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MtnHorse
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I have a question about the best way to communicate with the horse. Let’s say I want to turn left.  This may sound complicated but I want to be very specific so that I am clear to the horse. 

I turn his head to the left.  I am going to do that with the rein or maybe the feel because they are hard for me to separate in my mind.  I am going to put the inside leg on his side,  right where its hanging.   That should untrack the inside hind foot. The same action in my body that put my leg on will also rotate my shoulders to the degree of turn that I want the horse to match with his shoulders.  I think this is all timed to the feet because it feels that way but it’s not conscious anymore.


If I need to rethink any of that let me know but I am pretty confident with it to that point so far, but what about the outside leg?  Should it hang back and encourage the bend in the body or forward encouraging the shoulder around the corner?

 

This becomes much more important in my experience if I don’t get the turn.  Like we are headed back to the trailer so his birdie is on going back but I want to go around the sagebrush to the left instead of the right.  I have grown particular.

In the past I would have kept bending his head farther.  Eventually I would disengage his hind feet and lose the forward movement if I am allowed that language.  This spring I have been encouraging him forward instead.  I would have called that into the bit but I think that is a hot button terminology here and I don’t want a lecture about what ‘most rider’s’ do, I want to know what I should do.

That encouraging him forward is not just a leg thing as it goes in the rest of the body and might even go to  a quirt if I am ignored.  Still the leg/calf seems like the main communication spot.  If it goes to hard on the inside it would feel like a shoulder in, so I think it has to be on that outside leg.

If this goes well I am going up to a lope.

Once again where should that leg be, back to bend and drive forward or forward to push the shoulder over?

MtnHorse

DrDeb
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Ahh, yes....the life of "shoulds". This is what happens when a person, such as yourself, has had the advantage over a number of years of being able to take horseback riding lessons from a number of different people.

One of the things I know you have heard is that you ought to "ride by feel". So why aren't you doing that? Because you also have an intellect, and at the moment it is making a fair amount of noise.

Ray Hunt, when asked to sign his books, always used to write "THINK!"

What he meant by that was not "cogitate all the time" but "before you ask anything of the horse, make sure you are FULLY PRESENT." Or you could say "FULLY AWARE".

Cogitation, you see, is quite different from thinking, which is the clarity that comes from awareness. Cogitation is a form of obsessive drive that mimics thinking. However, it does not produce clarity but instead internal noise, and in a very bad case it can produce so much internal noise that the person cannot think or achieve clarity at all. They cannot "hear themselves think".

But to be fully present, as Ray wanted us to be, means first to silence the internal cogitator that worries about each-and-every-detail, and whose whole existence is fed by "should do thisses" and "should not do thats" -- in other words, the fear on the person's part that they "aren't doing it right."

Any lesson that gives the student the fear that they aren't doing something right, or indeed that there is anything that could be done either "right" or "wrong" has been a very bad lesson. Our elderly teacher used very often to say, "you can't do anything wrong."

Now, when indeed it is true that there are some very specific things that need to be done on horseback, and that we often wish were being done -- how could he say this? It is worth THINKING about.

No one will be able to think about that -- or anything else for that matter -- until they achieve that internal silence. And one good way to do that is by repeating, out loud, the following:

"I have an internal body"

SAY THIS OUT LOUD NOW -- "I have an internal body".

As soon as you say it, you will notice an internal change. You will feel the self within yourself. In other words, there are two of you. ONE is the obsessive cogitator, the incessant chatterer; the other is the real you. Find out which one is the real you.


When you find out which one it is, in the body of that one, you step back internally, and you begin observing the cogitator. You do not judge her; you just observe without comment. You practice this every day, many times every day.

As that becomes habitual, you will be able to begin riding by feel, because it will make you aware of your "feel", and you will know exactly where that comes from and what its nature is. And when you have that, all the little picky stuff that you're asking about will no longer be of any significance at all; it will not feature; it will fade right out of the picture. -- Dr. Deb

MtnHorse
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One of the weaknesses to electronic communication is that it is quite easy to misjudge.   I can see that idea of “Can’t do anything wrong,” has a place, but I guess I am at a spot where I am finding that I could have done them a whole lot better.  I also had a thought, I will  go ask the horses which they prefer.

I feel like I am in a whole different place than you describe.   I am like a kid in a candy store.  I have spent years trying to “feel” my way through things and I have done alright.  Now I have a young Saddlebred with a long back and I decide to see if I can learn anything new about how to strengthen that back rather than wear it down.  Suddenly I am exposed to a whole new world of knowledge.  Things I couldn’t feel because I didn’t know they existed.  I will cogitate on this stuff and you can’t stop me!

If what I am doing now is bad, I will take a lot more bad any day.  When I read your article on Collection I went through a lot of my recent pictures and suddenly I could see that with just some small changes big things can happen.

I guess what I am saying is that there is NOT a lot of riding lessons in my past.   Not from people anyway.  I feel like I have been deprived of some of the knowledge that make a difference.  I do want to get it right and right now I FEEL like the best thing I can do is get the knowledge between my ears and roll it around in my head and work out the problems.  What you are saying I need to stop doing is what feels like the best thing to do.  Some of what I get now will affect how I ride horses for years and not just me but some others who are looking to me to give them a vision of the right way to do it.

