The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:33 pm 
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Houyhnhnm wrote:
Just why did that happen, do you think? Is it that most of the original members left, or did they shift their focus?


Both, I think, and a third factor.

First, people have left or stopped posting regularly. The one who I think had the most impact in the pragmatics-to-philosophy change is Miriam, or her absence actually. When she stopped posting regularly, this did not only stop her own posts from coming, but also reduced the amount of discussion about these things - simply because the input was reduced so much, I suspect. But it's not just Miriam, also other people have left who had been wonderful resources in terms of the more technical aspects, like Brenda for example. And there also is a second aspect to the change in who is posting, besides the question of who is leaving: more people seem to arrive here (or stay longer after having initially looked into the forum) who are fascinated by the more philosophical things.

Then there is your second reason, that some people's focus has changed. That's the case for me for example. Whereas I still enjoy working on movements and exercises, my main interest has shifted back to where it originally came from: doing "real tasks" in natural environments. And while going out for walks requires a rather refined communication or a certain attitude in my horses for me to feel safe and happy with them, the exercises we are doing on the way become more of a nice supplement or a means to achieve some goal, but not the goal in itself.

And then there is a third reason, which I sometimes think might be the most central one: We have had many of the more practical topics already. Those people who have been here for a long time and have participated in these earlier discussions perhaps don't feel inclined to write the same things over and over. Or that's how it feels for me. When I am working on rearing with Pia for example, I know that I have documented this in so much detail when first learning it together with Titum, so I simply feel no need to repeat it and make you all fall asleep. At the same time I don't have that many questions about it anymore because most of them got answered when I did it for the first time, so there is no need for me to initiate a discussion. That's why basically my diaries have degraded to some sort of collection of snapshots, instead of a detailed documentation of a process.

The issue of repetition applies to the more philosophical topics much less, I think. Opinions can develop so much, and sometimes it also feels good to talk about a similar thing with just some of the nuances having changed. I must say that I really miss the old days with more practical topics, though. But probably it's not possible to go back - or at least I can't...


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 9:33 pm 

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This thread is great :-)
I'm not around as much as I am not actively working Morgan at the minute (time leaves me with no other choice), so aside from letting him know I'm around and the care aspect (which is mainly done by the groom as I can't get there), I don't have anything to post.
Equally like Romy I don't have so many questions as I can usually find what I need by trial and error figuring stuff out with Morgan or looking in the existing threads.
I miss quite a few posts since the "view active topics button" stopped working and now have to search through the forum topics rather than being able to see all the posts in the last two weeks. (Can that be fixed? :D )
When I came here the forum itself was not what I expected. I still don't know what I thought I would find, but it didn't fit the title?
It did however get me very excited at the prospect of having lots of new games and to be able to know how others did neat stuff with their horses (without having to strap them down to get it!) and the people were wonderful (and still are :D :kiss: ). Now AND is familiar and I don't think about it.
I do think all of what Romy has said has contributed to where the "context" of the forum is, at any given time, but who knows where it might go? ;)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:38 pm 
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I believe that is what happens if you hang around here long enough... those exercises don't seem so important anymore...
I came here, looking for THE solution for my problems, for exercises, but also for another way, a respectful way for the horse and somewhere along the way I had to choose between leaving and searching for my pre-chewed-exercises or staying and working more on myself than on my horse... becoming a better human so my horse could show me his art :)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:57 pm 
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i agree with Romy and with Barb.
Though i did not came here for answers. But more for insparation.
Why and how do people some exercises and could it help me with my pony's
When you read over and over the same questions, you think i dont give a reaction, look better somewere on the forum for answers.
You can find so much in all the diary's, the sticky's and way more.

i love to see that anyone have funn with their horses or pony's ;) and enjoy the pictures and movies. How they make progress or what ever. It take only so much time which i dont have always :sad:
So i read the diary's but dont write much :blush: but i love it. :yes:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:21 am 
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When I first came to the forum, I was attracted by the "natural" part of the name more than anything else. I came looking for new exercises to add to our repertoire and to inspire us, also with the hope of improving our relationship (which was then more leadership based than it is now). I had just started adventuring in the world of liberty play, and I wanted to find ways to motivate Billy and have him as enthusiastic as the horses I saw in the AND videos. 

Now though, my focus and perspective has changed, as have my own motivations and mine and Billys relationship. 

Now what draws me to the forum is the "Art". Since I joined the forum (and partly because of it, among other things), I have begun to appreciate my life and my time with Billy as a dance. A moving, abstract piece of art. 

I have also begun to appreciate the complexity and skill involved with communicating, playing and relating to horses. It is an "art" in that it involves many aspects, such as timing and awareness of very subtle things, that cannot be taught so much as they must be experienced and developed. 

I can also now appreciate the special dance that happens on this forum, where ideas are shared, taken in, played with, reinvented and shared again. It is an incredibly beautiful dance and I feel so honored to be a part of it. It is definitely an art in itself. 


