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 Post subject: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:49 pm 
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This is a book by Allan Hamilton that I've not read yet, but am listening to a great interview with him about meditation and engaging with horses...

He's a trainer and a brain surgeon.

Wow.

Here's the link to the interview:
http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wamc/ ... ID=1857715

Best,
Leigh

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 11:20 pm 

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http://www.zenmindzenhorse.com/

http://www.zenmindzenhorse.com/horse_sp ... icles.html

Fabulous articles on pdf.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 10:58 am 
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I can definitely recommend his book. Not only is it the most beautiful horse book ever regarding layout and typography, but also his thoughts are very interesting.
Especially the first part of the book is interesting, later when it gets more practical, I was a bit disappointed when what he calls "chi" turns out to be more or less a very soft version of R-. But still definitely something for the wishlist ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:25 pm 
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I think that it is a great goal if one can achieve a "soft r-". It is a kind and effective means of communication. Once we sit on a horse, once we use aids, once we put a cavesson or a cordao on a horse, we are engaged in a communication based on "r-". It is unavoidable. So "lightness" is my goal. If I touch my horse, I wish to touch him with all the compassion I can muster and the classical ideal of lightness is my pursuit. :f:

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:27 am 
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Karen, I totally agree with you that lightness should be the goal in every interaction. And I think that training without any R- is a circuitous route, to say the least. But what I don't like is mystifying and obscuring the fact that pressure is actually used by calling it other names. It doesn't help in understanding at all and is potentially dangerous by downplaying it.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:06 pm 
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Oh! I understand now. I see what you are saying. YES. I agree COMPLETELY! :yes: Although some horsemen that I adore (like Buck Brannaman) who simply discuss "feel" and seem not to label it at all further. To me that is fine, because he does such a fine job of teaching what he means. I guess the difference is that I there are some educators that seem to slap a new name on an old concept in order to "make it their own" for what seem like commercial reasons, however, in their mind they may think they are explaining it in a more understandable way. :f:

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:12 pm 
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For me (more thoughts), "feel" is not mislabeling the act of asking another being to do something. "Chi", however, is more about one's own internal energies that one should strive to balance, and not so much about the energies we exert on others (people or horses or...). I think it has a place in a discussion about spirituality as it pertains to our interaction with horses, but not as a means to explain how one should ask a horse to do something. It's not a good replacement for the term "pressure".

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:58 pm 
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I like your thoughts, Karen. It's very interesting and revealing, how certain words and their connotations have impact in our judgement. I have in fact the exact reverse images when I read the two words ;).
"Feel" is something happening exclusively in my perception and therefore does not transmit to the outside. Or at least I don't know to what extent it will show to others.
"Chi" is for me (as far as I understand the concept) a kind of energy, also capable of manipulating things around me. Thus it would be more fitting in describing low level R- than "feel" in my opinion.

Both terms are suffering the same problem though, namely the vague definition. I prefer scientific terms, which don't sound so nice, but are more accurate.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Oh, how interesting! :yes: The only issue with the scientific terms is that they don't always convey a quality. "Pressure" can be anything from bending a spoon with your mind to detonating a nuclear bomb. ;) So we do need other terms.

Your idea of feel, and my idea of feel is actually the same. When I take a "feel" on the reins, it absolutely comes down to how it (literally) "feels" to me. It's important how it feels to the horse, but my only gauge for it is how it feels within myself. When Buck Brannaman discusses feel, he is explaining the quality of an action that we feel in our own hands which as much as possible is the weight of the rein alone - or at least that is the goal the rider should be seeking.

For "Chi" I am running off of the only direct experience I have with the term, and that is when my boy Rio was diagnosed with bladder cancer, a holistic vet that I was conferring with, often referred to "balancing Rio's Chi". That, and brief descriptions I have come across seem to indicate a more inward balance of energies within ourselves.

All in all, I think both terms can be taken to expand to how our feel or Chi affects those around us, yes? So then it comes down to what makes sense to the individual relative to our life experiences. I think teachers that endeavor to explain a quality of an action therefore struggle to find words that make the most sense to the widest audience. Invariably they will fall short of making sense to absolutely everyone - but they do the best they can.