DrDeb
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Right. You understand, Mtn, that the sort of reply you have just made is precisely what the chattering cogitator always does. Because when you determine to become internally silent -- even when you so much as repeat out loud "I have an internal body" -- IT thinks you're trying to kill it. It thinks it is going to die! and of course it is SO right!

Implicitly, the chatterer is saying that I'm refusing to tell you what you want to know. Whereas, I am actually honoring you by telling you the absolute, unvarnished straight truth: the only way that you'll ever be sure you are doing things "right" is to do what I told you to do in the above post.

Are not you and your Dad sponsoring me in Washington State for a clinic this summer? Or do I have you mixed up with somebody else? If you are the folks that are sponsoring that clinic, well, it's a 100% guaranteed promise that these are things that we will be working on when I arrive.

What we WILL NOT be working on is what YOU want to work on, i.e. what the Chatterer wants to work on. That will get you absolutely nowhere, and of course I would not be able, in good conscience, to accede to the demands of a student who lets her Chatterer try to dictate the contents of the lesson.

I am by no means, in all of this, suggesting to you that you cease to ask, cease to be curious about how things are best done on horseback, or cease to want the very best for yourself and your horses. What I am telling you is that you're going about it in a way that will delay you for years, or even prevent your success entirely.

So next time you write in, be sure it's not to defend your internal Chatterer, but instead it comes from an authentic voice of humility -- the real You -- who says, "yes, teacher, I will do as you bid because I trust you." -- Dr. Deb

MtnHorse
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Well I am not trying to be disrespectful but to keep this truthful, you have mistaken me for another person.  We have never meet, I had a friend recommend one of your articles to me.  I have never been to Washington State and I am not a woman.

Thank you for the great resource you have created here, anyway.

 

DrDeb
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OK, Mtn, it really makes no difference if I thought you were somebody else -- the other person has, in fact, had lots of opportunities to clinic with people of different schools and approaches, and this really does get a lot of people fuddled.

Maybe you haven't. This says nothing about your own needs, though, because I assess those from nothing more than what you have posted. What I really want to know is, did you do as I asked? Did you find out which one of the "yous" does the chattering and which is the Observer? Did you have the Observer just quietly observe the Chatterer?

Once you report back that you have, indeed, trusted me enough to do as I ask -- and tell me your thoughts which came as a result of a serious effort to sit down in a quiet place and do that -- then the door will be open to solving your difficulties.

You see, this is all because no difficulty in riding is really solvable "technically". -- Dr. Deb

MtnHorse
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DrDeb wrote: What I really want to know is, did you do as I asked? Of course.  Well not every day since it has only been a day. Did you find out which one of the "yous" does the chattering and which is the Observer? Nope.Did you have the Observer just quietly observe the Chatterer?Yup.

Once you report back that you have, indeed, trusted me enough to do as I ask -- and tell me your thoughts which came as a result of a serious effort to sit down in a quiet place and do that -- then the door will be open to solving your difficulties.
That the teacher gets to decide the circumlum

You see, this is all because no difficulty in riding is really solvable "technically". -- Dr. Deb

DrDeb
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So, Mtn, from the above post you're saying that you are able to have the Observer do some "internal observing", and yet you do NOT know whether it is the Observer or whether it is the Chatterer that is the real "you".

OK, well, if that's the case -- then let's just have a vote. Which of the two would you LIKE it to be? -- Dr. Deb

MtnHorse
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I will take a thinker over bystander any day.

DrDeb
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As I have already pointed out, Mtn, the Chatterer does no thinking at all. That entity has a lot to say, but there isn't a lot of content, and no originality at all. No ability to synthesize different ideas and draw a conclusion; it's just noise. You must have met other people who are like this sometime in your life, haven't you?

So again....I understand you want to be pro-active, you want to be in control, you want to contribute intelligently.

Were you under the impression that the ONLY thing the Observer can do is passively observe?

If so....I would like to ask you to consider how scientists actually work. Do they not FIRST observe the phenomenon, and THEN go on to experiment with it? Is it not necessary FIRST to have seen something that piqued your curiosity or your interest, before you go messing with it?

So again....which of the two, the Chatterer or the Observer, do you think you really are?

Understand, Mtn, that I am not attempting to get you to make a "correct choice". What I am attempting to do is to get you to be "on the side of" the entity within you that is the only one capable of real thinking. I am trying to empower you. ONE of you is very afraid of this, as it is in all people, because that entity believes that, if the light of scrutiny is shined upon it, that it will shrivel up and die.  -- Dr. Deb

MtnHorse
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It looks like we have reached an empasse, Dr Deb.  You have asked me six qestions but you have told me I am not to defend myself. Everytime that I did before that, you ignore the rationality of the comments and instead attack the person by saying it is just the "chatterer" talking.

In the first instance I can not in good conscious do both and in the second I am not interested in spending my energy to not even have it taken seriously and treated like real inteligent ideas. 

On the other hand, I came here to talk about horses and not defend myself from being told I have to choose between a person I have no particular desire to be and someone who "does not think at all."  I would rather talk about the outside leg.

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MtnHorse,

Have you ever heard the expression "analysis paralysis"? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analysis_paralysis

One day I was asking my teacher a bunch of questions...."What about this?" "Is it better to that?" "If I do this, what will happen?" and so on and so forth.

She told me to take my horse home and try all of the things I was asking her about. She challenged me to ask my horse to do turns by using my outside leg, my inside leg, just my seat, turning my mental focus, my leg at the girth, behind the girth, at the shoulder, and whatever other ways I thought might get the horse turned.

