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Clinic - Kingston, IL, nr. Chicago


We observed how some of the smaller things that often go unnoticed simply amplify fast when things speed up. The good news is that means we can do something about those bigger things by improving some pretty tiny things! Many of the challenges raised were rooted in the same issue -- an unstable left diagonal, due to a default inadvertently practiced in which the horse leans on his left shoulder, leaving the right hind/hip out of gear to some degree.

So rather than wondering if a horse-might-buck-this-time when asked to canter, causing us to hold our breath, and the horse to hold his......:) or pick up the "wrong" lead, or break gait... we opted to go about restoring a reliable diagonal for the balance he needs to do these things smoothly.

It is really quite a relief know that just about every challenge known to any horseman of any level share two things in common. One thing you have but don't want: Brace. And one thing you want but don't have: Balance. So we only have to get really good at TWO things! Noteworthy too is that ANY improvement in our understanding of how to release brace (or better, not create it) and how to restore balance in order to shape what we want, will be reflected in an improved ride. As a bonus, the more we learn to notice and work WITH the smaller "particles of feel" the easier it is to notice improvements and find joy in the process.

Everyone made great progress experimenting with the simple formula of releasing (oneself) first, then "dialing in" to a released connection, so mind and feet are available for whatever you had in mind. This allows releasing feet vs. driving feet etc. to come through for you with ease.

We visited about the very big difference between what I affectionately call a "pet" horse, vs. the real horse inside. One has lightness and ballerina feet available, the other... does not :) We can love on our horses and feed treats in a way that creates a "pet" and a heavy ride that is hard to steer and set up for things like bucking OR... we can love on our horses and feed treats in a way that supports the lighter ride we now seek... it is up to the individual! And when you know the difference you have the opportunity to choose.

There was also something in this clinic that moved me deeply in my personal journey with horses, and that was a gift offered up by a horse that confirmed - beyond any shadow of a doubt - something I've been more and more aware of in terms of the feel of release and how it can be applied to release long-term residual brace that is held deeper in some/many horses. It would take an article, maybe a book lol, to put proper words to this, if indeed that is possible. Maybe August would be a good time for that...

Thank you all for bringing your wonderful equine partners, each one so very different from the next, which allowed us plenty of opportunity to add to the melting pot of ideas about what it might mean to "fit a horse" through feel.

We are planning another clinic for the first weekend of November at Spirits Whisper Acres - more soon!

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

CavendishBookCover

"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