"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.

Friday, January 20, 2012

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


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I know I am not perfect.....so be nice!