The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:35 am 
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The last weeks, I often think about this theme.
Since here is so much beautifull interaction these days, I just throw this into the field.

As a child, I thought, I wanted to become a professional horsetrainer. But then I lost this urge for many reasons. I also don t comply with the market economy as we have it here and I think that this system has a high potential to decrease honesty and (in case of horse training) loyalty to the horses. I forgot all about that urge. Then I took it up again, starting an education and then put it down again, realizing, that this is not what I wanted.
But recently I was talking to a friend about our lives and I copy, what I wrote in another thread about our conversation:

I don t feel like helping other people with my diary and I don t have the self-perception (yet) of being someone that can help others in this theme. Though, some weeks ago, I realised, I have an urge to do so. It was, when I met another dancer and we started to talk about being slightly not satified with life, and about sense of life and vocation (I mean the german word "Berufung"; maybe "calling" is a better word...) and I said, that nor dance, painting, yoga, my job, all that isn t my "calling", to be honest. Those are wonderfull things and I love to do or teach them, but...they are not IT. She suggested, that maybe the "thing", I experience with Zermi now, is IT and that maybe, I shouldn t think, that my vocation has to nessecarily be the theme, I earn my money with and do all the time. Sometimes now, I think about that talk and I come to the conclusion, that she might have been right. This way, I experience with Zermi now, is just all the time inspiring me, even fullfills me in a way and it makes absolutely sense to me and I think, many horses would appreciate it. But of course, one can t evangelize other people and that is also anyway, what I never ever want. I also can observe in the RW Forum for example, that most of the people absolutely don t want to interact with horses like this. But there might be just one person, that gets a glimpse of an idea about a change in interaction and that would already be a great achievement. Or, like it happened to me, I was already on that way just by experimenting myself and I found knowledge and backup in here. So, thinking about it like that is a big relieve. I always thought, that vocation is a big thing and rules your life and (pays your life...). I don t know, how I came to this mental attitude, maybe it s a society thing... Sometimes I do think too big and fundamental, I have to admit...
So now I get the idea of just going on and on and on and on... and collecting experience and getting better and deeper into the theme...

And here is Anats answere to this:

i can relate to that too.
and i too was debating with myself whether IT (and horses) should take a bigger part in my so called 'professional' life again or not

i have been playing with the idea of putting up a local educational platform to enable learning of a more ethical horse - human encounter here in Israel with some friends (in the past year or two there were several people that came and visited me here, for a talk or for playing with the horses looking for alternatives. sharing and trying to help out other people in the best way i can - according to where they are and & where they want to be with their horses felt good (and sometime it actually help them and their horses...). at last there seem to be a growing interest here in different ways of looking at horses.

but i keep rethinking about my motives and my fears and not sure exactly if and where i want it to go.
and part of it is also the question of 'why (if) do i need it to be more?'

One of my biggest questions about this theme is, that as soon as a whiff of Professionality starts to come into the game, people s expectations rise. Most of the people want it all: fast results and "friendship" with the horse. The pressure of market economy and the expectations of people threaten a realy realistic and fundamental way of training. This might even create room for strangely fast methods and marketing talents, people who know, what the mass wants and serve those whishes.

I don t want to dilute this wonderful way of interacting, so I am rather protective.

For example lately a woman from our stable, who trains with absolute dominance, asked me to help her "a bit" with her young horse. She said, she would love to learn and understand, how I interact. I told her, about my way of training and tried to explain the main differences and what they would mean for her and her horse in daily routines. She said, she wants the things faster than me, and yet she wants a kind of friendship to her horse and also this joy, Zermi and I have with each other... and yet she wants to tell her horse what to do ...and yet wants the horser to not just be under command, but to really want to perform her orders...She wanted that all, but she wasnt willing to let the horse decide anything.It was an interesting talk, but in the end, I said, that I can t help her and I think, she didn t want me to help her anymaore anyway.

To me this is a very essential theme right now and I would love to read your ideas about or around it.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:58 pm 
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Well, I think you can't monetise an AND-like approach the way people are used to. Usually training is centered around a problem, or learning a new trick. The way you are interacting with Zermi, there are wonderful results, but they are much more elusive. In the end the serivce you are selling is not changing the horse, but changing the human, isn't it? In order to accept that as a horse person, I probably have to make a rather drastic paradigm shift in the way I interact with my horse on a daily basis.
And what's more, you need the right accommodation for your horse with space and herd - and you need a lot of time ;). Not so easy to come by...

