The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:48 pm 
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today I had a very emotional day and I wanted to know if any of you have had the same experiences as I am having and I need reassurance of what I am doing is right (or not)
her it goes(this comes from my diary):

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then I got excited and wanted to sit on Beau a bit, so I got my bridle and a bucket and tried to get on. Beau really prefers me being on the ground and treatened to bite me, he does that ever since he was young and I kind of ruined him. Well, he stood there and turned to look at me and I thought, ow well, and we did some of the exercises we do on the ground. Then I got of and took of the bridle. He doesn't like being bridled, because that is when I cannot control myself and want to DO things. So I decided that I should trust my horse more and got on my bucket again and got on Beau without a bridle, a naked horse I hadn't done that in almost a year I think and I felt unsure of what I was doing. But I put aside my fears and did the same things I did with a bridle and we did backups, circles and even for the first time a jambette with me on him. Of course it wasn't perfect because I had some nerves and only after a few minutes started to feel my horse, but it reminded me to stop being such a control freak. I got of and although Pascha had already left us while I was on Beau, he still was with me at the stables and stayed there untill I took him back up the hill. There I helped him ruin my trees and I felt great, only at the end he pushed me aside and I felt less sure of what I had done was right... I hope I did the right thing getting on him. I feel so unsure, I only know how to dominate a horse and I am very far in letting go on the ground but still not on him, I don't know whether I'm doing things right and I am unsure of what the push meant.
I have a plan of trying to sit on him much more, I HAVE TO TRUST MY HORSE!!!If I can do it on the ground I should be able to do it on his back too!
I hope he will give me some more chances to learn and become a good human for my horse. If only I was sure what to do...


I hope you would like to tell me about your experiences...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:55 pm 
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ha ha ! I know the control freak thing! ;)
I am so happy Jamie and Owen helped me get rid of that... aaah! such a relief for me and everybody around me :green:

So when you leave off the bridle, there is not much to control and then you can just let your horse decide what he wants to do with you on his back and just reward the same for initiative which you always do.
He tells you he does not want to be bridleled ( a shame with such a beautiful bridle ;) )

But I would just go about it the same way as on the ground, ask him what he wants, if he let's you get on and walks around with you, well what more can you ask for?
The rest will just start from there.

And ask yourself: what are you nervous and afraid of?
What can happen without bridle that can not happen with?

:)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:16 pm 
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aha that last question I have an answer for, maybe it is absurd, but I still believe in it, the moment Beau gets scared I can turn him and jump off, without the bridle, I have to jump of in a straigt and faster line ;)

that is what bothers me... I cannot control te inviroment, and there I go again :)

hihi it is a shame for the bridle ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:27 pm 
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That is a possibility, indeed. One of many possibilities that might or might not happen... But you can fall of anyway, all the time and Beau could spook anyway all the time :)

I have experienced myself that horse's spook less and when spooked get back to calmness earlyer because nothing is restricting their heads. :yes:
Which would be logical from instinct and biomechanical point if view.

But, no, you can not control anything really, eventhough you think you can.
You breath even if you do not want to, the earth turns, meteors can drop on our heads and horses are stronger, faster and different from us.

which is a good thing, so they can teach us to let go... :)

You did blokkades of the rider with me didn't you?
Did I not point out the book 'loslaten en leren vertrouwen' van suzanne Huhn?
I think you are now at that point where you could really use it and it is only a small book :)

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:43 pm 

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I realized after reading this that I also still have questions in this area. I don't feel the need of a bridle in a securely fenced-in area but in a big open space on a trailride the bridle gives me the assurance that I can at least somewhat influence the direction my horse is going in case of a bad spook. That's why I'm wondering if it's not always worth it to gradually desensitize a horse to some kind of bitless bridle, even if it takes a long time and much patience to do because of previous bad experience. What do you think?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:20 pm 
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Birgit, maybe you know that I never ride with anything at my horses heads, but still I do very much agree with you on doing it gradually if one feels more safe that way - although I see this more as desensitizing the rider instead of the horse.

If I was scared to ride with a naked horse in the forest because I imagined that he could spook, I would not do it, simply just because then I could not be the confident friend who shows them that there is nothing to be scared about. I think Josepha has a really good point in saying that you should do what your heart tells you, and whereas I could not rely on that as the main decision criterion in every situation, in those situations that are about being nervous about safety I do.

