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Harry Whitney Clinic
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KevinLnds
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 Posted: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009 07:24 am
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I have been visiting this site for a couple of years, but have never been inspired to register. Now that I have attended one of Harry's clinics that has changed.

Harry is AMAZING! The description on the friends page does not do him justice. If you cannot attend one of his clinics, I pity you. If you choose not to attend one, you are either extraordinarily good, extraordinarily blessed, or extraordinarily foolish.

I don't have a question. I just had to sing his praises.

 

PS: Harry, if you read this, Silverado and Romero say thanks and hi.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009 07:54 pm
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Well, you know, when I wrote that paragraph about Harry, I thought it might be all he would allow or prefer me to say. If it was enough to get you to go visit with him, then it was enough!

And yes, I have been recommending Harry to anyone I could get to listen, since I first met him in 1993. This has been through thick and thin, good times and bad.

Unlike some other folks -- since we are not here to squeeze you for your last dime nor either to try to start a movement or a fan club -- we will STILL be here when many others have long since faded away. Which is another way of saying: real skills endure; and the only thing that has real existence is excellence. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Carole
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 Posted: Tue Feb 24th, 2009 02:22 pm
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Harry has added a clinic in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California. It will be March 7-10.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Feb 24th, 2009 05:35 pm
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Yes, that's likely sponsored by our old friend Judy McHerron. You can telephone her to sign up at (707) 431-2920.

And I see that Harry will also be at Julie Carpenter's place -- February 25-26 and Feb. 28-March 4th. You can get ahold of her by EMailing MMRI@MiracleMountain.com, or telephone (209) 296-2114. Harry hasn't done these two clinics for a couple of years, so for those in northern California who haven't met him -- now's your chance! -- Dr. Deb

KevinLnds
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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 06:33 am
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What I appreciated most from the clinic, besides Harry's ready smile and words of encouragement, was its open agenda. This was my only experience at one of his clinics, but it seems that Harry's agenda is your presentation to the horse and the horse's emotion and mental state. If they're OK, he'll work on anything you want. If they're not OK, he'll use your agenda to improve your presentation or the horse's emotional state. Either way, the horse gets what it needs, and you get your wants addressed. But, the horse comes first.

In my case, my horse, a Paso Fino, has trouble settling down after anything has upset him. When he is settled, he is a good little horse, but when upset, he comes apart. Basically, he had enough brio for five Paso Finos (with enough left over for a Quarter Horse). He is my first horse, and some of my earliest experiences with him include mounting while he was in a headlong gallop back to the stall. He has come a long way in four years, but can still be a handful (nothing dangerous, but a frustrating experience for the both of us). I hate riding a stiff, aggitated horse, and what's the point of having an ambler (a gaited horse), if he won't amble because his guts are in knots? My agenda was learning how to help him untie the knots, and that's what we worked on.

Harry corrected some of my actions that weren't helping him, and then gave me enough guidance to proceed on my own. And guess what? What he said worked. I had been using many of same techniques, but doing them almost correctly. The difference between correct and almost correct is subtle, but in the case of my horse the difference is like a having a parachute that opens in time and one that almost opens in time. Harry ruined another Paso Fino (actually, two. He ruined my wife's also).

I knew I was with the right man on the first day when we went into the round pen. Harry asks the horse to move out (the request can be very assertive), and then he moves with horse. Every other trainer but one I've seen in a round pen drives the horse around the pen. The one exception is worse. He explicitly pursues the horse its flight distance before offering it a better option. To most observers, the difference is slight, but I could see from the horse's reaction that the difference mattered. 

Oh yes, the food was good, the other participants friendly, and the bunkhouse comfortable. In short, a very productive week.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 08:51 am
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Kevin, the most important part of what you have said is that you were able to notice the difference between doing things right and "almost" doing things right. And your picture of the parachute that "almost" opens gave me a real chuckle -- yes -- exactly.

This is by far the most difficult thing that we have to teach the people who have been with trainers or clinicians whose names do not appear on our recommended list. It isn't difficult to teach people who know nothing and who come in to the clinic open to whatever I may suggest. It is extremely difficult, however, sometimes, to get someone who has been doing a technique (any technique) in a manner that is superficially or "mechanically" close to correct, but which in fact is producing in the horse and in the handler exactly the wrong effects. One wishes to tell them that they are on a path that will never lead to the goal they seek. If they were on a highway, the only rational course of action would be to STOP going in that direction, because the farther in the wrong direction they go, at some point the difference between doing it right and doing it almost right is going to be magnified until it is not subtle at all. In other words, it will be about as subtle as the effects of having your parachute not open on time would be.

