"A horse is like a mirror, and it's reflecting what and who you are."

This is just a little diary of my horse life. I teach natural horsemanship and dressage. I am currently working on getting back to L4 Parelli after a car accident and surgery.

I suffered from a fear of failure, as things had not gone according to planned after my time off from my injuries. It had been an paralyzing disability (fear) but my healing is coming along nicely, and I hope to pass my level 4 before the end of 2011.

I don't know where I am going, but I am NOT lost!

I am now reviewing dvd's and books, and blogging my reviews. The link on the left in the categories (DVD Clinician Reviews)will take you straight to it. You will find links to the websites of all dvd clinicians I review and they are located on the left hand side bottom of page of the page. None of the clinicians or trainers I am reviewing, sponsor, endorse or authorize this site. For more info about them please click on thier link.

I hope you enjoy!

Savvy On,

I will be giving Savvy Star Ratings based soley on my opinion of it's value to a parelli student as such

***** Must own

**** Must watch

*** Worth watching, but you won't die without it

** Eh' take it with a grain of salt, you will have to filter alot

* OK, but there is better stuff out there to spend your time and money on

0 stars....skip it, it just isn't worth your time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

DVD review: *** Smokie Brannaman ~ Roundpen

Hooked on Round Pen Work ***
I was pleasantly surprised by this dvd.  Based on his description of using Andersons methods, I guess I was expecting something drastically different than what was on the dvd.  As a parelli student, i would say it is a good and interesting look at maybe a different way of getting a horse to want to be with with you.  And I would have to say that upper level students or anyone who is dealing with rescues, unhandled colts or wild horses, would benifit from watching this.  While it is basically similar to parelli principles, there is some differences in technique.  IE: missing the 'send'..and 'nuetral' (more about these later)...other than that, I don't see anything that contradicts parelli in concept or principle. 

Now here is a really good compliment coming.  In my new journey, for my own education, I have adapted a screening process for deciding if I like a concept, technique, method or trainer. 

First.....How would I feel if I was that horse?  Would I mind being the horse of that human?  For this dvd and for Smokie, I would have to say he gets high marks in this category.  Based on the dvd, I would not have minded being the horse.

Second.....does this concept/technique make sense and is it getting the results they say it is?  Again....for Smokie...YES!

Third.....Would I send my fragile RBI Mustang 'ChaCote' to him to be started?  This is a VERY short list for me.  Seriously....less than 5 people so far have made it on that list.  I have to say......based on what I saw so far....Yes I would.

I liked his philosphies, they align well with being a parelli student, yet there is enough different that makes it worthy of watching.  In other words, we havn't seen it a 1000 times already.

The basic purpose of his technique is to get a horse to "hook on".  Something like Monty Roberts 'join up' meets parelli 'catching game'.  No reason you could not add a 'send' into the techniqe he is using to make things a teeny bit clearer for both horse and human.  He does not do the stand in the middle 'neutral'.  Personally I have deleted that one from my list of 'rules' anyways, and have demoted it to a temporary tool, so two thumbs up there, as long as you find an in motion 'neutral'.  This I find also aligns with WHR "leading from behind".

I liked that he also, takes the time to just BE with the horse before he starts to make ANY requests.  Which also kinda goes along with WHR #1....Sharing Territory.  He gives the horse time to settle into thier surroundings, and also to 'settle' with his presence.  This is something that few trainers or owners do, that I feel could very well be standing in the way of your success if it is lacking.

He also does not seem to promote drilling a horse, or running it raggad, to wear it out, and have the "hook on" be due to fatigue, fear, or dominance.

I have to say that it is evident in watching Smokie with the horses in his presence, that he truley cares about the horse.  But more than just caring, honestly treating them like a friend.  I like that....ALOT....so for people who are not parelli students, and thus have not seen tons of videos already....I give this 4****'s, definately a must see, and is a good educational dvd.  I didn't fall asleep, and I was interested listening to him.  He has the Language, and the Leadership, and most importantly....the LOVE!

