The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:28 pm 

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I was wanting to go out to see my horse today, then got to thinking, since I am a bit tired and not really feeling like 'being' who I think I should be (so that I can be consistent for my horse), was wondering if it wasn't such a good idea. I'm reading KFH's Dancing with Horses and watched the video, and he states a certain way to be in order to be in a leadership role, being always consistent and in a sort of a state of self denial (of our emotions) so that we can instead be more in harmony with the horse, with how a horse 'is', so he can put his trust more easily in us and view us as their leader (we have earned our leadership role in their eyes).

So I was wondering, how many of you actually strive for that goal, or on the opposite side of the coin, how many of you just allow yourself to be in whatever mood you're in (possibly simply choosing to just go be with your horse instead of trying to interact with him in a leadership role for that day.) If you do this, do you feel this disturbs the horse's perception of you or affects his general view of you as his 'leader' (or perhaps lack of!)

I hope I communicated what I mean effectively.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:25 pm 

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Gosh this post came at such a good time and I have been wondering much the same if I understand what you are saying.
For the past two weeks I have been "pre-occupied" with my thoughts when being with my horse.
All horse thoughts but not with him or focusing my energy/attention. ( More about feed supplies and fences!) It has definitely changed my reletionship. I do not think it is anything that can't be fixed with more focus. I do need to change my way of being with my horse as he is becoming "stubborn or indifferent" to my requests as opposed to willingly offering to follow my suggestions.
I need to go back to doing nothing for a while and laying off my "demands". I am forgetting he needs time to adjust to a new home and friends and I have been keen to move ahead and trail him out.
I am not in harmony with myself. I am wanting to push on and then backing off completely. Perhaps I need to find a middle ground? Some sort of routine but open to going with the flow of the horse more. I guess this is what he means? This did seem to work well for me in the past and acheived the best connection.
I think it is important too to recognise that as much as we have different moods, so do our horses....
Is there a thread somewhere here about being a good leader or what makes a good leader?
Thanks for bringing this up.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Morgan wrote:
Is there a thread somewhere here about being a good leader or what makes a good leader?


Several. :smile: You can find a little collection of them here: Links to different threads

I go to my horses in all kinds of moods. It´s not only that I have to do this anyway because they also have to be fed and cared for when I don´t feel well, I also prefer it like that. All the good relationships I have are those where the partners (friends, family members...) are not putting on a fassade, where they don´t try to be emotionally neutral or even correct and where they grant that same right to me as well. For me personally it is important to be myself (and have the other one be himself, too), otherwise I am losing my authenticity, which I think is essential in close relationships, and for me my emotions are an important part of that.

But I think it´s a balance. Allowing myself to have feelings does not mean that I have to pester my horses with those feelings all the time. That is, when I am angry about something, I do let them know but of course I do not act out on them. If I am overly happy, I still try not to hug my horses to pieces unless they want to. Luckily I am a very happy person altogether and only spend very little time in the angry or depressed departement. ;)

What also helps me not to impose my mood on the horses too much is that in 90% of the time it´s them who initiate our training - so if one of them feels that he does not want to deal with my mood, he just needn´t come and train. And when I am in a really bad mood, I don´t feel like training anyway, so in those moments I reduce my time of interacting with the horses to a minimum and do some bodily straining work instead and very soon I feel much better. :smile:

Maybe for me it is a bit easier, because I don´t try to be a leader, so I needn´t prove anything? I guess it´s harder if one´s goal is to make an impression of being the strong one all the time and maybe then it´s important to practise some self-denial? I don´t know.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:36 pm 
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Quote:
he states a certain way to be in order to be in a leadership role, being always consistent and in a sort of a state of self denial (of our emotions) so that we can instead be more in harmony with the horse, with how a horse 'is', so he can put his trust more easily in us and view us as their leader (we have earned our leadership role in their eyes).


I think I get where Hempfling is going with this, and see the wisdom in a certain detachment and emotional discipline -- having temper tantrums at your unsuspecting horse obviously isn't helpful! (Which I've done, so I speak with experience as opposed to judgment... :blush: ;) )

But I must admit I get crawlies all over my skin at the thought of being with a horse effectively means being in a state of emotional self-denial. :ieks: This feels totally counterintuitive to me...and really isn't what I'm looking for with my guys. For me, this is an exceedingly psychological and emotional process, and I am trying to invite and honor my horses' emotions -- don't know how to do that if I turn off mine.

