LJB Clinic Notes

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Location: Vermont and New Hampshire, United States
  • Leslie Desmond
  • Harry Whitney
  • Piper Ridge Farm
  • Joe Wolter
  • The Horsey Therapist
  • Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Mark Rashid, May 22-24 2008

    These are my notes for the first three days with Mark and Crissi. I did not distinguish what days or what horse and rider are the context for my notes other than during my horse time. Here they are:

    Sofia and I:

    In the round pen.

    Speed, direction, destination. I need to provide all three or else she will. My presence is important. My posture shows my presence.

    Feeling my walk and trot during ground work. It is not a change in stride length. It is a change in speed.

    Mind set: "we are doing this" and then help Sofia meet that.

    Mark demonstrated how he disconnects when Sofia was not making an effort to connect with him, by turning away (off behind her) while still walking with same rhythm and tempo, then when Sofia starts making an effort to connect, turning again to be moving in the same direction, together with her.

    With Crissi, I worked on my walk and my trot, keeping my arms and hands quiet just like I would if I were walking down the street. Too much activity in my body becomes meaningless to the horse, like kicking every step while riding.

    Finding the walk with the amount of life I want. Helping Sofia stay with it before she loses it. Encourage her to stay with the speed I've asked for just when she starts to lose it.

    We are always asking the horse to be here now, present with us.


    Instead of dealing with the horse's shoulder falling in on the circle, ask the outside front foot to step out. This works because of the balance of the horse.

    Our balance on the horse: side to side is stable. Front/back is not stable but horse underneath us provides it.

    When standing, our feet are more or less under our shoulders. Good lateral/medial stability, and feet (toes to heels) are designed to provide anterior/posterior stability. When we walk, that changes as our feet come toward our midline at the walk. (Try walking while keeping feet at shoulder width!) Horse does the same -- standing balance is different from moving balance.

    If horse 'falls in' on a circle, he is doing it to maintain balance after the inside front foot steps toward the inside of the circle. So think about that outside front foot stepping out on the circle which will influence horse to keep balance by moving the inside foot toward the outside where he just stepped. Use the reins to bring that foot out if the thought alone isn't effective to get the change. Think about that foot landing to the outside. Replace those thoughts about the foot or shoulder falling in. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

    Get a response to the rein when asking the horse to soften. Put hand with rein on thigh and let horse do what he needs to do. He'll find his way off that rein pressure. Put your hand so it doesn't move then he has to think about what to do to soften to that pressure.

    Instead of giving when he softens, say: my hand is right here, you put your head wherever it's comfortable. If you want to struggle, go ahead and struggle with yourself.

    Pulling between horse and rider with stiffness and tension on the reins: change intent. I don't want to be fighting with you even if we have contact. Nothing actually changes with the hands or the tension/amount of pressure on the reins. The intent does change!

    Like talking on the phone, you can talk really loud or talk softly, but the phone doesn't change.

    Another analogy: take contact. The outside of the rein stays the same but the inside of the rein softens. Visual might be outside of rein is a pipe and inside of the rein is fluid.

    When riding, when we feel the effect, it's out of balance. If horse spikes and we spike, too, it doesn't feel right. (Mark talks at other times about this balance point.)

    Demo with rider: difference between a cue or aid with or without energy. The difference between pressure with no energy and pressure with energy.

    Looking for a consistent line of communication so the horse never has to go: where are you?

    Looking for the feel of both of you doing the same thing at the same time. Effortless, like skating.

    If we feel friction, we are out of balance with ourselves. If we are out of balance with ourselves, we cannot be in balance with our horse.

    Visualization for riding from core: think about having two arms that come down around the horse then visualize opening your hands. To slow down, turn hands over toward midline and down. To bring more speed, open hands palm upwards.

    The higher the horse's head goes, the higher the horse's heart rate goes. Get them to drop their head and we can get them to drop their heart rate.

    Using the hands opening for increased speed tends to lift and bring the back up. This takes us away from using our legs for increased speed. The slow down movement: also brings horse back and up, onto hinds, and closes down the energy.

    Use this for transitions up and down - gets us away from using hands/reins and legs/seat -- gets us using our core.

    Use stable hands but with different intent to help horses soften to reins.

    Intangibles of energy - much of Mark's thinking and experience comes from Aikido.

    Control of the body to calm down: my body, horse's body.

    Focus on what we do have, not on what we don't have. Maybe we don't have softness right now. But we have straight lines and we have impulsion.

    It is different to give to pressure versus to soften.

    We have way more 'middle' than 'edge'. Using the balance point scale of 0-10 -- the edges are 0 and 10 while the middle is 1-9. We want to use all of it, the whole spectrum.

    We have to use whatever the horse says we need to use, then we can back off from there. But always offer softness.

    Focus on what we want then make sure horse finds a way to get there.

    Foundational stuff: speed, direction, destination.

    Before we get to the destination, we pick another one, then another one.

    Working from your core, define speed, direction, and destination.

    Generally a spook will only last about two seconds. Horses are designed to get ready to run more than they are designed to run. Horse may jump but probably won't run away.

    One thing that gets us in trouble is when a horse is worried about something and we drag them right up to it. A horse will check something out then turn and run off a bit. Later they will come back a bit closer, then leave again, then return again.

    We create a problem forcing a horse close to a scary thing.

    Instead take him away from it. He can start gaining confidence in the person, plus person is taking him away, not him taking the person away. Good leadership.

    Horse may go past something in one direction but not in the other direction. This is because of his brain. Corpus callosum in the horse is less highly developed than in humans. Horses cannot translate information very well from one side of the brain to the other.

    It is better to get something solid on one side, like mounting, then start on other side.

    Back up with a horse who was very braced -- keep hands in one spot and let the horse work on it. Right now we're asking him to soften and we're using backing to do that. First get him backing, then work on backing straight.

    We have to be able to offer softness if we want softness in return.

    Nodding and lateral flexion happen in the first joint at the top of the neck. Rotation happens in the next joint down.

    Horses don't hold grudges.

    Starting a horse: lunging, ground driving (stopping, backing, turning), then saddled ground driving, then bitted ground driving, then mount.

    If we release on something less than what we want, we'll keep getting what we don't want.

    If the horse doesn't understand her job, it's difficult for her to do it.

    Going backwards but not knowing how = backing a horse with a huge brace.

    Get the horse calmed down. Introduce horse to what is expected. Show rider what to do with her hands. Then maybe the rider can follow through. Trying to set it up so the rider can do this with this horse or another horse without doing this from the ground.

    Lightness = when the outside of the horse is doing it. Rushing, stiff, choppy. Softness is coming from the inside of the hrose and feels smooth.

    Me and Mark again:

    I warmed up first, remembering to set up some disconnect when Sofia wasn't connecting with me. It was effective. Mark helped with bridling. Sofia thought she could put her head up or her head to the right to avoid dealing with the situation. It's not about the bridle or the bit -- it's about the situation, my presentation. Sofia would say "no" and I would say "no". Mark was going with her "no" until she said "well, what now?" That is when there is an opening to offer her something new. I have missed these openings. Sofia and I have both felt frustrated. Mark said he allowed her to move as she chose, then augmented it. I asked him later about what he did to 'augment' and he did a hands on with me which I will work on until my timing and feel improves. Sofia will let me know -- by her response to what I offer -- how I'm doing.

    With Crissi: Hands steady so Sofia can find how to release herself. Using my core sphere of energy for forward, reverse direction for backup. Softness. Sofia is feeling better about the rein contact. I'm finding clarity about the differences between pull, rigid, soft, firm, pressure.

    Use back up after a halt only when horse pushes into the bit and contact when halting. Otherwise halt, soften, walk on. If she's soft at the halt, great!

    More about bridling. I get frustrated, Sofia gets frustrated. Equine dentist has gotten extremely frustrated with Sofia, and vet got frustrated. I get frustrated. It's my job to avoid getting frustrated and/or quite my emotions as quickly as possible. If Sofia's emotional energy goes up, mine goes down so we maintain a balance between us.

    All Mark's effort and intention with the horse is about: show me just how you feel. Once she shows it all, then she can come back with a question, 'what? what do you want if you don't want that?'

    Sofia has a lot to offer! As I get the communication clearer, connection more consistent, then her bigness will be in her stride and speed, not her worry and surprise.

    Mark demonstrated with the reins: pull versus pressure. Feeling the softness within the pressure.

