The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:44 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 9:30 am
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Location: Australia
Hi Barbara :f:

So many great posts and suggestions here already, I don't think I have anything new to add.

I can so relate to needing to control when I have reins! But I think my reasons are the opposite to yours? It's not that I feel safer with reins (at least on some horses) It's that I want to control things so that I will feel safer. If I HAVE reins and don't use them at all I get that "but what if something happens" - I want to control everything and hopefully prevent something happening. :roll: But when I have no reins I can't do that, so I either relax or get off. That's the other thing -- I feel I am safer without a bridle/halter because I know that if I feel very unsafe I WILL just get off, but if I have reins I might think I should stay on and stop the horse/control the situation, even in a situation where I could get hurt by doing so - or make the horse feel unsafe by trying to "control" when he is scared instead of getting off and offering support. Does that many any sense? Anyway, my point is I know what you mean about having tack and finding it very hard not to use it, even if it might be for different reasons.

I love Jess's suggestion of just getting on only for a moment at first. I have also found this so helpful. :yes: and mounting block training is fun, yes! :D I only have a video of mounting stuff with Spirit, but I must get one of Billy, because he will line up for me, and then if I act like I am going to get on him he will line up even better and actually offer me his back. Sort of push his side/back at me. :funny: I haven't even ridden him yet, just leant over/put my leg over him. I hope he'll still offer me his back like that once he realises what riding is all about. :huh:

I love the mounting block as a way of asking "Can I please get on?" If they will not line up for me, they don't want to be ridden... very clear. :D


Josepha wrote:
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:

Wonderfully said, Josepha. :f: :f: :f: :f: :f: :f: :f: :f: :f:


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:07 pm 
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Josepha wrote:

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.



My experiences so far have been the same. Lucy has spooked several times with me on her and bridleless! My 'old' reaction would have been to try and gain control thru the reins! But instead, I am learning to just hang on to her mane and relax?? and ride it out, which so far has been short trips! But I know the rein restraint would have created an AVERSIVE association, probably more stress and fear, with whatever she spooked at, and that would not bode well for the future!

As far as bridleless, I have done very little, mostly in an arean, but I am VERY careful, as it is soooo easy to get hurt, so I think a dose of common sense is warranted when riding without head gear! Like others said, get on for short sessions, mounting block games, get off if needed, think about the environment you are in, the weather (wind?), other horses around, etc. As well as how you are now communicating, i.e. the transfer of training from ground to saddle, or from bridle to halter to cordeo, etc. These are VERY significant changes for the horse!! Be sure that the horse UNDERSTANDS the new cues, etc. and +R to show them the new way??

Hope this helps!

Brenda

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:09 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:57 pm
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What wonderful ideas! I realised when I backed Monty I did the same as everyone here has suggested about lining him up, and leaning over and then going and doing something else on the ground, and building it up in little stages. He now lines himself up at the block if he wants me to get on. If he doesn't he will not stand so close for me, as he knows that I will respect his wishes. I also find that only giving myself say 5 minutes to sit on my horse is just long enough to do a few basic things and not long enough for me to start "making him do something". If I feel like I am pushing I get off, or halt. Also sitting on them when they are grazing is a good way of getting into the habit of "not doing" when on horseback.

Quote:
I haven't even ridden him yet, just leant over/put my leg over him. I hope he'll still offer me his back like that once he realises what riding is all about. :huh:


Ditto to that Kate! I have only got on and off and sat on Monty for a few minutes, but he has not really been ridden yet either. I am not convinced he will agree when he realises how hard it is carrying my -not as slim as it should be- weight about!

When Monty showed me that he was having trouble moving when I backed him, I changed my plan from "now I have got on he can be ridden" to "now I have got on I can practise standing still". That way I removed the need to pressure him to move, and phrased it to myself in a way that I still felt good about it and so did he. It is VERY, VERY hard though so I totally understand Barabara. Would it help if you started to figure out how to rephrase things in your head so they have a more empowering energy, as the way we think can really help the way we approach things. Alot of the words we use when with our horses can affect our subconscious attitudes. So "riding" becomes "training" rather than just the act of sitting and moving with our horses??? So maybe saying "being on horseback" rather than riding??? There is a neurolinguistic programming exercise where you practise in your head what you want to do in real life as the brain does not differentiate between imagination and reality alot of the time. Run through getting on and riding in your head, and every time you catch yourself getting in the "making" atitude, make the image black and white and smaller and smaller until it disappears and then replace it with a new image in big bright technicolour of you riding in harmony and relaxed and being gentle. Keep replacing the "old way" of riding with the "new way" in your mind and when you get out to the real life horse, bring that new image forwards and practise it in reality. :) I also find that t'ai chi is good for learning to let go and flow with things, as they have an exercise called "wu wei" that is "doing nothing"! Not sure how on topic it is as I always look at things from a lateral and somewhat odd perspective. :huh:


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:25 pm 
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Oh, great post, Natalie!