Her job wasn't to tell me. My job was to figure it out.

Good luck with your riding.

Erin

DrDeb
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OK, Mtn, then what I suggest you do is go find someone to teach you who will suit you, and perhaps not be so challenging as I can be. If and when you ever get comfortable acknowledging who the you-that-observes-first is, then you can come back.

You know, of course I could initially have just replied to you as Blaze has done. Or, I could have taken the tack of just telling you that your questions are superficial and off the mark. That WOULD have been attacking you.

Instead, I have honored you by immediately acknowledging your quality. I thought you might be capable of, and therefore interested in, a deeper approach. But if not, well, as I said, you can come back later when you've found out more about it. -- Dr. Deb

MtnHorse
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Thanks Blaze I will soon be in the saddle for the fourth time this week doing exactly what you recommend. What I find however is that there is value in tradition. In the real world you can't just change one variable. To really see the results I need to get the move into my muscle memory and then do it over and over again. I also may get different results from different horses and at different times. If I can get a clear picture in my head of what the aids do it helps me to be consistent.




If I can learn things from others who have traveled the road before, I can save a lot of time with trial and error. I have ridden for years, but this spring I have found myself going back to the basics and questioning everything in a very specific way.




I am quite happy with who I am and where I am going in a deep and personal way. I just find that I can really learn a lot from others and I am not afraid to ask.




Thank you Dr Deb, I believe your right what I am looking for is not here. I still do appreciate the knowledge that is here and thank you for it. I can learn a lot even from those I don't agree with.

Daniela LeBlanc
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Hi Mtn Horse, sounds like you were looking for the technical/analytical answer to achieve feel. As someone very analytical, I can understand your plight. However, instead of getting mad and defensive with Dr. Bennett, sit on her comments for a while. Really absorb them. Once we get past the mechanical, it's so much clearer. You want to know what to do when with what body part and how much for how long etc. You can practice those things all day and still not get anywhere. You would just manage the minutae of the moment. The best riders never think about all those nagging details, they have a picture in their mind of what they want and their intention is clear to the horse. Now it will take some time to get there, but as one who has started on this road, believe me, it's a road worth traveling. I recently started the experiment of shutting down my analytical thinking when I ride and focus on my breath and bringing softness into my body. I am working at a walk with my horse. It sounds boring to some of you, but gosh, the difference I FEEL is amazing. Just yesterday I was able to get a the walk at a loose rein, a walk with contact and softness, to a collected walk and a very slow collected walk all of my seat. My hands never got engaged. And all I did was focus on my feel of the seat and tilt of the pelvis. Very cool. I had to keep directing my breath to areas in my body that would tighten up and as soon as the softened, so did my horse. He was up in the withers, stretching forward, down and out. It was the best work at the walk ever.

As humans, we tend to get in our own way and that hinders our learning. When you hear someone saying something you didn't expect or don't appreciate, our first response is to be defensive and lash out. I challenge you to be quiet. Not just verbally, but also mentally and emotionally. It will help you absorb the message and process it in a non-judgmental way.

 

Daniela

MtnHorse
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Daniela, if I gave the impression of being mad or lashing out I apologize that certainly was not the case.  Congratulations on your excellent ride.  Around here the horses are a lot more temperamental in the spring but the other evening it was different.  With the EHV-1 stuff going on I just rode in the pasture.  The horse I was on had his birdie totally right there and he relaxed his topline, untracked, backed, and turned with just the lightest cues.  We got a love fest going with my old warhorse and the mare.  The three of them were chewing on each other and I was rubbing them from the saddle. Just one of those peaceful memories I hope to keep for a long time.

Anyway, I think Dr Deb and I may have been communicating in a way that you might have missed.  She told me to go find someone else because she was not interested in teaching me the basics of riding.  I mean my question was not really all that analytical; like I said it’s about learning good technique because the way to  “never think about all those nagging details” is to get the simple correct movements into muscle memory so that they can just happen when the time is right.

I followed her suggestion and went out and purchased Mike Schaffer’s ebook and rented a couple Buck and Ray DVD’s.  Mike especially very clearly laid out his ideas on basic riding and I am quite satisfied with Dr Debs advice.  I have been quietly chewing through many good reads in the archives.

Maybe someday I will come back for this idea of the evils of cogitation but so far I have not felt the need.  

FROM DR. DEB: No, Mtn, I did not at any time refuse to teach you the basics of riding. I asked you to begin from the beginning, which is to say, to find and become familiar with your inner body or your inner clarity, which is the root source of "feel". Feel is, in turn, the whole basis for the superficial, mechanical aids. Cogitation is indeed an evil, because it blocks feel. You need to "get" this before you will be able to make any real progress. Other people do not receive the lessons you receive, because every student displays, through their words and attitude, what their special needs are. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 07:38 pm by DrDeb

Daniela LeBlanc
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Might be that I took your exchange the wrong way. I am glad you followed her "cookie crumbs" and make your own journey :) Glad you had an excellent day. I know what you mean by spring weather. I forgot how it can energize my guys! Couple that with the wind we've been having here in the outlying regions of Chicago, and you get the picture. It makes your time with your horses so much more exciting ;)

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Good for you MtnHorse. If we plan to communicate with our horses through the language of the aids then we'd better learn the language of the aids.That's how we make correct turns to the left as you asked at the start.

