"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.

Monday, January 30, 2012

DVD Review: **** J.P. Giacomini ~ Endotapping: Basics under saddle disk 1

**** ~ Endotapping: Basics under saddle #1

I have to say I was intrigued by this dvd. I am giving it 4 stars because it is very interesting stuff. Not that I can whole heartedly say I agree with it 100%, but mainly because when you come across something different and not all that contradictory to what you already know….it is useful to see new things and decide for yourself if it is a technique that you can incorporate into your repertoire. I saw him at a horse expo, gosh like 15ys ago, and I don’t remember my impression of him at the time.

One thing that I thought was cool about having studied Parelli as extensively as I have, is that I could really de-code what he was doing….as in…..friendly, porcupine, and driving. He uses a stick with a little rubber ball on the end and taps a horse with it in a rhythmic fashion. Of course that is nothing new to a parelli student….BUT…..what was new and interesting was the timing of the aids and the resulting action of the horse when timed right. As a student who has spent time trying to perfect my timing, I can see ways where I would modify his technique a bit and give a release more often to let the horse know he is on the right track. Now he claims that the technique he uses is a calming one…and it becomes a ‘calm down’ cue that can be used in any situation, both on the ground and in the saddle. The demo horse of course calmed down and quickly learned the aids and was even doing a few beginning steps of piaffe at the end of the session, but he did not take the horse into a new situation to show whether or not it works in a new venue…..but…since it was only one lesson, I would say it is not and ingrained pattern any ways so, really I guess there is no use in trying it. Who know what might be on the next dvd. Because of his understanding of the timing of the aids, when and where to tap the horse….this was a very logical progression to the Piaffe steps and also the Jambet, which will easily become the spanish walk. I also liked his stick because I can see how it would be less offensive to the horse while working on porcupine game. I have seen the Jambet taught by a few other trainers and I was not in love with their more aggressive style, so this was much more to my liking.

He is also clearly a French Classical Dressage Student, not a German one and he makes that very clear, but not in a rude or condescending way. I found that very refreshing. All in all I liked it, even though I am not sure I agree with the calm down cue thing, I definitely like the other applications of his technique. The lesson is with one horse new to Endo-tapping and it appears to be private with the owner in the back ground asking questions and him explaining things to one student.

I will definitely be getting the second dvd to see more, and possibly getting the Endo-stick too.

Click here for more info about , he apparently has loads of stuff to view if you join his club, but his dvd is reasonably priced at $35 and $45 for the stick. But I can’t tell if the the dvd he has for sale is this dvd that I watched because it has a different picture and title, so I think the one I watched is an older one.
The club price is $25 per month, and there appears to be quite a good number of videos to watch on his website if you are a member.  Lot's of video's in the 'undersaddle' section, including lateral work. 

Click here to read an article by  Dr Cindy Reynolds Ph.D regarding a scientific review of the Endotapping method

Savvy On

DVD Review: *** Cavalia

*** Cavalia ***

While it was a 5 star perfomance.....you won'd die without seeing it. so it only gets 3 stars.

I was a little disapointed with this dvd, mainly because it just made me want to see it in person, so I could see the whole thing rather than just what the camera was pointed.  It appears to be quite a show, moving and awe inspiring.  Lots of drama, flair and style.  Beautiful horses, beautiful people.....Beautiful imagery and horsemanship combined with death defying acts of acrobatics.  I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time my husband heard me say...WOW!  There were a few behind the scenes...scenes, but not a a whole lot.  Anyways, you won't be disapointed watching it...that's for sure....unless like me....it just makes you want MORE!

If you have no way of going to a tour stop.....this is the next best thing!

