this Forum to look up the following key words:
  • backing or backing up
  • cavalletti or cavalletto
  • teaching a horse to go downhill
  • transitions
  • collection
I also want you to download and study the following articles in "Knowledge Base":
  • Lessons from Woody
  • True Collection
The only thing I didn't find anything about was backing up, I'd like some more info on that.

Is downhill better than uphill?

I have both of the downloads and read the collection one recently.

I did find some old threads that I am printing to read.

I am not the one who asked about draping reins, I did say I ride on loose reins mostly, until recently...my issue is that I don't want to be doing the contact thing wrong!

In your other post to me you state that loose is not the opposite of contact. In my little mind they would be opposites. You write "loose reins are reins so long that they exceed  the rider's ability to generate energy and flow it up into the reins"

  

Last edited on Mon Aug 4th, 2008 05:26 am by christie

Helen
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I think the point DD was making with contact was this - that contact is NOT having a fierce grip on the horse's mouth. Loose reins is the opposite of tight reins - contact falls somewhere in between.

DrDeb
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No, Helen, though I don't blame you for guessing as to what contact is. Since Christie said she hadn't been the one to ask about draping reins, then that must have been you who asked that.

Loose reins are not the opposite of tight reins, and contact is not "somewhere in between [loose and tight]."

What I am telling you is that true contact is entirely "other".

You have to get completely off the plane or out of the dimension where you have a spectrum of from loose to tight. This plane or spectrum exists, but it has nothing to do with true contact.

Draping reins are what you want to achieve. When the reins are draping, the horse and rider are both fully experiencing true contact, which can in no manner be found by the MERE tightening of the reins, whether that tightening is effected by the rider pulling back or by the horse leaning or pushing forward.

You must never believe that you can put a horse on contact by:
  • Creating a "frame"
  • Riding him "forward into a fixed hand"
  • Riding him "more forward"
  • Merely getting his face vertical
Draping reins come from one source, and one source only: the posture or carriage of the horse, which means the shape of his vertebral column, i.e. loins, freespan, base of neck. Posture is internal; "frame" is external. This is why the word "frame" is so extremely destructive; a term that should be entirely deleted from the vocabulary of riding.

True contact relates to energy flow WITHIN the rein, as if the reins were hoses rather than straps.

The movement of energy within the reins is almost entirely independent of the movement, position, or tension of the rein itself (i.e. of the rein considered as a strap). Thus, you can move the straps to the side or backwards as needed, so long as the energy flow WITHIN the reins (considered as hoses) is always forward, i.e. from the rider to the horse, from the rider's 'hara' to the horse's mouth, and from the rider's 'hara' up over the brink between the hands and thence down along the horse's crest, as if it were a waterfall.

Continuous backward traction upon the reins, however, will choke off the flow of life within the reins.

Baucher was the first to teach, in the 1820's, that the rider's main job is to govern the flow of weight and energy within the horse's body, within the rider's own body, and within the corporate body. So you need to feel the flow and then you need to learn how to govern the flow, which means direct or redirect it.

Christie, as to backing up: h'm, you know, I could have sworn we had talked about that here in the Forum and that you would find it via the search function. However I looked for it also and couldn't find it, so I must be remembering something from a newsletter. It's late at the moment, but tomorrow sometime I'll probably have time to go into that more deeply with you. Before you worry about backing uphill or going either up or downhill, you'll first need to master backing on level ground. -- Dr. Deb

AtLiberty
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Indeed the backing up has been already described in Horse confidence issue.. or?? the post from 25th July 2007: http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/forum1/64-2.html

Maybe this could even revive the old topic, as I believe there were more steps to come in regards of "mannering a horse".

Last edited on Mon Aug 4th, 2008 10:00 am by AtLiberty

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Well, that's what I like about Dr Deb. She fills in those "deep" things. Others may give you some "mechanics" of a horsemaship, but DD gives us a concept some may never have even envisioned yet, like the flow of energy in the reins. Things like this are what makes a master horse(wo)man and someone just scratching the surface.

I particularly like DD's reference to Baucher. I have read his book and followed along on other people's thought of his teaching (I am a real Phillipe Karl fan who also follows Baucher's teaching more then some other masters). But Baucher too is "deep" and I certainly appreciate DD helping me understand Baucher in a better "deeper" way! Thank you DD so much for that.

For those of you that sometimes read DD and think "huh?"...these things will make more sense to you as time goes on. This is just not the kind of stuff you get without some effort and more searching, both with yourself and your horse.. And that's what makes it so good...