Maybe it is about different goals. While I'm not in the 90% club with Romy in terms of who suggests what (not by a long shot!), I am also absolutely not looking to be the unilateral leader of my horses. We're trying to find ways for it to be fluid between us -- sometimes with better success than others. And, while I think self awareness and a some emotional maturity are really important in any relationship, I don't think that being a good leader means that you need to deny your emotions.

And I guess I'm not a huge at-the-cost-of-all-else believer in the trumping importance of consistency...Oscar Wilde called it the hobgoblin of little minds... :twisted: ;)

I dunno, maybe I'm not that far off from Hempfling in this, because I do think we need to build awareness of our moods and how they impact our horses, and take responsibility for the energies with bring to any given interaction -- I just get all twitchy when there is language about "self-denial" and such -- which he has, I think, a tendency to do.

(There's a thread here somewhere about how he feels passion is a dangerous thing with horses -- I think he's been burned by big emotions in his life -- two cent psychological theory from afar! ;) -- but he does tend to seem to want to be in a zen world where emotions don't figure in a whole lot, at least at my reading of him...)

But I certainly don't generally not go see my horses if I'm feeling emotionally off balance (hell, if that was the case, I wouldn't have seen them for a couple of months here this winter! :roll: :smile: ), but I do try to be VERY aware when I'm feeling emotionally icky -- especially when I have the mean reds -- and not demand too much from them on those days. In fact, those days are the days I'm most likely to demand nothing at all -- which seems to work really well for us. I get the therapy of spending time with them, they get the attention that they know they deserve, and we can spend time without having to DO stuff, which is important for us. (And sometimes that's enough to get me into another mood and then we can play more actively.)

And it gives them a chance to be attentive to me, which they do, in fact do, when I'm feeling crappy. Not always, but if I give them emotional/physical/temporal space to feel my emotions, they often come in to be supportive. Our do-nothing time has been very important for all of us -- I come from a traditional training background and its been hugely important for me to get the heck out of my own way (and theirs) a little bit and learn to listen to them.

For me, it's about hearing/feeling my emotions while listening hard for theirs -- both/and. At the same time, not either/or. And they have off days, too -- and we respect those as well!

Hope this is helpful; it became a bit of a rant! 8)

And I have a question for you -- who do you think you should be when you are with your horses?

:)
Leigh

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Leigh wrote:
While I'm not in the 90% club with Romy in terms of who suggests what


Haha, me neither, at least not all the time. What I meant was that in (at least) 90% they decide THAT we train, which does not necessarily mean that they do make 90% of the suggestions. Sometimes they make 99% and sometimes only about 20%. That depends on what we are up to, if we are trying to work on a new exercise, what mood they are in and many other things. But the decision if we train at all I usually leave to them, so I just do what has to be done on the pasture and train with them (or not if I am really busy) when they come and start suggesting exercises.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:53 pm 
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When my emotions get in my way, I go and groom my horse. :D It helps a lot.

I benefit from the effort required to groom "properly," as well as him enjoying it, as well as the bond between us ... :yes: and it doesn't hurt that when he shines he goes all pearly coloured like a mobile rainbow.

He usually offers me cuddles when I'm sad, and itchy spots when I'm angry.

I am very careful not to try any training when my emotions are unbalanced, and lately he has taken to using that time to train ME to lift MY feet for him, so he can play with my shoes. :ieks: :rofl:

That's a guarranteed mood modification - clever horse. :D

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:16 am 
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I'm wondering if KFH means learning to control emotions to the point where you can respond rather than blindly react? Using a second to diffuse strong emotions (yes, temper) into something neutral.... not really denying but more self knowledge?

I don't know what he thinks -- just a thought-guess here ... :smile:


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:08 am 
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Quote:
I am very careful not to try any training when my emotions are unbalanced, and lately he has taken to using that time to train ME to lift MY feet for him, so he can play with my shoes.


Glen, I am completely in love with Freckles.

:love: :D

And Mouschi, my sense is that is what KFH means, but what concerns me about it is exactly what Janelle is wrestling with -- we shouldn't go spend time with our horses because we're not in complete control (of ourselves or them?)???...that just doesn't feel right at all to me.