Click here for more info on Cavalia...such as tour stops to see it LIVE

Savvy On

DVD Review: *** Michelle Dennis ~ Firehorse Inspirations

*** Firehorse Inspirations

Well the title says it all. This is not an educational dvd, but it most definitely is inspirational. Kinda like being at Parelli tour stop. Basically she created it so that people could see what is possible with horses and to inspire you to do more, and the dvd sales help to support the rescue horses in her care. It took her years of filming to gather all the stuff in her dvd and she works with horses mostly at liberty in a wide open field or she rides them bridles or with a home made bridle. She works with up to 7 horses at liberty in this wide open space and I have to say I am quite impressed with her skills. It is well worth the watch that is for sure, especially if you need some inspiration to know…..the sky is not the limit…only your imagination is. It is a joy to see her horses work together as a team and as a herd. You will not be disappointed if that is the kind of thing you are looking for.

Click here for more info about Michelle Dennis

Savvy On

DVD Review: 0 stars ~ Michael Bevilacqua ~ Unlocking Learning....

Unlocking Learning and Creating the Relationship
 ~ by Michael Bevilacqua
0 Stars.....SKIP IT !!!

He lost me at "Hello"

I hate having to give bad reviews, but this could quite possibly be the worst horse educational dvd since the inception of the vcr.  So as always, I remind you....This is MY opinion ONLY and by all means, please review it yourself...but when you get done with.....don't come crying to me, because All I will say is “I told you so”.

I am sitting here trying to remember what not only made me want to rent this dvd, but also why I placed it so quickly to the top of my rental que, because I can’t recall ever having heard of this guy before. So, I did a google search. And it quickly became apparent why. He is supposedly one of Alexander Nevzorov’s top students, if not THE top student. So I guess I figured there would be lots of insight into the NHE School (Nevzorov Haute Ecole). While he seems to have some good thoughts on this dvd….those I could stand to listen to and not fast forward thru…..let me just say…..this is a home made dvd with the lowest production quality I have ever seen, and despite how intelligently some people may be able to write, this does NOT necessarily translate into speaking skills. It was torturous to watch, mainly because I felt for the guy, as I am not a very good public speaker myself….though I’d like to think I am better than that. He was constantly just stopping and staring………. looking for his next thought.

Mostly he talked about getting in touch with nature etc…..so when I couldn’t take any more, I thought I would just fast forward to some horsemanship and see what this guy could do with horses…..there was only one or two VERY short video clips. The rest was just snapshots. Now mind you, I have seen all of Alexander’s dvd’s, and while I think he is a bit out there and extremist (so much so that now he no longer advocates riding horses at ALL)….his dvd’s were top quality and his work with horses speaks for itself. He absolutely does do the Haute Ecole at liberty and ridden and does it beautifully so. He may be a pompous ass, arrogant and rude….but he is a horse master and produces a beautiful relationship that cannot be denied. I have also read and studied his website, so I am familiar with his views on horsemanship as a whole…….so…..I would think that his TOP student would be recognizable as that…..not once while watching Michael’s dvd, did I think he was more than just some dude, who decided one day, he would make a dvd about his ‘thoughts’ on horses. I don’t recall him stating he was affiliated with NHE….but then again….I fast forwarded thru quite a bit. I do not know if he is still affiliated with them or not.

So anyways, nearest I can tell, based on what HE chose to ‘showcase’ on his dvd….the only thing he repeatedly showed was a horse doing the Jambet and a few steps of Spanish walk. Other than that, the video clips just showed him ‘attempting’ to do something…such as LEAD a horse at liberty with a Cordeo, and his horse NOT wanting to do it, and him letting the horse just walk away when he wanted. Apparently the horses don’t HAVE to do ANYthing. And I am OK with that philosophy….but when you are attempting to glean MONEY for an EDUCATIONAL dvd……showing next to nothing….????

To what reasons do you give ME….that I should give YOU…..MY………..MONEY???? I would expect to see some thing you can do. At some point, you have to be able to catch it on camera….if not….don’t make a dvd…..stick to books and articles. The whole point of dvd’s are to WATCH something….

To start off, I was feeling really bad that I was needing to write a negative review, but, before I started I did the google seach and when I learned that NHE has quite a niche following….and they are dedicated to the principles so much so, that MY piddly little review is not going to cause a ripple in the pond….so I just want to say….by all means….please see for your self….don’t let MY opnion sway you in the slightest…..just don’t come cryin to me when your done.  And don't expect me to watch volume 2 either....I have NO interest what so ever to slow down and rubber neck to get a better look at the accident.  I have seen what I need to see.