    Image of outside of rein and inside of rein. Inside is hollow, fluid, whatever. Intention comes through the inside of the reins from my core to the horse: soften. It works!


    Jumping. Inhale locks things up. Exhale frees things up. Exhale allows the horse to go up and over, not hit the fence or flatten out over it.

    Jumping is just a transition.

    People say, "My horse bucked me off." Mark says, "No. Your horse did something horses do and you fell off."

    Men and women: chemicals are different. After an argument, the chemicals in men will dissipate in about 15 minutes. In women it takes up to 1 1/2 hours or even longer. Chemicals are much slower to dissipate in women than in men. If we don't tap into them to begin with, that isn't a problem. Breathing helps!

    Can you feel the movement in your hips as a figure 8? This will help with rhythm. Elliptical figure 8.

    Sitting trot requires us to let our hips move longer than is usual like for a walk.

    Creating openings for movement to either slow down or speed up -- not simply creating movement.

    Maybe can influence a transition by opening up your right hip -- as it comes up, think about the hip disappearing -- nothing there to block horse's energy and movement.

    Allowing the horse to move into an opening then augmenting. Open both hips to go to the canter.

    Opening the hip is less about opening and more about disappearing. So there is nothing in the way of the leg to reach out, swing out -- so everything can flow forward.

    For steering, engage core first. Stay in balance and more from core.

    Ride from the core.

    Turning the head to initiate a change in direction, changes our balance and disturbs structure of the body.

    If horse can't respond to our core info, we need to follow up with the mechanics so horse can get with us in speed, direction, and destination.

    It is much easier to keep the horse moving if we catch the first step of slower. Principle of inertia.

    The more you do with your hands, the less the horse can move.

    When we talk about being soft, we talk about using the least amount of pressure that we can. The soft-as-we-can-be may not be the soft-as-we-want-to-be. They are two different things.

    How little can you use and still feel the movement? As soon as you feel the momentum change, take up a little pressure until you get softness and movement.

    As she slows down, maintain that rhythm and speed, then the horse finds it with me again.

    We want to be as soft as we can be. It may not be as soft as we want to be.

    Sometimes it's more important to get what you're looking for than to get softness, then softness will come through.

    The power for everything the horse does does not come from the hindquarters, it comes from the horse's core and comes through the hindquarters.

    If the horse wants to run away from something, we want to keep head facing in the direction of the scary thing. OK if he moves his body away but keep him mentally there. When the horse settles, than take him away, then bring him back again. Then, before horse feels like he has to flee the scene, turn him and bring him back to what we were doing. We're not going to fight about it but we do need to accomplish what we set out to do.

    If he shows us where the trouble is, we can help him with it.

    It's OK if horse is scared but we really don't want him to run away. We want the horse to be able to think, not flee.

    Most people live in a low level state of panic because we don't breathe well. Same with horses. If they are not breathing well, they are in a low level state of panic.

    More important than horse staying in a frame is that horse will go there when we ask.

    There are two emotions that control a horse from the day they are born to the day they die: fear and curiosity. A fearful horse cannot be curious. A curious horse cannot be fearful.

    When leading, Mark is very clear that the horse doesn't pass him, doesn't even think about passing him. Always offering something soft through the rope even if it has lots of energy. Don't go very far when first starting on leading and respecting our boundaries.

    A good stop when leading: look at what horse does when leader turns to face her. If one of her feet lands on the ground, what she does with the next front foot constitutes a good stop: a foot lands then the next foot lands at or behind the first foot. When showing a horse what we want, back the horse up if they step more than that. If they stop as we want them to, do not back them up. They learn the specifics of this pretty fast.

    Horse is looking for someone to be leading. If we don't lead, horse does it. Horses want somebody who knows what's going on so they don't have to worry about it.

    My third ride time:

    Use core first then follow up with mechanical. Connect with my core, and Sofia's core.

    Thoughts -- mostly I have stories to tell, they are just stories and take me away from the present. Even though my stories are about what is happening, the act of telling them takes me away from this very moment. In the moment it takes for me to say 'she's doing this' I have missed the next thing or two she is offering.

    Whether I say I can or I say I can't, it's true. I was approaching bridling Sofia without Mark doing it first, and had doubts about our success. Mark coached me about my thoughts, I changed my thoughts, and I bridled Sofia.

    I may be active but I can be still inside. Practice 'mind like still water'.

    Crissi: walk, turns, breathing. Started work with turn on forehand. We got a good walk through a right circle and will work together to find it that good going to the left more consistently.


    Jumping. Making adjustments. Speed, direction and destination. Don't just wait for the magic to happen.

    It's not "my horse is jumping" -- it's "we are jumping."

    Staying connected the whole time. Staying connected with ourselves, staying connected with our horse.

    Maintain softness and use your core -- powerful.

    With presence say "this is what we're doing today." We all have that presence but often turn it off when we get on the horse.

    Engaging core -- not rigidly but engage muscles of the body's core.

    Engage core for turns, and back it up with mechanics if you need (rein, leg, etc.).

    Raising your core coming into the jump will pull the horse right up over the jump.

    Thinking down/bottom weighting results in using the least amount of muscles to balance with gravity. Any muscles we engage while riding, our horse engages the same muscles.

    Instead of floating up over the top of the horse, bottom weight.

    Bracing is more of a fight than just tightness. Tightness has some anxiety with it.

    This is not about fixing things but about finding an opening so we can get in and help the horse feel better.

    When you ask the horse to turn and the horse turns stiffly, we feel it in our upper back above the shoulders and mid-back between the rib cage and pelvis.

    The horse's two circles of energy (one with hind legs, one with front legs) become one tank track type circle. The key is for the energy to move and pass through the rider.

    A buck at the canter = energy comes up and hits the rider's brace and goes up along with the back end of the horse. It is not actually a buck. More like the back end goes up while the front end continues to canter.

    Referred to a book, The Holy Man.

    Focusing on the problem will get us nowhere. Focusing on the solution will.

    We're not going to get pulled into the horse's drama, that creates disconnect.

    Breathing properly elongates the spine and puts pelvis in balance.

    Whenever presented with anything, ask ourselves three questions:

    1) What? (What is it?)
    2) So what? (How is it affecting me?)
    3) Now what? (What am I going to do now?)

    What happens in training it we teach horses how to turn their decision-making over to us.

    Saturday, December 29, 2007

    Mark Rashid, Friday October 26, 2007 Thornton, NH

    "I don’t care if they get distracted. I care how much it takes to get them back."

    The more consistent you are, the easier it gets.

    If a horse is just running though a stop, turn him. If they stop with lightness and some brace, back up till you have softness.

    If she puts her head up with the halt, she’s disconnecting her hind quarters and her forequarters. She’s not using her hindquarters to stop.

    If she can’t stop out of a trot, we’ve got a problem.

    With softness she can hear you all the time. With lightness, she will hear you only when things are going well.

    Yielding to the bit is part of it. The other part is going to softness.

    We want to eliminate her making decisions, taking over. She’s used to that but we want to change that.

    Trot – halt:
    1-2, 1-2, 1-2 rhythm. Breathe out on 1, use reins on 2. Breathe out becomes cue for a change coming, like a half halt.

    Exhale on the exertion. Exhale can start as a cue/half halt, to be completed with the actual transition.

    The backing is not a punishment. It is a way to help her get soft. So, don’t back every time, only when needed to find softness.

    Horse will try different things as she’s gaining understanding. She’ll stop without brace then she’ll brace again. She’s trying to figure it out.

    Mark would like to get it 80% -- and that reflects about how much he can expect of himself regarding consistency.

    Get it so it’s working pretty well, then do something else – before they start searching for something else. In their mind, they say it must not be you wanted that because we’re still trying. Let her think about it – give her a break.

    New info – generally it is up to 6 hours before it is understood, linked to prior info known; about twice as long for horses. Then all the info is available.

    Horse has to not just understand it, but she has to figure out how to get her body to do it. [This sounds like me learning Aikido!] She has to reverse everything she’s done in her life and do it differently – engage underbody and let go of topline.

    Student of the horse versus student of technique. Developing understanding versus training.

    Rider T:

    Soft turn. If you want a soft turn, stablilize your hands. If a turn feels heavy, where does it come from? Horse leans, rider pulls; even if the horse gives, rider pulls and horse leans.

    Steady hands sets it up so she can get a release because rider won’t be pulling back when the horse gives.