If I'm completely crabby and hateful and am ticking off even myself, I don't inflict myself on my anyone if I can help it! 8)

But that's an internal decision -- maybe I'm just rebellious, but I think the only people who get to decide whether or not my horses and I should spent time together is us, and I don't think it's fair to set people up so they're worried about whether they're good enough to spend time with their horses...

Janelle wrote:
Quote:
I was wanting to go out to see my horse today, then got to thinking, since I am a bit tired and not really feeling like 'being' who I think I should be (so that I can be consistent for my horse), was


To me, the only really important part of that thought, Janelle, was "I was wanting to go out to see my horse today..." :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes:

I guess my knickers get all in a twist when I feel like people are being convinced they are somehow not worthy...all of my Robin Hood instincts kick in! :rambo: :funny:

I think having some emotional discipline and self-awareness so you aren't completely reactive is a splendid thing, and well worth learning/doing/practicing...I think for most of us it's an ongoing process to find that balance and every day has its ups and downs. And I suppose if the central focus of your time and life is your horses, you can afford to think about working with them only when you've found that sense of balance -- but for most of us, I think, or at least me anyway, my life is so busy that I just want to see my ponies! :) I don't have the luxury of time to prep for them in all ways before I get there -- and I often don't know what the emotional process is going to be with them until I get there...

And, again, I think consistency is over rated. I think we underestimate the horse's emotional and interpersonal (interspecial?? ;) ) intelligence when we convince ourselves that we must be consistent in all things.

Whew! I've got a bee in my bonnet about this! :yes: :ieks: ;) I like KFH's work a lot in many ways, but I also think he's more of a hierarchical trainer than I want to be...and that's probably part of what I'm reacting to as well...

Shutting up now...am tiring myself out! :yawn: :D

Leigh

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:32 am 
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When I was in a 'mood' I would waltz right up to my horse(s) and tell them right away -- "Yes, I'm upset - but not at you" at least for my feral Appy I HAD to or he was in the next county so to speak - but really --- telling them did seem to help --

I try to respond rather than react for my own good -- that doesn't take away emotional variety at all. I agree there's something else behind KFH's statement. Boring would be total self control and self denial. Horses might be quiet and dull and perfectly behaved and what fun is that??? Horses need to know our full emotional range as normal as we need to know theirs -- yes? And if we accept their emotions they will accept ours if it's in the open - hiding makes it much worse (as our loved ones know!!)

Perhaps he is speaking of incongruency? Our buried unacknowledged shadows? Horses are good at recognizing our shadows aren't they?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:54 am 
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I feel like an :alien: When I go to see my horses, it's like being on another planet. :green:

I agree with Hempfling in some respects...in that, if your are feeling reactive, then you should find a way to let that go before you do anything with your horses...but if your horses can help you to let that feeling go, then with your horses is the only place you SHOULD be. :green:

I have days when I don't feel up to going...but that is usually because it's too cold out. I really hate winter. But when I do go, there is no place on earth I would rather be, because the rest of the world falls away, and it is just me and Tam...or me and Cisco, and my mind is filled with my own sense of movement in relation to my horse - probably because I am trying so hard to be consistent in my movements - so it's a bit like tunnel vision and all I get is the sense of movement of myself and my horse.

Unless I'm trying to braid Tam's forelock... :evil:

But when I'm with the horses, I'm transported back to my childhood...at least some of the sensory memories...the smell of horses, barns...of all the time I spent on our farm growing up, my strongest memories were of standing behind the barn in the morning sun as it warmed the barn wall. The smell of molasses on the breath of the milk cows eating contentedly in their stanchions. The smell of an old saddle. I can't stay angry or reactive in that place. Put a horse next to me, and I am in that place.

I want heaven to have a back barn wall that faces the morning sun, and milk cows eating grain with molasses.

And horses.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:48 am 

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Ha ha leigh, you are funny, thanks for being concerned and defending my right to go see my horse no matter what! It wasn't that I was feeling I SHOULDN'T go because I read Klaus's info to mean I shouldn't go....I guess I hadn't totally convinced myself that I WANTED to go because I was in a weird mood, tired and ...well you get the idea. But I loved everyone's thoughts, and I think I agree that your outer expression should be congruent with your inner thoughts, be at peace with whatever emotion you are feeling, that there should be authenticity. I suppose I just wasn't sure WHERE I was at so didn't want to bring anyone else into it. I ended up not going but I was at peace with that decision. Yes I wanted to see her but there was 'too much noise' going on that I didn't have the energy to sort out.