You spurred me (oh! interesting word! ;) ) me into looking up the etymology of "ride" -- in its earliest iterations it meant "to move forward, to rock." (Then it got all sorts of dominance-based meanings.)

But I loved the idea of thinking about riding as rocking -- even consciously trying to remove the "to move forward" part...

Anyway, I think you are absolutely right and the words we choose shape our perceptions about what we're doing in really strong ways.

It strikes me that even saying, "I'm riding brldleless" puts the emphasis on the lack of the bridle in a particular way. And one that has a "look ma, no hands!" current running underneath it.

So, as I deal with my fear stuff about riding without anything constricting my horse's head, and I call it bridleless riding, it's all about the fact that I don't have a bridle. It's being defined by what it isn't, not what it is...

So, what could we call riding sans headgear that would change the subtle energies we carry about it? What are we riding with, rather than without? (And I don't think that has to be completely literal...) But we call riding without a saddle "bare back" riding as opposed to "saddleless riding"...

Anybody have any ideas???

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:36 pm 
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"Free riding" so it has some similar meanings to "liberty"?

The word "free" has so many wonderful meanings.

There is only one common phrase that doesn't wholly apply, and that is, in fact, the phrase "free ride", but there is another, "free rein" that is directly applicable. But the word applies so nicely in so many ways that perhaps AND can itself change the world's perception of the phrase "free ride".

:f:

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:45 pm 
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it would be nice riding in the woods without a bridle.
But i think i wont come far ;) because you can eat the woods... :green: :green:
And food goes before everything ....poor me :-) But i have to protect him for his onbelievable desire for food...for his own health.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:58 pm 

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I guess one could either focus on what equipment is there or not there, like bridleless or barefront or reinless or one could focus on what the arms, hands and shoulders do instead of holding reins. Don't have any great ideas other than that to me the most important thing about bridleless riding (other than not forcing the horse) is that any pulling on reins unbalances me as a rider, even though the pressure may be very small. The same is true for looking down when riding. It's the idea of the see-saw that needs only very little weight to tip it one direction or another. For that reason I like the term balanced riding, because I think truly balanced riding is almost impossible when riding with rein contact.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:23 pm 
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How about Naked Riding <G>???? Certainly says it all!!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:30 pm 
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:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 6:33 pm 

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Yeah, plus some things I wouldn't want to say :funny: :funny:


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:15 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:57 pm
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Quote:
How about Naked Riding <G>???? Certainly says it all!!

!!!!!!!! Lady Godiva springs to mind :funny: :funny: :funny:

How about liberty equitation? Or riding at liberty? I do like free riding though. :yes:

Leigh-great post to you also! I was all for rushing out and looking back to the original meanings of the riding related words after reading that. The words bridleless riding make me feel out of control just thinking about it, but I do like the thought of riding at liberty. Actually that reminds me of Klaus Hempflings book Dancing With Horses, that has on its cover "collected riding on a loose rein", the implication being that the rein is not needed. As I read that book I am being subtly trained into the idea of not actually needing reins to ride a controlled horse. A natural development would then be collected riding on a free horse?

I had an argument with a friend not long ago and she was having a go at me for not being "traditional", but I thought "how far back does tradition go?" I worked it back through history and technically I am being more "traditional" as I am sure the earliest tribes rode bareback and without bridles also? So I started thinking about just what the words really mean and how they alter our thoughts and how our perceptions are altered by things that have only been around for a few hundred years like most of the things we consider traditional.

Quote:
t would be nice riding in the woods without a bridle.
But i think i wont come far ;) because you can eat the woods... :green: :green:
And food goes before everything ....poor me :-) But i have to protect him for his onbelievable desire for food...for his own health.


I have sympathies, my 2 ponies are exactly the same! Lancer hacks out with half the hedge in his mouth. :yes:


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:23 pm 
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haha, same horse here, trees are so tastefull!

I love having a new definition instead of riding. Today someone who I haven't seen in 10 years asked me if I had pets, so I told her about Beau and she asked: is he a horse for riding? I looked at her and said: I guess...
she had a strange look on her face and said, he can have other use maybe, not every horse has to be ridden. I was astonished... and I said to her that I mostly play with Beau. I tell everyone I play with my horse...

