The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:11 pm
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Location: Barcelona
pff Things are starting to dazel around me.
It's very interesting to read, but I still don`t know what and how to do.
Ofcours I would prefer to do all without bit or persure, but how do I teach my horse not to run when I can't show him that?
and how do I tell him where to go?
I would love to know, because I would love to start with this but not without doing it right

Love,

Helene

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 5:45 pm 
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Helene, keep reading! Then start in the Groundwork: Practice Exercises section and just...well...just begin. You will learn as you go. It is all begun on the ground, it is all begun from rewarding tiny attempts. If it seems overwhelming to look too far ahead, then only concentrate on the here and now. As for stopping? If you reward it, it will happen. But the key is in not asking for very much at first (one step forward, then whoa), and building it up gradually.

You can do it! :f:

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:01 pm 
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Karen wrote:
Helene, keep reading! Then start in the Groundwork: Practice Exercises section and just...well...just begin. You will learn as you go. It is all begun on the ground, it is all begun from rewarding tiny attempts. If it seems overwhelming to look too far ahead, then only concentrate on the here and now. As for stopping? If you reward it, it will happen. But the key is in not asking for very much at first (one step forward, then whoa), and building it up gradually.

You can do it! :f:


And may I add, Karen and Helene, that control of the environment may often be, in the beginning, much more important than control of the horse.

Much as I love liberty work, until my horse is really engaged with me he or she will do what horses tend to do, run away, or since I'm an old creaky human, simply walk away.

The paddock, the ring, even the large stall, is often where the best groundwork is done, and returning, even long after one's horse is deeply engaged and partnered up with one, can be useful when something new is introduced or when a learned behavior for whatever reason has lost its response by the horse.

Often just lowering distractions, which we know from human learning theory too, is all that we need for the horse to focus on the task. Too intense or to many stimuli disrupts task learning.

I've recently taught Altea to spin about her center at my hand signal and a voice command. Done in the stall, today is the day I'll likely reallly test it outdoors at liberty on a walkabout. I did it a week ago and she was fine, but I only asked for a couple of steps. Now the spin is being done not only completely but more than 360 degrees in the stall. So we are ready for the outdoor at liberty test.

We'll see if I know what I'm talking about. :yes: :D :D

Donald

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So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:11 pm
Posts: 129
Location: Barcelona
:funny: keep us updated I honestly would love to know.
All though at my farm there are no stables :blush: but still I'd like to know

Thank you Karen for your respond. I think it can be usefull not to read too much, but it's so ineresting :)

Love,

Helene

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 7:56 pm 
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I think it can be usefull not to read too much


Reading is the only way to find answers in a forum! :funny: :funny: :funny:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:39 am 

Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:11 pm
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Location: Barcelona
Hihi yes but too many answers are running through my head now and lost their questions hihi :funny: I need to learn to take it step by step ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:57 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:13 am
Posts: 182
Location: Italy
In my experience, there's no need of any special training of the horse to go from bit to one of "half way" bitless bridles ("half way" between bits and cordeo). My experience covers mainly dr Cook Bitless Bridle but I guess that good sidepulls have a similar effect. Most horses simply respond to basic aids as they responded to the bit aids. And this is not an accurate statement: what I found is that they respond better.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:24 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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My experience is very different from Alex', I have seen horses who really resent/worry about the Dr. Cooks, some of which do great in a sidepull, some who are confused by either but comfortable and relaxed in a bit. That does not mean, though, that a bit would be a better option for those horses, it might just mean that a different feel takes time to get used to. When switching it also makes a difference if the bridle the horse is used to had a noseband, browband, and throatlatch because if these are new for the horse even a sidepull could be quite a change. So I guess it depends on the horse as well as the previous tack used, just take as much time as necessary for the transition. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:29 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:13 am
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Location: Italy
Thanks Birgit, what you say makes sense. I did a mistake very common in equitation: to consider personal experience as a general rule. :blush:

1. My experience is based on a small number of horses
2. No one of them was well trained, nor used by really skilled rider (a tipical case is myself)
3. Some different experiences have been reported into forum talks, but I had no explanation for them: now what you say is both a confirmation and an explanation of those experiences!