But I'm glad you all helped me to 'nip in the bud' the thought that I should be 'all pulled together' every time I went to see my horse.

It was kinda funny (how I interpreted) what KFH said about self denial, because to me, seeing how he interacts in the video, there seems to be a wholeness, an openness, a sharingness, compassion and interchange with the stallion in the last segment. Heck if that's self denial, sign me up, because that was beautiful! The horse and him were truly connected.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:42 am 
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Oh, excellent stuff, Mouschi, Karen, and Janelle!

And this cracked me up:
Quote:
Heck if that's self denial, sign me up, because that was beautiful!


:D

Leigh

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:00 pm 
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I agree with Klaus.

I approach or explain it perhaps differently.

Being for me is allowing all feelings to flow through and experiencing them and then release them again.
This is also how I learned to meditate for 6 years.
I can not believe you can hide emotions from a prey animal and certainly not a horse, as reading an other animals state... well, they simply scan even if you are hungry or not I believe.

However, being is all about letting go of the ego.
Much tantrums with horse which I had or see others have with horses is simply because the horse does not do as I wanted, to make me 'look good'.

Because of the high spiritness of my horses and their past, they taught me to let go completely of my personal agenda and ego.
When with them I am free. Free to be my self, free to 'be'.
Not to try and be one that others would find cool and admire.

You see where I am getting with this?

Now I have been asked to do demo's on huge events with my O-master.
I agreed once, I started training. Back came the ego and the agenda.
Owen got ill and we drifted apart again and got into fights...
I did not do the demo, nor shall I ever do one ever again. The relationship with O is more prescious to me then whatever all the people in the world think of me.

Second, about being a leader.
What I think of that is in the treaths Romy so kindly pointed out (I love when she does that!).

Now, I do not aspire being a leader to my horses. I do not see in any way why I should be.
I thought about it a lot. Would I as horse choose me as leader?
I would choose O.
And I did.

What I do aspire with horses is communication, friendship, love and if they are able to grant me their time to teach me about horses, their culture, their higly intellectual mind, all their soft wisdom, their phenominal communication skils and reading/scanning of others, and more over, how 'to simply be'. How they can celebrate oneself being, is something I want to learn.

The more I let them and especially O guide me, the more I become routed to myself, and this planet, this human world even.
Life becomes more and more simple and less matters to me.

I hope I am making sense, and do not spook you when I say this, but for me, being with horses becomes less and less about those high school values I once sought so much, but more and more about finding some sort of knowledge about myself, this earth and all the inhabitans.

Warm regards,

Josepha
who is waiting for the rain to pass, so she can go to her golden sensei and feel relaxingly humble :alien:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:40 pm 

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Wether I feel bad or good. I never plan anything to do. This way you can never get frustrated. I take what the horse gives me and go with that.
I always gain something good from it.

Yesterday when I was with foc I was a bit nerves. people looking at me and stuff, so I decided to let him eat grass :smile: he loves it and he's relaxt when he does. I went to the arena a bit but that wasn't that good so I started to run with him on the path and he loved it. Tail and head up :funny: we both had fun. He followed me and I didn't need to do much.

Love,

helene

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:30 pm 
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Here is an excerpt from a teleseminar Hempfling gave:

http://www.hempfling.com.au/kfh-forum.h ... pic&pid=44

I think this is very much what you're talking about, Josepha, and what I (and I think others who've responded to Janelle's question) are talking about as well.

It's a lovely statement, well worth reading, and feels to me to be much more balanced than "practice self-denial so you can be a consistent leader" (which is, in case anyone missed it, a phrase that makes my teeth itch! :twisted: ;))

Hempflng states:

Quote:
It’s very important (to realize) that when we are looking at the world we are looking through glasses that are colored – the job of the horses is to remove the glasses and say here this is reality. The idea of the horses is to give you an authentic view – of your life – your relationships – your own authenticity.


Lovely!

He gets heavy in this statement with some talk about destiny...man, as I read it again I think this transcription captures both what I really like about Hempfling and what makes me really uncomfortable about him...there's such a guru undercurrent going...

And then, in the comments, there is a woman talking about being at a workshop and a woman crying because Hempfling was beating her horse :ieks: and that it was maybe because he knew what the horse needed...????..... :ieks: :ieks: :ieks:

:blonde:
Leigh

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