Click her for more info
Savvy On

Saturday, March 19, 2011

DVD Review:*** Tom Dorrance: Feel Timing & Balance

Feel, Timing and Balance ***

Well, I likely will be shot for this review.  But I can only speak my feelings on what I saw, or didn't see.  This dvd is good, but not necessarily the end all be all of Dorrance, I believe.  I do not have his books, nor seen any other video's of him or his work, and I will say that in the beginning of the dvd it clearly states that it is not an educational dvd on what to do, but rather to get the 'essence' of Tom Dorrance.  Which is good, because as an educational dvd, you will not see a whole lot of technique to learn from.  So as a Parelli student, if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere.  It is not to say there is nothing to be learned from it, because there certainly is.  You DO get the essence of what he stands for.  And there is some good horsemanship to be seen.  Also, as a student, it is good to see the master your teacher learned from.  You can see where your teachers ideas come from, and how the lessons may have been presented to your teacher, and then how your teacher has interpreted/filtered that information and how they are now passing it on to you.  Especially knowing that there are WARS being created in our time, over which of the teachers has interpreted the masters knowledge the 'best'....ie: who is better? Pat, Buck, Dennis...whoever?......etc etc etc.  For years you hear from them all, "I learned this from so and so"  And yet, each of them has such vastly different styles, techniques, concepts, philosophy and values.  So you are left to wonder...."If they all studied from the same person/s, how can they all be so different?"  I certainly have my opinions on that, but this is not really the time or place for that, so maybe later I will share my thoughts on it. 

Because it is so hard to judge sometimes what is useful or educational for one person and not really another, based on where they are at in thier journey.....what I did was to take notes for myself....on what I felt was important for me to remember about what I saw and heard.  As a self assessed L4 Parelli Graduate, these are things that I observed....

On the subject of:

Disk 1

Feel, timing and balance.  Tom explains "The broom" as the best metaphor for explaining it.  If you tried to balance a broom on your thumb, bristles up, and you tried to make the broom stay still....the broom is going to fall. But IF, when the broom goes to the left, then your thumb follows to the left, and when the broom goes to the right, and your thumb follows to the right, you can keep it upright.  The better and quicker your timing and feel, the shorter the distance your thumb will travel, and the better the balance of the broom will be.  The slower your timing, if your too slow, or too big, the broom will fall.  If you can get your feel and timing working really well, your movements may be nearly imperceptible.  But you will always need a little life and a little movement, to stay in harmony with the broom, you need to keep it alive, or it will die and fall.

Same with getting in time with the feet, getting the message to the foot you want to talk to.  If your timing is off, your request will be misunderstood, as you asked when the foot has the least chance of doing what you asked.  Getting your your feel better, so your timing can be quicker, the better balance and life you and your horse will have, and that is the key to true unity.  There is some good examples of this on both discs with a couple of horse evading crossing the tarp.  To see the guy have such good timing with his reins, that the evasion is cut off quickly, and just like a bowling ball down a gutter, the horse had no other options but to cross the tarp.

The Spirit of the horse.  Usually we do not see how hard the horse is trying for us.  Either trying to do what he thinks we want, or trying to communicate something else to us.  Either that he doesn't understand or is in pain or is afraid.  Most times we see it as bad behavior.

There is a good segment on gaining confidence....chose those words as opposed to 'desensitizing' as it was just much softer, and quieter, than i am used to seeing, by way of 'desensitzing'.  Instead of making a bunch of huge movements with the 'flag' (plastic bag on a stick) they just kept it steady, and moved it quietly with the horse until the horse could accept it.

But then there is a segment, with the same horse and a plastic bag, that I dont understand what the lesson was.  The audio was not so great on this disk.  They were creating a bit of unconfidence in the same horse.  Likely I will need to watch it again.  I may never understand it, as it was never stated what the purpose was for doing the technique.  In either case, it is not something I would ever do, regardless of the purpose, so I am not that concerned with it.  The rider was chasing the front end of the horse with the bag while in the saddle.  Personally, I think I know what the lesson was, but honestly feel, if the rider had more knowlege of timing with the feet, or the horse was better prepared on the ground, it would not have been needed.  But alas, I will just never know for sure.

On Learning:  He states he cannot teach anything to anyone.  That he can only help them figure things out.  But that learning has to come from the inside of the human and the inside of the horse.  People are looking for some big thing, but it is almost always some little thing that makes the big difference.

Disk 2

On learning at a clinic
If you think you are going to learn alot, you probably won't.  But if you are coming to get exposure to alot of things and ideas, and then take them home and experiment and explore those ideas, that is where the learning happens.

Working on feel and timing and recognising the horses 'try'
"The horse was afraid to take a chance crossing the tarp because it thought it had been told not to, because the riders timing was off and he was hitting the horse in the mouth with the reins, when the horse would jump across the tarp."

One of the earliest things he tries to get across to a horse is to move his feet when asked.  He tries not to ever let a horse get to a point where the horse will not move his feet when asked.  In regards to a horse who would not cross the tarp online, with handler at the head and two wranglers behind with a but rope.