FROM DR. DEB: Wes, there is no such thing as a "correct turn to the left." There is no correct or incorrect. Mechanical aids are a non-issue once the student begins to grasp some of the deeper approach. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 07:40 pm by DrDeb

Ola
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smithywess wrote: Good for you MtnHorse. If we plan to communicate with our horses through the language of the aidsJust what immediately came into my mind after reading your message.. Isn't it better to PLAN to communicate with horses through their MAIN language - which is mental pictures than OUR language - physical aids? I know it appears a bit risky to state such a thing. We all could probably agree that horses 'talk' through their bodies, but yet - what  does the body do? It is only the visible outcome of something that is happening INSIDE the horse, so the inside of the horse is something you want to target. I believe the main channel all animals communicate is of psychic nature.

I think this concept of communication is much more sophisticated than simply using 'correct aids'.. Personally, this is not the direction I am following and this is not the goal I am striving to achieve. At all times, no matter how honest we are in our insides and outsides, your virgin intention gets broken in spoken words and physical actions. Whenever you get across good pictures and emotions and let your body go with the flow, it will adjust itself to the situation perfectly - provided it's balanced and relaxed. Doing it consciously, no matter how focused you might be, will never be the same!
It's just a thought, co please feel free to correct me ;)
Ola

Daniela LeBlanc
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Actually, a horse's main language and energy is body language as I understand it. I am not sure what you referred to by "mental pictures" but I read it almost like telepathy. I "picture" turning left so my horse turns left. Does your body change ever so slightly to influence the horse thereby aiding him/her when you think of turning left? Would you then say that your thought was followed by a change in your body? I think that's what we would want to achieve in the end (being unconsciously competent) versus applying the physical aids by having to think of them (being consciously competent - well, or imcompetent!).

It doesn't just apply to riding either but to every other thing you do with your horse. How do you lead him out of his paddock? Do you have to pull him? Does he come willingly? Can you even put a halter on him because he is offering it to you or do you have to "wrestle" it on? I think the left turn starts way before the left turn. It starts with us asking: is my horse tuned in to me and more imporantly: am I tuned into my horse? And if we are not tuned into each other, how do we accomplish this?

Daniela

Last edited on Sun May 22nd, 2011 05:16 am by Daniela LeBlanc

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From personal experience I believe there is 'the long route' and 'the shorter route' and both have positives and negatives. I have rode since I was 2 but I was never taught to ride with feel nor were the horses I was riding ever rode by someone riding with feel. It was years of just going through the motions on dull horses. I really cant think of too much that I learned in those years that helps me out today. I bought a green hot blooded cow horse when I was 18 and set out to learn to barrel race (obviously my world with my horses has developed into something much more broad than just barrels now).....it was 10 years of trial and error, some clinics, and thank fully because I loved my horse and wanted to do better for him lots of research and reading. I developed feel and timing and made and awesome horse who is 100% ok inside. I now have 4 green horses and it is such a relief to have that knowledge of what to do with your body to get your intentions across as clearly as possible instead of trying to make your way in the dark (or so it felt) with your horse. I have found that I find the place to quit my ride because they have 'tried' and accomplish part or all of what we set out to do in 15 minutes or less as opposed to sessions I remember where we said we were going to have to order Chinese food for dinner because we were gonna be in the arena for awhile longer.... cringe:(
I still feel sick when I think about how it feels to hit the wall and want so bad to figure it out for your horses sake!
I have found that when your muscle memory has you performing some maneuver wrong it takes me breaking it down into a series of exact steps of right (or more clear motions) to get it reformatted in my head and body. You shouldn't have to work on it all day but it should translate into your developing that feel for the motion and your horse will be happier.
Although I am very glad I took the long route and followed the bread crumbs (what you learn on that route you cant learn any other way) I doubt I would be blessed again with a horse that could go through that with me and still come out victorious and sane on the other side!
I have since leased out my 'best boy' to a 15 year old girl who doesn't have 10 years to figure it out on my horse (I couldn't stand to watch that movie again) and so I find I break things down into a series of steps like you guys are talking about and then from that she 'feels' what it is supposed to feel like (because he is so broke and soft) so then in fairly short order she is able to eliminate the actual 'first you do this then this then this stuff'. But you know.....I think the girl who has my horse now if left on her own would either wreck the horse or quit riding....and of course I would move the earth not to have my horse wrecked but perhaps it is better that people who are not willing to follow the bread crumbs and beg for the right help from the right people because every cell in there body wants more than anything to get it right for there horse should quit. That thought just came to me....hmmm
Dr Deb I value your information/contributions sooo much. (Sorry this doesnt exactly pertain to this thread but I want to get it out)....How many teachers of conformation and especially horsemanship out there actually perform dissections....on such an intense educated professional level? I bet not many. I know from experience hunting and 'boning' out animals to put into packs and 'pack' of the moutnain that I have got to have a good look at what animals look like with there clothes off and subsequently how a shoulder joint, hip joint, spinal column actual works with the rest of the body to create movement. I just believe that knowing how horses are meant to move teaches you how best to ride them. Not to mention learning the affects on the equine when things are not done in there best interest. You have a life long student in me.
Sincerely,
Kim Cooper

Ola
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Does your body change ever so slightly to influence the horse thereby aiding him/her when you think of turning left?
 