I guess I should feel bad....but seriously.....just like you should have someone 'proof read' you should have someone 'proof view'....and if some one DID do that.....shame on them for not saying something!

Click here for more info on Michael Bevilacqua

Savvy On

Friday, January 27, 2012

Check this out, I kinda finished a new page about head positions

Ever wonder what they meant by 'in front of the vertical' or 'on it' or 'behind it'......??
Ever wonder what it looks like when the poll is or isn't the highest point?
Think you see alot of people working a horse on the bit correctly?
Well check out my  new page, link is above, titled
"Poll High, Nose in front of the vertical, FDO"  or click here to get there too

it is still a work in progress, but lots of photo's to learn from and test your eye and knowledge.

Savvy On

DVD Review: * Kalman de Jurenak ~ Classical Schooling part 1&2

Hmmm...I could take or leave this dvd.  it has a few good parts and some bad parts.  First, this is regarding German Classical Schooling.  Part 2 had a lovely PSG horse at the very end that was moving like an angel, but....I was not a fan of the rest of it.   Granted part 1 hass a VERY green horse, I feel it can be misleading for the lower end of the dressage population, as the horse is over bent and behind the vertical nearly the entire time. This is, in my book, taboo and needs to be avoided at all cost.  Why?  because of the grotesque deviations from classical schooling in the last 15ys.  You rarely find someone schooling the horse properly with the poll high in front of the vertical.  You either have examples such as this OR a horse crammed back, poll high, nose in front of the vertical, but the underside of his neck is bulging and his back is hollow.  There IS a correct middle ground and it is totally and completely misunderstood.  Demonstrations such as this will give the wrong impression. So, I say steer clear unless you already have the basics well and good under your belt.  In this dvd, the "poll high"  seems to be a far off notion to be achieved toward the end of years of schooling, it is a far off goal, not a principle of the training system.  For this reason, I noticed in the upper level horses, it seemed like they were repeatedly trying to achieve this 'poll high' position only to have the horse fall back to what it has known it's whole riding career.....over bent.  For this reason, I only gave this dvd 1 star, because for me....either poll high IS a principle or it is NOT.  If not....I move on to find someone who does hold it as a the sacred principle it has always been and should always be.  For ME....It is hard enough being at the bottom, failing miserably trying to emulate what is right, I don't need to add emulating doing it wrong into the mix. That's for sure.  For that reason I will not be renting the rest of the series as I have about 200 dvd's in my que right now that I would rather watch.

For more info about Kalman de Jurenak you will need to do a google search yourself, because I could not find a website for him.

Savvy On

DVD Review: **** Kathy Morelli ~ Understanding the Neck 1

The System ~ Vol 1
I liked this dvd for several reasons, although I have a 'caveat' at the end.  First it is a good quality media production, it is organized well and has wonderful imagery and excellent video's showing what she is describing. She has a great little hand held wire 'demo' horse where she explains how the dorsal ligament works and why being over bent ( behind the vertical, deep, round, hyper-flexed, rol-kur etc ) not only makes it impossible for the horse to engage properly and keep a pure rhythm, but how all that in turn upsets the horse. 

I think anyone playing with 'the game of contact' (GOC) should watch this because this is along the lines of the German Classical schooling, as well as Linda's style of riding.  But I am noticing that the poll is often NOT the highest point most of the time, with people using the 'GOC'.  IMHO, simply because far too many people just truly can't recognize when the poll is not the highest point.  (don't worry, i am working on a page devoted strictly to being able to recognize this)  And I don't think (but wont know till i watch the game of contact dvd's) it is of primary focus in this method.  So this dvd will give you  the examples and reasons why it SHOULD be a primary focus.