"Learning how to present ourselves to the horse in a way that is understandable to the horse:
When a person is thinking of it in that way (the above stated), they will be taking care of these things, within themselves, what is needed for the horse, and try to think of the horse first.....But those are just words until they are understood."

Trying to keep the feet going forward and straight: Alright....this is where I can say....."Thank GOD I am a parelli student" Because what Pat teaches to everyday people, about 'nose, neck, maybe feet' truley is a gift from him to us.  Most of us, if not all of us, will not be in this desperate of a position, as the man in this segment.  First let me say, I believe he had only had this horse for a week, and he was a talented skilled rider, and the 'brakes' on this horse were well ingrained.  He would not cross the tarp.  Neither while being ridden or on the ground.  Tom worked with him undersaddle, and no go.  Had the guy get off, and no go.  Had another rider get on, and no go.  Had two guys with a but rope behind the horse and no go.  Finally he had the two guys each put a long,soft, thick cotton rope on each front ankle and led him by the foot, EVENTUALLY over the tarp.  I can say, it was all done with feel, timing and balance....to keep the horse straight.  There were times where I shuddered, watching his legs being pulled to the side, and him fall to his knees.  Tom admits, he would NEVER go such an extreme straight away, and they did try everything they could think of first, even galloping the horse up to it.  Back to being a Parelli student....had this horse been given an honest chance at learning to follow a feel and a suggestion, and being given a little bit of time for nose, neck maybe feet, he just might have not had to have been led by the feet like that.  But what I will say about it, is that I have seen far worse displays of natural horsemanship than this.  And while I would never want to have to resort to such measures, it was less forcefull than what I have seen from many big name guru's.  Though I believe there are other ways, IF the horse is given the time.  Which, often, is exactly the down side of weekend colt starts, Road to the horse type events, and tour stops.  Time is a factor, and often the horses needs are lost in the intrest of making a change for the audience, not the horse, within the time allowed.

Learning to feel the whole horse:
He describes that because we cannot feel of the whole horse, only one or couple parts at a time, we are unable to keep him straight and forward, we cannot have the timing because we do not have the feel, so we will not have the balance.

*** Worth watching, but you won't die without it, as I feel the Parelli system emobies the essence of Tom Dorrance

click for his website

Savvy On

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whole Heart: #6 ~ Information

Depriving a horse a desire, so as not to let them win, thus causing us to lose.  "if you do _____ you'll let him wim"....Man, have I heard that a 1000 times over the years.  Mark explains that 'bad' behavior, isn't bad.  It is just the horse trying to comunicate to us his desires or dislikes....it is just information.  How we percieve that information, dictates what we choose do next.  He of course has a few stories of horses to describe the whole...'behavior is just information' thing.  One of which was a horse he bought with some 'problems', and turns out, the behavior disapeared, never to return, the day they dug out 5 large beans from his sheath.  The horse was close to slaughter when Mark found him due to his 'behavior', yet he was in pain, and was just trying to comunicate it to his owners.

This morning I had my own little story of bad behavior = inofrmation.  So we have this puppy, Mondo, who is a chi hua hua/pomeranian mix.  He is 4 mos old.  Since Roxy had parvo on the property last year, we were more than reluctant to let Mondo go outside until he is complete with his shots and more mature in size.  also, there was no one home to let him out during the day.  And it is hard for a small puppy to hold it long times,  so with him being an inside dog anyways, we just put puppy pads on the floor.  He has been really good about using them until a week ago.  "All of a sudden" he started pooping in the living room, about 20ft from the pad.  We got a new brand last week, and thought that might be it? Maybe it smells funny.  We let him in the garage to go out there, he still chose to go about a foot from the pad.  We took his food away, and started to feed him once a day, give him 20 min to eat, and take it away, then take him outside.  again, missed the pad.  So we decided to construct his old puppy pen, and put him in time out, until he 'goes'.  That stinking dog would wait until we let him out, and poop in the living room. He has one more puppy shot to get, and I am paranoid about parvo.....But last night, after watching him in his pen, lonely and pathetic, I decided to let him run around a while.  I lifted the gate, he came out, went 6 inches and hunched.  I said....'oh HELL no" picked him up, and took him out to the garage.  He didn't even look for the pad and started to hunch.....again......'Oh HELL NO!" I picked him up again and took him outside and put him in the shavings that the barn cats poop in.  Do you know that dog sniffed around and went poop! Of course you do, I am the only one stupid enough to not put this together.  So I praised him, and let him run around the house and then put him back in his pen for the night.  When I got up, my husband had already fed him, and there was no new poop in his pen.  So I took him outside, he peed and pooped.  What a GOOD boy!  I let him back in the house.  Right before I left for work, for the first time he hiked his leg on the dust ruffle......a loud scream interupted his pattern before he did the deed, and right then it ocured to me that his testicles are dropping.  And maybe all this 'bad behavior' was just his way of telling me, he is a big boy now, and doesn't need to be treated like a puppy anymore.....and that it is time to get him gelded....I mean neutered!