    With young horse especially, focus on one thing at a time: forward, stop and back, turns, etc.

    If you are really concerned about forward, get forward. Then work on turns if you need to.

    Focus: develop a quiet mind. In order for horse to have quiet mind, human has to have quiet mind. Mind like still water.

    When our mind is quiet, we can see things for what they are. A worried horse is a worried horse, not a horse that is about to buck her off, just a worried horse.

    Not a worried horse, just a horse who doesn’t know what her job is. So we need to help her know her job.

    Mark’s 5 year plan: everything that comes his way he evaluates: is this something that is going to be important to me in five years? If not, let it go. It may come back in six months and need to be evaluated again but for now, it’s meaningless. Prioritize.

    First thought around horses: how can I help you understand what we’re going to do? NOT: how can I make you do it?

    This rider needs to give horse guidance when horse gets worried, not lock up and get lost.

    Have something in mind all the time when you’re doing something with a horse. Mark always keeps “softness” in mind.

    When horse gets in trouble, there is a beginning, a middle, and an end: troubled, directing horse, calm and resuming doing things.

    Find a way to get the horse’s mind back. Feel it when the horse is getting tight and direct it right away rather than wait 10,15, 20 steps. Feel the softness and notice when it starts to leave and bring it back.

    As a rider: if we don’t know what to do, our instinct kicks in. With horse or rider, when you get to the end of your chain of knowledge, instinct kicks in: freeze up and don’t know what to do.

    In martial arts, practice, practice, practice, train, practice, etc. – the only way to get better. It’s OK to make a mistake; the idea is DO SOMETHING.

    Inhale/exhale rhythm at canter: depends on horse and rider. With C and gray horse: 8 in, 9 out.

    Canter: horse’s exhale is with exertion, with outside hind, the “power foot”, for canter.

    Human’s exhale at same time for stop prep—exhale with horse’s power foot, then next step is stop.

    Be part of the stop, not on the stop.

    D and big black:

    The heel thing: open left heel to allow right hind to step to center line, or vice versa.

    Can also think about right hind landing under your left foot.

    Lateral at canter: float it left. Float it right. It’s not a push. Don’t use your leg for this, it’s not a push. Working on half pass or whatever it’s called.

    It creates a brace to use leg. Instead: barrel swings, want to float sideways, using the energy of the movement.

    D is riding “on the movement” and she needs to be part of the movement. Most riders create the movement then follow it. Instead, use the horse’s movement as your movement. You won’t know where the horse stops and you start. Become part of the movement. You’ll initiate the movement anyway. What D and Crissi were working on: connecting centers.

    A little dead zone is when she’s setting it up and waiting for it to happen. Everything we’re doing with this horse – we’re not teaching him something. It’s about us doing something the same way with him in a calm way.

    Look for the good the horse is offering and build on it.

    Technique is part of it, plus the intangible, the feel part of it.

    F with young horse:

    How foals learn: for approximately one year, they can do pretty much whatever they want in the herd. About a year old or when they are weaned (6 mo –1yr) the other members of the herd dictate that the babies become productive members of the herd, almost overnight.

    F’s young horse has not bridged the gap. At 6-9 months, horses are ready to turn decision making over to somebody else. Ground driving is about turning decision making over. This youngster (F’s) isn’t ready because he’s not done certain things prior to ground driving.

    Ground driving is an extension of other things. He needs to know how to respond when he is asked to do something. He’s looking for someone to follow. If we don’t lead, they won’t follow. They will lead.
    1. Needs boundaries.
    2. He can put himself back after he breeches the boundaries. Mark established boundary by swinging his arm out describing his circle of boundary. Hand went into horse’s head and nose moved away. Boundary is arm’s length. Horse’s anxiety level will start to drop once he understands the boundaries.
    3. If he gets distracted, he can come back. Horse had been asking F to give way and now Mark is asking him to do the same thing. With no boundaries, he’s just looking for someone to tell him where to be, not just “stop that”. Plus he moves himself away. If he can move himself backward then he has let go of the forward thought. Then Mark moves to see if the horse can come back mentally.

    “I don’t need his attention all the time but I need him to bring it back when I ask.”

    Important that when Mark asks him to give way and back up, the horse keeps backing up even after Mark stops, instead of barging forward as soon as Mark stops asking for back.

    This is the beginning of learning for this horse. Keep it simple. All that is needed is boundaries. Don’t add more things because then there will be lots he doesn’t understand. So keep it simple right now. Don’t overload him. Ground driving wouldn’t work because he can’t even give way right now.

    If he gets sticky with leading, take him back over himself -- not off to the side -- and he’ll start getting prepared by moving his feet, hinds and fronts ready to follow.

    Boundaries and following – that’s all for now.

    Instead of shaking rope, just start with stepping in to him, with this particular horse, best to respond to the human's body. If out somewhere without a lead rope, then in trouble if horse has only responded to rope and not to one’s presence.

    Start with presence and use rope or sound or whatever if you need to.

    It’s not about making him back up. It’s about helping him find the right thing.

    Energy – bringing up the energy without emotion.

    Boundaries are the key thing in a herd – the very first thing. Affection is the last thing in a herd.

    Being able to move another horse is really important for a horse to know. Teaching a horse to give way is helping him know how he fits into our herd.

    Buckskin in round pen:

    If he needs to spook, let’s see if he can spook smaller. If he has to run, we know he’ll feel better because he’s already found softness when he moves at the canter. So the distance of his bolting gets less and less -- we’ll help him deal with it.

    Started on Wednesday with helping the horse find breathing and softness while moving. Horse has history of bolting when spooked. So started with finding softness when moving fast, so when spooks come again, horse can find softness rather than keep worrying more and more with speed.

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    Mark Rashid Wed, October 24, 2007 Thornton NH

    [I was auditing. Most of what is here are notes from listening to Mark. If I am confident I wrote his words down verbatim, they are in quotes, italics and bold.]

    Balance point: I bring 5, the horse brings 5 = balance.
    One horse started with 1 and rider brought 9 = not balanced.
    Amount of energy we bring to the situation. If she resists, she brings a lot of energy even if it’s braced. Our job is to tip the balance of that. Pressure in hands/reins (in a backing up situation) – the more energy she brings, the less we bring, still with direction and softness. The less energy she brings, the more energy we bring, still with direction and softness. It feels good when there is balance.

    Build confidence in a horse through consistency.

    Using reins: resistance without pulling. We have to train ourselves to be soft even when something is resisting us. [This is so important to me right now. I have pulled and pushed and been aware of this and working attentively to change this. Historically when I felt scared, I resort to pulling – not nice for the horse! I have been training myself to focus on my balance through my center and leave the reins alone when it gets to that point. Even more importantly, I’m learning is to respond to the first thought of the horse that takes us away from what I’m asking, and address getting his mind back with me right away, not waiting ‘for the magic to happen’ as Mark kept saying, but to make the magic happen. And sometimes, in my mind, the ‘magic’ is simply being together mentally, emotionally, and physically doing something together. ]

    If we explain it to her and she understands it, she’ll stop doing it. In order to explain it, you have to know what it feels like. [Mark’s demo on Friday evening helped me get a feel for what blending is, what it feels like to be soft when someone is resisting. Great foundation for me to experiment further with my horses, which I’ve been doing since the clinic. I do wish I had aikido lessons close enough to be feasible so I could further my kinesthetic understanding of the blending exercise. Update: I will start Aikido soon and I’m excited about this!]

    We want to keep the momentum going. Help her NOT act on her thought, in this case, not act on her thought to stop.

    Release for what they do and how they do it, how they feel -- soft when stopping, not just giving to pressure. Giving to pressure may be the start but it’s not all of it. We want her to go to softness. [Releasing for the quality of action and presence not just for what the feet are doing is something I have been doing, however I can only recognize softness to the degree I personally know it. I found a new level of softness resulting in the energetic opening guided by Mark’s awareness and sharing during my riding time. I will write more about this later in my clinic notes.]

    [I want to feel more confident regarding is my horse giving to pressure and light, or is my horse soft? I asked Mark about this during my rides. I don’t recall ever getting an answer, yes your horse is soft or no, your horse is light, not soft, but I sure did get a few indications of where my body was tight and energy blocked, and got help with images and things to think about that allowed me to release the held energy and find a whole new world of softness available to me, and hence able to start feeling how my horse moved and responded differently when I was no longer blocking energy in my body. My dear Rusty was just waiting for more openness in me. This is different from my mare, Kacee, at home who seems to be able to carry on with less interference from my personal blocks. On some level I know I am affecting her but it’s not so obvious and drastic as with Rusty who literally can’t stride with ease when I’m blocked in my shoulders or back, or for that matter, when I’m blocked in my mind evident by doubts and uncertainty or indecision. Kacee will move ahead carrying me despite this, although she gets pushy herself. So much to learn.]