Where the dvd falls short for me, is that she is not particularly descriptive in the 'how'.  She definitely gives you the 'what' you should be doing......but doesn't give the nitty gritty details of the 'how'.  at least not on this volume but possibly on the second volume.  She has what she calls 'the system'...ie: the 'what'.....aka: the TASK which is to 
1. lift the head and neck UP via the reins
2. yield the head and neck forward via the reins
3. drive the hind end forward and under via the leg
4. flex and soften the poll laterally
Thru this 'system' you will gain longitudinal flexion and suppleness and this is a sound, solid and proper system to follow.....but here is the caveat I mentioned at the beginning.

....there is not much by way of the "how"...ie: TECHNIQUE

She does demonstrates the 'lifting' technique that she uses which IMHO is a bit too "forceful" for me and I much prefer Phillip Karl's technique which is much MUCH lighter and more effective.  I think this is where being a PNH student and knowing well the porcupine game and having good timing in your release will counter balance this shortcoming.

I also felt at times the tempo of the walk was hurried and quick, and gave the impression of not being truly relaxed....but that is just my opinion.

***** I think this an awesome dvd for Non - NH traditional German method dressage riders, actually a MUST for them, because this is a great way to move out of the 'deep' brainwashing that has been going on for over a decade.  This dvd will lead you out of that 'trap' and bring you back to proper training, create a happy horse and get you higher scores on your tests.

Click Here for more info about Kathy Morellli

Savvy On

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just have to share something someone said to me today

Everything in life is temporary.  We often can't see beyond our current set of circumstances to see...that this too, is just temporary.  We humans live in that moment, that's why misery seems to last for ever. 

This too shall pass
Savvy On

Friday, January 20, 2012

DVD Review: *** Rashid, Mark ~ Sitting Trot

*** Rashid, Mark ~ Sitting Trot

I was really not sure what to think of this as I started to write my review. As you all know I rent from giddyupflix.com and this particular dvd is VERY popular and I have waited quite a long time to get it. Occasionally I wanted something else really bad when it was available, so moved it down on my que. But none the less I waited a year to watch it. So I was a little disappointed when I finally got to. I think you all also know how much I really like all of his books and other dvds. In fact I have had many a profound revolution thru his teachings….so I guess I was actually REALLY disappointed with this dvd.

Most has nothing to do with the actual educational info…more like….I am not a blue grass hillbilly so I am not a fan of banjo’s……needless to say….there is quite a bit of banjo being played….nothing the volume control on the remote didn’t cure……

Next was the repetitiveness of the material covered….it was just not needed and become….well….repetitive. There was a bit of sound control issues in that it was hard to hear him talk in the segments where he was teaching a clinic……and unfortunately not hard to hear the banjo during the intersections. Half of the dvd was scripted in a nice quiet arena with a microphone and a student on the ground….scripted for the dvd. I wish the whole dvd would have been in this venue. It was easy to see and hear what they were saying and adding the clips at the clinic was just repetitive and did not add any insight to the subject matter. I would have preferred if his student would have just gotten on a horse to demonstrate the actual in the saddle work.

Then he lost points for the fact that the dvd is suppose to be about the sitting trot and quite little was actually directly related to the sitting trot. If you are not aware, Mark is into Aikido and so a lot of his teachings are based around those principles. Which I like. So it is quite possible the beginning of the dvd where it doesn’t seem to be about the sitting trot…..really is helpful info to know. I found it informative so that was good. BUT…..the 3 minutes of the info on the sitting trot needed to have been expanded. In defense of Mark, out of my deep respect for him, it was something I had never heard of before, thus a totally new concept and I cant wait to try it out and report back on how I do, but really, I wish there was more. Yes it was a simple concept, one that really doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation, thus why I think the repetitiveness of it to stretch out the content. But maybe what could have been shown was students actually trying to do this technique and possibly any struggles they faced and how they overcame them. I don’t know…..all I do know is that it was not my favorite dvd, but if the technique actually helps me sit to my bouncy big strided TB mares trot….well then it was definitely worth it. Because in the end, it is the content of information translated into success, that makes a dvd valuable, not the entertainment value. Though I will say…..charisma, like sugar, helps the medicine go down.