See, just information.  he wasn't trying to be bad or naughty, or even a filthy pig.  He was just trying to tell us something that he needed us to know.  It is the way we chose to look at the information that assigns a value to it.  I chose to believe, he is just saying.....'hey, dont dogs poop outside?"

Savvy On

Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Whole Heart: #5~ Trauma

Debunking the 'make the wrong thing difficult, right thing easy' theory.  Well this is an eye opener.  He talks about how most often, say in a round pen, we 'chase' a horse around, until it gives us two eyes.  Of course we all know there is more to it than that....but in the interest of making the wrong thing difficult, when a horse wants to run rather than not, we make it run faster than they want to run....ie making it more work than the horse intended have.  But a pshycologist attended a clinic of his, where before he had the chance to do anything with the horse, he noticed for the horse it was already difficult, so he chose to just let him run on his own, like his mentor had done with a horse years earlier.  Anyways, the pshycologist came up to him to comment on it.  He said that with trauma, the body goes thru physiological stages, one of which is to expend the energy of the trauma.  That wild animals dont have problems with trauma because they can and do expend that energy, but that humans and domestic animals are usually not able to, thus the energy remains like a cancer, making us either physically or mentally ill, or both.....and that to chase or put preasure on an already running animal, is like adding trauma to trauma.  Of course this is all explained better in the book, but I wanted to give an explanation for discussion sake. 

So like the previous chapter where I mentioned my own 'problems' I am wondering if I too need to expend some energy.  I know I have had to hold it all in, and not 'disturb the peace'....I am supposed to let it go and let by gones be by gones.  I did intially expend a great deal of energy, of course it was directed in not so healthy ways, for me, but I did the best I could.  I am thinking that it is just festering deep in me, and manifesting itself in other ways, that I am not able to correlate the two things as being related.  Hmmm? 

Anyways, he goes on about how that information changed the way he looked at horses....and thus he rarely uses the technique 'wrong thing hard, right thing easy' anymore.  Figuring, if the horse doesn't understand what you are asking of him, it is probably already hard enough for him, why make it harder.

"It's funny how sometimes in life, we can look at something for years and years and years, and the picture never changes.  Then suddenly, out of the blue, an new piece of information comes in.  Even though the picture doesn't change,we start seeing that scene in a completely different light."

Wow this is so true....With my new information that I am learning in all these new and exciting places, especially with learning the way a herd leader really behaves, I am seeing my horses behavior in a totally different way.  I havn't yet gotten myself sorted out, in the application department.....but inside I have to say, I feel so much better when I spend time with my horses....just being thier friend.

Savvy On

Book: Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid

Whole Heart: #4 ~ Boundries

I just love how this chapter begins.....'thwaka, thwaka, thwaka, thwaka" as mark goes on to describe a revelation he had at the grocery store.....about horsemanship.  He just has way observing things, about human nature and horse nature, and then being able to tell a story, so that you can get the observation too.  So this chapter is all about boundaries....which for all intents and purposes....is self explanatory.....or one would think it is.  He talks about how we often do not create boundries with our horses, and then wonder why they are always on top of us.  He emplains that horses push on things to see if they move.  If they do, they keep pushing, if they don't, they stop pushing.  Humans are no different.  They push on us to see if they can make us move.  He explains it is not about dominating, disrespect or even herd behavior.  It can be those things, but the root of it is, that is what horses do....they push on things.  My favorite line is...."somtimes a push is just a push" and if we move, we will continue to be pushed.  It is easier to fix it, when it is a thought, and harder to fix once it has become ingrained behavior.  So that is what the first half of the chapter is about.....keeping the horse at arms distance.

