The Art of Natural Dressage

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 Post subject: Special posts
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:02 am 
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There are so many wonderful posts everywhere in the forum and sometimes it is a bit hard to find them some months after they have been posted... here I will collect a few of them that have been of special importance for me so that it will be easier to find them again later. Feel free to add your favourites! :)

Unfortunately I have forgotten where most of them have been posted (my apologies to the authors of those that are not cited here), but I will continually update this topic and edit them in as soon as I find them.

Oh, and I am not including posts about specific exercises, because I think that the way the groundwork exercise section is organized makes it rather easy to find them over there.

Energy, mimicry and connection

Energy mimicry
Redirection and behaviour modification
Magnetic connection or magnetic compulsion?

Fear and trust

Being a cougar-eater
Being attentive, Leigh quoting Sue, Sep 08, 2008, 5th post
On the freedom of getting out of it
Human fears: How your fears protect you (Sue's rock climbing post)

Goals in training with horses

...the first two are not just single posts but (short) threads, but I could not single out a specific posts because there were several great ones.

The goal in a single training session
For me personally
Entrepreneur horses, see Sue's post from Jun 10, 2007, 7th post (and Miriam's first post on that page)
A goal and a way to get there, see Leigh's post from Jul 28, 2008, 3rd post
The tradeoff between expectations and play

Interaction systems

Consequences and predictability
Making your interaction a positive experience, see Leigh's post from Jul 03, 2008, 4th post
Making sense of exercises
Encouraging polite behaviour, see Sue's post from May 17, 2010, last post on this page
When the first excitement has washed off


Dismounting as a reward, the ultimate pressure release (UPR)
Conditioned and unconditioned go cues, see Sue's first two posts in this topic
Turning... or waltzing
The circle of aids vs. the circle of muscles and mind

 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:32 am 
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Thank you so much Romy, this has been such a great help.

And right on time! I got totally stuck yesterday while doing groundworks and I really needed some inspiring posts and questions to get myself to think about what and why I was doing stuff, and mostly why Ruphina reacted on me the way she did.
Well, first I had to make clear to myself again that it must be me that was doing something wrong or different.

I feel completely inspired and again a bit more on track of AND. :D

My first action will be to never stop learning :roll:

time is what you make of it

 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:48 am 
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What an excellent idea!!!

I love you girl! :love:

Aren't we glad we chose you as mod :)


 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:17 pm 
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I love the idea of this thread and want to encourage folks to share posts that particularly catch the energy and dream of AND here.

(I'm thinking that it might be good to highlight the central idea so people can skim if they'd


This one is from Sue -- originally posted on another forum all together, and then posted in her diary. For me, it captures the creative essence of AND exquisitely.
Karen :
> So when does art become art? What is essential in the rider in the
> progression from student to artist? They will not all become artists,
> surely.

>I believe everyone is an artist and capable of Art. This is I seem to >differ
>from so many others, which I must say mystifies me.

I agree with you Jas; Everyone is an artist and everyone is theoretically
capable of art.

When does art become art?
I would like to suggest this criteria.
Art is any creative action (or product of action), which is carried out with
love and mindfulness.

This is why there is never an argument that children's art is truly art, despite
it's obvious crudity. Anyone who has ever watched a four year old passionately
engrossed in smearing paint on paper or wall has seen the love and mindfulness
and recognized the art of their endevours, regardless of the technical skill

Likewise, a humble family meal is artwork, when the cook prepares and presents
it with love and care, just as much as a cordon bleu offering from a five star
restaurant is, IF the chef created it with similar pasion .

By this criteria, in those magic moments when I'm smiling from the inside out,
and that smile descends down into my seat, out into my hands, up into my
attentive awareness and throughout my whole body, and my horse smiles with me,
up into her back, down her legs into her feet, out through her neck and croup,
right through her whole body, and we ride together in this mutual love and
attentiveness, we create art, regardless of whether we're cantering along the
cycle track and snatching leafy treats, or doing one tempi changes on a looped
rein in the arena. (This is theoretical because we haven't quite mastered the
latter yet, although the former is pretty good!<ggg>)

By this criteria, I'm proud to say that I am an equestrian artist. And sometimes
what I create is art.