So this kind of "training" is really hard to sell. But I'm not saying that you couldn't do it. You see, you already piqued your fellow boarders interest. For her the change just seems to be a bit to drastic. Give her a few years and she might be ready ;).


The horse owes us nothing.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:57 am 
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I haven't been doing this type of training long, but I understand what you mean. It's something that's hard to explain- you kind of have to learn along the way, and it's different between each horse and each person. (Or at least that's what I perceive of it) I think you would be a wonderful instructor if you chose to go that way. Like Volker said, it is hard to start thinking in this mindset, but it can be amazing when you do. I suppose I'm saying that ultimately, it's up to you, and you really would be great either way.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:55 am 
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Thanks for your answeres, Volker and Rose...

I just realise, it is really not about monetising or about being professional or getting a state as a teacher. Quite the opposite. I tried to imagine me in that role and I can t. I could say, I am not ready for that, as I just have experiences with my own horse, which is great, but those are not universal but very personal.

No, I guess, I want to rather give this theme more room, in my live and in society in general (I know, that sounds big... but I don t mean it like that, maybe I rather mean my own surroundings) and make it more "normal".

One cant teach these things in a average way anyway, because it is not so much about technics. It is just an individual journey of experience for the human and the horse.

The decision to go this way is also very personal. You can t push people to take it.

One of my favorite words is inspiration and this is, what fits in here.
Maybe I want to just inspire and get inspired in a more daily routine.
Have to again think about it....


PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:25 pm 
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In contrast to almost every other girl I knew in the riding club when I was a child, I never wanted to become a vet or horse trainer. I loved being with horses, but for me this never meant that I wanted to do it all day and with all kinds of different horses. I never felt that the daily contact I had was too little. For me it always felt a bit scary to imagine that I am coming home after a whole day of working with horses and then have to take care of my own horses as well after all that. I never wanted to see them and think "Horses again... :roll:, well, so let's get that done, too." I wanted my horses to be somehow special.

But there are several other reasons why I could not work with horses even if I wanted. For example, I cannot do anything with a horse that I see no sense in or do not want to do. This means that whoever is giving his horse to me or asks me to train with him will have to deal with me doing it my way or not at all. I am not open for compromises there, or only to a very limited degree. It's not that I don't want to, but I simply cannot imagine how I should possibly do something that feels wrong, and at the same time still remain authentic.

Moreover, I am getting bored with things quickly. A few years ago I could have helped people to do tricktraining or dressage at liberty, but I cannot do this anymore, because I cannot motivate myself to work on exercises in any focused way. Then for a while I could have helped them develop their body language communication with their horse, but that got boring for me as well after many times of working with different horses. At the moment I could help them with contextualized interaction and bringing out the explorer in their horses, but who knows for how long? I am sure that my interest will shift again, so I cannot get a reputation in terms of "This is Romy and her specialty is doing X", because X changes into Y and Z every now and then. So nobody of my clients would know exactly what he is getting himself into.

I am also no good with people. Working with horses is the easy part, but often they have an owner and I do not have enough patience and compassion with these owners when for example their goal is to get their horse to function. Yes, the horses do become functional through our interaction, but for me this is a side effect. I think I would get terribly annoyed if I had to deal with an owner who does not see the wonderful personality being expressed in his horse but is focusing merely on our progress in terms of getting better at everyday tasks. I would have the feeling that he does not understand what we are actually doing, while in fact it might simply be not interesting for him because he has other goals.

Well, and finally I think I also need a job that requires another kind of brain work than interacting with horses does. Yes, you can also think deeply about interacting and I love solving difficulties with horses. But still I feel that these are not difficult enough, or at least they do not provide the kind of puzzles and learning experiences that I am allowed to experience in my research at the university. I feel very lucky I can live in both worlds and would not want one of them to take over.

Oops, now I have written a whole post about why I could not work with horses. Sorry Dani! :blush: I am looking forward to reading other people's posts about why they can or want to. And tomorrow I hope I will find the time to also write about what fascinates me about working with people and horses, because there are a lot of things as well. :smile:

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 7:38 pm 
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Romy, actually I can absolutely relate to your post in many senses , for example in the sense that I have very special personal interests at a time. At the moment, Zermi and I are not at all into gymnastics, but experimenting with the possibilities of reacting on each others movements and moods. To me, it is a more creative and liberate approach, than me thinking, I know what would be good for his body right now and hence inventing and optimizing the correlating exercises (that is what I do with my yogastudents...). To me it is more interesting right now, to get Zermis honest reaction to my action and vice versa. But however, this might change anytime.

