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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 8:27 am 
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Hi,
recently on my forum we have a discussion about ramener - basically, about how to define it. We mostly discuss these things:

1. Is it an exercise in "collection", or is it just a "pose"?
2. Does it come from relaxation (of the poll, of neck muscles...), or from mobilization?
3. Does it involve the haunches, or is it only a neck/poll position?

And now - do you think that this is ramener?

Image

Although I know only the liberty training for ramener, we are also searching for its "roots", where does it come from and what is its classical definition. The one written in old dusty books ;)

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:29 am 
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To me ramener and rasembler are not the same.

You can have ramener without rasembler (like in the picture), but when having rasembler, you will have at least some form of ramener.

The dusty books speak of putting the horse on the haunches (rasembler), not of shaping the head or neck (ramener).

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 4:39 pm 

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http://www.horse-sense.org/archives/2001010.php

I thought this explanation was quite good. :D

I think the purpose of teaching Ramener AND style is that the horse learns to carry his own head and neck in a good position and it becomes a more natural way of carrying himself. It is almost impossible for a horse at liberty to hold his head like this with any kind of tension or bracing as can be seen when horses are held in this position by reins or ad ons. So the horse decides where and how and over time develops muscle memory and starts to carry himself more balanced as the head set/neck/withers becomes slightly higher.
As training progresses and he learns to carry the rest of his body correctly you move towards Rasemble or collection. Collection is not possible without the horse carrying all of it's body correctly.
I think the literal translation for both is "bring/bringing back" and "coming together"
So in effect you can have the head set without collection (bring back) but you can't have collection (coming together) without the head set! :D

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:53 pm 
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Thanks for the link to Jessica Jahiel, Annette -- I really like how she engages with the world. Knows her stuff and a genuinely civilized, kind human being. I think that's a really helpful article (as is pretty much everything I've ever read of hers.)

I also like your definition of the point of working in ramener in AND, too, Annette. I have found that working this lightly and at liberty (and mostly at a standstill as we're still figuring out how to move that way) has been extremely helpful to both of my horses.

For Stardust, it has helped to work his neck muscles correctly and gets him lifting his energy out of his shoulders, which makes it then a LOT easier to get him thinking about engaging his haunches, even though he doesn't stay in ramener for long when we are moving. I can tell the difference in both his neck and his topline if I've been working ramener with him -- even more so if we then spend time doing some very simple lateral work, but even without it. For him, I actually believe that it keys into some really good emotional stuff when standing that way as well -- he finds a gorgeous full collection when he's full of himself and trotting out and I think that when we stand in this position some of that strong, positive, confident energy connects for him. His eye is very different when we're working ramener than most other things.

Then, with Miss Circe...she has fabulous self-carriage and balance as a five year old. She's very strong and doesn't naturally dump on her forehand much -- even though she was really downhill as a half-grown girl. (Even now, while she's even, she is NOT high withered, so it would be very easy for her to land on her forehand a great deal, but she doesn't.) I believe that much of this balance has to do with the ramener work we've done together (with only limited lateral work because I've not wanted to strain joints while she's been young). She also lifts out of her shoulders beautifully and begins to engage her back -- it's not full collection yet, of course, and we still have a bunch of work to do to help her figure out how to fully engage her haunches and pull the pieces together, but the distance we've got to go to get there is MUCH shorter than I think it would have been without this work. I never, ever see her hollow backed, leaving her butt behind. (Except when we're working on the Spanish walk and she gets so focused on her front feet she forgets she's got any back ones! :funny: But those become a rather nice inadvertent back crunch stretch...) But never when she's moving and as I'm starting to ride her, we don't have that problem.

Great question, Ania!

Best,
Leigh

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:36 am 
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The thread subject, and what you all have posted so far has inspired me to write, as I do usually after every lesson, this special one to my private Saturday morning student.

This is a young women of 15 years, with quite a few years of instruction and riding, but sadly some difficulties to overcome. She was overhorsed by a very headstrong large pony mare, and never afforded the chance to learn how to engage the horse by asking rather than demanding.

While I am not doing AND in the mechanics so much, AND is the philosophy that prevails in my lessons and so too with her. She is again a bit overhorsed, but this time with a more sensitive but still quite generous AngloArab gelding with a good sense of humor and though anxious and fussy from being subject to a lot of force from another rider that has access to him (and I no control over that access) he can respond and is not stubborn.