By this criteria, I can honestly say that my horse is an artist too, because she
has been given the freedom and encouragement to participate actively, as an
initiator and suggester of ideas, rather than just as a tool I use to express my
creativity. She also can be creative and joyous, and sometimes she offers her
participation in our strange activities with love and mindfulness, and then what
she creates is art too.

I have just returned from a trip to the Altay Mountains in very remote China,
where I participated in an 80 km endurance race. We had four days prior to the
race to get to know our borrowed horses. By the great fortune of fate, I chose a
horse that was barely "broken", so wild but so wonderful that we had the chance
to make a huge impact on each other and fall deeply in love.
I came home with the trophy for best female rider. My horse and I didn't win
the race - we were more than an hour off the winning pace. But I like to think
that what the judges saw was ART. During the short time we had spent together,
we had learnt to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses and support
each other through them, to understand when the other needed help and be there
to fill the gap, to ask each others opinion and advice in difficult situations
and trust each other implicitly with the answers, to conserve and make maximum
use of our energy by working with synergy, to move together with complete
attentiveness and relaxation, so that what specators eventually saw was the
beauty of twobecomeone, -despite a rocky - literally!<g> - beginning.

If it can be accepted that this is indeed art, it is being presented in a very
dffferent form to classical dressage. Perhaps I could compare my "endurance" art
to a toddlers painting formed of crude lines and colourful splotches, whereas
the Art of Classical Dressage presents the fine detail and subtle techniques of
the masters.
But, I believe, some basic characteristics, evolving from love and mindfulness,
are the same.

At the opposite end of this same criteria is dressage, classical or otherwise,
or any form of horseriding, which doesn't have love and mindfulness at it's

If I look at photos of classically exquisite horses in classically perfect
poses, and I see pain, subjugation, resignation, bondage, fear in the horses
face, I do not experience it as art, because I cannot believe that this
creation is a product of love.

When I ride, and there are people hanging over the fence watching, and I begin
to think about those spectators, and how I might possibly impress them, and I
ride to their imagined acclaim or otherwise, I lose the mindfulness, temporarily
forget the love, and there is no art. At best I can present a show, a facsimile
of art. A flawed reproduction. At worst, a parody, or a mess of overturned paint
pottles on the floor.

So for me, Art is not defined by the "style" of horsemanship - whether it be
western, classical, modern, or backyard playmate. It's defined completely by the
love and mindfulness of it's creator(s). I don't believe that there is
neccessarily a bridge to cross between being a student and being an artist. As
artists and students we are all working somewhere along a continuum between
crudity and refinement. Some will become bored or frustrated and give up.
Others will sour and place attainment goals above the process and perhaps
achieve fame and fortune, but lose the inner beauty. Some of us will attain
great refinement in our art, and some will be forever satisfied with daubing
bright colours with a thick brush.


You can find it in context here: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=237&p=62682#p62682

"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi

 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:16 pm 
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One from Donald that I love:
I learned stillness.

Because in attempts to become "light" I discovered my inner state, and obviously my outer presentation were dulling the horse. Making for heaviness. Causing me to revert to pushing harder ... in pursuit of performance goals rather than lightness at all.

Now I cannot tell you how I thought of stillness, or if I thought at all, but there it was, an obvious problem. I was not still, in mind or body.

But when I concentrated on stillness everything about lightness changed. My work because about thinking of what I wanted far more than doing anything about what I wanted.

I don't know if I'll ever capture that again.

It was like "enlightenment," a state of nirvana, and it happened infrequently, but it did happen.

Being so long out of practice, being, with my aging body unlikely to spend the 6 to 10 hours a day in the saddle with many different horses, I may never have it again, but I will continue to look for it through the one faculty I have left, the ability to be still, to meditate, empty my mind, let even the goal at hand go away.