But the part on his back I haven't got a word for. But thinking about Hempfling makes me think that dancing with my horse is just what I would love to have one day on his back, the feeling like we together are waltzing...
I think this might be a good word for me, I will not ride my horse, I will dance with him... :love: a bit like rocking...

Riding for me is always a bit dominant... I don't even like the sound of the word, but that is probably me ;)


I have a lot to think about, the night will be good for me, I'll try to mentally get the picture of what I want.. in my dreams

I'm so glad I told all of you about this, I needed to think this over... and you have all helped me!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:27 pm 
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Quote:
How about liberty equitation? Or riding at liberty? I do like free riding though.


Ooh, I love all of these!

I read them and they evoke a totally different energy than "bridleless riding" -- there's not fear, there's openness...

(And if we go with naked riding, I think it has to be "nekkid riding")
:twisted:

:funny: :funny: :funny:

And Barbara, I love this!
Quote:
I would love to have one day on his back, the feeling like we together are waltzing...


Yes, I want to be waltzing, too! :love:

;)

Leigh

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:46 pm 
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WOW, what happend. i turned the computer off for just a little while and this post has just gone wild!!! :D :D :D I LOVE IT! :love:

well the first thing that i want to comment on was

Quote:
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...


hi Josepha, i am a big believer in a quick dismount if there are nerves. i tought my students games like dismounting while the horses was moving, they eventually could do it at canter. it was fun, but i also touught them that so if there was a problem they could just bail off.

there is a common thought that if the horse gets afraid of something and starts to act up, you should ride him through it! but to me, there is no benifit in this. bail off, befor they have the chance to try and get you off! :lol:

many people think that this will teach the horse that they can win, but this is not so. if i am on the ground, i can distract them, and be with them for their fear. i can guide them through :yes: to me, as soon as their is tension, their is no point to being on, so get off, and relax him, and start again. he will thn learn that you are a friend on his back as well as off.

horsse are very clear communicators. when danni is ok with me hopping on, i move to her back and i can vault on, but when she does not want me to, she lifts her head, ears back a little, gives her tail a little swish, and steps her bottom away from me, removing her back. i listen to this, and it does not make her "try it on" but when she is over it, she gives me her back.

my favorite thing for getting used to riding without control, was to get on her when i was putting her in her dinner paddock. she knew where this was, so i was just a passenger :D it was like getting a "pony ride" when i was little.

now, i get on and she will take me for a walk if she wants, or we will go for a good canter. there is nothing about her that frightens me :love: i feel totally safe on her. i was just at the point of actually touching the neck to turn, but now her feet are sore, i will not be on for a while.

a few of you have commented on backing bridless. i love it. i always have someone on the ground for this though. for the first time. i have mum playing our ground games and i just sit. i did this recently with Nova, and he did this monstrouse shy, but i found that it was really easy to cope with, because i did not even have a cordeo, so i just centered myself. i knew that i could bail off if i needed, so i was not afraid.

but, my dutch warmblood scares me, he has a bitless bridle that i am getting him used to, but other than that, i wont be riding him bridless in the near future. i am not "frightened" of him, but rather, he is extreamly expressive and not to far off 17hh. he gets very excited and playful, and i dont know how i would go bailing off that height, i will have to practice bailing off befor i consider riding without a bridle. arent i a chicken!!! :razz:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:03 am 
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Quote:
but, my dutch warmblood scares me, he has a bitless bridle that i am getting him used to, but other than that, i wont be riding him bridless in the near future. i am not "frightened" of him, but rather, he is extreamly expressive and not to far off 17hh. he gets very excited and playful, and i dont know how i would go bailing off that height, i will have to practice bailing off befor i consider riding without a bridle. arent i a chicken!!!


Well, if you're a chicken, I'm a turkey! :green:

Stardust, my big warmblood, who has big movement and huge spooks and geeks at unexpected moments, is a larrrrggge part of my "eek! no bridle" fear...I've been airborn off him several times with tack...

By comparison, Circe seems soooo much smaller! I think there is an exponential quality of largeness with bigger horses...he's only about six inches taller than Circe but he's a tank compared to her!

Baby steps, baby steps...and oh, yes, Jessy, lots of bailing off! Thanks for the reminder!!!

:)

Leigh

PS: Josepha, I just love this:
Quote:
As soon as we start doing traditional things, the traditional problems will arise as well
So, what are we to do? The answer is sort of easy, is it not?


That's the key! Beautiful! :yes: :yes: :yes: :yes:

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