We are on our fourth or fifth lesson so far since we started a few month ago. We were meeting just twice a month and sometimes not even that often, but now have started weekly lessons.

Since she will be showing him late this summer in 4H classes she will be riding with a bit, a nice fat snaffle. No spurs and no crop (she will carry a crop, but I don't teach the use of one to beginners - which in a sense she is). When I do teach it I teach it as an extension of the hand and the first lessons are about how to use the crop to reward with skritches, pats, and rubs. And then I teach how to strike with the crop to ask for energy. "Hit your own boot." :funny: :funny: :funny: No, more seriously, I teach using it as target and pointer.

This particular horse has been over PNH'd, and you can imagine how jittery it makes him. Lots of lead rope wiggling and snapping etc.

These methods I teach, interestingly enough, or oddly enough, satisfy somewhat the more energetic and enthusiastic "belt them to make them do what you want them to do," crowd.

Here is the letter I wrote my student's mother to share with the student. Names are changed to protect all parties privacy:


Dear Maureen,

Baroque Equitation - /Rassembler/ Products
<http://www.baroqueequitation.com/rassembler.htm>

The word /Rassembler/ is a French term that denotes the complete balance of the horse a superior equilibrium. At Baroque Equitation we will now introduce a *...*
http://www.baroqueequitation.com/rassembler.htm


Rassembler in equitation is French for "on the haunches," (or "assembled") which of course means the horse lifts the base of his neck at the chest, moving energy up and out the top of the shoulders (at the withers), lifts the who abdomen - the barrel, and drops his croup so that his rear legs are reaching further forward under himself - what true collection is - bringing the parts together cohesively into a single unit.

It's a wonderful feeling, and to be cultivated. Janice felt it for a few strides today and this due to her diligent work, even under difficult circumstances, on what I asked of her as regarding her "position," (our code word now for correct "seat," leg position, etc.) and regarding the use of her hands.

In effect I was asking her to ride a slightly anxious and reactive horse, while rubbing her stomach in a circle, patting herself on the head, crossing her eyes, and reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb all at the same time. I must say she did it rather well.

Seriously, Janice learned something quite wonderful today - that force does not really work and persistent kind requests do.

She's learning not to "pull," as in pull steadily until the horse obeys, but to ask and release, as we'd ask a friend to comply with our request. She's learning that force is a poor way to make others comply, and that learning to ask, and to do so in various ways, gives better results with fewer harmful side effects - usually none, in fact.

It is a life skill as well as a horse handling skill.

And that is what SHE brought to the lesson today - the ability to see this and to apply this. I can talk for months on this subject to those not already able to see it and I'll usually get nowhere. But when the person is ready, as she was, and is, it doesn't take long before they can not only understand it as "asking" applies to horse handling, but can actually do it as she did today. Very quick learner.

Facing challenges is for her always going to be part of her riding and horse handling, as it still is for me even at my advanced age. This is the fate of the serious horse handler. To be always the student, always the learner.

As for challenges:

She explained to me today how some of what gives her trouble and makes her anxious about riding was Nedra taught. I can believe that remembering how Nedra behaved. Oddly likable but quite difficult at times. This scary past experience has been key to my difficulty in finding ways to loosen up her body and open to the front with chest, shoulder, stomach, and legs - you could see it in her posture with feet too far forward, and bent forward at the waist.

She might like to share with you how we dealt with her feeling as though she was on Nedra, even though she was on Al Farouk. As soon as she used the tool I gave her she began to relax and to come closer to a more classical dressage seat - quite nice to see the change with such a simple tool. I hope she'll remember to use it.

The difficulty with Al Farouk is not, as it might first appear, a major obstacle. In fact it's a very good education. When he performs well under Janice it will not be because he's a trained and compliant (too often sullen and resigned) lesson horse, but because she has learned to be a horse handler. She then has learned to bring about changes in the horse herself.
I had a wonderful time teaching today's lesson.

You may share any or all this with her.
I have one point to make about practice riding before we meet again next week. In regards to asking Al Farouk to back I want her not to pull steadily as she did today, but to begin with that action she shifted to once he complied to the force she was using. Soft asking, one rein then the other. No force.

