"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, February 17, 2012

DVD Review: *** Riz Ilyas ~ Piaffe Revealed

My most in-depth review!  Wow.....WOW.....I have been chomping at the bit to get my hands on this dvd set.  Normally I will write a seperate review on each volume of a set as I recieve/view them...but since this has been 'unavailable' for rental since the nano second they got it in stock.....I didn't want to share my enthusiasm after getting Vol 1....until I got my own grubby mits on Vol 2.....basically being selfish and stingy, not wanting to alert ANYone else to beat me to it.  A while back I was involved in several online discussions regarding not only the appropriateness of teaching ANY horse of ANY level the Piaffe, but also, the reality of whether or not ANY one could actually do it...even a novice....as the author claims.....then add to that.....IF his style of Piaffe was even 'correct' be it classical or modern, or if it is just a trick for backyard horse enthusiasts.  I can assure you, there is quite a debate over these dvd's.....in every subject known to horsemanship.  You name it...someone is talking about it.  Anyways, when the attacks started.....I defended him....not because I know him or had seen the dvd's (at the time) for my self....but because no  one HAD seen them, nor were any of the discussion participants educated enough to judge a 'correct' piaffe....much less had they themselves ever ridden dressage....bascially.....my stand point was this.....do your research before you judge something.  If you havn't seen the dvd....how on earth can you judge if is good bad or indifferent?  So....I opened my big mouth....and said I would get the dvd's, review them as I do all my dvd reviews.....BUT.......ALSO.....obligated myself to test it out on my own horses  (something I wanted to do anyways) and share my progress as I go along.....and if possible.....get a real novice to join me in my experiment.  For all intents and purposes....as far as dressage goes....I would consider myself a novice.  Others may not....but I do.  Why?  Because:

 #1~Theory~In all my study, in the years gone by, as a scholar, I fall quite short to many many people who have had the resources to study far more intensivly than have.  Though my desire and passion is there, my book worming is just a drop in the bucket compared to the serious intellectual Classical Dressage student.

#2~Expert Mentorship~In all my years, basically I did it alone.  I had few, if any, live mentors to study under.  Most that I found in my area were either not classical or too expensive for my puny budget.  But I did have one that was a bit 'out there' as a human being....but he taught me alot in the few lessons I could afford w him.  Luckily he boarded his horses where I did...and I was able to watch many lessons w other students and watch him ride his own horses and he was gracious enough to answer my MANY questions I grilled him with.  Which had led me to the discovery that many of the great riders are actually quite obscure, and NEVER recieved nor attempted to recieve a gold medal or a blue ribbon of any kind.

#3~Glass Ceiling: I only made it into L3 before my mare foudnered and was retired.  Though I do pride myself on the fact that as a backyard Classical dressage enthusiast, with minimal funds and a $500 TB mare....I made it that far....CORRECTLY...on my own.  Pat Pat Toot Toot......(that's me patting my back and tooting my horn)

#4~Reality Check:  I am now a middle aged woman, ouit of shape and over weight who has not ridden but a handful of times in the last 4 years due to injuries from a car accident....and my horse is a 14yo green rescue TB mare with the equivelent training of 30 "traditional" days under saddle and a "tying up" issue (medical condition...google it).....AND....I don't have an arena....My reality SUCKS....go figure! 

Based on these three things alone, I don't think I could ever consider myself anything other than a novice....in dressage land...though I am hardly a novice horseman....far from it in-fact.  I decided to create a new blog, for the sole purpose of tracking my progress in the experiment to see if the claims could be true.....that anyone could teach any horse to do piaffe.

Click here to follow the experiment.

So anyways, On to the long awaited reviews

Piaffe Revealed ****

Disk 1 ~ Classroom Session ~ Theory and Equiptment
Riz is a great speaker, charismatic and down to earth.  He is humble, not flamboyant and REAL.  He is a real student of the horse, and yet he is not arrogant about his knowlege.  Watching the dvd was like talking to a good friend.  He used common sense language and was never boring.  He went over the body points and how a horse USUALLY reacts when touched there.  He went over useful equiptment, and this was quite extensive in the 'whip/guider' department..  He of course covered the principles, uses and mis-uses of training the Piaffe..  He points out that the Piaffe is NOT the 'end' of the means, rather the 'means' to the end.  And he is not alone in this practice. 

It is a philosphy that I have seen from several French Classical trainers, and have seen them use the Piaffe for many good reasons, quite early on in a horses career.  It is a falacy that only special people and special horses get to do the Piaffe when they are good enough to think about going to the olympics.  IF we remember that Dressage = Training.....and ALL the school movements are excersizes to produce a well rounded and trained horse.....and that the goal....the "END" if you will, is a horse that is light, relaxed, responsive, balanced and obedient......NOT.....Piaffe.....then we will better be able to see the Piaffe in the same light as a 20 meter circle and a 'working trot'......nothing more than an excersize.....Piaffe is the 'MEANS' to the 'END'.....rather than being the 'END' itself.

Unfortunately there was a few areas of the dvd with sound quality issues.  The rest was spot on.  However I discovered the sound issues are not present when the dvd is played on my computer, only when played on my tv with my dvd player.  (but I have never had sound issues w other dvds) Remember that vol 1 is not the 'how to'...it is the pre-requisite understanding needed before the "how to".  I just wish I didn't have to wait now for vol 2.  So for now...this is where I will go to draft mode....