Yes, it does. And yes, it is all about being with horses in general, not only about turning left – you could apply those rules to anything you do with them.
I don’t want you to misunderstand me – I believe physical body is very important, too. Not only does it make your intention clearer and more visible (e.g. while flag work or when you teach the horse how to yield), but it also plays physiotherapeutic role. When you encourage head twirling, you must raise your hand a little. When you gently tap with your inside calf, your horse tends to bend. Your touch forces some muscles to contract (I mean when you sit on the horse’s back – you press him downward), but can also help them to relax. But as for ‘mental pictures’.. I see it as a kind of a spectrum: at the beginning you have to use a lot of physical aids, you wonder what kind of them would be the best (I used to think of it an AWFUL lot – where to place my weight more while turning and doing lateral work, which leg should initiate canter etc.), but the more you are advanced in your riding, the less you have to rely on physical aids. What is more.. for me there is no such a thing as ‘correct aids’. An aid, as I understand it is a signal that is followed by certain action performed by a horse, and a horse understands what he should do just after the signal. An aid is a kind of agreement between you two. In turn, it really does not matter if you teach a horse canter or doing pirouette on the touch of your leg, tapping with your left hand his right haunch or pulling on his left ear..

‘Mental pictures’ are something totally different than what you call ‘muscle memory’. Muscle memory is when you e.g. initiate the canter by doing some movements like squeezing with your inside leg, moving back your outside etc. and you do it so often that it becomes your ‘second life’ – you can do it almost without thinking, automatically. But it is still going through the same physical movements, even if refined ones. They are in your mind all the time and in my opinion prevent you from feeling the horse properly, riding in the moment. I remember riding on a very attentive mare about a year ago. I experimented with my seat a little, I tried to ‘tune in’ and feel her every single step. She was very young and was never taught a halt from walk. When I was feeling her hindquarters move, I tried to ‘anchor’ her left, then her right leg. It worked perfectly – she stopped. I praised her a lot and our communication began to improve – I could stop her but also walk shorter/longer steps. Next time I saw another girl riding the same horse. It seemed that she wanted to trot her to death, so I told her ‘This mare is great at halting from walk and changing the length of the steps – try it, you don’t need reins and your legs at all.’ And guess what – the girl tried to stop the horse, tapped the mare with her legs, used her buttocks and reins just as a mere crutch (no pulling) but it did not work. The mare appeared so confused. So what did I do to make her stop? And how could I explain to her what to do? My body DID some tiny gestures for sure, but I cannot even name them. Did I contract X muscle or Y? It doesn’t really matter, and believe me, I am not able to tell you! What was the most important thing, is that I pictured it in my mind, felt the horse’s steps and acted as if my body was horse’s body. So now, if I wanted to tell you what to do to halt the horse, I would say ‘anchor his feet with your buttocks’- and this should give you a feeling or a picture how to do it.

I have always wanted to know what ‘aids’ I am supposed to use to HELP the horse. Am I to put this leg more forward? More weight on the outside buttock? And then I read one of Dr Deb’s posts: “Just sit. Sit square in the middle of the horse.”
There is no shoving/prodding/misplacing weight/squeezing gesture that would help your horse. Even slight movements are sometimes way to exaggerated! Instead, you let your horse show you where the weight should flow, or how your shoulders must be kept. I will repeat once again, if you try to do it consciously, your movement will be just a ridiculous imitation of true unity and there will be no feel in your riding.
 
I hope that it makes sense.. Ola

Last edited on Sun May 29th, 2011 08:04 pm by Ola

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Yes, Ola. Our elderly teacher would get the type of student who was very eager to do everything "right" -- mechanically. Typically these people ride like wooden dolls; they are "posing on horseback". He would do two things about this:

(1) Teach them how to pet their horse right. This meant specifically that he would teach them to pet the horse with right intention, so that warm energy, or if you like to call it "love" that would be OK too, would flow from their hands into the horse. Later, it could also start flowing from the rider's hands, through the reins, into the horse's mouth and/or into the feet. After this, one man who had been having trouble bridling his stallion because his touch was "wrong" said: "Tom kept telling me to touch him more softly, and I tried very hard to do that, but the horse didn't get too much better. It got a lot better, though, when I suddenly realized I was touching him more and more softly with a board."

(2) Ask them to cut what they were doing in half. In other words -- cut the amount of force they were pulling on the reins with in half, and cut the amount of pressure they were putting on the horse with their legs in half. And when the rider would comply, and it was evident that they had complied, he would call them over again and say, "now cut it in half again." And often, he would call them a third or even a fourth time. Every time the rider lightened up (that is, started looking for the "small spot"), the improvement in the horse's ability and willingness to turn and stop was obvious.

The commitment is to do all that it must take, but also, to be looking at every moment for how little it might take. -- Dr. Deb

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DrDeb wrote: Yes, Ola. Our elderly teacher would get the type of student who was very eager to do everything "right". . . . Ask them to cut what they were doing in half. In other words -- cut the amount of force they were pulling on the reins with in half. . . .


If they were trying to do things right why would they be using excess pressure?  There is nothing particularly right about that when the release is more important than the pressure anyway.

FROM DR. DEB: They were using excess pressure, K.D., because they were making a mistake. They did not know which mistake they were making, but they at least knew (and were willing to admit) that they were making SOME mistake; and so they came to our teacher and asked him for help.