So, here I sit, teetering between giving 2 or 3 stars….and in the end, I am giving it 3 stars because I do think it is worth watching, just giving the caveat that YES you will have to filter a lot to get the unique perspective of how to sit the trot….that no one else has ever said before (not that I have heard anyways).

For more info on Mark….Click here

Savvy On

French Dressage vs German Dressage vs Natural Horsemanship….deeper insight.

Hmmm, some of the ‘french classical dressage’ is sinking in as I read and learn more about it. I find it highly interesting that my initial suspicions that the new age cowboy, ie: the ‘natural horsemen’ is infact doing a version of the French classical training. With German classical dressage, it is mostly about precision, where you are in control of every move the horse makes. It is about accuracy and power and grace. I would not define it as micro management as of yet. At least not when done right. Mainly because having done it for so long, I know full well that you can have an intimate relationship, where you do control every move, while still giving the horse responsibilities to uphold and giving him the freedom to uphold them, yet correcting him when he does not. So the german style books are very inviting for the novice rider, because just like the method of training the horse, the method of training the rider is just as precise and detailed. Because it is a cookbook of recipes, the novice will find the exact ‘how to’ they are looking for. But of course, it is the ‘how to’ ride GERMAN.

It seems that for the French however, their ‘method’ actually is a lack of strict guidelines. With it, it is more vague as in the ‘how to’ simply because it is about giving the horse the true freedom to express himself. As a rider, we need to stop waiting to be told what to do, and start ‘feeling’ the horse. We need to understand what and why we are asking the horse to do something before we ask him, and then when we do ask him, to get out of his way so he can do it…..and let HIM carry US. If he has difficulty or doesn’t understand, of course it is OUR responsibility to intervene and help him. Basically the essence of the French School is to FEEL our horse, not to follow some generic set of directions or to make or force it to happen, but to set it up to let it happen, then notice it and reward it when it does. Each horse is different and needs to be listened to as such. He needs to learn on his own, thru the various school movements how to balance himself, for we cannot teach it to him, just as our parents could not teach us how to balance as an infant so we could learn how to walk. But, that doesn’t leave us the rider with no responsibilities in the matter. We do need to be showing him the way towards balance and lightness, not throwing him to the wolves and leaving him to never truly discover it. Lest we not forget…..WE are the leaders, the tour guides, and we should always have our safety nets. Again, we guide the horse, and let the horse carry us.

So, it appears that in my new discovery (French Classical), Parelli does give us the tools to teach a horse on the ground, the ingredients we will need once in the saddle. Until recently, Parelli (and similar methods) did not much support the German Style, however I believe Linda’s new Game of Contact will. Because French is all about lightness, Pat’s style of riding is along those lines and the reason why I believe Linda had so much trouble ‘getting’ the game of contact all these years. Mainly because they (French and German or Pat and Linda) are quite a bit contradictory. Despite all that she learned from Pat and NH, she was seeking the holy grail of the German School. Something I myself discovered many moons ago, and thus, had issues with a few aspects of NH all along….because I saw the contradictions from the get go. Something in Linda’s brain finally ‘clicked’ and she ‘got it’. Personally, I don’t think it was much of a discovery on how to get contact, as much as a way to cause the horse himself to WANT to take the contact. The actual style of contact she is riding, is the same as it has always been. She is not the first to cause a horse to WANT to take the contact, but she may infact be the first to figure out a way to simplify teaching it and to teach it to many humans…..so that they too can cause ‘their’ horse to WANT to take the contact too. Something that honestly is not easy to find/understand in any kind of literature or other types of learning venues. The contradiction that I keep speaking of in NH is that the general desire is to have a horse give/move away from pressure.  Any and All pressure.....so.....when she was being told to 'keep the contact' she, based on the subconcious conditioning, was asking for and then allowing the horse to not move INTO the pressure.  To be honest, I know it is all that easy to teach a horse to do both, but I do know it can be done as I have done it myself.....but.....90% of the contact was just that.....contact.....and still far far far from French lightness.