    Lightness is on the outside of the horse, and will work when everything is familiar. Light horses are reactive, not necessarily responsive. If something out of the ordinary happens, all the lightness goes out the window.

    Lightness through training. Softness through understanding.

    Do it, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it until the horse has a light bulb go off: ‘oh that’s what you want’, then softness comes in.

    [Mark guided a rider to lift a rein when her horse was stuck – not backing up after the rider asked for that. Maybe with Rusty, I can try that, too, so I don’t leave hanging out thinking he’s supposed to stay there without moving or lowering his head or anything.]

    It’s about getting in the middle and blending with the horse.

    If we can think more about the horse and less about ourselves, the horse knows it. This is good.

    Rider brings calmness and focus on horse.

    Don’t release for what we don’t want.

    When we release at the wrong time, the horse will try harder/bigger brace the next time.

    Equine species has the quickest reaction time of all mammals on the earth.

    Rider T and her mare:

    Red flags regarding physical:
    Inability to pick up one lead or other
    Not being able to go up or down hills well
    Almost always lower back problems, short strided in hinds almost always comes from the hips.

    For every muscle you tighten, the horse has to tighten a corresponding muscle.

    You cannot fight softness. You can fight resistance.

    Breathe out with the exertion – the stop, the walk off, etc.

    Mechanics versus softness.

    We want to help.

    Collection: turn off the topline, engage the belly muscles.

    Example of false collection: arm flexed and extended with loose hand, then tighten one finger and do it, then tighten two fingers and do it, etc.

    She can’t put her head where you want it if the spot is a moving target (inconsistent rein contact).

    Pitching the reins is like hanging up the phone. Better to have the lines open so you can have a conversation.

    Rider D and her big gelding:

    Stay engaged. She starts with the horse then starts to brace in the hand and it grows and he braces.

    Circles of energy are under rider – and goes out in front, movement creates energy. Think of one big circle as a tank track or like a hamster on a wheel. The circle creates movement and maintains momentum. Half halts break momentum.

    Breathe out and think about breath going where you want your horse to go.

    Accuracy we can work on. A brace is something we can replace – replace with softness.

    You create the rhythm and let the horse find it. Find the rhythm in yourself. Not: stand around and wait for the magic to happen. We are not going to wait. We are going to create it.

    “Ride like you are happy to be here.”

    Think of the best day of your life, think about it and toss it out in front of you and see what happens.

    Animation! He’ll chase it. Bring the joy back into the work!

    Understanding the aids, not acceptance of the aids.

    After lunch:

    Not concerned about how much the horse looks around, but how easy it is to get her back.

    Softer sound of feet on ground – want it and notice when it happens. The horse will be using less muscle with each footfall. How do you ride so the sound is softer? Change of muscle use in rider affects change of muscle use in horse.

    Rider F:

    Work on forward, teaching him to move off her leg. Don’t punish the thing you want him to like. You don’t want a lot of time to pass between time her leg is on and time he moves. The lag time gets us in trouble, lag time between leg on and tap leg with crop or whatever you choose for back up.

    Make sure you’re getting the walk you want. We prefer we don’t have to hit the horse with the crop. As your legs start to come on, if you don’t feel him getting ready to move, you can start to use the stick.

    Balance point of energy – not pressure but energy!

    An atemi – breaks the focus. In martial arts it distracts the opponent. A sudden move or sound.

    Mark’s stop when leading: when he turns around he wants the horse to set his next foot and his next foot can stop next to or behind the stopping foot. Boundary – at arm’s length.

    “The quieter we are, the more he’ll listen.”

    Worried buckskin:

    Need to help him find some success.

    1) Start with breathing – let’s get him breathing. At canter, he’ll be exhaling with each hind foot thrust (and inhaling) and I’ll help you come down to slower gait once you find your natural breathing rhythm.
    2) Softening in canter then bring him down.

    This horse wants to go, we can help him by letting him go, breathe, soften, and bring him down… Get to the place where you do feel good then we’ll bring you down.

    Don’t pet him when he’s nervous and in a worried state of mind. Don’t reward him for that state of mind. He needs to reach a little more inside himself before we pet him and tell him he’s doing ok.

    The last thing I’d do is be fixing things with this horse. We need to find ways to tell him he’s doing things right, not a horse to tell he’s doing something wrong.

    He has softened at canter, trot, walk, but is still tight at the halt.

    Release him for breathing and softening so he knows what he’s successful at.

    Mark has in his mind: Go ahead and do what you have to do, and the release comes when you’re breathing and softening.

    Mark went into RP with ‘go ahead and do what you have to do’ and ‘give a little more’.

    One of the keys he looks for: how is eye blinking. Slower is softer and more thoughtful. Also inside ear.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Joe Wolter, August 2007

    I took few notes. I have many memories. I will share what I can.

    I took my two Morgans, Fairlane Rusty and Fairlane Kacee, riding Rusty the first two days, and Kacee the last day.

    My experience of Joe was better than ever. I felt like I was celebrating ten years of clinics, as ten summers ago was my first clinic experience, there at Piper Ridge Farm in Limerick, Maine, and with Joe Wolter, and with Kacee, the only horse I had at the time.

    Things have improved in ten years. I feel good about that!

    Zero pressure. That is what horses prefer, and they can learn to hunt for it when around us. That means we have to present our ideas to them so that they can find the answer, and in finding the answer find zero pressure. It is quite simple. What is hard is retraining the mind and body. I suspect with someone very new to horses it would be an easier path. No old habits to replace.

    I am grateful to all those who keep helping me, and especially to Libby Lyman for her help this past year. Phone calls, email exchanges, and a clinic in person helped get me tremendously much clearer about what I can do to set it up so the horse experiences our time together as his idea. Let it be his idea. I have blogged about this phrase on my horseytherapist blog.

    I have ridden more this past year than before, more regularly, with clearer plans about what I was working on. It has paid off. Joe tweaked my timing especially. I am grateful for his increased outspokenness with ideas about what to change, something different to try. I need that. Not all the time, but now and then it just helps me over a little bump in the road. Or a larger bump in the road depending on the horse.

    Go with him so he can go with you.

    Let him work at it -- it will mean more when he finds it.

    Let him do the work. You do less, he does more.

    Set it up so he feels like he's winning.

    You can draw when he's already giving, but not when he's braced.

    Let him find his way off pressure. Don't help him so much.

    Fix it and leave him alone. Let him fall off, then you can fix it again. Maybe you'll find that he fixes it himself.

    Settle for the slightest try, the smallest change.

    Help him get straight, even before you walk off.

    Ask for more than you want.

    Start with the thought of what you want.

    Offer him the best deal first, then back it up. But always offer him to best deal first. The horse remembers what happened before what happened happened. Pretty soon he'll be moving off your lightest request, off your thought to do something.

    We create the braces.

    When you reach for him, feel him reaching for you. That's what you want it to feel like.


    We all had some good laughs about translation problems, the challenges of finding some common understanding of certain phrases and words. Joe understands now that some words and phrases that he uses all the time are meaningless and/or misunderstood by us, so we cleared up as much as we could as we went along. Even some basic cultural differences such as the morning he was coaching someone with trailer loading. Joe asked the woman 'would you like to use the longer lead rope?' that was lying on the ground near by. She declined and continued doing what she was doing. A moment later, Joe spoke up again: 'Oh, right, I remember. I'm in New England. I've got to say 'use the longer lead rope.'

    What an eye opener for me. To Joe and his background, a suggestion is a request, even a directive. It occurred to me that if Joe was going to make the effort to say a suggestion out loud, it really was worth doing, otherwise he wouldn't just be formulating an idea and verbalizing it for the sake of hearing him self talk!

    The following is a list of phrases I heard that might warrant some translation to make them crystal clear to some of us who didn't grow up in the same environment as Joe Wolter did:

    Go with your horse.
    Let him go.
    If he throws slack, you take slack.
    Get quiet when he's straight.
    Support your horse.
    Let him work at it.
    Turn him loose.
    Get him hunting.
    Corner him a little.
    Your hands will complement your legs.