Pam
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DD:  The points you make about what your saying to me either directly or between the lines are alot to take in.  Although, I am not a religious person and do not believe in repenting, I will just tell you and everybody else, for what it's worth, that I am not hurting my horse any longer.  I am not going to ride with the martingale man or or pay for any type of training at this point.  I am not riding as of two weeks a ago.  I am starting my horse over as though he were a baby, from the ground.  Since he was started on the track I believe that he has been pushed beyond all limits, at least that is what he has been trying to tell me for a long time now.  I am starting with ground work everyday and as much playful time as possible. I use cookie treats for reward, for this horse is very reward motivated and very gentle with hand feeding.  We are both enjoying ourselves alot.  I am reading Philippe Karl's book  "Twisted Truths about Modern Dressage" as well.  This book is eye opening.  Wish I would have known all of this four years ago when I got my horse......Pam

cyndy
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Pam, I seen that book "Twisted Truths Of Modern Dressage" would be released in late 2008. So I can't wait to read it (I am a fan of PK). Tell us a little about it. Or PM me if you like. 

Pam
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Isn't another way of describing "contact" as something the horse does or offers, not something we do to the horse. 

One of my instructors from a couple of years ago used to say that my horse put himself on the bit, as though that was unusual.  I remember thinking..yeah....that is how it should be.

Brenton Ross Matthews
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Pam wrote: DD:  The points you make about   I am starting my horse over as though he were a baby, from the ground. 


Dr Deb --an opinion I have had about starting a horse  again as Pam has said---

 My opinion of this that I have said MANY times  when I have been giving lessons, is that after a horse has been STUFFED-UP [my words and not reffering in any way to this post] is that a horse that has been STUFFED-UP or learnt an evasion can be improved BUT not to it's potential prior to the mistake.

 My reason for this view is that I have had horses in work for owners, but when recieving the horse back for further education as I did for many years for polo training [as you know] the horse had gone backwards in it's education because of bad riding and I consider never improved to it's potential again although may have made the grade.

Many times I wish I could  have pressed delete and repeated an action differently

 Do you think they can forget the stuff-up and still reach their peak.

 Brenton

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Brenton, yes, I completely agree. Our elderly teacher used to say the same: that once you had gained a horse's trust, if you were then careless with that trust, or greedy in the sense that you had got the horse to where he was willing to perform something, and then you over-rode him and hurt him, he would never after that trust you as fully or perform as joyfully or willingly.

But, since you're responding to Pam's statement here about wanting to start her horse completely over -- well, as you've said, yes, you can do that, and it is likely to succeed ENOUGH that it is worth doing. Will our friend Deb's screwy WB that she rescued and that she has worked so hard with -- the horse that you couldn't catch, bridle, or even pet -- ever be as good as he might have been if he hadn't been mistreated in the first place? No. Does she have a good time on him, and has she learned something by it? Absolutely. Is the horse better off now than before, and can he do more than he could before? Without question.

And so it is, in lesser measure, for just about everybody in the horse world. Relatively few people are able to do as you do, Brenton, and breed, raise, train, and finish their own horses. Not that you haven't trained a lot of other peoples' screwballs yourself! But what I mean is, it's not that surprising that this should be what Pam would be working with.

In fact, it's what I work with, and indeed, if I have a 'specialty', that is it. I've never had the bread to go buy beautiful unstarted youngstock. So Painty was a screwball, too, when I got him, and thank God for Ray Hunt and Harry Whitney and our elderly teacher for giving me help with him so that neither of us got killed on that old horse who used to bolt cross-country and jump anything in his path up to five feet. Hang on sister. I still remember the first time I showed Painty to Ray -- I was so very happy to have that horse! -- and we were in the process of disappearing over a hill with my hair flying out behind me, and I hear Ray's voice waaaaay behind me saying, "Debbie, you're not controlling the feet. You've got to control the feet!"

And while I'm at it, I might as well talk about Oliver too: goofy wierd horse that hates to trot and, though he can canter and does so at liberty, thinks he shouldn't when under saddle. Aaughh!! This definitely conflicts with my desires for him, because I KNOW that horse would make a SPECTACULAR High School horse IF ONLY he would be able to get some of these things.

So here's the point for Pam. The question is: how much actual skill do you have? How much guts do you have? Because it's going to take both. When Painty used to sometimes shy, that's a goddam big horse and it's a LONG way down there when he would go to his elbows. And Ollie is one of those hard-type shiers that has that little backward component to it that can get you spilled. Both these horses know who I am to them, and after their fashion they love me and they have no intention of spilling me, or anybody. But they might anyway. I never came off of Painty and I haven't so far on Ollie. In fact I haven't come off of any horse in twenty years. To what is this due? Pre-planning and seeing where their 'birdie' is so as to avoid most shies that might have happened? Yes. Good seat, relaxed long leg? Yes. Guts? Enough, evidently. Every person has to be honest with themselves as to what they are -- or are not -- able to bring to the horse.

There's the training-skills area too. One does have to know how to roundpen, how to cause a horse to come when it is called. One does have to know how to tack them up and mount them without getting them bothered. One does have to know how to install manners. One does have to know how to use cavalletti. And how to ride the full repertory of schooling movements, correctly. And how to cause a horse to carry itself, and the rider, straight. And how to use 'fetch' or drum work as aids to developing focus and self-confidence. Do you, Pam, have all this under your belt? If so, you'll be able to succeed at re-starting your horse. Otherwise, you will profit greatly by going up to Loomis to ride with Tim Thomas or up to Julie Carpenter's place at Miracle Mountain (these are the two people we recommend that are closest to you). And you should show up as a spectator at every Ray Hunt clinic you can get to, and plan on sitting on the bleachers and taking notes for the entire duration of the clinic. This is how the abovementioned skills and abilities are gained.