The finest thing that can possibly happen is when the teacher does something -- and with different students, the "something" is different in each case -- that triggers the realization within the student's own mind. This is one of the main purposes for the open agenda, which I use as much as safety allows also: because what good would it do to give a lesson to horse/rider combination no. 1 that is actually suitable for another pair, or to no pair who are actually present? We are not going to do things merely because they are on an agenda. And we know anyway, after years of teaching, that when you do it this way, in most cases all goals subsume to the same end, just as you found.

Particularly with the so-called "gaited" horses, and also with people who want to do dressage, my clinics are full of shockers that are either going to cause the person to pause and think, because what I am saying is in conflict with what they spent their money to be told before. So you can either laugh a little at the cussedness of the world-as-it-is, or else you can get defensive -- the reaction is up to the student, and it is interesting for the teacher to watch, let me assure you.

So I tell "gaited" people as well as dressage people that they need to quit pushing and shoving on their horses all the time, quit hustling them to go over-tempo. The people usually benefit from getting a better feel for the tempo that their horse can comfortably handle. This may mean no gaiting or only semi-gaiting -- what you could call "stretch walking" -- until the day comes, of its own, when the horse and rider have reached that point in their development -- when you can break over into gait and the horse can remain 100% OK 100% of the time. Then there will be power, smoothness, confident execution, and beauty. This is the goal. On the way to achieving this ideal, thanks to what you heard and saw from Harry, you will find that your horse is a lot less tense a lot more of the time. -- Dr. Deb

 

ruth
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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 12:09 pm
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 Hello,'Harry ruined another el paso (actually 2, he ruined my wife's also)'.  I appreciate the open parachute v. the nearly open parachute, but I don't quite undertstand this bit?

KevinLnds
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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 08:24 pm
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ruth wrote:  Hello,'Harry ruined another el paso (actually 2, he ruined my wife's also)'.  I appreciate the open parachute v. the nearly open parachute, but I don't quite undertstand this bit?


Pasos are bred for or trained for something called "brio." Paso fans think of it as spirit, or passion, or energy. Supposedly, the horses are more exciting and thrilling to ride and watch.

There may be a Paso somewhere that has real brio, but all of the ones I've seen have some counterfeit form. The breeding and training produce excitable, high headed, hollow backed, tense little horses that are good for nothing except a few years in the show ring. After a few years, this excuse for horsemanship wrecks the horse and destroys its ability to gait, which is the reason people buy them in the first place.

I know two trainers who are hired to retrain these poor horses properly to restore their health and gait. Unfortunately, they are hired as a last resort, after traditional Paso trainers have had more time to do them damage.

"Ruining" the horse means taking the brio out of him. In other words, turning him into a happy, normal horse. Luckily for my horse, I didn't know anything about "proper" Paso training, so I have been ruining him since day one. I turned to Harry because my instincts and knowledge reached a impasse.

ruth
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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 08:30 pm
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Thank you for explaining.  You are so lucky in the US to have a wealth of wonderful trainers to help with problems!

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 09:44 pm
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Kevin, I think you are misunderstanding something important here, and I don't want you to mislead Ruth or others by means of a faulty concept and explanation. That Harry was "ruining" your horse and your wife's is your way of joking, of course, and that's why Ruth didn't get it, because you said it tongue-in-cheek and to her, it sounds like you were being serious. I think you are repeating something Harry said as a joke -- that he is 'ruining' your horses.

But it is a joke in the first place, because your pasos have TONS of real, honest, innate brio. "Brio" means passion and the capacity for brilliance.

What you see COMMONLY at shows is exactly the counterfeit you describe, which is tension MASQUERADING as brio. This is what Harry is helping you learn to take out of your horses. When it is fully taken out, it will not mean your horses are ruined, meaning dull; it will mean that their true brio can finally manifest itself to be seen and expressed.

When the tension is eliminated, then, and only then, will you see how much and of what quality is the real brio in your horse. I have worked with many tense horses of Iberian extraction, that have been made tense by the same bad training/wrongheaded trainers that you describe. But every single one of these horses also had the real brio hidden down inside. In fact, I have never met any horse of Iberian extraction, even crossbreds such as Rocky Mountain Horses, Lipizzans, and Mustangs of various stripes, that did not have brio.

Bringing out the brio, cultivating and developing it so as to produce a horse that is both confident and brilliant, is a deep art that requires skill, a long time commitment, insight, and a love for the individual horse. These are things not often found among those whose primary objective is to compete in shows, especially where it is a "mill" type of program where the horses are all trained according to a set protocol and thus treated more or less as if they were disposable because they are easily replaced. It is quick and easy to produce a tense horse -- as everybody knows! The only trick being to hold the tension below such a level that the rider can still "handle" it in a show. How cruel, and how stupid.