The dressage bit just reminds me of something of a goal in all of this. The goal is to "school" the horses in such a way that it encourages their development physically, mentally and emotionally. That is what dressage is about (or should be) to me. 

So all up, I like the name. Each aspect appeals to me, even though it has taken a while to develop my own understanding and meaning of each of the aspects and to understand how they can all fit together. 

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:44 am 
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Nothing changed. Studying the old masters, one will always see dressage as an art form to impower the horse in body and mind. Yet in the beginning there was still very much the biomechanics behind the exercises and the excercises of the gymnasium itself to explore. When that was sort of completed, the active part of the forum started to focus more discussion on the relationship and mental side of the horse, simply directing newcomers to the part where the dressage exercises themselves were already vastly explored. The F.A.Q. was born in a way :)

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:00 pm 
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sweetleigh wrote:
I can also now appreciate the special dance that happens on this forum, where ideas are shared, taken in, played with, reinvented and shared again. It is an incredibly beautiful dance and I feel so honored to be a part of it. It is definitely an art in itself. 
So true, Jessie :clap:. I love that too about this place. I love the intellectual pursuit of the whole topic as well as the spiritual and emotional. That all of those parts are combined here in personal lore and interpersonal enrichment that is what makes this place so special and yes, maybe a work of art.

I've spent too much time around the art business to be free of bad connotations when I hear the word "art". But the way that Jessie put it all in relation, I can agree with the name again ;).

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:35 pm 
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Haha thanks Volker, I am happy someone understood what I was trying to say, and even happier that others notice and appreciate the dance that is this forum.

I understand your aversion to "art", it is probably similar to my aversions to "natural", "alternative" and "spiritual". It is nice to be able to overcome the negative associations and use these terms in ways that they are meant as well. I think it is these types of aversions that lead people to come up with these special names for things anyway (which is mostly the reasons we then have aversions to those words).

Hah, now good luck making sense of that paragraph! I may have to try to rewrite it when my brain is working better!

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:50 pm 
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An aversion to art... :ieks:
No, I can completely understand where your aversion comes from (as an 'art'student), but I must say, during study, I discovered that 'art' school is not that different from 'horse' school ;) Being authentic, real and open.
I don't know if it's my education in school, or my education in horses that triggered this though... Nor which influences what. But for me, now art seems to be the proper word.

And I've since the beginning called in 'AND' (yes spoken as 'and'), which was mistaken by friend for 'ANT'... 'what do ants have to do with horses?'
(and mij boyfriend made the name into 'Art of Natural Driessage' during our holiday trip on the tandem which we called Dries) So 'AND' is quite 'rooted' in me for now.

But for me, the 'full spelled' name doesn't add that much to what it is for me, except for giving a reason for those letters to be in one row.

Hey, what's in a name? (sorry couldn't resist)

[edit] oh and I as well miss the 'active topics' button which was my way to read various topics... which I don't do anymore and I stick with 'the usual ones' :blush:

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:36 am 
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I had read this topic a while ago, and such an interesting conversation you all were having. I had been sort of researching what people defined as "Natural Dressage" lately. There's definately a broad difference in techniques! and where was curious about where the "Art" part came in. I personally really liked the art description because I was reminded of how I first saw Haute Ecole as an art form, not really as training seen as a means to an end, like working with horses can seem to be at times.

I ran across this quote from Nuno Oliviera and had to post because it was just too appropriate.
He said "art is not a contest; art is love."

Which is to me what this forum is. It's not about beating out the other people, it's about a real relationship with your horse. And then this quote also connected the idea of art as most people envision it: for example an artist creating a painting. the artist isn't just painting to win something, they're painting because they are inspired or passionate towards their art, ie love. The goal of an artist is to put inspiration above competition. Just like you all are with your horses. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:30 am 
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I actually quite agree with Volker...


That is part of why I am not here too much - because I am neither doing art nor dressage as it comes in my head. I am just travelling my journey with my horses - a more gentle and joyful path. but I have no goals anymore to heaute ecole or any kind of dressage (as the word dressage means in reagular horse-world). I have no amitions, and therefore both the word art and the word dressage is wirds I really can't identify myself with anymore. 8But - as I attended NHE years ago - heute ecole and the natural dressage was my goal!)

Romy wrote:
I split the topic, so that the discussion about the forum name has its own thread. :smile:

I like the name very much, probably because I have known it for so long and for me it has become associated with this lovely community. But still, to me it does not really seem to fit that well either.

First, I am not that much of a fan of making big words to make oneself sound special, so personally I would not have chosen "art" as a part of the forum's name. However, the main reason why I don't think it fits that well (anymore) is the "dressage" part. It seemed to fit better back then in 2007, but since then both the posters have changed and with them the focus of the topics has shifted as well, I think.