 

Ola wrote:

There is no shoving/prodding/misplacing weight/squeezing gesture that would help your horse. Even slight movements are sometimes way to exaggerated! Instead, you let your horse show you where the weight should flow, or how your shoulders must be kept. I will repeat once again, if you try to do it consciously, your movement will be just a ridiculous imitation of true unity and there will be no feel in your riding.

 

Well  KCooper, if I may speak from what he has posted, and I both rode for years and years and tried very hard to do the best we could.  We tried to just use feel and quite honestly it didn’t happen.


FROM DR. DEB: Yes, K.D., the reason that 'feel' does not happen for you is because you refuse to look into yourself -- you have refused to examine the Observer and the Chatterer. Feel comes from deep within. You are too scared to do this, I think, because the Chatterer has, for many years, been in fairly extensive control of your body and of the words that come out of your mouth. And, as I previously said, the Chatterer is utterly terrified of being "seen" -- for as soon as it is seen, it begins to die, and it then fights like unholy Hell to cling to the control that gives it life. The refusal of the Observer to acknowledge the Dark Self and take back control from it is the root cause for drug abuse. 

Quoting KCooper:

so I find I break things down into a series of steps like you guys are talking about and then from that she 'feels' what it is supposed to feel like (because he is so broke and soft) so then in fairly short order she is able to eliminate the actual 'first you do this then this then this stuff'. But you know.....I think the girl who has my horse now if left on her own would either wreck the horse or quit riding....

 

This is my experience as well.  Most people don’t learn just from feeling and knowing.  Let me correct that, I don’t.  I didn’t discover head twirling, or untracking on my own.   I don’t think I have ever read that by tensing the muscles of my core and relaxing my posterior chain, I can encourage the horse to do the same.  Still the idea would never have occurred to me without reading True Collection and The Ring of Muscles.

I still believe as I stated above that  we commit an action to muscle memory by repetition.  Once it is fairly established then we don’t have to think about it anymore and that open’s the possibility to concentrate on feel and timing.  Don’t you believe that riding right with good skills and techniques opens the door to riding by feel?  Otherwise why would we bother with a forum, or books, or magazine subscriptions?


FROM DR. DEB: Once again, K.D., you have it backwards. With a person who already has moderately good skills in the saddle, as you do -- so that they are in no danger of falling off -- then that is almost all the technical skill that they will ever need. There will come refinements eventually, i.e. when you get your horses a LOT lighter and a LOT more supple than they now are; but you need to connect with your feel to get to that stage. Indeed it is because you haven't been willing to work on finding your inner self, the source of feel, that your horses are as thuddingly heavy and as bricklike and stiff to turn as they are. You want something better, yes -- and that is why YOU "bother" with this Forum, or books, or magazines. I am doing my utmost here to help you have what you say you want. But in order for me to help you, you must be willing to trust and therefore to obey me to the letter.

Last edited on Thu Jun 2nd, 2011 07:56 pm by DrDeb

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Hi MtnHorse,



I am new to this site also. When I first stumbled on to Dr Debs articles in Eclectic Horseman I was positively elated because her material regarding bio mechanics, conformation and how a horse was best to be ridden in light of how they are put together was exactly what I have been looking for. AND....how it is in the horses best interest not to be ridden or trained using gimmicks like tie downs ect. AND.....that we dont need a trainer or any other human imposed 'levels'. Music to my ears! But I must say that my heart sunk a little when I found out through reading many posts (very amusing I might add) that I, along with many other seemingly analytical break it down into steps kind of people, were not going to get the kind of answers we were looking for. Sigh. Well.....thankfully it only took me about 72 hours of going from reading and then trying things out with my horses to figure out that I was smart enough to use the information on this site and it was going to be many times over more help to me then just perfecting the sequence of steps to execute the desired manoeuvre. I have gone back now and read Dr Debs response to you about cogitation:



Cogitation, you see, is quite different from thinking, which is the clarity that comes from awareness. Cogitation is a form of obsessive drive that mimics thinking. However, it does not produce clarity but instead internal noise, and in a very bad case it can produce so much internal noise that the person cannot think or achieve clarity at all. They cannot "hear themselves think".

But to be fully present, as Ray wanted us to be, means first to silence the internal cogitator that worries about each-and-every-detail, and whose whole existence is fed by "should do thisses" and "should not do thats" -- in other words, the fear on the person's part that they "aren't doing it right."



At first I didnt even realize that I didnt understand what she said but I sure do now and I think I grasp a good 80% of the meaning and how it applys to me and what I do.

Have you read this thread?

http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/view_topic.php?id=116&forum_id=1&highlight=raising+base+of+neck

and also this one

http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/view_topic.php?id=135&forum_id=1&highlight=raising+base+of+neck

Its the one that really helped me turn the corner away from my forceful (even though I am a female) analytical self. Three things specifically that I have read that have had the biggest impact so far.... 1) Where Dr Deb makes a visual reference to a slinky when talking about "the flow of weight and energy" and the when you "clash" the flow and energy you create turmoil.....and I am pretty convinced that I have caused a fair bit of turmoil by clashing weight and energy and I am also convinced that the turmoil I caused was the result of the "white noise" that I created being over analytical in trying to accomplish whatever I thought needed to be accomplished.....even though my only intention was to be better for my horse. 2)The mannering exercises (somewhere that I read) set me up to understand what being present actually entailed which I thought transferred rather well from the ground to the saddle and made me embarrassed that I hadn't had that level of communication all along with my horses when it was right there under my nose!!. and 3) they talk about a "Slow walk fast walk exercise" that I haven't even tried yet....will try tonight but I can already see the mountain of significance it holds (coupled with the ones I mentioned above) in building my/the riders timing and feel and thus.....our own answers to our analytical questions.
I would like to know what you think MtnHorse if you feel like responding. I think this is a good class to be a part of not solely for horsemanship skills, I can see the opportunity for some serious character building for myself anyways if I stick around.