    I might run a contest to see who comes up with the most interesting definition, or the most hilarious, or the most accurate, or the most bizarre!

    What I cleared up about my timing, is that I tended to wait too long -- waited too long to release for the thought, waited too long before I backed up my suggestion with some support to help him find his way off pressure, waited too long while he was getting more and more commited to his own idea before setting it up for him to work at it more. (So... how did I do using some easily misunderstood phrases to describe my successes of this past weekend?)

    Oh, here are some notes I did take:

    Totally halter broke is when you can put rope on him anywhere on his body and he won't let the slack come out.

    Get it so when you reach for him, he reaches back for you.

    Don't put him on it, turn him loose just before he finds it. (This was working on a circle that we had in mind, where we helped the horse find the circle but didn't keep him there but helped him back to it when he veered off, time and time again. At some point the horse starts carrying the idea of the circle that we have in mind, without our needing to use any rein or leg.)

    I can think of two things I really deserve to celebrate from this clinic as clear indicators that I've learned something in ten years:

    1) Kacee stopping from a suggestion on a slack rein.

    2) I directed my horses early enough to avoid even coming close to invading anyone else's space.

    Thursday, June 07, 2007

    Mark Rashid Sunday, May 27, 2007 Campton NH

    [Mark tends to use “we” or “you” for the human, and “he” for the horse. I’ve left those as he spoke them as much as possible. When I truly wrote down his words verbatim, I put them in “bold italics in quotation marks” however most of my notes are jotted down as he spoke.]

    Trying to bring anxiety level down, help to diffuse that instead of feeding into it.

    Backing – keep going until you feel almost nothing in your hands and he’s still backing with life.

    If you don’t pull, he won’t push.

    Need to distinguish between when you’re pulling and when you are not.

    Bad – horse has default behavior of turning head laterally when he gets in trouble instead of thinking. Lateral flexion turns neck into rubber and ends up disconnecting front end from back end.

    Softness will work 80% of the time. Lightness will work 20% of the time. When things are going well like at home in the arena, good weather, etc.

    Analogy: poorly built dam. Stop is messy, leaky, etc. then to let go into trot is bursting out, hence messy above dam and below dam.

    Ask for softness all the time. Be very diligent about it.

    Fix for when horse brings head down and in: bring one rein up. Horse is looking for direction. Give it to him. Lift his head up. ‘This is where I would like your head.’

    Mark did something to talk rider out of his pulling. Mark did some “giving and giving” – resistance with softness built into it. Human can resist the pull but with softness built into it.

    Looking for a way to blend with him, get inside the horse.

    Mark is helping rider get rid of things that are causing problems, to help rider become softer. Then rider can help his horse become softer.

    Trotting to softness in arc – take one rein and put hand on inside leg to create stability instead of bouncing hand, bouncing head, etc. – create a spot where the horse can feel an opening.

    Lightness has no joy in it. There is no joy in lightness. Lightness is useful because you can ride your horse in lightness and it looks good when everything is going well.

    When you feel that softness come through, just ride that straight and forward.

    We have trained him not to pay attention to what we’re thinking. We train it out of them, not to listen to what we think. Then we spend the rest of the time trying to get it back. We want to develop this kind of connection but we’ve trained it out of them.

    “Lightness is just stuff. Softness is everything.”

    There is a look that comes through when a horse doesn’t understand the job that’s being asked of him.

    You have to really want to make a connection with your horse.

    Consistency breeds dependability, dependability breeds trust, and trust breeds peace.

    ‘My horse doesn’t trust me’: then work on doing things so your horse sees you as consistent and dependable.

    We have to sincerely care about what the horse feels.

    Softness doesn’t come from the hands. Softness comes from the heart, and is transferred to the horse through the reins et al.

    Technique is important but not everything. It’s the feel behind what you present that is most important.

    Carry weight on bottom of arm -> head will go down when you ask for a stop, instead of carrying weight on top of forearm. Everything is low and heavy if you are supporting your arm from your center. Called ‘bottom weighting’ in martial arts.

    Rider: may be trouble with left lead more than right as horse’s right hip moves more than left hip.

    Backing – giving feet but leaning. Horse says I can be soft but can’t be soft AND move. He let go pretty quickly. Braced but when he lets go and gets soft it’s really fluid. He kept trying to distract himself because we’re asking him to think. He’s moving his feet but mentally not involved. “Rather than think through what we’re asking him to do, he protests.”

    We can teach them to try and not ever get more (response to practice of rewarding for the smallest try).

    Remain a presence, quick release as soon as there’s a give. If you ask for a brace, he’ll come through with a brace.

    Bottom weighting: center in ‘hara’, can visualize weighted arms, legs, feet, even roots into ground from feet. Ride this way; live this way.

    Horse under saddle: resisting with a lot of energy. Mark raised the noseband of the sidepull.

    Very braced for back up. This brace has been trained into him. Even if he’s in pain, if he lets go of the brace, he’ll feel better. You can feel his anxiety level drop a little and once that happens, he’ll start doing what we want him to do. “He is doing just enough to get by -- to get the release – and no more.” What’s been done: do enough for the smallest try.

    Everything gets soft when he makes the offer (still working on back up with rider in saddle).

    Back until we say so, so he doesn’t dictate when he stops. It’s not just about the steps, it’s about the softness that goes with it.

    My thought: when we have an openness we carry a question mark about the other and connectedness is limited by the closedness of either.

    Mark guesses that after today with this work he did, plus rider working with Kathleen, it’ll be gone tomorrow. It feels better to be that way – he doesn’t want to be this way, he just is. He’s not physically soft but he’s becoming mentally soft, and next he’ll become physically soft, too.

    Mark was always looking for softness and the horse’s mind was focused on one thing and he was not going to move off the thought. He is starting to see there is a benefit to him to do something else. Mark is not convinced yet that horse is convinced.

    Rider: be soft from the get go. There will not be a time when you are not looking for soft. All the time. It’s a full time job with overtime. Not ‘giving to pressure’ but softness.

    ‘We’ are doing this together, but human is doing the directing.

    Get three steps of softness at the walk, then 5, then 7, and then move into trying this at the trot. Like yesterday, you are looking for him to balance himself (not balance leaning on the reins).

    In order to do something well, he has to be in a straight line – stop, lead change, buck, rear – he can do it ‘not straight’ but not well.

    Right leg swing in = right front comes off ground.
    Right hip drops = right front leaves ground.
    Left shoulder goes back = left front comes off ground.

    When his shoulder goes back, your shoulder goes back.

    Now you are going to ask him to stop by using his hind feet. Count the walk into 2 beats by counting his hind feet. To stop: breathe out on 1 (it’s a small, short exhale), use reins on 2. Count the walk as 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, then in same rhythm: breathe, hands.

    At walk: if you time your breathe with outside hind and rein with inside hind, the stop will allow him to do a turn on the haunches without having to move his hinds. Ultimately stop square so you can do a quarter turn and go either way.

    Trot: think about going into 2 beat, change the thought in your head. Exhale on the exertion, to come to a stop.

    Be in time with the feet while riding. Mind is still while riding. Everything is reflected, no ripples made.

    Ride down and around your horse instead of on top.

    “When we breathe, it’s a joyous occasion for him.”

    Trot-walk transitions: be sure to take your momentum through the transition. Have the thought ‘we are going forward’.

    Demo: sending energy up rein: NO action! Rider said she could feel a pulse. He was sending the energy of the cue but not the movement. That is how little it can be but you have to be connected to the horse and have to be looking for it.

    It’s available to anybody here, but do you want it?

    Still looking for contact and softness. The technical still needs to be done. You’ll still offer this even if you need to go bigger, but offer the really soft stuff first and throughout. The horse will learn to recognize it and respond to it.

    Our scale will keep changing as we progress. Today what is my 1 on a scale of 1-10 will be my 10 in the future.

    We’re talking about energy – energy of the person, energy of the horse – getting the two to go together someplace.

    Rider: If horse is pushing against the bit when asking for a stop, turn him – don’t let him push. If we have to turn him, then we straighten and back. We’re asking him to yield to pressure and through that we’ll teach him to go to softness. Everything you say is ‘we want to be soft.’ If we can end on soft with movement, that’s better than ending on soft with no movement, after some brace at the stop then backing for softness.

