Thank you Romy, Bianca, Barbara (I will tell cute Joya you said hi!), Els and Kirsten. It was so great seeing you and such a shame we did not get to spend more time together. It was also wonderful to see Elke and Mukasa and their so beautiful cute baby Roos! And of course thank you Lisanne for your fantastic demo!
And again a special thanks to Bianca for organising every thing!!!
This weekend really did not feel as an AND meeting for me, because I was not there on Saturday, which I regret more then I can say. But, well that was the case for me due to some personal issues.
And when yaâ€™ll came over, we did not really do any AND as the time was short after the classical dressage demo (Which was probably because we kept eating like crazy people because of the wonderful and enormous amount of food Bianca brought over ha ha !)
Having said that it did not feel as an AND weekend for meâ€¦ nevertheless the AND fire has broken out in my heart again like it has not done since we first started out this forum.
You see, for me it was also interesting to see a really fantastic classical dressage trainer at work, especially with two horses I know myself very well. I had not seen Classical work since a long time up close and personal. The reaction of my horses to this system and the effect (which was technically very correct) on them personally made me realise how much I have left that path years ago and have embarked on a totally different way of being and training with horses as opposed to just â€˜training them and making them doâ€™ no matter how soft, kind or elegant it is or looks. I greatly admire people like Lisanne Thomas, Anja Beran, Marijke de Jong and Bent Branderup to name but a few, but it shall never be my way, ever again. Even though their work does inspire me.
According to my take in this, horses can collect perfectly on their own, or else humanâ€™s could never get that result from them. And I believe after 5 years of working my way that the most important â€˜muscleâ€™ to train to get proud collected movement from a horse is the Ego of the horse.
They collect, or just use their bodies in a way that is beneficial to them when they feel good, or happy or proud or sexy or whatever, but really good!
Within my way, or the AND way, It is not so much a case to â€˜produceâ€™ correct movement as it is in classical dressage, but more a case of retrieving it or weaselling it out in tiny bits in a more playfull manner and then rewarding it big time.
Rewarding healthy exercise and movement, if only tiny step for step makes them come to wonderful results in two ways (in my experience):
1. You as a fellow trainer rewarding them and being proud of what they are trying to achieve on their own makes them want to do that same movement or exercise more.
2. The horse after a while starts to feel the benefit to his or hers body and will on his own seek out this great powerful feeling from for instance a stretched nuchal ligament or a lifted shoulder in shoulder in, or the way they strike of collected if they canter depart from travers and so on. When you let them think that out for themselves, they think, feel and reap the benefit. Next time they will use your suggestion! Or at least will try to.
But the main key remains to let them find out for themselves. I want the horse to be thinking, searching and finding and wanting to find. My heart gets so lifted when I see those eyes light up as soon as I see a horse doing something he thought he or she could not do, or perhaps really could not do before. Seeing them go like: â€˜Wow, did you see me do that! How cool was that!!! I want to do that again!â€™ Because by your mere suggestions, they came up with it all by themselves and it felt GOOD! ( I so now that feeling having been an ex fitness junky and personal trainer ). I also realise other may not see anything for not knowing the horse, or see just some 'happy accidents' as some one once said. (I do not remember who).
So I side track a lot just making suggestions and wait (takes looootâ€™s of patience yesâ€¦.) for them to â€“ perhaps - give an answer and reward massively every tiny attempt towards experimenting with my suggestion. I will just be there as a personal coach, trainer, but above all friend who wants to inspire them to work on themselves as opposed to being worked and having their minds purely on what the trainer is asking/demanding instead of. I have Romy to thank mostly for this I guess, reading her diary, having her over, seeing her work and videosâ€¦ that shaped much of my thoughts and techniques in the way I work now in combination of course with years of classical back ground. Also, it reminded me of when I was working in a classical way years ago, but still felt the ultimate lightness was missing, no matter how sound, fast and direct my horses responded to my aids, even if the seemed to respond to my though (!) I guess I always felt their spiritual or mental â€˜yesâ€™ missing. I believe it was that they themselves never really got to understand â€˜whyâ€™ only that they just had to â€˜doâ€™. No matter how technically correct, my aids never were just aids but also commands. I remained giving an aid until I got my desired effect. For the goal of Classical dressage is to have a horse which is a pleasure to handle and which will remains so for a long healthy life. And it works that way, nothing against that. But again, I never felt the spiritual lightness from the horse, they acted, without really understanding and wanting, craving to do it, if you hopefully understand what I mean.
Then one day, I saw a Russian guy working with his horse, and I saw a glimpse of what it was I was searching for. Eventually realising that the answers will never be found with a human, but with the horses themselves and people who like to simply share their experiences with those answers, AND came to be.
With The Art of Natural Dressage and riding art I have experienced that craving, that â€˜yes!â€™ that feeling from the horse saying: â€˜this is what I WANT to do NOW!â€™ And sometimes experiencing movement and collection beyond my wildest dreams, with my own horses and with horses of students. It got us all hooked. Butâ€¦ butâ€¦ butâ€¦. You can not produce the same results as with Classical Dressage.
After all, you have to wait for your horse to say â€˜yesâ€™ and your horse can also in certain situations say â€˜noâ€™. If you horses does not want shoulder in today, there will be no shoulder in, but maybe there will be other things, though THEN the spiritual ligtness of â€˜Yes I want to do this nowâ€™ produces an effect which leaves all the so called â€˜demandedâ€™ shoulder ins waaaaay behindâ€¦ or at least for me it does. I am so hooked on the â€˜spiritual yes I want to do this nowâ€™ there will never be a way back for me. I can get horses to do things if I really want to, and sometimes I do, to be quite frank and honest in my line of work. The feeling afterwards, though, is like a little hangover.
Less and less am I interested in producing a certain result of what I want or what I think should happen. More and more am I addicted to horses telling me that they want to do something NOW. Is this a way for every one? Probably not. Does it need to be? Of course not. Sunday evening made me think so much about what I am doing and what it is I really want, what I want to teach, share, learn and trainâ€¦ and I found my way back home for good this weekend, with every fiber in my body! It has brought me much clarity and energy, so thank you all!
Now next year, we can, if you want, have an AND sleepover at our place! Or we can have a winter meeting (there was talk about that) at our place and a summer meeting at Biancaâ€™s or whatever you like! Or or orâ€¦ whatever ideas come up. Ralph finds it time to get the attic ready so we too can can offer enough sleeping places ïŠ Not as stylish as Biancaâ€™s thoughâ€¦ she should be in the home improvement and decorating business! Ha ha ! But we shall try to make it comfy and cosy for sure.
I am sooo looking forward to the next meeting!!!
And I love you guys, you have no idea!
Ps: I shall explain about Ino and Joya later, Ino in his diary and Joya with videos okay?
Pps: Happy Baxter is found back with his mommie Barbara!