And Dr Deb, I hope I have been playing by the rules.....I saw a reference in a post that there was a link to the do's and don'ts of the forum but I haven't found it (I have looked for things before that were there all along so...)

Thank You

Kim

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kcooper wrote: I would like to know what you think MtnHorse if you feel like responding. I think this is a good class to be a part of not solely for horsemanship skills, I can see the opportunity for some serious character building for myself anyways if I stick around.


 

My apology for mistaking your gender, Kim.  I had planned to make it a he/she reference but forgot about it while writing the reply.

Anway I have a dubious character and kind of like it that way, so I am not to worried about building it.  As to what I think, I am attempting to be quiet and spend my time in study and active experimentation with my horses.  So I will (hopefully) politely decline to talk about what I think.

The best breathe is taken over the ears of a horse.  Good riding to you Kim.

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Mtn -- If you decline to say what you think -- as you have previously declined to even THINK about what you think -- then why do you come here? Many of your posts seem negative in some way -- i.e. rootedly stubborn, non-participatory, clinging to (or touting) your own little package of knowledge, or even mocking. How do you figure that this type of attitude will foster either the discussion ongoing here, or your own progress as a horse owner/trainer?

I want to remind you that this is not only my classroom, it is "a" classroom, in other words, a place where friends meet with a teacher for the purpose of increasing their knowledge and skills. If you don't want to participate, that's fine; but in that case, please find the door at the back of the room and go through it for once and all. This will be a courtesy to me and to everyone else.

Alternatively, you can go back to the very first reply that you were given, i.e. to say out loud, "I have an inner body," and then report back to us what the results of that have been for you and your horses. That's where we start with each student: at Square One. -- Dr. Deb

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Well Dr Deb I am about flabbergasted.  Here is a quote from the first thread KCooper referred me to:

Dr Deb:

When I go to see my teachers, I don't say much, because I'm not there to try to justify myself or to teach them, or to offer them anything. I ask a few questions perhaps -- key questions -- and then I think for a long time about the answer that I receive. I chew it over quite a bit, because I believe in my teachers -- they are offering me something that might have more to it than would meet the eye just at first. [End Quote]

 

Granted, I have tried to participate.  Especially, but not exclusively when the comments are in my own thread and seem directed at me. It would seem rude to not and I consider it reasonable to articulate the way I see things.  I do not mean to be negative but stubborn perhaps.  It is my nature.  

When I told you what I think you told me to stop being defensive and then ask me questions I can’t really answer without sounding defensive.  I am put in another double bind of having to choose between being someone who can not think at all or an observer.  An observer is someone who watches TV.  He sits in the stands.  I decided as a child that was not the kind of person I want to be.  The only option left to me is to decline to play.  As a teacher you surely knew this was a possibility.

So that brings us back to the beginning.  I have since your request repeated out loud when feasible and under my breathe when in public the saying “I have an inner body.”    There is nothing to report.  What am I supposed to say?  Sure there have been changes in my understanding and in my horses as I practice concepts like head twirling or Schaffer’s groundwork.  I could try to reason out why your request hasn’t had an effect but that would go back to being defensive.  And in saying the above I am back again to sounding negative.

Most people would probably just quit like you have asked me to but now we’re back to that stubborn thing again.  Perhaps the way it feels to be consistently put in double binds is the lesson I need to learn. 

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As I'm still getting the feel of this classrom, I hope that this post falls under the category of discussion without interfering with the actual lesson. As always, please delete if inappropriate.

MtnHorse wrote:
Perhaps the way it feels to be consistently put in double binds is the lesson I need to learn.


I'm not sure if this has any relevence here but your phrase "double bind" for some reason brought to mind the practice of contemplating a "Zen Koan".

Speaking personally, I learned through martial arts and meditation that you do not always arrive at the answer you seek via the route that you expected to take to get there. Further, the journey to the answer affects the depth of understanding of that answer. Some things need to be experienced rather than merely described.

I assume that Dr. Deb's intention is that you arrive at a level of understanding that goes beyond that of a "surface worker" - of which there is a distinct possibility of occurring if you are just given the purely physical or mechanical answer to your original question. Instead of being given that kind of answer, you are being given the means to discover it for yourself at a much deeper level. This might make it seem that you are being led to an answer unrelated to the question you originally asked - but only because the answer is on a deeper level than originally concieved of when you asked the question.

As with a Koan, the answer is not given by the teacher, but discovered by the student, for the experience gained during the process of discovery is the whole point. Trust that there is something to discover here. Dr. Deb is not one to play games with you or be deceptive - exposing the cogitator (what some might call ego or self) and knowing it for what it really is, is one of the most profound lessons one can learn.

I'm really not trying to be cryptic here, just saying that there are many layers to understanding, hence your intial responses are at a certain level. Try to discover the other/deeper levels - they are subtle and quiet and often not easily put into words.

I'll end and then hold my tongue with this final quote given me by a past mentor.

"The map is not the territory."