So what I find so damn ironic, is that I have been waiting 10ys for Parelli to come up with the kind of stuff that did not contradict all the Classical German Dressage that I held true to my heart, something unlike the version of the cowboy who is describing what I know deep inside me to be French Classical Dressage in disguise, that which I rejected for all my dressage years and all my 10ys of NH……

And when Parelli finally DOES come out with the ‘game of contact’….here I am being drawn to French Classical Dressage like a moth to a flame, and seeing more and more what the Cowboy has to offer me…..at least in the “HOW” department…..I will still keep searching the Classical Masters for the “what” department….as I would like my horse to be more engaged and through than the cowboys desire. The cowboys, typically, will not uphold the holy principles of the classical masters….such as the poll being the highest point, not being behind the vertical….etc etc….because at the end of the day…..their goal is a good COW horse. But now more than ever, I firmly believe the reason my transition to French Classical is so easy is due mostly in part to Pat 7 games. Because once you know how to ask a horse to do “some”thing….you can ask him to do ‘any’thing. For this reason, Rose near instantly knew leg yield and shoulder in, and haunches in…..where it was a lifetime pursuit in my German days. Those things were the things I aspired to do….’one day’……and now they are things I can ask a green horse within the first few rides. They are not a mystery, and I can now use them exactly as they were intended to be used….as gymnastic exercises for EVERY horse, of EVERY level……not a movement of perfection for some higher level competition.

So if the German holy grail is ‘forward’ and the French holy grail is ‘lightness’, it stands to reason that there may in fact be some difficulty in the marriage of the two. I still need to see the ‘game of contact’ for myself, though as I have said in the past, I have a fairly good general idea from the mastery dvd’s. I think regardless many dressage riders would be astounded to know just how much Parelli could help them learn their dressage better, and now…..it will include both the French and the German style. But make no mistake about the fact that the things like rhythm, tempo, impulsion, straightness and collection, will still be up to you to study outside of parelli…….it is just that parelli teaches you how to ask your horse to do anything…..so if you know you need pure rhythm, even tempo and straitness…..while they don’t teach those things, none the less you will learn how to apply their method to any topic. Sky’s the limit…..only your lack of imagination hold you back….so what are you waiting for?

Savvy On


Monday, January 9, 2012

Very excited about the next shipment of dvd's....ooooooh

Well, I got lucky and finally two dvd's i have been waiting for are available while it's my turn to get some dvd's.  usually they are "temporarily out of stock" when i am exchanging dvd's....quite popular they are.  Two of the next shipment are about the dreaded sitting trot!  It is really something i could never get down very well as Snookie had such a springy back and i had her well engaged and thru.  Now that I am 15ys older and quite a bit fatter and out of shape then i was back then.....i figured i needed all the help i could get.  One of the dvd's is Mark Rashids asumedly using Aikido principles, which i love....and the other is my beloved Mary Wanless...the guru of rider biomechanics.  The other two dvds are "Classical Schooling 1-2" with Kalman de Jurenak and 'Understanding the Neck' with Cathy Morelli.  I will be pacing back n forth in front of the mail box waiting for my little orange envelopes......in total anticipation of golden nuggets galore! They 'should' be here before the weekend.  We'll see.

My knee is doing well and i hope to ride at least twice this next weekend.  I also checked on the day light hours saving time thingy ma jig, and it starts on March 11th this year until Nov 4th.  Just two more months and i will be able to ride during the week again.....that will be a bit harder to wait for.  This weekend if i can work on my dressage sat n sun, i will hopefully be able to trail ride with a friend on monday.....HOLIDAY....no work that day!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy 300th Post! Celebrate with me!

Well....I did it....300 posts!  I can hardly believe I had THAT much to say....oh who are we kidding here.....I blabber on about everything don't I?  I had a nice ride with my friend today....short but sweet.  Nice open areas and Rose was a dream boat.  My horsemanship was spectacular today!  I got to use my old dressage reins I was talking about.....man that was so refreshing.  Honestly, I much prefer the weightless feeling of them compared to the rope reins.  It was crystal clear when I had made contact....and glaringly obvious when I had lost the contact.  Which for my finesse riding is exactly what I was looking for.  As for riding with them freestyle....just as good for that too.  And just look at how ravishingly gorgeous she looks in my Stubben Bridle.  Who couldn't love a face like that?  