The second half is a story about a woman who couldn't catch her horse, when everyone else on the planet could.  OMG....tear jerker!  Her husband had died a year earlier, and it was her sadness inside, being so closed off to the world, that was pushing her horse away.  He tells the whole story of the session, and the heartfelt ending to it had me bawling.  Not because it was particularly said or endearing....but yet again....because he is talking to me.  I think back to the two years after the accident, and the incedents that dominoed in my life.  I was mose assuredly beaten down and angry.  I had no control of the horrible things going on around me, least of all the behavior of my L4 horse Rose.  I put so much pressure on her it was insane.  Not that I felt it at the time.....there was no abuse or anything like that.  I was actually putting the preassure to perfom on myself.  But I sure was a dictatorbitch.  I felt like a failure to begin with, and the fact that the one thing I held most dear my soul, was the relationship I had with my horse.  Losing it, along with everything else that was gone in my life, was like losing myself.  The harder I tried, the worse it got, to the point of her attacking me. I was in a downward spiral, and there seemed to be no end in sight.  No matter where I turned, I could not find the answer to my woes.  Luckily, Cha'cote came along.  There were no expectations, he needed to be healed.  I was his savior.  But really, he saved me from myself.  I still had not found the answer with Rose though.  It wasn't until I started reading this book and the 'tao of equus', months ago, that it occured to me, that it was me.  I mean I knew it was me, that I was the one doing things wrong.  But that is just it, I thought it was the 'things' I was doing.....not just plain old me.  She could feel my deepest darkest fears, anxiety, sadness and pain.  And she was acting them out, for me to see them.  Problem is, I was blind to them.  The 'things' I was doing, didn't help either.  I was getting more 'leadership' by being more 'just' with my phase 4.  Told that she didn't believe me that I would go there.  So I went there.  Since I read the first chapter, that gave me a complete emotional release, and began this new journey , our relationship has taken a 180* change for the better, though I still do not play with her.  She genuinely seems happy to see me, and looks at me with eagerness in her eyes.  I will only be doing the Water Hole Rituals and stuff from Klaus Hempfling with her, until I feel that we have healed our relationship enough that we both trust me to do the right thing.

So I am just going to quote the last paragraph in the book, as it really sums it all up.

"Most of the time when we talk about establishing boundries, we are reffering to making sure the horse is comfortable enough with himself that he doesn't feel like he has to be right on top of us all the time.  However, sometimes boundries are also about opening ourselves up enough to let the horse know being close isn't all that bad either."

Savvy On

Book: Whole Heart, Whole Horse by Mark Rashid

Friday, March 11, 2011

Who's your Master?

Over the years, there is often discussion on forums asking "Who is a Horseman?"  Generally, the discussion that follows includes a VERY short list.  Less than a handfull of public figures make it to the list.  And the top 3 are Tom and Bill Dorrance and Ray Hunt.  A recent discussion I am involved in regarding the Road to the Horse competition, has sparked some ideas and I just wanted to share my thoughts on this.......

I have had these ideas/concepts swirling around in my head for some time now….the more I explore, the more ideas that get crammed in there. I can see them swirling around, and as I play with my horses, I try to reach out and touch them, but they are hard to grasp, because I have yet to put them into a cohesive string of thought. I am able to achieve glimpses of what is to become of them. I think some of the difficulty lies in my aimless ambling after my partial break from Parelli, but the reality is……becoming a good, well rounded horseman takes a lifetime. You can try to force it, but that will only get you so far.

One of the things that is coming to the forefront of my mind at the moment, is that most of the so called ‘horsemen’ are western. And I am not. While I believe that does not effect the initial learning of thinking like a horse, or a colts basic foundation, per se, it can, and all to often does effect the end product that I am seeking, and am thinking this is the result of technique, not concept or philosophy. The reason these types of horseman use the techniques they do, is for the end result they are looking for. A COW horse. So in the beginning their techniques are the initial step, to a more advanced technique that will be helpful and useful to working with cows and/or colt starting. They may or may not be useful, and may or may not be harmful, in the end, to say an upper level dressage horse, jumper etc. This is one of the reasons that PNH was so inviting to me, because Linda was ‘English’ and could understand things from my perspective, and help to translate this into the end goal that I was/am seeking.

I am doing research for a book.  On my quest I am far less concerned with ‘opinions’ of a method. (not saying anyone else is concerned with opinions) What I have been looking for, is the concepts and philosophies that the masters have in common. I am looking at common techniques or similarities as well, and matching them up to those philosophies/concepts. Techniques are just a way to put the concepts and philosophies into application. The end result you are seeking, will determine which techniques you should use to facilitate that end goal. What I have found on this journey very enlightening. And the cohesiveness that I am searching for, to these thoughts, is just over the horizon. But it seems at times, the more I learn, the farther away the horizon gets.