I also did it gradually, although not in terms of tack that I used but in terms of situations in that I rode. When putting away the halter in August 2007 and from then on doing everything at liberty or with the lunge line around their necks, I did only ride in situations that I perceived to be absolutely safe, like on forest paths. Later I started riding on fields and meadows as well, then on small streets and so on. As soon as I was not completely sure that it was safe, I just jumped down and walked and then only gradually increased the "scaryness" of the situations in which I did ride.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:43 pm 

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Is your horse disliking a halter or headcollar also? As a simple halter and one rope may help you to feel safe while stopping you from pulling and trying to control. That way you have something on his head to help you feel safer but not something that is associated with dominance- and you can concentrate on riding "as if" he doesn't have anything on his head? I have not ridden bridleless yet, but I found going from a bridle to a halter helped me release the need to control and helped me relax and work on riding with my body. My next step when I feel brave enough will be halter and cordeo and then cordeo alone? I have a way to go yet though, so maybe I am not the right person to be saying anything.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:40 pm 
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he is only bothered when he knows I will try to 'use' the tack on his head and I use everything, whether you give me a halter a bridle a cordeo or whatever, when I feel safe, I get demanding, when I feel I have a little control, I get irritating to my horse :)

I hope I'll be able to find the book you talk of Josepha, I am really curious about it. Kim and I think we are ready for a lesson from you again, when our pasture is dry and you could maybe find some time, but I'll contact you for that. I know that you could help us by just being there and being your calm self ;)

I do think I felt quite safe at the stable that is why I had the guts to get on his back, I might just sit on him there for a while and then expand to the pasture :)

and one last thing... I ride on trailrides with my rope halter, and then I can leave him alone, I always did when I was outside, it's just all learned behavior from my side to want to control him. I remember being a child I would climb on a horse not worrying and loving being with him, but somewhere along the line I was told to DO things with my horse and now I have to delearn this...

I really admire you all who ride bridleless and I hope one day to trust my horse that much that I can be with him and do things with him instead of to him when I'm riding.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:03 pm 
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hi. Barbara. you are very brave to open your heart on here. thankyou for showing us what you feel on the inside. it is very hard to change a habbit. i have been teaching people to change a habbit and just learn not to control for many years, and i know that what you are doing is so hard :yes: so i congratulate you very very very much :clap:

may i make a little suggestion. i find that just getting on for a little moment at first to be benificial. maby while you are playing, just get on and try one thing, and then slide straight off. even just get on, treat him and then get off. both of you need to do just little bits, so you dont get carried away and make it a 'riding training session' (trust me i know how hard it is not to do this)

with danni, she is so used to being "ridden conventional dressage" that i would just slide on and ask a leg lift, treat, then hop off and continue. after a while, she started to invite me to get on and show me that she can offer it while on. we practiced doing a little turn with our hand. i put my hand on her neck, and she turned, so i treated her and got off.

it is amaing, because if you make a big fuss of them doing it when you are on, then get off and dont ask for it again, they start to want to do it. it becomes something that they can offer.

i think that you are doing a wonderful job, and you are so honest that i have no doubts that you will do really well. it does not take long befor the horse wants you to be on them. it may even be a good idea to have a 'special treat' that you only give them when you are on. i dont know if you do food rewards, if not, find a special spot they enjoy a rub,and only use this favorite when you are on them.

your horses will be very clear and it will be a very touching moment the first time they OFFER you to get on. :love: :love: :love:

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
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All this input has been so helpful to me. :)
Romy,
I think it's amazing that you can have the trust with your horse to ride through forest and fields with just a rope around the neck. I sure hope I'll get there at some point. I realize some of the problem is my not trusting my own body as much as I used to and I've gotten much more careful. I remember reading in a diary someone discussing vaulting onto and off a horse, I did not have any trouble with that as a child and hope with lots of stretching and strengthening to get back to being able to do that, esp. since my horse is barely 15 hands. But that level of flexibility and coordination takes a long time to reach now (maybe by this fall ?). Having it would give me the confidence to do a lot more with the confidence that I can bail off fairly easily and quickly if necessary.
Natalie,
I do think from my experience that a halter or bitless bridle is a good step in between if your ultimate goal is bridleless. I started riding with loose reins to keep me from balancing on them. The next step is to put them down on the horse's neck or saddle horn and only pick them up when I really need them. This is not a good idea if the horse is at all nervous about having the rider use the reins when it should be needed, and it sounds like that is the case for Barbara's horse. And I also agree with Romy to simply limit riding to areas where one feels safe, because any nervousness will be picked up by the horse so easily.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:58 am 
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Quote:
he is only bothered when he knows I will try to 'use' the tack on his head and I use everything, whether you give me a halter a bridle a cordeo or whatever, when I feel safe, I get demanding, when I feel I have a little control, I get irritating to my horse


Barbara, so you know you are NOT alone, I battle that same, stupid little demon...over and over.