I, as a person, might be more "simple" though. Let me take for example, the little Bardigiano of my dear friend...They are in a completely different "film".. The Bardi gets educated in a classical (but actually very nice and comprehensible) way and I am an active (also riding and moving) assistance. It interests me, how he connects things, how we can develope gymnastics, how he reacts. I really like to be involved with the processes and what is going on. This is not at all interseting for me and Zermi, in a one to one manner, but it is to me, purely as an experience.

But if I would imagine, this situation in a different context, meaning, me being a Professional and my friend being a customer, this might be not so interesting to me anymore, because this is not, how I really want to proceed and this leads me to the point of reputation, that I think is huge in an economic world. If I do something officially, I have to confront with what I want and what the customers want. in the best case, the customer want, what I want. If I am dependent on them moneywise, I have to twist and do what they want, to get them as a customer (I could see many people changing because of that). And this way of going with the will of the customers, who might be very happy now, will automatically give me a special reputation. And this will push me into a special economic corner...ans os on...

But this kind of thing will never interest me. If ever I would do more in this directions, I would walk my way and the potentially customers would have to go with it or not. And yes Romy, I understand this attitude very well, I suppose.

Today,I was "on tour" with a professional hooftrimmer. She is really good but she also has commercial "problems". She would do the horses hoofs much more often, if she could decide. Not because she wants more money, but because the horses would need it. But the owners generally don t want it, because they would have to pay more money. So she shows them, how to rasp in between the intervalls, she is coming, but most of them won t do it. This gives her a real conflict, she didn t solve yet. I can understand that. Here we can find the horses wealth going against the financial interest of the owner...

It reallly is a problem to me, being a professional and at the same time staying on the right track. So I rather don t want to be a professional...

Romy, I d love to read, what fascinates you about working with horses and their humans....

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:51 am 
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Yogini wrote:
Romy, I d love to read, what fascinates you about working with horses and their humans....

Actually there are many aspects, but one thing that I love is that it allows people to experiment with what they want to be. It seems that the protected interaction space consisting of the human, the horse and the environment makes that possible. For example, they can decide to be someone who is encouraging and creative, and then just do that. Theoretically, you could do the same with humans, but I think this is way more difficult, because people usually think that they have certain social roles which they tend to see as very fixed, and then they seem to believe that their interaction was determined by these roles.

For example, I think that my doctoral student does not dare to be very open-hearted and warm towards my best friend who is a professor. He is not even her boss (although we are all working together on a project), but it seems that his position makes her behave in a rather formal way towards him, and so they always have that weird kind of distance between them. One consequence of this is that they never establish the kind of relationship I have with him, and this is a shame because he has so much to offer as a person. However, in order to experience this you really have to get into a deep conversation - which in turn is possible only when you really talk and ask and discuss, which she does not do. It seems that their conversation always ends at a certain level, a somewhat superficial one.

This does not usually happen with horses, where I do not get the feeling that someone refrains from an interaction because he is afraid that it might not be appropriate. Thus, the interaction is more determined by the current situation and the participants' goals, and not so much by factors that have nothing to do with them. This also means that the human gets a rather pure feedback that is much more determined by their own actions than that in some human conversations. And then they also dare to feel and express their emotions about the things the horse is doing. I was thinking about this when observing Petra and Titum recently. After a very short time she started telling him how great he was. I don't think she would have done the same if he had been a man, for example. But because she was doing it, I saw that direct feedback as well and could use it to provide the conditions for her interaction with Titum and Summy.

Now that became a somewhat unstructured post, but I guess what I wanted to say is just that humans and horses can behave in rather pure ways when interacting with each other. Therefore, they can easily be what they want to be and then see how it affects their relationship - and then learn from that. Later, with these experiences in mind, they can begin to ask themselves why they are not behaving in the same way with other humans. If they decide that the reasons are marginal, they can transfer what they have learned. way easier than directly starting it in the blurry and complicated inter-human interaction context. :smile:

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:07 pm 
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Ohhh well, I just stumbled to find this discussion…

Danni this is something I was wondering about too.
I can relate to many things you all said (or written…).