I personally think that putting just a few people on the pedestal of ‘horseman’, in an all encompassing way, is again, limiting ourselves from the possibilities that await us. It closes the door that can take us to another level. I believe that we are ALL horsemen. I prefer the terms master and student.

I use Master as it is defined in this context:

a : a worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices b(1) : an artist, performer, or player of consummate skill (2) : a great figure of the past (as in science or art) whose work serves as a model or ideal

We are ALL students, and will always BE students. And what ultimately defines us as a master horseman, is the ability to master our selves. The ability to become one with our art form. When one is a master of something, it not only appears to become effortless, it actually does become effortless. It becomes second nature, and those watching it, will not see its intricacies. It will often appear mystical. To a master living with the confines of this definition, horsemanship is an art form. Otherwise we are a master in the other sense, and horsemanship is merely a means to an end….it is utilitarian, to get a job done, and can lose all sense of beauty and art as you have enslaved your subject…..the horse….and are now his master.

I believe, just as in college degrees, one can be a master of one or a few things, but the likely hood of anyone mastering it all, is slim to none. Horses are no different in my opinion. And who so thinks they get to be the one to decide which art forms are credible endeavors, exclusive to creating a master. Just because someone’s desired end result is different than western cow horse, does not mean they are not, or cannot become, a master. If they have mastered their own goals and art form, they too are a master. Just because their goal seems silly to you, does not mean they are not a master of horsemanship, or that they are ridiculous in any fashion.

Here is MY masters ‘list’…of course I have yet to meet anyone and everyone on the planet, so this is a work in progress, that will never be complete. And, I am only listing a few public figures for examples sake, because lets all face it, there are many unknown masters, to whom their only audience IS the horse. Please feel free to share an area of study that you feel one of these masters has mastered, and/or, Add a master of your own…a public figure that people can relate to. I have also listed my level of study, so that people know why I may not have listed much, or listed a lot, NOT that I have learned all that there is to learn from them. I am far from a Master of anything.

Pat Parelli- Master of: Putting the relationship first. Making NH approachable, fun, social, easy to understand and most importantly ‘mainstream’. Taking the message of “putting the horse first” world wide like no other horseman has before or likely ever will. Exposing back yard owners to the possibilities. Master at inspiration. (Graduate)

Linda Parelli- Master of taking knowledge and making it understandable and learnable for the lay person.

Sally Swift- Master at using imagery to teach balance and symmetry in the rider. (graduate)

Mary Wanless- Master at teaching rider biomechanics and how intricate it can be to effectively effect the biomechanics of the horse while riding. (undergrad)

Carolyn Resnick- Master at understanding and teaching herd culture and needs, and how to effectively emulate the herd leader, to gain a true bond with your horse. Master of teaching horses at liberty. (Current area of study)

Cynthia Royal- Master at herd culture and using it to create a spectacular show of entertainment. Master of liberty and bridleless riding. (current area of study)

Klaus F Hempfling- Master at the way he presents himself to the horse from the first second he sees it, before he ever approaches. Master at being in tune with nature as a whole, the universe and ones inner self and the way we are all connected. Basically a master of higher consciousness. He is the master of knowing and using the horse as a mirror, and honestly acknowledging the image it portrays. Master of knowing that our horses behavior is a direct correlation to our inner energy. (current area of study)

Mark Rashid- Master educator thru the art of story telling. Master of gaining strength thru softness. Master of quietly leading. Master of ‘recognizing the try’ (current area of study)

Reiner Klimke-Master of lightness, straightness, suppleness, strength and power, developing a horse from start to finish, adhering to principles and philosophy of dressage as an art, despite dominating the competition ring, for decades. Master of elegance and grace and humbleness. (forever area of study)

Chris Cox- Master of the release and retreat. Master minimalist. Well rounded humble student of the horse. (next area of study)

Buck Brannaman-Master of being technically correct in bridle horse training, and teaching this style to students. (need to learn more about)

Ray Hunt- Master at getting thru to hardened cowboys, getting one to THINK for themselves, teaching to think from the horses point of view, being a humble student of the horse. (still learning about)

Clinton Anderson-Master at teaching being CLEAR in your communication to the horse, teaching to make your request black and white. Teaching each and every nuance of a technique. (drop out-seen all I need to see)

I think a list like this is more helpful than hero worship, because when you need guidance in a certain area, if you have already identified who has mastered that area of study, you are more willing to seek guidance from them, than if you are held to an allegiance to one or maybe two ‘horsemen’ or ‘masters’.