    Ground driving yearling: he was starting to lose his life. Outside line, let it ride above the hock – use it for turns and stops, otherwise it is slack.

    If you are directly behind when teaching ground driving, it’s a lot harder to tip the nose if he has trouble stopping.

    Question about ‘try’ – Would ask horse to try and do. First get him trying, and then get him doing something! Mark was looking for back straight but horse didn’t want to do that. Horse was just pushing not necessarily aiming it at Mark but sometimes horse did direct his body (head, foot) toward him.

    An aggressive horse is often one who has no confidence.

    Most work with horses is about understanding – what we are doing, what horse is doing, and why it doesn’t match up. We want them to match up.

    A lot of round pen work starts from a negative place – from a place where we assume the horse doesn’t respect us. That is silly. Mark feels very strongly that ‘the horse has to respect us’ is the lazy man’s way of training. It puts the blame on the horses. Bottom line, anything the horse offers up is something a person has shown him. Every behavior is a learned behavior. If we teach a horse something and they do it, to Mark that’s the ultimate sign of respect.

    Go into the pen with mentality ‘I’m here to help.’ Go into pen like ‘I own it’ and the horse is the visitor. ‘If you break things I’ll have to speak to you about it, but otherwise I’ll work with you.’ “I always go into the pen with the mentality that everything is going to work out.”

    Rider: Take control of the situation. Don’t let the situation take control of you. Mount up and see if we’re in the place we were yesterday to progress from there. If we’re not, then get that back. Get on and go… to point A, to point B, to point C. This is where we are going. Horse, I want to go over there. That has nothing to do with what we are doing now. (To distracted horse.)

    Triage: most important thing is that you and the horse are doing the same thing. Then can work on foot fall. This is what we are doing. This is where we are going. This is how fast we’re going.

    You can talk your horse into softness or into hysteria.

    Aikido – spirals, etc. – energy. He spoke specifically with this rider and her spiral of energy: clockwise spiral down around the spine. Suggested she project energy out and bend to the left and have him move into the opening.

    Try this: shoot the energy out in front of him about 10’ and look like it’s going to hit a wall and splash. (This changed how the horse went.)

    You can do a lot by using your center. But what we’re doing here is taking energy that is already available and using it to direct the horse.

    Bend it across his face to turn him. Splash it in front of his face to stop him. Send it out and create an opening for the horse to go into.

    Rather than using a lot of aids, we use the tool that is our body.

    It’s not that you pretend to be quiet -- you really are being quiet.

    “It’s not about not doing anything, it is about doing nothing.”

    Pick trot or canter. Listen to the way his feet are hitting the ground. Soften the sound, however you want to think of it. Hint from Mark: lighten your heart, bring a little joy to this and see what you get. Then get him to land heavier. Then soften again.

    It’s you and your horse going together. It’s not you riding your horse.

    If you want it all the time, you have to live here. It’s where we are, it’s how we live, and offer that to your horse.

    Can’t just say ‘don’t walk slow,’ it has to come from a positive place: ‘we need to walk faster.’

    Spiral around the spine: everyone has one. It can get compressed and show up peripherally. The direction of the spiral can change. In health, spiral is small just around spinal chord. Can go either direction and may change.

    Moreg Higgins: book on energy. Martial artist and horsewoman. Mark will have link on his website when book is published. About kundalini.

    Rider: flying lead changes. Do nothing, just breathe. Breathe in moment of suspension. Breathe in – bring foot up. Breathe out – puts foot down.

    Mark Rashid, Saturday, May 26, 2007 Campton NH

    [Mark tends to use “we” or “you” for the human, and “he” for the horse. I’ve left those as he spoke them as much as possible. When I truly wrote down his words verbatim, I put them in “bold italics in quotation marks” however most of my notes are jotted down as he spoke.]

    It’s a lot easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

    Using a lot of leg to get forward prevents forward by causing stiffness in the horse’s barrel. Also, if you use energy into your legs, all your attention and focus is on legs instead of energy and focus going forward.

    We want to train the horse to use the least amount of muscles to do the job we want him to do.

    We get on and use more than the minimum muscles needed to ride. Generally for every muscle we tighten, the horse tightens corresponding muscles.

    Yesterday Mark worked primarily on the horse, today on the person.

    “Keep your head inside your belt” = keeping centered like in Aikido.

    When riding and talking and answering questions, the one things Mark keeps track of is softness – softness in horse, in people, in himself.

    Horse learns via Chain of Knowledge. Mark used the analogy of learning a song as the first link in writing a book. That song is ABCs,
    First link: learn the song
    Second link: learn the alphabet
    Third link: sound letters
    Fourth link: recognize letters
    Fifth link: write letters
    Sixth link: put letters together in a word
    With young horses, there are no links in their chain. It’s very important the links we install have the meaning we want.

    Rider has already taught her horse that ‘leg on’ means brace and push and stop. Now have to teach horse to respond to leg. Catch the thought of slowing down.

    Tap into that forward energy when everything gets quiet and he’s carrying your forward. If leg is not effective, start by moving air with a stick, then if you have to, go to tapping your own leg, then if needed, tapping the horse. This is progression for reinstalling the link you want.

    Moving forward with the inside not just the outside of the horse.

    No slow steps from the very first one. He is asking, 'Is this the one you want?' If we don’t answer, he hears 'yes' and gives more of the slow steps.

    “The inside of him is going someplace.”

    Before the horse can try something new, he’s going to show you what he already knows. He will always have those links in his chain but he can learn to offer something else. Once he knows it, he knows it, but it doesn’t mean he’s got to use it.

    Mouthy horse? Give him a cue to be mouthy then don’t ask for it and he won’t give it.

    Rider and horse doing ground work, circling and changing directions: Two figure 8s at the same time. Circle, change direction, circle – two doing something together, horse and human moving.

    “I want to be doing something with him, not to him.”

    Have it flow…

    Petting horse when horse is nervous reinforces that frame of mind.

    Discussion of rider’s body language and posture.

    Horses are so smart and subtle. We tend to overact instead of just acting like a human.

    Mark pointed out times when rider disconnects with horse then horse has question, what now? And may stop but then it takes more energy to get him going again compared to energy needed to keep movement going.

    Develop movement; develop flow. Horse looks at you and you develop change in speed and flow.

    Challenge question: Mark drew his foot through the arena sand creating a straight line and then asked, how to make the line shorter?


    Answers included: wipe out part of the line; push sand over part of the line.

    Mark’s answer:



    (Make a second and longer line next to it – then the first line is “shorter”)

    Idea: ADDING to what we have, not replacing or removing what we already know.

    “I want to keep a little bit of a walk, trot, and canter in the ‘stop’… A little bit of every gait in every gait.”

    Belgian yearling – changing eye from rope at butt. Help him to get to do what we want, don’t think about what he’s not doing. Can’t just say 'don’t do that' – have to show him what to do. Don’t leave him hesitating and uncertain.

    Ground drive/long line – start with positioning yourself at the side where he can see you after learning to lunge. Eventually can do from behind him.

    Yearling in long lines: “If he goes to backing when you haven’t asked, that’s energy you can direct, so ask him for a turn.”

    Dave Siemens -- chiropractor who is designing trees.

    Lightness is on the outside of the horse. Softness is on the inside.

    Lightness will work well on things you have trained the horse to do when things are going well. Softness will work all the time, even when you’re just starting to show the horse something.

    From soft, everything is available, the whole horse is available.

    With lightness you’ll have reactiveness. With softness you’ll have responsiveness.

    Parallel between horse and rider – softness has to be inside the person as well as the horse.

    How judgmental are you? How soft is that? How do you close the car door? How do you sit down in a chair? How do you communicate with your friends? With strangers?

    … working on it every day of your life… it’s the path I’m on.

    Philosophy of life: “I want to owe the least amount of apologies by the time I’m done... How can I get through the day without owing any apologies?”

    With rider: Start with feeling the feet. If you can’t feel the horse’s feet, you are not riding from softness.

    Left hip up, left leg out = left hind leaves the ground.
    Left shoulder going back = left front leaves ground.
    Right foot swings out – right hind leaves ground.
    Right hip rising = right hind leaves ground.
    Right leg swings in = right front leaves ground.
    Right hip drops = right front leaves ground.
    Right shoulder back = right front leaves ground.