Best wishes,

Sandy

Last edited on Fri Jun 3rd, 2011 01:20 am by Blue Flame

Daniela LeBlanc
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MtnHorse wrote:  When I told you what I think you told me to stop being defensive and then ask me questions I can’t really answer without sounding defensive. Most people would probably just quit like you have asked me to but now we’re back to that stubborn thing again.  Perhaps the way it feels to be consistently put in double binds is the lesson I need to learn. 

Nobody puts you in any kind of bind - you do it yourself. It's the same as a person saying they are being taken advantage of - you can't be taken advantage of unless you allow it.

MtnHrse - it's not what you know, it's what you don't know that will drive you forward - searching, finding, growing, listening, quieting, stilling your mind and body. And before you respond, do all of those things. It might cause you to write a very different response. As a matter of fact, write out what you think when you read Dr Deb's response, and come back to it a week later, write it again. See what the difference is. I'd bet, you'd find a huge difference.

At least I hope so

Daniela

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Mtn -- That's an excellent response from Daniella just above. I also have a further suggestion for you, since you say the "I have an inner body" mantra did nothing that you could discern.

So here's a question that I am sure you can answer, and would be willing to tell us about. When's the last time you got stepped on by a horse? How long ago was that? And what were the circumstances in which it occurred?

Let's hear all about that -- it's bound to be a good story. -- Dr. Deb

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I have heard that nobody does anything to you idea before.  It came from people who were using it to justify their poor parenting.  I think horses teach us quite quickly that it is a very superficial way to look at interpersonal relationships.  You do something and the horse responds.  It is the same way with people.

 

Getting stepped on as in a painful way:  Last time I remember was back in the 1990's. I was scratching a horse that was hobbled in a high mountain meadow and he leaned into me until he lost his balance, stepped out and got me.  Wasn't really bad but I could feel it later.

I had a horse bump the back of my foot last weekend as we were walking down a trail.  He is a younster that belongs to a friend and I was wearing mocassins on muddy, rocky ground so I probably wasn't walking very evenly. 

Last edited on Sat Jun 4th, 2011 09:13 pm by MtnHorse

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OK, Mtn, I see that you're pretty experienced around horses. Nobody that IS experienced lets themselves get stepped on very often!

And by what you said, when the hobbled horse stepped on you, it was kind of an accident -- maybe close quarters or it was dark, and you just didn't see it coming or you couldn't move in time.

So here's where I'm going with this. Like most experienced horse people, you don't get stepped on very often. Nonetheless, I bet you can remember lots of times when the horse ALMOST stepped on you, but on those occasions you moved your foot out of the way just in time.

Now I want you to think about those times, and report back -- on those occasions when you "almost" got stepped on, were you looking at your foot/feet or at the horse's foot/feet, and did you avoid being stepped on because you were actually looking at the feet? Were you actually looking at the feet, or somewhere else? -- Dr. Deb

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I would say as best I can recall that its the horses body mass that lets me know I needed to react.  I try to take advantage of  peripheral vision so its not like I have to be looking directly at the horse.

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Yes, exactly, Mtn. That's how I do it too, and I think everybody else does it that way too, or else they would get stepped on a lot more often.

So here's the news I have for you. THIS approach actually worked. What you are describing -- your ability to read the horse's body, and to use your peripheral vision in such a manner as to tell you ahead of time what the horse "might do before he done what he did" IS WHAT 'FEEL' IS.

As I suspected, you have the same 'feel' as anyone else. We can now, if you wish, begin to build on this realization to help you figure out how the aids really work -- which is, by feel. They do not work mechanically, any more than your ability to 'read' the horse's body is merely mechanical; reality cuts a lot deeper than that.

You see, a person can be willing or unwilling to explore all the potentials that are actually in them. So some people go on trying to deny that there is anything deeper than the merely mechanical, but because they deny it, they're missing half the data. There was a famous ecclesiastic -- the Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, I think it actually was -- who said, "I get tired of talking with Atheists because all they can talk about is God."

So you can write back again and ask how to get started on turning by feel, and I'll be willing to help you do that. This will then put us back on the path of answering your original question. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

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By all means, if you can afford the time, how do I turn by feel?  And let's stay with left out of tradition.  Perhaps then if its by feel a better question might be what does the horses body do when I turn left?  Is it the same at different gaits or angles?

DrDeb
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Mtn, what the horse's body does when you turn left is explained in detail in the free download that's available through our main website. Click on the 'home' button above, and then click on 'knowledge base'. Then click on 'Lessons from Woody' and 'True Collection'. When you click on those titles, very quickly you will receive a .PDF document that you can either read on screen or else print out to paper.

How to turn by feel is also explained in these same writings. What is illustrated there, in terms of riding by feel, is what 'to hook on' means, and how the Birdie and the Thread can be used to focus the horse and draw its attention forward. However, the very same principle applies when turning; instead of drawing the horse to the front, one draws its Birdie to the side.

There is also a great deal more about this in two other places -- one for about $50 is the "Birdie Book", and the other for $25 is a 2-CD audio set called "Birdie Basics." So for less than the price of a single private riding lesson, you can read or hear all about it.

And after you review these materials, even though these subjects have been discussed about a million times in this Forum, you have the privilege of writing back in to ask your further questions. I am sure you will study the materials carefully and thoroughly. Once you've had time to go through them, so that the concepts are clear in your mind, it will be time for me to propose some practical experiments for you to try with your horses. -- Dr. Deb




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