So lets see, I started this blog over 2 n half years ago, inspired by the movie "Julie and Julia" I left the theater and came home with the intention of doing ALL the Parelli levels tasks, level 1-4......in a year.  Unlike the movie, I failed miserably.  Lots of things got in the way of my goal, but my journey took many unsuspecting turns and twists, and thus so did my blog.  I have reviewed close to 60 horse dvd's, but 8 or so are still in draft mode waiting for me to finish them.  Those dvd's alone have changed my life and journey in so many ways, as well as the books I am reading, that I cannot find the words sometimes to express it.  When I started my blog, I was still VERY paralyzed from my fears and still in a dreadful amount of pain from the car accident.  I was still going thru a pre ride ritual, that involved cigarettes and mediation, and then I still had fear issues while riding.  As of today, I am fear free, I just hop on and ride.  And I hope to get the cantering thing tackled this summer.  

Over the last few years, my relationship with Rose hit some really low LOWS.....and my relationship with Cha'cote hit some really high HIGHS.  I have saved the lives of quite a few horses and a few dogs too.  I have gained a few pounds, lost a few, and found them again....ugh.  Been thru hell and back in my personal life and survived.  I've lost some friends and made some new ones.  And generally am doing alright.  I got to conduct a huge social experiment, in where during a dark time for Parelli, the infamous Catwalk incident, I chose to take a drastically different "online" path than all of my friends, and opened up some wonderful dialog with parelli haters world wide. (click here) to read the thread, but I must tell you, it is long and pointless if you don't read the whole thing.  I just wanted to prove that there is a way to talk to people and a way not to talk to people.  That there doesn't have to be an "us" and a "them".  We don't have to be at war with people who don't do parelli or anyone for that matter, just because we are different. So, anonymously I started a thread under the aka screen name 'tongue~n~cheek', and posted an offer to people who don't do parelli, to ask legitimate non 'anti hate' questions about parelli....and i would honestly answer those questions with OUT cramming parelli down their throats or making them feel inferior for not doing parelli. In the end I think I answered over 200 questions and another 200 private messages.  It took me 5 long weeks of only 3-4 hrs of sleep a day to accomplish it.  It started off rough, but in the end, I made alot of friends world wide and not a one of them was a parelli person. Just goes to show, when you open your heart before your mouth, wonderful things can happen.  Linda Parelli herself read the thread and was impressed, and while she and I were talking about it, she mentioned that while Pat was reviewing my audition he remarked about me "you can see she has the savvy".  Speaking of auditions, during this blogging time I officially passed 5 auditions. Woo Hoo!  While it is not 'official' I am a L4 grad, and hope to someday make it official, though it is no longer at the top of the list of High Priority anymore.  Probably the best of all, is my new found interest in French Classical dressage because although it is vastly different to my German Classical dressage past, it is completely perfect for where I am in my life with my horsemanship, where the German is not so achievable right now.  But, after giving this thing a go during good weather in the upcoming months, I may never go back.  I have found 'me' again, after searching for years!  I learned some really good stuff with the Waterhole Rituals too.  And I am certainly looking at horsemanship with brand new eyes, and what I am finding is REALLY good stuff.  What more can I ask for?  It has been a great journey that has brought me right here, right where I guess I need to be.

Thanks to those that have followed along.  My little blog is just a few short visitors away from 12,ooo views.  Here's to looking forward to the next 300 posts.....Stay tuned as I am working on some good stuff regarding bitless dressage and keeping the pole the highest point, and also working on a page about different types of horsemanship and the masters we all look up too.  Don't forget to look around, there are over 100 video's plastered all over the place with both good and bad horsemanship to learn from.

Savvy On

Ever wonder if your horse is laughing at you and conspiring against you?