Being a master teacher, one also needs to be a master of communication and people skills. It is very important in my book, because if you are so offensive to people, what does it matter what all you know about horses? What does it matter….what you have mastered within the realm of horsemanship? If few can stand to be around you long enough to learn anything from you, to whom will your uniqueness in your art form pass on to?

This saying was originally said by Pat in regards to horses, but I think it applies to humans as well…..we don’t care how much you know until we know how much you care…..about us. I think this is another reason that the Parelli’s have had monumental global success.

At the end of the day, the truth remains, I ain’t no cowboy, and never will be. So I will take the concepts and philosophies that align with what I agree with, and then use what ever techniques will best fit within those concepts and best facilitate my chosen end goal. What ever the hell THAT will end up being, it will always start, and end, with being my horses friend.....something I don’t need a masters degree in.....to be.

Savvy On

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rolkur no more....the horse that could not canter.

So as I was watching the dvd (the horse than could not trot), I had some thoughts that made me go HMMM.  The type of dressage I was trained in was big on the poll being the highest point....PERIOD.....but lots of stretching in a long and low and nose out...IN FRONT of the vertical....not behind it....NEVER behind the vertical.  In fact, it was better if the nose was maintained slightly in front of the vertical, rather than strive for it to be ON the vertical. 

Then as I exited dressage when my mare was permanently lame, the mainstream was getting into 'deep and round'....that was the birth of Rolkur.....extreme 'deep and round'.  I still can't believe it was ever allowed to get so out of control, wide spread, and not only a household name, but practice as well.

Any ways, the dvd shows how the back is actually compressed when the head is low, rather than the believed/percieved 'stretch'.  The lower the head goes, the more vertebrae along the spinal column that get compressed.  The horse in the dvd, had an inverted elbow, which was in turn causing the scapula to press into the spinous process of the proximal vertebrae..ie: the withers.  This in turn caused an inverted rotation of the spinous process. 

Now my drawing here is so basic, but it is only to demonstrate what rotation of the spine IS, and which way inverted is.  Of course, PLEASE refer to experts on this for more info, google has tons of information, and a good place to start is His website.  So here is my little drawings. Hope you understand.

How the spine get compressed, is that the wither vertebrae spread, causing the ones behind it to compress.
So if you can imagine just on of these vertebrae sliding around and not staying straight up, that is rotation.  In a normal bend, supposedly the tops should rotate to the outside of the bend.  If they rotate to the inside of the bend, then it is inverted.  At least that is the way I understood it.

So what is my point, ie, what am i getting at.  ya know....The hmmm?? I mentioned in the beginning.  Well it is about Rose and the canter.  I noticed last year, just before the weather turned that she does not track up correctly behind.  No matter what direction of travel, her haunches are over to the left.  So now I have a plan for taking a seriously hard look at her anatomy for symetry....and more importantly, Asymetry.  Neither her nor Cha'cote want to canter, and I know a good deal of it is the footing at my place.  I believe that Cha'cote is simply institutionalized, and also an introvert, so needs to be reminded that cantering is OK, but Rose....I really think is a physical issue that stems from when she 'tied up' a few times a few years ago.  It causes muscle death and atrophy, and I have noticed since we moved to this place, the horses have much less development in the shoulder area.

I have plans for...who are we kidding...I always have plans for something....but I have plans for a 'round pen', that I think will work this time.  Money is tight as always, and I really want to get the barn done this year.  So I have to be 'cheap' in the roundpen department.  Not to mention I have a kid that needs braces.  UGH.  But I think if I focus back on body building, rather than task building, I can get her fit and healthy again, and the canter will come back on it's own.   Also, as shocking as this may sound....I am re-evaluating my dressage in regards to the how I shall move forward.  I have always been known, (self admitedly) to be VERY narrow minded in my dressage beliefs.  So this is a big step for me.  Mainly because I am not, and will never be again, the athlete I once was, and I also do not have at my 24/7 disposal a good arena.

 So that is my detailed report and thoughts on 'the horse that could not trot' and 'my horse that cannot canter'

Savvy On

Monday, March 7, 2011

DVD Review:**** Ray Hunt ~ Appreciation Clinic 2005

Ray Hunt Appreciation Clinic Circa 2005 ****

This I loved compared to the other colt start clinic with 40 horses and 40 riders, doing a weekend warrior colt start.  That one still gives me chills.  This one was with his grand kids.  The colt start part of it anyways.  Every thing was calm and it was nice to see the colts given a good start.  So if you are at all interested in colt starting, this is the one to watch.  If not, there is still some really great horsemanship during the colt start part of it. 

