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Clinic - Shafer, MN


We took the concept of zero-brace to a new dimension, after better understanding how we can inadvertently create brace, by unconsciously offering brace. It is so much easier to shape what we want if the horse is released to us first. We explored how to get with the feel of the horse to work *through* the horse, vs. applying technique *to* the horse. And free up our creativity in terms of feel, within a defined framework of principles!

I admit to being unsettled by the bad wreck and long term consequences of an injury recently experienced by a knowledgeable horsewoman and student I worked with privately last week. Anyone getting hurt is unsettling, but it was made no less so by observing the same setup in the majority of the horses at this (and every) clinic. A horse leaning on the foot nearest you goes largely unnoticed, yet can lead to a shoulder loaded with 1000lbs coming at you when things hit the fan, or when out enjoying time with the herd... We explored how some common things we do in handling set this up, and how to avoid such pitfalls with new habits. Some far less obvious sources surfaced too, such as compensation on one shoulder for an old injury, or the "bow", frequently taught on left only (Hannah and I discovered some surprising consequences to this last summer).

We worked on essential groundwork elements that build a new default: unweighting/readiness in the shoulder next to you, and restoring the horse's sensitivity to our need for space. On a more upbeat note (!) I want to thank riders and auditors alike for the fascinating discussions in which you shared what inspires you from approaches you are working with and how the feel of release fits in. Great fodder for The Art of Riding Think Tank lol, as was your input on developments I have in mind for supporting students, locally and remotely, outside of clinics/coaching. Keep it coming! I am most grateful to you all for a fantastic weekend - I feel like I came back from the spa!!!!

KM

Mark Rashid

RashidBookCover

"I see an 'opening' as anything that allows us to help guide, however briefly, an individual in the direction we ultimately would like to go. An 'opening' can be, and often is, a very subtle form of communication between horse and rider that can easily slip past us if we're not paying attention. 'Openings' can and do work both ways. [...] It amazes me just how small an 'opening' can actually be, whether working with horses or with people, and how easy it can be to create an 'opening' when one is needed."

Mark Rashid

"I truly believe developing the ability to see and use 'openings' effectively is only one piece of what one might refer to as the 'harmony in horsemanship' puzzle. When this idea of understanding 'openings' is brought together with the understanding of two other simlar ideas - making a connection with another indvidual, and the role distance plays in overall communication - I believe it is then that harmony in horsemanship becomes a much less daunting concept for us."

Mark Rashid

Leslie Desmond

LDaudiobook

"Bill knew about a place I did not know existed, or could exist, between a horse and a human being [...] Bill included each one of my horses in that information exchange. Over the course of many months,... he took each one by its lead rope and, later, by the bridle reins. Using what he called his 'better feel', Bill showed me and each of them exactly what he meant by what he did [...] It was not long after I made the switch from force when needed (often) to always customizing the feel I offered to a horse, that two tough horses I had misunderstood for years developed into my most reliable mounts."

Leslie Desmond

The lightest hands carry intent that is recognized instantly by the horse, as seen in the maneuvers he chooses to make with his feet. Whether that horse is ridden or handled, the lightest hands can purposefully influence the speed, direction and sequence of each foot with accuracy, in a manner that is reflected in the horse's body and on his face.

Leslie Desmond

Bill Dorrance

bilsbook

"The Real Masters Understood Feel [...] For example, De Kerbrech, (French officer in the cavalry of Napoleon III) really understood horses. He had it fixed up so the horse could succeed. [...] The first time I read Beudant's book was in the 1950s. The way he explained things, there was no doubt in my mind about what a person needed to do to get these little things working for them and their horse."

Bill Dorrance

“Feel, timing and balance: sometimes it’s best to talk about feel, timing and balance separately, and to learn how to apply each thing separately on the start. But when you apply these three things a little later in your training, then you see that each one of these things supports the other. They are interconnected and all three are real important. You really can’t get along without all three.”

Bill Dorrance

Faverot de Kerbrech

FaverotBookCover

“...plus le deplacement du poids est facile dans tous les sens, plus l'equilibre est parfait. En vertue de ce principe, on dit que le cheval est 'en equilibre' quand de simples indications suffisent au cavalier pour modifier a son gre la disposition du poids sur ses colonnes de soutien”

Faverot de Kerbrech

[Translation: ...the easier it is to shift the weight in any direction, the more perfect the balance. By virtue of this principle, the horse is 'in balance' when a simple indication from the rider is sufficient to modify the distribution of weight across the columns of support (four quarters) accordingly]

Duke of Newcastle

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"You must in all Airs follow the strength, spirit, and disposition of the horse, and do nothing against nature; for art is but to set nature in order, and nothing else."

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle

"A confrontational approach ‘Astonishes the Weak Horse […] makes a Furious horse Madd; makes a Resty Horse more Resty […] and Displeases all sorts of Horses’. The alternative however is not ‘to Sit Weak […] but to Sit Easie’, in the understanding that ‘The Horse must know you are his Master’"

William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle