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Welcome. Thank you for bringing your curiosity here. I write to make sense of my life and to be heard, understood perhaps. I hope this makes sense to you. Together we can share some moments thanks to the vibrant dynamic connections that are possible through this amazing webworld. Even if I sit alone as I type, I am not feeling isolated, not from you, not from myself. All contents on this blog are my original writings and artwork and photography (unless attributed to another) and protected by copyright law.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

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.


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