Tam is my best teacher for this, as I think Beau is for you. Cisco will put up with anything. I mean, I can demand as long as I do not annoy...he gets annoyed if I'm too busy with my legs, particularly. But Tam...well, he is like riding a glass horse...not that he is fragile, he's just so totally transparent and when I get too demanding, then I can be sure that the next time I go pick up the saddle, he'll be walking away. He is also fine with the cavesson or the halter, unless I demand with it (and "demand" can be soft, but insistent. That is, if I try to take away his right to his opinion, I will pay for it later by having a horse that does not want to play with me if the "equipment" is involved.

It's my biggest problem! I hope one day it will be my smallest!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:21 am 
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Truly, Barbara, I'm so glad you started this thread!

I am struggling through this, too.

It's fear on my end, absolutely. I know that, and I've come a long way with that, but I also have a long way to go.

But I think your, and Jessy's ideas about getting on a lot and getting off a lot are fabulous!

This is what I'm beginning to do with Circe and it's really helping both of us think that riding isn't that SCARY OTHER THING we might do... ;)

When we do our riding-while-grazing sessons (I'm just starting to back her), I have a halter on her -- I find that this is not so much control that I become the horrible nagging creature on her back (and I'm very aware that with one lead rope it's going to work differently than reins), but it allays a bit of that "what happens if she totally takes off??? :ieks: " nerves, which can pop up at the strangest moments! ;)

I lay on her, sit on her, drape myself over her, etc. in her paddock with nothing on her head at all -- we both seem to be okay that far...but I'm not quite ready to try it in the real world yet!

But I want to honor you for what you accomplished with Beau the other day! :cheers:

And I obviously don't know what his pushing you meant, but Stardust does this sometimes as essentially a hug -- it's a gesture of affection. So I don't think that this was necessarily a comment about him feeling badly!

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:50 am 
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I love to read all of your experiences, it really makes me feel better :) and that is wonderful, I know now that with all you guys being on the same path that there are people who understand what I'm trying to learn here.

I wil try getting on and of regularly like you said jessplum (I'm ashamed that I don't know your name :blush: ) but I too have the problem that I cannot get on and off the way I could when I was younger, I could do it up to 3 years ago and now that seems so far off...

So by the fall, Birgit, we'll maybe both be flexible enough again to do that ;)

and to all you guys THANK YOU for sharing, I love reading all your experiences!

with love
Barbara

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:51 am 
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hi Barbara, :f: :f: :f: :f: :f: my name is jessy or jess, i dont mind, but i only get called jessica if i am in trouble!!! ;) so i will know if i have upset you, you can call me jessica :funny:

dont worry, i liked watching Kates little video of teaching her horse to line up the mounting block...it looked like great fun :D it was something that i had never thought of doing, but what a great idea. positive reinforcement teaching them to line up at a mounting block!!!BRILLIANT!!! :applause: :applause:

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:59 am 
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I am seeing if I can add this book to our stock, but you can get it just about everywhere :)

It's translated from german I think.

You know Barbara, again I realise how I am on easy street with all this.
You see, me horses really do not take any 'shit' from me our they just throw, bit or kick me, or run me over :funny:
So what choice do I have other then AND?

Maybe you should ask Beau to be a little more clear to you, that'll be very helpful for sure :yes: :D

Anyway, some really wonderful things here, for instance Jessy's ideas of just getting on and off....
That is actually what I did, now that I come to think of it.
The teeny tinyest steps, and everything I felt nervous I just got off.
I forgot all these things... it is so long ago.
I forgot how scared I could be of Owen, even walking in his paddock and he running me over almost or bucking at me...

I guess you forget the bad things all to easy :)

But what I wanted to say, just as with the grondwork, focus on the fun, not on the result of riding. You do not have to do that anymore. You do not have to do anything.
You can just do what feels fun and right :)

An other thought just crossed my mind...

As soon as we start doing traditional things, the traditional problems will arise as well :funny:
So, what are we to do? The answer is sort of easy, is it not? :alien:

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