On those occasions when I even lost the sense of time and place outside the here, and the now, strange things transpired between the horse and I, and possibly something else.

I questioned it, and of course lost it, until I stopped questioning it, and accepted it. Then what ever it was came back.

It's what took me into a self imposed exile to isolation and quietness working miles from everyone else, and eventually to just play with my QH stallion.

It was as though the path was laid down before me not by my choice or my hand or my even knowing of it. It simply presented itself.

That the horse and I could exist in stillness together.

Koko Hano Hano was my partner in that.

Or he taught it to me, though I began it before him.

Now and then I see a poster here in AND expressing something that makes me think they had a moment of stillness of the kind I mean. No asking, no expectation, nothing but being there. And nearly every time something remarkable for them occurs.

Does stillness mean doing nothing? No, that's not quite it. Doing nothing is a great place to start, of course, but the foundation for all this, stillness, lightness, being here, being now, comes with one simple thing.

Being focused.

Because when one is still, and light, that is what happens.

The subject doesn't matter. It may be some part of a driving apparatus or it could be working toward a response to an 'ask' for a tiny small body part of the horse to move.

But letting one's self focus without there being any outside distraction may be the key to this sense of 'nirvana.'

Or is it exactly what that is?

Sorry -- I've lost the original thread that this came from. (This is an old post -- I've been reading back through my journal a bit today -- and this is one that came before we upgraded servers so the link is dead.)

But I responded by using someone else's words, which I will quote, too (couldn't find adequate ones of my own!) ;)

From the poet, Mary Oliver:

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird –
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ Mary Oliver ~

"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi

 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:04 am 
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Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
Referring to my quoted post:

Much has happened since I wrote that. I think the most important are those days that I am with Bonnie and Altea. Which is every single day. I have not spent a day apart from them since I moved Altea to the sheep barn and cared for her there through the winter we had a record 5-6 ft of snow.

And each day challenges me again to step back from the work, the tending, the worrying and planning that is so much a part of caring for a endocrine challenged horse (Insulin Resistence in Alea).

Now that the temps are coming up to 100 (just hit it this last hour) there's even more on my plate. A garden with many new plantings that must be tended or the sprouting plants will burn out. A barn to cool by spraying the roof and the big tarps I hang for shade. Fresh cool water every few hours to make sure Bonnie and Altea are safe in the heat.

In other words, even when I stop to rest I forget about "stillness."

But today there was an event the reminded me in a very big way about it and what it means to be in a state of stillness with a horse.

I'm going to go and write about it in my Training Diary, Bonnie and The Old Man (I just turned 75 the 28th of June, last week - so "Old Man," is more fitting than ever).


Love is Trust, trust is All
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.

 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:10 am 
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This is slightly off course (Meandering Melander, that's me!) but I found myself posting a list of YouTube channels for our new member Katelyn tonight, and it struck me that it might be helpful to add this list here.

These are some of the folks creating some of my very favorite videos here:

Josepha/Bianca/Miriam our fearless leaders: (many of these are the videos that turned me into a believer about this philosophy of approaching horses)
Josepha: (the beginning of her school, Taormina, in video)
Romy: (brilliant fun and friendship with a fluency that is just extraordinary)
Brenda: (some of the cleanest clicker training I've ever seen -- so generous, so careful)
Karen: (elegant work into dressage with lightness and delight and subtlety)
Glen: (patenting the LOL® method of teaching and learning with horses)
Sue: (redefining what being a horse/human means)



"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi

 Post subject: Re: Special posts
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:51 pm 
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Location: New York
From the fabulous Donald Redux, a lovely photo essay about how young Bonnie decides the halter is hers to wear. I find this to be a brilliant example of how we can approach horses using their own abilities, processes, instincts, intelligence, etc. to invite them to define their lives and experiences rather than demand things of them.

Bonnie Steals the Halter from the Old Man


All the best,

"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi

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