    Leg swings in = front foot
    Leg swings out = hind foot

    The trot:
    At walk, same movement for horse and human, exactly the same. Reason we can sit the walk easily is our strides line up. Trouble sitting trot is because stride length changes, from normal to longer stride length. So horse stride length changes but we don’t allow our stride length to change, allowing the energy to move through our body, not stop at our body.

    Circles of energy in Aikido.

    Circles – hind foot from ground to horse’s hip forward and back down to ground. 2nd circle starts at front, intersects with back circle and comes down again. Rider sits over the intersection of the two circles. Looking down it’s a figure 8 from sacrum, up then snaps back to center and across.

    Mark asked rider to tighten her lower back which tightened horse’s back and he stopped.

    Horse’s hips are doing figure 8, too. Intersects at sacrum and horse’s figure 8 and human figure 8 intersect.

    This refers back to only using the muscles we need to get the job done.

    For walk, trot, canter – think in terms of rhythm not words: 4 beat, 2 beat, 3 beat.
    Walk, 1 always in time with a hind (not a front).
    Trot 1-2 hinds
    Canter 1-2 hinds

    Breathe out for going to a 2 beat trot. Think of no beat and he stops.

    You need to live here, riding with the horse.

    Mark Rashid, Friday May 25, 2007 Campton NH

    [Mark tends to use “we” or “you” for the human, and “he” for the horse. I’ve left those as he spoke them as much as possible. When I truly wrote down his words verbatim, I put them in “bold italics in quotation marks” however most of my notes are jotted down as he spoke them.]

    If you can be consistent, he will see you as dependable, then he will trust you, then he will be at peace.

    Good equine chiropractors are listed at AVCAdoctors.com.

    Japanese saying: “Mind like still water.”

    Once the pattern has been established, the horse is going to want to go back to it. They will fight to keep doing it. This is homeostasis. The good news is the horse will show us their pattern as they do it over and over again, before they try something new.

    It is not “dominance” but a learned behavior (talking about a pushy horse).

    The horses will do things to distract themselves rather than think through something that is different – distract in order to go to something familiar and comfortable (comfortable through its familiarity, not necessarily calm/peaceful comfortable).

    Getting firm or big is when I have to defend myself.

    Agenesis of the corpus callosum – regarding how well the left and right halves of the brain communicate.

    With a big horse, do things in a way that he doesn’t have to get defensive.

    Asking one thing with a still and calm frame of mind.

    Saying to horse through lead rope: you don’t have to feel that way.

    Being in the place of “Mind like still water.”

    One of Mark’s boundaries is “you’re not going to put your mouth on me.” Take care of it (the boundary clarity) then get on with what you are asking of the horse.

    Functional Anatomy, booklet from UK, showed skeleton and fascia, etc. during discussion of how similar horse’s body is to ours, and where we ride and how it affects his body.

    Rider: for a stop: exhale with a hind step and with next step use reins, wait for softness, back up with softness or until soft.

    Bottle demo: how to stop the water bottle (swinging on a string at Mark’s wrist) without disturbing the water in it? Direct and go with it.

    Direct and go with it – advice for horsemanship!

    Rib cage will roll out of the way but it won’t bend. In front of and behind the rib cage, the spine will bend, but not the rib cage.

    Rider and bridling: She keeps bringing him back to the same place versus letting him find the answer. Mark went with him until he brought his head back – allow the horse to fix it rather than fixing it for the horse.

    It’s not a problem for Mark if the horse wants to put his head off to the right. The problem is that it’s a problem for this rider. Help him find the right answer – do not give it to him, do not make him do it.

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Harry Whitney Fri Feb 16, 2007

    I wouldn't leave a couple of riders out on the trail with their worried horses, even though they were saying 'don't wait for me, go on', etc. but I felt their horses weren't ready for that, might be supported by my horse hanging out near by. Then later in the ride I miss it that my horse needs that support! Harry was near me at the back of the trail -- I didn't totally leave my horse hanging but I missed taking care of his worry in a way that was effective right then. I was stuck on what worked the day before with another horse.

    Why didn't Harry bring up more options earlier on, or even bring up the conversation, ask the question? How does one teach options? What was going on with Harry that he saw but didn't direct? Yet it worried him a lot? I asked him about this and he said it wasn't the time. Often he finds a rider can take in the new information later on when the heat of the moment has passed. Then the rider can integrate the feedback and new ideas and try them out later on. This became true later in the day when I rode Cajun again and had more options in my toolbox, and things went well.

    PV asked about just going out there and riding (like yesterday in the desert) versus working in the ring a lot. Harry responded: you'll probably have a more versatile horse if you get it going out there rather than in the ring.

    Me: my memory of how to screw up a horse is greater than my memory of options how to help a horse.

    You can't see the problem or fix it if you're in a panic yourself.

    The best you can give may not be the best he needs.

    Cajun is opening up, has a better look in his eye, is waking up.

    It can be too much to keep track of what otherse are doing when adrenaline comes up and focus gets narrow on what the horse is doing.

    Leap frog game can be effective. Also have someone trot right through the middle of the herd and out the other side, then turn and go back through again.

    But it's harder to get a horse feeling good right here, and Harry focusses more on that than on other stuff.

    If you get a 10% change every time you go out for a ride, pretty soon you've got a lot going for you.

    People don't work on these things till they need them, but there are so many opportunities to work on them.

    Reins: Use your reins enough to get a change, then release them.

    It'll look different from horse to horse. Some horses you have to stay close to, but you can be fanning the flames because they think you're trying to put a lid on it instead of embrace it.

    You know the squirt forward is going to come but you gotta sit there as if you expect him to walk off. Get a change, release him. Get a change, release him.

    More talk about getting it good in a more quiet setting before you expect it to work out on the trail or with a larger group or whatever.

    In a group when one horse is bothered, another horse might be on edge and it'll get bigger being affected by the bothered one.

    Tempted to let her go but don't just let her take over -- direct her, let her trot here and there, away from the group and back again, for example; pretty soon they'll think why go through all this?

    PV firmer and more confident than before.

    Do not lean into turns even when horse leans.

    Harry gets frustrated because he expects people to process information like he does. He'd get frustrated if he taught weekly lessons. Working with us, you gotta say it over and over and over again. Not seeing us often so enough to begin to think we're not trying. We're a lot like a horse -- if we weren't trying we wouldn't be here. Out on the road at 'normal clinics', some are seeking a fix, not seeking help.

    SH's question about how she handled Belle at the end of the ride, reflecting her awareness of how she rides her Tbred nutcases.

    Riding closer to the line -- the line between doing too little and not getting a change, and doing too much and horse blowing out.

    Discussion of how overly confident horses affect other horses (referring to Cajun's impact on other horses on the trail ride -- he is a very confident horse).

    Me: I may not be right but I'm sure.

    Ace in round pen: worry in transitions, depends on where it's coming from. If it's lack of willingness to go out of fear versus if it's overreacting and fleeing. Ace understands to come to SH on the fence. When SH noticed his thoughts coming to her there, she said thank you. Without fence or pedastal, it's different. Those things make it very clear to the horse when they are getting close to what we're asking. Out on the desert trail, we're not that clear.

    When you pick up the reins to stop, it means "stop", not "maybe stop".

    I can't get you there, but I want to give you the feel of what it is you can get.

    It's better to quit on a bad note than to quit on a tragic note.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Harry Whitney Thu Feb 15, 2007

    [I've put Harry's comments that I took down word for word in bold italics. There are more of his words here, but when I wasn't 100% certain what he said word for word, I did not quote him as such.]

    The more I understand and try to deal with the horse's insides, the more I use just stopping them and am able to get a change.

    Able to get it done without a lot of circling, etc. now.

    What's the difference? Having a conversation versus trying to force something.

    What all is going on when you ask a horse to stop and wait? ... offering him a place to stand still by not allowing him to be anyplace else.

    This is not going to work, this is not going to work, etc. until horse finds the quiet place inside.

    A lot of times you have to allow their feet to move so all that will dissapate.

    Asking them to get centered -- not just a physical centered.

    Harry referred to what SH said in the playground: The difference in what she was doing and what Harry was doing -- she was trying to stifle what the horse was feeling and Harry was embracing it: 'you need to do something? Let's go, let's do it; I'll help you jump and twist and back up.' But I had him close enough so it didn't really feel good to the horse. Pretty soon he tried to feel different because it didn't work out to feel the way he did.

    SH said: history of combativeness so she'll now say "no, try something else", direct that energy; she has clarity about her ability to help him out if she helps him in to a fit, rather than stifling that fit.