OMG....TOO Funny!  YES indeedy they are!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

DVD Review: **** Beran, Anja ~ Elegant Dressage Training vol 1

Elegant Dressage vol 1****
What a wonderfully beautiful dvd.  Elegant doesn't begin to describe the beauty in this film.  Several horses of varying breeds and  stages of training are used to demonstrate correct classical dressage.  Anja is a long time student of Manuel Jorge de Oliveira, a pupil of the well-known Nuno Oliveira.  So this is along the lines of French Classical dressage of course.  It covers important topics such as how to develop the body in all stages, and I find it refreshing to hear them talk about the 'movements' as body building, conditioning, strengthening and correcting as opposed to them being the outcome that we struggle a lifetime to perfect for technicalities sake.  For instance, they use the Piaffe as an exercise to build strength and coordination in younger, greener, or spoiled horses....not the highest form of exhibition at a show.  The ideas, concepts and philosophy are clearly seen as art early on.  In that the horse is a blank canvas, and from the moment you take brush to oil and apply your first stroke of genius, your masterpiece has begun.  Granted it will be a very long time before you have a completed picture, but they see the brilliance in each stroke, the brightness of each color applied has meaning from the beginning.  It is not like in modern competitive dressage where the strokes you apply need to make small perfect pictures and then the many small pictures are pieced together to make up the big picture, and once you have completed that, only then are you considered an artist worthy of painting.  Such as this picture of the palomino. 
First each tiny picture must be painted separately, and you cannot make the big picture until you are done with them. 

But in the French Fashion you are creating and working on your big picture from stroke one, and it is clear what your intent is within a few strokes, and everyone can see that BIG picture you are creating.

I have to say, if you would like to see what dressage should look like, and how you might go about looking like that too.....this is a great dvd.  It covers so many topics it is quite thorough both for ground work, in hand work and under saddle work.  I will say that again, it is lacking in the "HOW" so much as in weight, seat, leg and rein aids.  I would again refer you to Phillip Karl, Craig Stevens dvds for more info on the 'how'.

Click here for more info on Anja Beran. 

Savvy On

DVD Review: ****Rohlf, Karen ~#1~ Riding in Connection w the Reins

Riding in Connection w the Reins ****

When riding a horse there are more ways that we can get it 'wrong' than there are ways to get it 'just right'.  By sticking to the basics, we will set ourselves up for success. In this dvd Karen demonstrates how to develop a positive connection with the reins in a natural way.  She rides a greenish horse in a rope halter and rope reins. She starts off with a list of pre-requisites, such as the horse already being able to move forward in a free, relaxed, balanced and supple way, and that the horse should already know how to follow a feel rather than brace against it.  And that the rider should already have independent seat and hands and not need to use the reins for their own balance. She reminds us to keep a clear picture of what we desire in our minds, and then decrease the reasons for heaviness and increase the quality of our basics.

She starts the 'lesson' by checking in 'freestyle' (not using the reins)to see if she has control of the horse without using the reins, to stop, go and turn, and the changes between gait.  Also to check for the other basics of calm and listening to the leg during turns on the hind and forehand. Once she had the saddle and halter/reins on, I really like how she goes thru the process of  checking each ingredient before moving on to concentrated riding.  She has a great system for isolating each ingredient she is looking for, before trying to put it all together.

I like her description of 'taking a soft touch' on the reins, in that when you first make that contact how you are not doing so to ask anything of them, and thus they should have no reaction to it.  I also REALLY like her theory of the 'alignment' exercise. In that she does not ASK for the roundness with the reins, she NOTICES it with the reins.  She uses a way of aligning the horse laterally until he FINDS longitudinal roundness.  It is a great natural process of not forcing it, rather setting things up and then allowing it to happen.

There is great debate about being able to properly achieve the sacred principles of dressage bitless, and here we have a great example, that YES we can.  While this dvd is not proof of carrying this on to the highest levels, is is proof that it CAN be done.

So, I highly recommend this dvd for those wanting to ride properly....while keeping it natural and bridging the gap between natural horsemanship and dressage.

For More info about Karen click here

Savvy On