So your error here is to confuse the tense, pseudo-brio that forcing, shoving forward, hustling, and terrorizing produces with the real McCoy. You are not the first person to have the confused idea that a horse that is 100% OK on the inside is dull. Dullness is the cosmic twin of tension: and you only need to step over into the QH Western Pleasure world to find trainers who produce Dullness, and rely on that to win. They are the exact mirror opposite of the Paso and Park-type trainers who rely on Tension. The Dull horse and the Tense horse are EQUALLY not-OK. But 100% inner okayness is so rare that many people have not only never seen it, but can't imagine it. This is the MAIN reason I tell people to go find Harry.

Another error commonly made is to believe that ONLY horses of Iberian extraction have brio. True enough, this inner quality is less often found outside the Iberian bloodlines, but nevertheless occurs. Whenever a horse possesses brio, the very passionate nature that gives rise to it can also give rise to 'over-trying' which in turn easily leads to chronic tension. My old Painty was certainly a case in point: master Paso Fino trainer Jorge DeMoya once told me in his Cuban accent that "....Painty not only have brio, he have Brio to burn. He have so much brio that he geet heemself in trouble!"

So our first task is for ourselves not to "geet our caballos in trouble". Thus our elderly teacher reminded me again and again that "Painty has already been called on", because Painty was so likely to call on himself. He taught me to work at not riding the horse right up into trouble, which primarily in my case meant setting the situation up and LETTING Painty show me what he could do, rather than trying all the time to MAKE him do things. When the horse starts getting OK inside, brilliant and beautiful performance will begin emerging all by itself. -- Dr. Deb

KevinLnds
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 Posted: Thu Feb 26th, 2009 12:16 am
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Thanks for the clarification. I didn't mean to imply that the absence of brio was dullness. I'll be more careful about what I write.

I guess I should have said, "'Ruining' the horse means taking the counterfeit-brio out of him."

I'm glad to know there is real brio in my horse. My experience is still limited. All of I have seen is the fake stuff. Now I have a something to work for.

ladycfp
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 Posted: Fri Feb 27th, 2009 02:40 pm
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My daughter and I audited one day of a five day clinic Harry did near Richmond VA in September. It was 200 miles there, and 200 miles back, and it was SO worth it. My page of notes from that clinic has served me well and I would be happy to post them here if Dr. Deb will bless it.

We are taking our horses and spending the week of June 21 with Harry at Mendin' Fences and I am like a kid at Christmas in anticipation. I got so much out of one day auditing, I just know my horse is going to appreciate this experience!

At least for me, the subtlety can be maddening when I am trying to replicate a technique. I have been trying to ward off a mouthy horse for months now, using advice from Dr. Deb that I now realize I was not ready to apply. Just yesterday I was with my mouthy mare and she came at me again and I let her have a face full of my elbow quite strongly, but the difference in how I did it was the FORCE and my FOCUS. She really ran into a very strong elbow this time, and when she encountered it, I was not looking at her, I was leaning down scratching a bite on her belly, otherwise engaged. It just seemed to me that she was taken aback at what she had done, instead of being "game on" at something I had done to her, if that makes sense. We spent another hour together and she did not once put her mouth on me. This is a CHANGE for her. And for me. I think I may have to do it again, but I also know that I finally, finally, did it right. It makes all the difference. Thanks for the reminders.

ruth
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 Posted: Fri Feb 27th, 2009 07:09 pm
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Though I've never seen the paso finos in 'competition' mode, I've seen the artificial brio of lusitanos in the UK and Portugal;  Thank you, Dr Deb, I get it, and would love to have Harry 'ruin' my luso x arab who has definitely also got brio to burn.  In the absence of Harry in the UK, would be fascinating to read audit notes...

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Feb 27th, 2009 07:09 pm
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Yes, LadyCFP, and your description of the difference is perfect. And yes, you may have to do it again, if the mare's inner drive to bite has been left in the "on" position for years. But you have now the idea of how to set it up ahead of time so that you make yourself most effective, and the message thus most likely to get through.

As to posting your notes: I'd rather you did not do that, because just posting your notes is apropos of no particular question asked here. But you can certainly refer to your notes or quote from them when you are replying to specific questions or comments that other people post here. This is how you, yourself, become an effective teacher: you have to go case by case; you don't just throw the book at 'em. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

miriam
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 Posted: Thu Mar 5th, 2009 01:31 pm
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Midwest readers are lucky to see Harry come to southern Mn too. It's a real terrific chance for us folks on the 'fringes' of the US to learn from Harry's teachings. It's always a full four days, leaves you thinking and thinking for months..and then looking ahead to the next year with anticiapation in hopes that he'll return.


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