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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.


Blogger afawkes said...

Great notes! Thank you for taking the time to take the notes AND for putting them up on your blog to share with everyone. I know I will return to them over and over again.

5:49 AM  

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