    With people we say, they have to hit rock bottom to make a change. To them it's not bad enough to want to make a change. Harry is helping the horse hit rock bottom, adding to how bad he's feeling to help him make a change.

    Redirecting: there's a time to redirect it and it takes care of the bad feeling. There's a time when you redirect and the horse goes in your direction but is just waiting to follow their own throughts, hasn't changed his thoughts. You gotta do something about the bad feeling first.

    Adrenaline and cortisol -- thinking and accessing solutions versus being frozen, etc.

    To get a horse just to let go and go somewhere is an important thing that needs to be available, but does that mean he's feeling OK inside? Or maybe he thinks he'll be feeling better up there someplace, going in 'hopeful mode'?

    SH's story of the first time horse was freed up and going rather than beating him to go fast (former race horse).

    Relaxed horse, seeing the thought forward -- their mind is sucking them forward. What that feels like is when you're riding the horse following a tarp or something.

    Sometimes you ask a horse to look and they turn their head but don't really look out there.

    I would like to think each of you would get to the point of being intolerant.

    If the horse is taking over, it'd be troubling to the horse if I made an adjustment. Horse carrying me can sort out feeling like taking over except he's mentally with me when he's carrying me and it won't trouble him when I make an adjustment.

    A horse can't be truly forward in his thought and be too troubled inside.

    If they're not doing their best, they're not feeling their best. And what's their best? It's their thought taking their feet out there.

    Harry: I'm in the awareness business. Get out there and find it. If you don't know it exists, you won't look for it.

    From time with Tom Dorrance: seeing how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be a few different ways.

    SH/Legs, saddle. Most people think it's about the saddle but it's not, it's about the anxiety he brought to that moment. Harry's table story. People get so infatuated with the tables in life, but it's not about the table.

    SH round pen: If horse knows what you want, be more insistent. If horse is figuring out what you want, be more persistent.

    (My decision to work Rusty on lead first then at liberty, to help him understand what I want, so I can communicate more clearly what I want and improve his responsiveness. If I stay thinking about "help him be responsive", it doesn't matter what I do to improve that, he'll feel better.

    SH/Legs/flag -- persistent when she could've been insistent. A little threatening with flag instead of with a promise you will do it. Nagging = repeat something repeatedly without getting a change.

    Harry might have done enough so horse reacted and knew he meant it then deal with reducing the upset afterward. Maybe SH was avoiding troubling the horse.

    These horses are really good at teaching us humans to wait.

    Ray Hunt said 'Set it up and wait' when a horse doesn't understand. Don't make it happen. There comes a time when there's no waiting.

    My question re flag: when to support a horse and when to be insistent that he let go of his worry about it?

    (I start to see the value in teaching a horse to change how he's feeling so that is an option you can reach for whenever you need it.)

    If horse thinks fleeing is the solution, he says 'fine, go ahead and flee but I'm right here with you so what are you going to do?;' Not driving him, but still there with him.

    Not every horse has to flee in action like Ace. SH was going with him while he was exploring his feeling in round pen -- he found out himself that he didn't need to flee, that it wasn't working out for him.

    Yesterday Harry took the end of the lead rope and slapped his leg and said 'search for a better spot'. Today no lead rope but still there with him asking him to search for a better spot. Kinda doing the same thing.

    Back to my question about flag: Harry said Ace didn't even stop to consider it, just caught it in the corner of his eye and took up directly to his upset place. If he'd looked at it, snorting and quivering, then you might go slow and let him figure it out a bit. But Ace went directly to a very troubled place so SH did something about that -- insistently.

    Harry: if you need to have a fit, OK, let's have a fit, go ahead.

    "He spit the dummy" -- Australian phrase for having a fit. Dummy = pacifier.

    Afternoon ride in arena, playground, desert.

    Harry re reins and me on Cajun at the end of the ride: either he gives to the reins or they're not there.

    Harry Whitney Wed Feb 14, 2007

    [I've put Harry's comments that I took down word for word in bold italics. There are more of his words here, but when I wasn't 100% certain what he said word for word, I did not quote him as such.]

    (Phone call with RNB: 8" of snow and 2 feet due!)

    Self preservation does not equal self defense.

    If you know you can help him from the ground better than from the saddle, then get down and help him from the ground then get back on and see how it's going.

    Cajun -- why leave him feeling stuck/braced/tight when you could help him change -- talking about when to help him with better response to reins, legs, etc.

    When I ask more and trouble comes up, is it me addding trouble or not?

    Stop evaluating each move the horse did and focus on now, what to do to help the horse feel good right now.

    I'm so interested in getting my horse to feel better, I don't have time to think about how I'm feeling.

    Regardless of the size of the horse's expression, it reflects that the horse is feeling bad and that needs to be dealt with. Not just if horse is running you over or rearing up. Help the horse feel better when those little things show up.

    PV asked: how did Harry come to believe that a horse feels better when they give 100%? Rode enough horses that were stiff, rigid, and unresponsive that wanted to get rid of you... and sat on some horses that are pretty responsive... there's a connection between horses that are dragging on you -- it didn't feel good to you, it didn't feel good to him. Why would a horse do something that doesn't feel good? Nobody has shown him anything better.

    When they're doing their best = how they would be when no human is there or close to that.

    When a horse is not responsive, he can't feel right.

    How can you speed up the process of searching through options and coming up with one that works and is his choice? (Example: horse and trailer in round pen.)

    Sometimes you make him do it so next time it might be one of his options to choose from. Whereas before, going in the trailer for example wasn't even an option to the horse.

    We are riding insecure horses. Insecurity at times comes from lack of natural selection. Sometimes horses gain security from environment and predictability so some insecure bred horses are upset by changes in environment like when going trail riding, so it bothers them rather than a mustang for example who would have confidence in a changing environment.

    Once a horse knows the good feeling, then you can get intolerant when the good feeling is missing, insistent about regaining the good feeling.

    Really look at all the spots you can get good at home, then start building from there. Like go 1/4 mile then repeat until horse is feeling good every step of the way. Then extend what you're doing.

    Like for a kid who is antsy and fussing for 3 hours in school, then sits focussed for 1/2 hour movie... If it's of enough interest, has enough meaning, it's amazing how much a horse can focus, even a young horse.

    When Harry was growing up: When a teacher is in the classroom, class is in session. There doesn't have to be a bunch of foolishness but recess can be lively even inside when it's 30 below outside.

    Harry didn't force Ace but: understand the process, limit the options, set it up so they are making choices.

    It's not about physical change. The horse knows if we're asking for emotional change not just physical change.

    SH/Legs round pen: playful energy in Legs. I asked Harry if his approach to horse feeling playful around him was the teacher in the classroom deal? He nodded his head.

    Maybe be more insistent about hunting for the good spot emotionally -- not so important to keep him mentally with her though, maybe let him search for something, like what she's asking, but not if he's not OK inside.

    The better you can get it working under ideal circumstances, the better it will go when it's not ideal.

    Saddling Legs: it's not about him looking around at Harry or the saddle, it's about the ill feeling he had.

    It's not about showing him he shouldn't bite, it was about asking him to change how he was feeling. A fine line between the two.

    Harry with Thor, cracking the whip -- not to get horse used to it, but to get a better response to it.

    If I can get a change in his response to something he's afraid of, I know he'll respond better to something else he's afraid of. Not necessarily for him to feel OK about it, but to have a better response.

    Keep pressure up when he turns to leave, keep him searching for a better spot -- don't let him just escape. Later it'll help him to know that when he's worried, he can look for a better spot.

    Training mounted police -- they don't care how the horse responds as long as he doesn't respond -- getting a horse used to thing. Not what Harry is doing.

    Horse is cranky about responding, not about doing something.

    PV experimenting with more clarity and responsiveness and upping her energy. Horse knows what she wants but he's not sure he really has to. Clearing up his williingness to go on and go forward cleared up his pushing in on her.

    Round pen and ride in PM on Belle/Marge. Not fully sound but responsive. Question: does Marge settle when brought to a stop because Harry has done it with her a lot before and she knows how to change how she's feeling through coming to a stop? Yes!

    I got to feel Marge ready to start with me; and felt what it is when she's left me at a walk, 'surging' like SH spoke of; likewise, feel her 100% with me at the walk.

    Nice complement from PV, that I have a nice way with horses -- they all seem to respond well to me, that I did a good job with Belle out at the playground.