Sometimes a student gets too anxious to comply with a teacher's request - make the horse do what the instructor says to do at that moment. Not my intent at all.

Backing is a delicate and most useful tool that must be done correctly to preserve it's considerable value as a foundation behavior (and physical conditioner) for other more exacting behaviors that will be asked of the horse in the future - turns on the haunches, collection upon request, lifting the forehand to a jump, etc.

When I asked her to back him up force is what happened - she tried to make the horse do what I had asked. What I meant to request of her was to "ask," him to back up by using the soft gentle persistent request, and patiently continue and patiently wait for him to comply with a few soft steps then she release entirely and reward.

Please share this with her, and let her know I'll be looking for it in the next lesson.

Don


So there's a little snapshot for you of some of my teaching methods. I suspect this young woman will be one of those that will, in time, start to seek an even more companionate way of being with the horse. She's already a communicator and has taken quickly to some of the ways I teach this horse handling skill. As she steadies in her riding, and becomes less anxious, and more confident, we'll study together how the horse responds to one's respiration, heartbeat, odors, sounds, and the body's "field," emanations.

We actually did this in a small way today. She had been listening to the fearful monkey chattering to her in her head about the prior horse being so frightening to her, and carrying that experience into this much more easily handled horse. I simply had her say out loud (for congruence control of that blasted monkey) "this is Al Farouk, this is Al Farouk."

The change in her was obvious - much softer and relaxed and the horse went from hollow back, hindquarters dragging along behind, head and nose up, to a more collected softly in frame shape - this was when she felt the elevation of his stride, and the lovely suspension that will become passage one day, with his hind legs coming under him, and a voluntary ramener with no rein contact.

Quite satisfying to me to see a student experience this. It's such an exhibit of trust by the horse, and this student understood that she had created this trust, given this confidence. She absolutely beamed, quietly of course, as she is rather quiet and thoughtful.

She is giving herself up to the horse. And this horse has all the makings of an AND horse - he loves the challenges and puzzles I introduce to calm and focus him - if only I could isolate him for this student's use only. He's got just one other rider. No control by me over that one.

The owner herself, who rarely has time to ride him, is a wonderfully skilled and quiet rider. If it were her riding him we'd have little challenge.

Time may change things.

Hopefully in an AND way.

Donald

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:44 am 
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Thanks, everyone!
And thank you, Morgan, for the link :f: :)
Josepha wrote:
The dusty books speak of putting the horse on the haunches (rasembler), not of shaping the head or neck (ramener).


It seems, that I defined ramener a little bit different for myself - I thought of it like of an exercise for "complete" collection, just performed in place. I had best results when I asked for engaging the haunches (not much, but just standing in "square" position), lifting the base of the neck, and lifting the poll as high as possible. That would make ramener a kind of stretching exercise, maybe with some kind of "equine pilates" that we were discussing some time ago.
So, classically it's just the head/neck position?

Morgan wrote:
It is almost impossible for a horse at liberty to hold his head like this with any kind of tension or bracing as can be seen when horses are held in this position by reins or ad ons.


I had some doubt about it when I saw horses learning to "pose", which was taught to have them waiting patiently and politely for grooming, mounting or whatever. If they tried to move with this pose (holding a particular head/neck position), they did look a little bit stiff, like with invisible side reins.

One more question: can the horse "relax into ramener"? Or is it rather mobilization?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:01 am 

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I think the answer is both. ;)
With Morgan he learnt first to position his head this way as a default when using the clicker (I think quite a few members use this as a default....ie when the horse doesn't understand the request). Later he transferred this to movement, first on the lunge (later at liberty circles) and now occasionally when ridden.
He has no ropes/line attached to "make him" take this pose, he chosses to carry himself this way for short periods of time.
What I do find interesting is that more and more he takes this head set at liberty when charging around with his field mates.