Now for the other part....the clinic.  This was basically just like the other one.  Lots of people riding around, working on getting soft.  There was a woman on a paint, who needed some additional help.  It was hard to tell, but it appeared she was not able to grasp anything due to nerves.  So one of Ray's grankids got on him and made alot of changes for the better in this, getting out of control and quickly becoming dangerous horse.  So there is alot to be learned during that part too.

But as far as Ray giving a whole lot of instruction, I am guessing it just wasn't his style.  So don't expect any tidbits of learning to be handed to you on a silver platter....but they are there to be learned.  And be prepared, between the two disks in this set.....there is like 8hs of viewing.

Savvy On

DVD Review: **** The horse that could not trot.

The Horse that Could not trot. ****
With Jean Luc Cornille

This is an interesting dvd.  It is HEAVILY scientific in nature, so it is a bit like paint drying, however, it is one of the most important things I think we should see.  Because all too often we will diagnose something as behavior related, and give it a training prescription....when we are not vets.  This dvd clearly shows what we all could easily think needs more 'training' 'respect' etc....when as it turns out, this poor horse could not trot due to a PHYSICAL issue.  He is a 3yo warm blood, who had only been backed less than a handful of times.  He could trot on his own, but not with a rider.  They get into some VERY scientific bio mechanics and anatomy, and it is narrated by the driest person EVER....but I think it is important if you are striving to be, or already are, a horse professional.....you NEED to see this. As this poor colt could have easily been tortured thru his problem and made much worse, instead of better. 

However, the dvd has a happy ending, because thru proper exercises, he was able to gain the strength in the muscles he needed to get better, and is now a happily, beautifully moving horse.

They go over the exercises they did for his particular problem, and do allot of slow motion stuff so you can see what your eye cannot see in real time.

So for professionals of any sport, discipline or method...I give this 5*'s, for the average student 4*'s.  As we all need to be educated on the prospect of physical vs mental.  And don't worry that you don't understand the technical mumbo jumbo....just listen for words you DO know, and google the ones you don't.

Click here for more info on my understandings of what I learned from this dvd

Savvy On

DVD Review:*** Chris Cox Series Part1 disk1

Horsemanship Part 1 Disk 1 ***

I've always thought Chris was a really good horseman.  After watching him at Road to the Horse, My opinion has not changed.  Now that I have watched one of his dvd's, My opinion is even higher!  This is a really thorough series.  12dvd's in all....in this series.  So if you are interested in him, I give him 2 thumbs up, and suggest anyone start at the beginning, so you know his method and terminology.  Especially considering, usually higher maneuvers are an involvement of a lower one, in any method, style or discipline.  But I just looked at his website, and he has a really cool widget that helps you to know which dvd has info on a certain subject.  Another 2 thumbs up.  Before I get into the meat of the content, let me say that if you are a parelli student this is a nice view into the way some others do things that are kind and for the horse.  I will say that the info covered in this dvd is well covered in parelli land, so it will only get 3*'s, as it is worth watching, but you wont die without it.  But, if you are not a parelli student, I would say this is an excellent place to learn about horsemanship and it gets 5*'s, because I suspect he is not going to leave anything out.  this is a full comprehensive series.
As to what is covered in this dvd:  He gives an awesome demonstration regarding catching a horse and Reading the horses intentions )body language) during such an endeavor.  I like his approach to the whole subject, and if you have a hard to catch horse.....this is a good place too look.  I....REALLY like his theory about having an invisible connection.  If you are a WHR fan, this is kinda the same theory with a different application.  And he also has a great approach to lowering the horses head.  I had seen it before, years ago, and have used it a time or two, but forgotten about it.  So I am happy to have the refresher.  Haltering also covered.

This is just as good as any a place to start teaching about horses, cuz I guess you can't do a whole lot, if you can never catch them.  You need to catch their mind, heart, then body.

Savvy On

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Road to the Horse ~ Parelli Tribute Video

This is my Tribute to Pat and his amazing relationship with his colt from the Road to the Horse Competition. From My heart to Pat and Linda's.

I cried many tears of joy watching him put the relationship first. He won....the heart of his colt....and the hearts of the people....at least this people!

Savvy On Pat