Sort of ‘AND horse training’ as a vocation – thought I can’t even put the word ‘training’ in my vision of it (from some of the reasons you already mentioned) and also because how I perceive it (“this thing”)- it has no end goal (like in training – ‘to get someone trained’).
since in my vision I see it as an ongoing (never-ending) process of learning.
And in it I can’t see a trainer (teacher).
Just like the horse is the real teacher and very much determine the content or interaction so is the human ‘participant’ actually (whether he is been practicing 12 years of “horsefriendship” or just 3 months. Since any interaction can lead to new learning).

I think the key word – like you said Danny is inspiration.


“No, I guess, I want to rather give this theme more room, in my live and in society in general (I know, that sounds big... but I don t mean it like that, maybe I rather mean my own surroundings) and make it more "normal".”

“One of my favorite words is inspiration and this is, what fits in here.
Maybe I want to just inspire and get inspired in a more daily routine.”

And I too, very much, would like that too

what brought that out for me in the past year or two is meeting with several local horse people that somehow found out about me and the horses and wanted to learn about it (it was mostly woman, one man and he stopped contact after visiting here and finding very little in common…).

Out of the people passing through here there were 2 girls, therapeutic horse riding instructors that I followed up and helped along with their transitioning to positive oriented training & interaction with horses for quite some time.
I spend many years as therapeutic riding instructor and then several years as a facilitator in equine assisted education and development programs (with no riding involved), so I had some background that could relate to their situations of working with clients and with horses and believing that there is something basically wrong in using (and or abusing) an animal for the benefit or ‘healing’ of humans. Where the animal is usually used merely as a tool.

Both these girls made good progress and I was very happy to be able to help them, with horse interaction issues and patient’s issues.

They were both qualify as CT of dogs and so the ‘positive approach’ was something that was easy for them to comprehend but the situation was still somehow about ‘using the horses’ (and making the horses useful) and even more so - working with horses that they don’t own personally – so they are not as committed to them, (different from the situation where I see my horses as my family. I will never care or need them to be ‘useful’ and I will care for them till their death).

They both wanted us to go out together and train local horse people in courses and clinics but at the end of the day it felt more about modifying horses behavior in a positive way then anything else, which is nice, not dominate and somewhat considerate to horses but not ‘the thing’ I felt i am after.

Even so, following their progress was lovely. It was another opportunity to practice openness and also understand differences. The feeling I can help with ideas, suggesting options for problem solving or just be an inspiration felt good. (And it was all done in Hebrew… :D :ieks: :D the funny thing was that I struggled with some of the verbalizing when describing horse-human-interaction as it is feeling more familiar in English).
I think it made me realize also how it is enjoyable and educating to be part of a learning progress, share knowledge
(Well somewhat similar to what i feel here at AND-land)

So at one point I was playing a bit with ‘what kind of model’ if any, that I would like to take a part of that would be more ‘learning with horses’ ‘AND horse-friendship’

I was brainstorming about all the theoretical knowledge that I would like to be available (as if this is possible, since i believe i don't event know yet what all that is and it is ever evolving and changing... but i can figure a sort of a beginning),

a scratch

and about how this could be achieved in a non hierarchy kind of learning way, where every one is a student (and a bit a teacher too), collaborating with different people with different expertise and experiences to bring out varied body of knowledge so every one can take out whatever he needs and kind of grow together to different ends (well maybe with some basic mutual objectives regarding ethics, friendship etc …)

I was told this is way too premature here locally

And I also have these fears (a bit of what Romy said) that when things get formal (or some sort of ‘professional’) some of the fun of simply being with MY horses will be spoiled.

Spoiled even by my own expectation of ‘us’. Or the limited time left to be just family with no expectation or agenda, with no judgment or rush.

And actually a bit of all this is here… at AND

I do have one lecture day in may I agreed to take on in one of the EAL/T (equine assisted learning/therapy) schools (in one of those days I still thought this fantasy is going somewhere and that this will be a good place to encourage interest) for new group of instructors about the “human – horse bond”. Nobody seems to care actually what it will be about (and I don’t know myself yet…) I guess this will be more about how to actually SEE horses and open up to dialog.

Anyway thanks Danni for opening up this dialog – sorry I’m so late in seeing & participating in it.

I have to say I felt really good back then when reading the post you wrote

and I said, that nor dance, painting, yoga, my job, all that isn t my "calling", to be honest. Those are wonderfull things and I love to do or teach them, but...they are not IT. She suggested, that maybe the "thing", I experience with Zermi now, is IT and that maybe, I shouldn t think, that my vocation has to nessecarily be the theme, I earn my money with and do all the time. Sometimes now, I think about that talk and I come to the conclusion, that she might have been right.


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