;)



That is also for me - I am not that interested in dressage anymore.... But still - here is where I find myself most comfortable, even though I am neither an "art"-person nor a "dressage"-person anymore... I was soo interested in dressage all my years with horses. First many many years in the more regular way, and then with my own horses as I wanted to learn a better way.. Now, I find both like emptiness in my heart.. It really does not matter anymore. I CAn have fun doing "dressage"-things with my horses - but thet is never a goal itself anymore... So I actually don't fit with the name anymore... :)

And - I have even aversions of "natural".... :D Couse Natural is soooo into natural horsemanship that is very far from AND - LIBERTY!! Is a more proper word for me (came as I read your posts here). Art I am actually pretty fine with.... If it is not attatched to dressage.. :D



Art of having fun with your horse....


AND is fine though - but the name does make me "not fit in" because I feel the forum is grounded on something I no longer find interest in... (And well - I have been away for a long time as well so... 8) )

AND - Art of No Demand..... 8) :D


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:46 pm 
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A worldwide sharing of a experiment anno 2007....

We were exploring new (or maybe very old?) ways to move away from the pilars that were dominating the horse world. Either you did Sport, Art or Natural Horsemanship and were you to mingle these ways they would just oppose each other.

The biggest question for us was: Seeing as dressage is considered to be based upon the natural movement of the horse, why then enforce with unnatural means? We came upon calling it natural dressage, because dressage had our interest first and foremost, for that is where most unlogical and unnatural practises seem to take place, in the name of something natural to the horse. Second, because if you want to ride your horse (and I did), you need to study his biomechanical way of moving if you want to keep him healthy which is also befallen to the name of dressage.
And third, all forms of interaction with any animal would be named dressage (from the french word dresser or in Dutch dresseren, which is in fact an other word for training an animal.

For me personally, dressage or ancient riding art always had my biggest interest. Therefore these were the places where I lingered either online or real time. As I experimented with non traditional means, I always was pointed out I was not doing dressage but Natural Horsemanship. So I went that way, but found out I was as much doing natural horsemanship as I was doing kung fu... which is zero. That is when I got the idea that I was doing something new and by naming it anew, people could not longer tell me that I was doing things wrong, as I named my own way of doing things.

Luckily, Bianca and Miriam joined me (or I them) in this conquest and the forum gave us the opportunity we found no where else: to experiment, study and spread our new ways. I might say that goal has been reached beyound our wildest imagination.

For me personally, the forum has served it's purpose, I no longer feel the need to spread nor find information here as I have found what I am looking for and have set on my own seperate path again. A whole community of people and horses have followed me (albeit be it to my daily surprise and appreciation) and new come every day to learn from what I have learned and gained and start out their own path on this quest, gaining territory more vastly as they can take years of their journey by taking my findings with them from the start. One of our human strengths that have brought forth many great achievements: sharing knowledge, so other can build theirs on it.

So, I am happy that Romy keeps this going and also happy to find that it continues to inspire people and shines as a great beacon across the vast horseworld full of the same thing for those seeking a fresh path to start from scratch.

What the whole starter point was for this quest was the letting go of the 'human being dominant over horses' meanstream theory and teaching and still be able to do things as riding, dressage, training etc. For the theory was that without human dominance, you could not work with a horse. The second theory was, that it was natural for a horse to either be dominated or dominate.
We could not find any one to have gone on the path beyound the dominance theory and still practise things like dressage, before but A. Nevzorov. But he did not really teach nor share his experiences. So out on our own we were again and a good thing too in hind sight.
I went as far into this experiment as I could go, away from human dominance into total human submission to a (so called dominant) horse. The information I recieved was life changing. Since then I moved back to a form of Academic or Classical dressage (of where I came before I started all this and which was always my passion and intrest), however, with as basic foundation of what I learned within the Art of Natural Dressage journey, experiment and experience. I always turn back to this foundation.

It serves me well each and every day. What I keep working on, studying and teaching most is that there is no fixed way of either leading or being led, submit or push and all levels in between these two extremes. For this changes from horse to horse, day to day, situation to situation. The decission when to do what; that makes or brakes the horse(wo)man, in my experience.
This will only work, if you make each decission from your authentic self. From your heart, for want of a better word. To have a clear goal and to know why you want something and therefore be able to stand by it, makes all the difference to yourself and even more so, to the horse.
A goal that is not from the heart will fill you with doubt and you will experience all kind of trouble working with your horse.

If you need to follow your horse, follow. If you need your horse to follow, let him follow. There is always only NOW. This is a constant flow...and maybe it is no coincidence that follow has the word flow in it: F(OL)LOW.

This applies probably to all else in the world as well, since the beginning of time. But might it be the horse's task, to teach it to humans? If so, is he not doing a great job, considering the changes already in this young 21st century?

A spontaneous musing... sometimes ends up quite interesting, does it not?

Sheers! :kiss:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:01 pm 
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I don't have much to say about this although it is very interesting, but I do believe that this name might help people find the forum better, because people who are looking for alternative ways of being with a horse will need to google a bit to find things they like and the use words as natural and dressage easily... so it can attract people who are searching for alternatives... :) just thinking ;)

Big hugs
Barbara

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