So I have to close this, Brenton, by sharing a little chuckle with you and everybody: hey presto! If you peck at it long enough, even miracles occur. Last night I got Ollie to canter under saddle, off the cavaletti grid, and maintain the canter for some distance. He still acts like he thinks I'm NUTS (turns his head around and looks at me with '!!!' in his eyes) -- but he understands the voice command + leg aid, and he takes the lead, or tries to, every time I ask. I have built this over the last two years by encouraging him to canter over one or more poles, which induce him to hop a little bit. So now there is no bucking, no bolting, and no excessive excitement. I think Ollie thinks it's some kind of joke, or a new way to play, and that's the spot I'd like him to be in when we start.

So that is a breakthrough for this odd little horse, and amusing though that is, now is when the more difficult part comes in. The first step will be to NOT ask for it again for a few days, the second step will be for me to perceive when HE is asking ME "whether" we could please do that again. Then I will say to him, "yeah! show me".

And as you know, Brenton, that's a horse that is telling you that he is motivated, and that's the greatest treasure, the very "bloom on the rose" -- so easily lost -- that Pluvinel first spoke of more than three hundred years ago.

Cheers -- Dr. Deb

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This is all very interesting, as I am getting to a point of narrowing my horse pursuits to a focus. Part of that is getting out of breeding, not that I was every very deeply into it. My stallion will be gelded this fall. He has sired two foals, one of which I own and was bred to two mares this year. My goal is to have no more than two horses, but the decision is hard, as they are each incredible beings in their own ways.

Now I get to decide which horse to put my energies into...

My 7 year old mare was the first horse that I started. She absorbed my mistakes and came out okay in the end. She has not quite finished the low school, by Dr. Deb's definition, but she's not too far off. I can put anyone on her, from child on and she will take care of them or test them to see how much they know. She was away on lease for 5 months and came back hard mouthed and having lost some manners. The manners are pretty much back, but I have not had the time to reschool her mouth. The leaser was learning to canter and I feel that she used the reins for balance. The mare is currently being ridden by an 11 year old in lessons and an adult, each one day/week. My plan was to ride her also one day/week, but that has not happened. She's been ridden on an off by a number of people of very mixed skill, mostly toward the beginner end of the spectrum.

She is downhill built and tends toward flat movement, so collection is not so easy for her.  She is a super trail horse though, sane, fun and takes good care of herself and her rider. I hope never to have to sell her or let her go to another home again. She is my equine soulmate.

My 5 year old stallion, soon to be gelding, is much more talented, uphill, jumps into canter with ease, offers roundness regularly, is sensitive, and occasionally lazy. He also has absorbed my mistakes, though less of them. I had a trainer ride him for a month last fall, with mixed results. Otherwise, I have been his only rider. I foresee finding him a show home, where he can move on with someone else, as he will be the easiest to place, once he is gelded. I do really enjoy riding him, but also see where I could have done things differently.

So, I also have the two year old son of these two... He has been running on 2,000 acres in WY for he past year, growing up. I consider that he could be a wonderful next project to work on, building on what I have learned with the last two. And if he gets some of his father's talent, that would be very nice.

I have really enjoyed working with my horses from scratch and like the process of starting them. It has been almost difficult to switch into another gear and work toward polishing their skills. I wonder sometimes, if I might just end up always having a youngster to work with, alongside my mare. The newness and discovery that goes along with the early training is a lot of fun for me. How can I translate that into working further with my mare, specifically? And in a few years, with the colt, if I still have him?

I guess I see starting over with the two year old as a chance to avoid the setbacks I've allowed to happen with my mare. Sort of a new start for working on my own skills.

I didn't really mean to get this long.... Sorry about rambling on so, but the thread struck a chord with me, with the comparison between restarting and having a horse without the need for that.

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Wonders what the thing Pam learnt was?

 

christie
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Bringing this to the top so someone can read about 'draping' reins.

nejc
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I do manners. When I touch the horse all over the body I put middle fingers into the horses mouth where the bit should be and I play and I feel the tongue and corners of the the mouth and he enjoys it. I also try to convey some feel of energy through my fingers. When my hands were salty due to the sweat he likes them more. Is it OK if I put a snaffle bit in his mouth and hold the rings with my fingers to play and learn the feel of the tongue, contact   and energy flow, then do this with 10 cm rein and then  20cm etc. ( I do not now what length could be achieved from the ground). Is this procedure for developing feel for rein contact OK? Can I use a drop of salt  on my fingers and later on the bit as some sort of motivation?
                                                                                              Igor




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