Here you can see the beginnings of teaching ramener:
Image

Here is is leaving the session but still moving with a comfortable ramener:
Image

And still carried through here even though he is focusing on learning something else:
Image

Please know that these are not perfect, this is a 6 year old in early training, old pics, but I wanted you to see how it is possible to have that head carriage without the collection from behind. Notice in the last pic he has forgotten all about his back end while learning what to do with the front end!! :funny:

I hope that helps. :f:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:01 pm 
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Sure! And nice photos :)

But I will continue :twisted:

Which way would be better to ask for ramener:

"Put your head in vertical position", or "lift the base of your neck as high as you can"?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:43 pm 

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Well please remember I am no expert at this! :funny:
However I think if the head/neck set is correct then the base of the neck is raised automatically.
With Morgan I just asked him to bring his head back. It's important you stay infront of the vertical and for some horses at the beginning this may only be a few cm further back than they would carry normally. As time goes on you will see the head held just in front of the vertical but it is never a stagnant position. It changes all the time (the horse must always be allowed freedom of the head and neck as this is where the overall balance comes from).
So you are not looking for the horse to hold it's head here indefinitely and it's a very gradual process........
For me I am looking for relaxation always and don't want any bracing. The whole head axis should be loose and there should be no tension involved which is maybe what you see with the horses taught to do this whilst waiting to be tacked up?
I think the easiest way to see what you are looking for is to watch a horse backing up that is relaxed. This headset is what you see.

I don't think it really matters how you ask for this, you can do it with your hand, a cordeo, whatever your horse understands best. You can give it a verbal name. With Morgan I use "ramener" with Zena I say "look pretty", it really doesn't matter. A horse will naturally follow your hand if you place it under his chin.
There is a whole topic here about teaching ramener.

I have found this a very useful exercise for horses that have been worked incorrectly and now have strong under neck muscles and no topline at all.
And they look pretty. :D

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:02 pm 
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Ania wrote:
One more question: can the horse "relax into ramener"? Or is it rather mobilization?


Great discussion!

I will throw this out there. I was reading an article the other day (Hyperflexion --A failure of olympic dimension by Jean Luc Cornille http://www.scienceofmotion.com/document ... exion.html) that talked about the neck muscles and the nuchal ligament.

Quote:
The general consensus is that the nuchal ligament supports the head in an alert position, yet stretches enough to allow grazing. In reality, the opposite is true, the nuchal ligament is not under tension when the horse holds the head and enck in an alert posture.


If this is true, then for the horse to doing the ramener (let's say at liberty), he is using contracted (as opposed to relaxed) neck muscles. His jaw can be relaxed and it should be. When he lowers his head though, he relaxes the neck muscles and the nuchal ligament carries the load.

Ivy

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:57 am 
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I have started riding Magik and would love to start the stretching exercises beginning with "ramener". I'm not an expert in the field but I have read that this is the right place to start. However, this article from Ivy seems to say differently.
For those who know what this is all about, what is your opinion.
Thanking you for your opinion.
Jocelyne

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:09 am 
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The first years the horse will need to go long and low with that stretching the nuchal ligament which will pull the withers up by relaxing the lower neck musles and make sure the longissimus dorsi will remain free to move for correct movement in which the shoulders are free and the pelvis can rotate.
By careful lateral work the inside and outside hind leg wel learn to bend and take over carrying weight. The completion of this will be in the transitions in which the horse will put himself on the haunches and will raise the base if the neck further. To keep the longissimus dorsi free to produce movement, the horse will release the poll by relaxing the lower neck muscles. The head will then be carried free by the upper neck line and get be the ultimate balance tool.

Thus within rasembler the result will be ramener. Ramener means engaged upperline of the neck, relaxed under line of the neck and relaxed poll.

Within the ramener exercise of AND, the upperneck line is engaged, but the poll me not be released. This is not a problem, first we need the upperline to develop. When enough muscles are developed in the top line (and the underline is sufficiently relaxed and soft) the poll will be released when the horse starts moving from a tilted pelvis.
To make sure the neck can be sufficiently supple for the poll to release ask the horse for flexions.
When riding, always ask for lateral bend/flexion with constant variation to engage the topline and help regain balance.

Flexions:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqtnnbFH-Ms

Ramener for collected parade:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti0t1t5W ... re=related

Ramener may occur a few paces after transition in beginning, that is a very good start :)
I have never witnessed a horse being able to really engage the topline and free the poll without loose reins.. When the reins are held tight, the head can not produce it's balance duty and to make sure not to fall on the knees the under line of the neck musles will engage. Thus the topline will 'break' by pulling the withers into the body, the longissimus dorsi will be stuck onder the rider and the pelvis will tilt open, the opposite of collection... Thinking of start using the word anti-collection

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