My only resistance to such words are when an individual labels something in such a way as to purposely baffle the audience/student in order to gain financially by making someone think they know something special that no one else knows (and sucks them into thinking they need that individual to learn from). I prefer those individuals who SHOW what they mean in the most transparent way possible, regardless what terms they use to attempt to verbally convey the quality they are trying to explain.

Gentleness is hard thing to explain with scientific terms alone. :huh:

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:59 pm 
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Karen wrote:
My only resistance to such words are when an individual labels something in such a way as to purposely baffle the audience/student in order to gain financially by making someone think they know something special that no one else knows (and sucks them into thinking they need that individual to learn from). I prefer those individuals who SHOW what they mean in the most transparent way possible, regardless what terms they use to attempt to verbally convey the quality they are trying to explain.
You're so right! :yes:

Karen wrote:
Gentleness is hard thing to explain with scientific terms alone.
Well I guess you're right. While pressure can be defined pretty accurate with scientific terms, each individual has to measure that quantities by themselves, with their own hands. So it all boils down to the individual reference system and last but not least to the perception of the impact onto the horse. The most exact definition of pressure won't matter a thing, if I cannot evaluate empathically what it means to the other side. After all, for some horses, even the slightest "feel" may be too much.

So how can I teach that to others? It's so hard to find objective ground in such topics... :sad:

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:23 pm 
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Quote:
The most exact definition of pressure won't matter a thing, if I cannot evaluate empathically what it means to the other side.


That is one of the nicest quotes I've heard in a very long time. Noteworthy! :applause: :applause: :kiss:

It IS hard. It's impossible, I think, to come up with words that work for everyone and that's why I prefer when someone demonstrates it clearly. This means of course, that you won't be able to speak or write words that will make it all clear for everyone. It can only be felt.

I've been mentioning Buck Brannaman a lot lately because I bought and watched the "Seven Clinics with Buck Brannaman" dvds. They are utterly brilliant. You cannot get through them without a pretty good sense of what he means when he says "feel". Had I just read it in a book, I think I would still be a bit puzzled by it. But seeing it helps so much.

He uses varying amounts of pressure of course. Everyone does, and it comes down to how much time you have to spend and whether or not you are starting fresh with a blank slate of a horse, or if you are fixing a problem someone has created (bracing). The most pressure he uses is with horses that have been made dangerous.

But he shows an exercise in patience over and over again. You take up the slack in the rein or line until you just reach that contact where the slack is gone (and in some cases, you don't take up the slack completely but still leave some) and you wait. You don't increase the contact, you don't ask for more, you don't try to hurry the horse to show him what you want. You just....wait....as long as it takes. When the horse responds, you release so quick that the horse is very, very certain that he guessed what you were asking.

He admonishes everyone to NEVER "take the think out of the horse". He makes it clear that it's easy to stop a horse from thinking. They will give up thinking very easily if you never let them know that you value it. If you kill it, it's dead. You will never get it back. If it's only suppressed, you have a chance to get it back. Clearly though, the best course of action is to never damage it to begin with. He talks of the joy of working with a horse that thinks.

The values he demonstrates are values that I share, so I'm very open to what he has to offer. There are always people who are closed to it though, so no matter how hard you try, there are people that will not learn it. :sad:

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 Post subject: Re: Zen Mind, Zen Horse
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:49 am 
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Karen wrote:
I've been mentioning Buck Brannaman a lot lately because I bought and watched the "Seven Clinics with Buck Brannaman" dvds. They are utterly brilliant.
Interesting. I think I have to look more into his work. I just saw the movie "Buck" and was rather disappointed by it, because I expected something different. Although I was pleasantly surprised by his riding style :yes:

Karen wrote:
But he shows an exercise in patience over and over again. You take up the slack in the rein or line until you just reach that contact where the slack is gone (and in some cases, you don't take up the slack completely but still leave some) and you wait. You don't increase the contact, you don't ask for more, you don't try to hurry the horse to show him what you want. You just....wait....as long as it takes. When the horse responds, you release so quick that the horse is very, very certain that he guessed what you were asking.
Is that similar to A. Kurland's rope handling exercises? As I understand it, she's also using very soft R- basically in combination with R+. (I have to read her book again, like so many others. *sigh* :roll:)

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