It would be great to understand into more detail the reasons for such different experiences - I guess, they shuld be explored considering different riding stiles (in relation with different uses of reins in different schools... I remember an excellent post of Miriam about), different training level of the horse and different skill of the rider ... and, probably, many other points.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:05 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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Alex,
I think it's totally valid to share from your experience, because there are definitely horses that don't need any special training, my own little quarter horse mare included. She is just fairly stoic by nature. I have ridden her in a rope halter, flat halter, bridleless, with different shanked bits, different types of snaffles (loose ring, D-ring, full-cheek), English (jumping) hackamore, with all kinds of bridles, and she responds almost equally well and happily to all of them as long as only a minimum of pressure is used and that pressure is released when she responds. That's why it was so hard for me to understand at first why a bit is better not used at all. I still believe that many types of bitless bridles can be a lot harsher than some bits in the wrong hands, because of leverage or rubbing in sensitive areas. I've decided to study any new piece of equipment very carefully now to see and understand how it works before I try it on my horse, no matter how much it is praised by others.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:36 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:13 am
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Location: Italy
Birgit wrote:
... as long as only a minimum of pressure is used and that pressure is released when she responds.

Into real world, how many riders can do this? :sad:

Quote:
I still believe that many types of bitless bridles can be a lot harsher than some bits in the wrong hands,

Do you mean: a bit into good hands and a bitless into wrong ones, or both in wrong hands, in your comparison?

My feel is, I'm circled by riders with the wrong hands... :sad: :sad:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:01 pm 
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Quote:
I still believe that many types of bitless bridles can be a lot harsher than some bits in the wrong hands, because of leverage or rubbing in sensitive areas.


There is no more sensitive area on horse than the delicate structures inside the mouth where a bit would lie...bones thinly covered by the most delicate skin and a mass of nerve endings.

When I say "bitless bridle", I do not necessarily mean a Dr. Cook's but it could also mean a cavesson or halter, or sidepull. I don't know about other people, but I do not include mechanical hackamores in that classification because they have a specific name to refer by...or a jaquima, which also has a specific name to refer to it by. Technically they are all bitless, but they are not the gear for which the term bitless bridle was coined.

The "leverage" of a bitless bridle (Dr. Cook's) is not a harsh leverage. It might be annoying to the horse though. My Tam didn't like it. I could have continued and eventually he would be alright with it, but he was more easily accepting of a light cavesson.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:09 pm 

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Alex and Karen, I'm so glad for both your responses. I realized I was a little tired last night when I posted and not as careful in my wording. :blush:
Alex you are right that I meant to say that with riders with good hands and good timing that some bitless bridles can be harsher than some bitted bridles. And Karen, I was referring to the mechanical hackamores when I was talking about leverage. I never thought about the fact that a Dr. Cook's also uses a small amount of leverage, although of a different kind. Leverage in itself does not have to be a bad thing, I guess, it also could be termed leverage for instance to use an opening rein (with arm all the way out to the side) to get a horse to turn to that side compared to a direct rein on that side.
The more important question that came up for me again is the exact effect of a snaffle bit and why it should be avoided. The reason this is very important for me is twofold: While I personally see no advantage to bits and see no reason why I would use one again, I don't really know what I would tell people who ride Western with a snaffle bit. The way they use this bit is so completely different: For an advanced horse and rider there is no contact to the mouth through the reins unless the horse does not respond to weight and seat cues and even when the reins are used there is often a pre-cue by the reins traveling up the bit ring of the bit before contact with the mouth is made. In addition, Western snaffles are usually thinner and therefore lighter, making it easier for the horse to carry the bit. Would this not keep the bit from bumping/rubbing the bars, by allowing the horse to move the bit in his mouth wherever comfortable?
The other point to address is the need for really good hands and a completely independent seat. I know that I will probably never have that myself to the degree where I could ride with contact with any bit, in fact I don't know if there are many people whose hands are always soft and following. If the bit is not used for connection, though, but just for very occasional cues prepared with pre-cues a lot less skill is required, both as far as timing and as far as independent seat/softness because the pressure used is so slight and short. Hope this all make sense.
I wanted to explore this question more in detail because I would love AND to catch on more among Western riders and saw this as a potential stumbling block. Of course the real experts in Western riding have figured out bridleless riding quite a while ago, and many will start their horses bitless (in a sidepull). Thanks to any of you who can help me figure this out. :f: :f:


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:15 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:13 am
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Location: Italy
I know in some detail the problems of the bit in the opinion of dr Cook, since I translated some of his articles into Italian and - as you know - translating is a great mean to go deeper and deeper into the author's mind and opinions.

So, dr Cook - as you know, an academic veterinary surgeon, specialized into throat pathology - offers two kind of arguments against any bit.

1. pain (any bit is just designed to cause pain if needed; and if you think about L'Hotte thoughts, pain, or fear of pain, is the key to obtain obedience; no matter if usually a good rider riding a good horse have so light an hand to avoid any pain ... but the potentially painful tool is there into the mouth of the horse, and the horse knows its possible effect!)
2. digestive-respiratory conflict. Lots of severe soft palate, epiglottic, laringeal, tracheal and pulmonary troubles come - in the expert opinion of dr Cook - from "alimentary" tongue movements while working with a bit. This contrasts deeply with the idea - so common into traditional equitation - that chewing the bit is a good thing... as a pathologist, I found dr Cooks arguments very interesting. Take a look to his website, there are many interesting articles about this second bit-related damage, completely independent from "good or bad hands".

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 10:12 pm 
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BIrgit, I don't say anything to riders who use bits, unless they ask me about going bitless. If they are not ready to ask the question, they are not ready to change. I do not condemn any of my friends for using bits (and most of them do), and I do not go out of my way to promote bitless, other than to occasionally, where I can, put in a word for ALLOWING a bitless option. I even recently saw a clinic advertised, and it stated, "Snaffle bit must be used". Well, that's one clinic I wouldn't go to obviously. It's perhaps possible that they mean that riders aren't allowed to use a leverage bit, but still...the bias is out there.

I live in a bitted world. Most of us do. I have influenced more people by simply going about my business and they see what I'm doing. Sometimes they notice the uniqueness of Cisco's bridle and will ask about it. Some may ask, "you don't use a bit?". I only answer that I don't use bits. I don't even say why unless someone specifically asks me. Nothing more. So without ever saying anything, by only doing, and by "being the world you want to live in" you can affect change around you. You also attract a similar energy to yourself...so you may begin to see more bitless people, because like minds are attracted to each other whether they are conscious of it or not.

I think information like Alex has, from Dr. Cook, is important to know...just in case someone challenges you and feel up to a good argument. But me, I avoid them.

Oh...there was one time I did step in and give an unsolicted opinion. There was this one fellow who has terrible balance in the saddle and rides with his hands and his horse is constantly stressed and inverted (and he uses a tie down or draw reins). With all his gear, he can not get his horse's head down. So I did manage to explain to him that all the gear and the way he rides is causing it. When his daughter gets on this horse, with her better seat and quieter hands, the mare still goes inverted, but she stops stressing and calms down...even occasionally dropping her nose.

We got him once to remove it all and put a sidepull on her. She went beautifully! Next time we saw them, he had her back in the snaffle and all the gear. He is not ready to change. If I kept at him, he would then just avoid me. I would rather he at least be able to see what can be done without a bit if he sees me riding. If it's meant to trickle into his mind, it will happen.

:f: :f:

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