Disk 2 ~ The Arena Session ~ principle into practice

This dvd is the 'how to' and it is quite thorough.  He has deconstructed all the step to train the piaffe and made each step very clear.  It covers 2 pre-requisite exercises that must be in place before you begin the actual steps to start training the piaffe. Those perquisites should be a no-brainer for parelli students because they are similar to tasks in L2 online, friendly and stick to me, though it needs to be done this very specific way so it translates later on when you get to the part where you put it all together. The next two exercises, the leg lifts and goat stance should also be relatively easy for a parelli student due to ones understanding of the porcupine and driving games, though it might require L3+ savvy.  Then you get to the part where you begin to put it all together, and this is where you will truly discover if a 'novice' has what it takes to teach piaffe.  I believe that parelli students will fare better than the average novice, even though he does explain everything from how to apply the pressure, how to release and how to reward.  Feel and timing are needed and those are two things that cannot be bought.  Only father time and mother experience can help you in that department.  He then moves on to doing the piaffe in long lines once piaffe is relatively understood and if you have made it to this point, it is yet another cross road to separate the savvy from the un-savvy.  Parelli Level 4 students have yet another leg up as the driving game from zone 5 is already being established.  I will say, long lining is a bit of an art all to it self, and as he states, it needs to be confirmed prior to doing it with piaffe....for obvious reasons. He then goes into the pillars, though he advises extreme caution here and reminds every one that the pillars are NOT mandatory, but he does go over how to do it safely and sanely should it be something you want to do.  After that, he begins the piaffe under saddle, once piaffe is well established in hand and in long lines.

Now that I have described what he covers in the dvd, let me talk a teeny bit about the quality of his work.  I don't think that any 'natural' person will have any contradictions to what he does or how he does it.  He is a good horseman, kind and talented, and it is all done quite naturally.  Again he is a good speaker, down to earth, no and I sincerely mean NO ego in this man what so ever, it is easy to listen to him talk without my mind drifting or being annoyed. The quality of the organization of the material covered is very good....some minor sound quality issues, though as I stated before, playing it on my computer solved that.  The whole thing is simple in design and concept, yet just because something is simple, doesn't mean it is easy.  When it comes to the 'quality' of piaffe produced, I would have to say it is closer to classical principle than many if not most modern competitive piaffe's.  So for all those dressage queens out there, as a philosophical argument here, I have to say, if you are going to do something 'wrong' anyways (what you will do if you follow many modern riders) why not check this dvd out?  He holds classical principles to a higher and more correct standard, and for the cost of just one lesson with gold medalist, you can get the dvd, and in the end maybe learn more about it than you could in a lifetime of lessons.  Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying lessons are useless, cuz I'm not.  Just saying, I don't think the subject of piaffe as a whole, has been covered before like this.  So if you want to know more about it, this is probably as close to a one stop shop as you are ever gonna get.  The poll is high, nose in-front of the vertical, and the horses are using  their hind ends....that is more than many GP riders can do....even though they SAY they are doing it, they are not.

When it comes to applying very correct classical principles, if you know 'what' they are.....and feel they may be lacking or a bit substandard in this dvd, let me say that as long as you know what they are, you should have no problem adhering to them with this method.....regardless if your classical back ground is in French or German.  I did notice with one horse he could have lifted a bit better from the base of his neck over his topline, but I think it had a tad bit to do with his conformation.  Again, there is NO reason, if you know the classical principles, that you can't tailor this system to your desires.  It is a great road map and skeleton.

Now for the whole 'even a novice can do this'....I kinda went over this a bit, but want to delve just a hair deeper on this.  I "REALLY" think this is going to be based on ones definition of 'novice'....which just may be a highly subjective term.  I stated why I would consider MYself a novice, and to ME it is not the same as a begginer, rather a step above it.  Though websters dictionary, and most people first thought, IS infact....."beginner".  So the more I thought about this, I asked my self....what are the stages of horsemanship?....and where do "I" fall on the scale? So for arguments sake here....lets go with this scale for a better understanding of what I think you might need to be in order to actually do this.

Beginner:  I just got here, where do I start
Novice:  Survived the beginning and ready to be serious
Intermediate:  I know my way around pretty good with little help
Experienced:  I can take care of me and mine without putting much thought into it, it's a habit
Apprentice:  Pretty good now, and learning from a master to teach beginners
Journeyman:  I'm really good now and can teach even the experienced
Master:  An artist

So based on this scale, I am not a novice, somewhere between Apprentice and Journeyman category, but not in the dressage department.  So, do I think a 'novice' could do it?....anything is possible....though I would have to see it for myself to believe it.  I don't know his definition, but the dvd is laid out in simple steps, and is simple enough in theory that anyone can understand it......execution of it is a whole 'nuther story though....isn't it?

I would have liked to see a trouble shooting section with maybe a horse that had not already been taught ANY thing about any of the piaffe exercises.  Though each of the horses he did use, did not do things perfectly, so there were plenty of times he was able to show things that might go wrong and how to correct it, I would have loved to see what the process of day 1 leg lifts looked like.  He did talk about safety ALOT so that is good.

So why only 3 stars?  Well, simply because this is a very specialized dvd, if you have no desire to do piaffe, well then it's not a must see.  But if you DO want to do piaffe....I give it 5 stars because you just aren't gonna find a dvd like this anywhere else.....at least I havn't seen it yet....but I am still looking!

Click here for more info about Riz Ilyas

Click Here to Follow my Piaffe Journey
Savvy On

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