Equine Behavioral Rehabilitation Center & School of Horse Whispering. Professional training specializing in natural horsemanship, liberty work, and classical dressage.
Reimagine Horsemanship offers advanced equine behavior modification, complete multidisciplinary horse training, and comprehensive instruction in natural horsemanship and classical dressage along with other disciplines, both English and western. We specialize in helping horses with psychological and behavioral issues, while educating their people on how to communicate with them effectively. Our somewhat unconventional methods are multidisciplinary in nature and center around what is best for the individual animal. Our entire philosophy is based on relaxation, communication, and attentiveness. We are a strong advocate of ethics and art in horsemanship. For more information visit our website, www.mindfulhorsemanship.org.
Academic Art of Riding - Bettina Biolik
I have been thinking now for two days about the latest competition dressage scandal due to the application of the FEI blood rule.
My thoughts are, in no particular order:
- The FEI dressage is a faulty system that promotes incorrect riding. The horses have lost their proud and beautiful expression and are presented with lots of tension and pressure. The horse with the highest front leg action and the least hind leg engagement wins. It’s dressage turned upside down.
- The competition system hasn’t done dressage riding any good, it’s on a steady decline. With all our knowledge today and our technology, we ride much worse than 50 years ago. Less and less exercises are shown with decreasing correctness. It seems that the only soft and correct riding is done by riders who don’t compete, or compete on a low level.
- In my opinion, animals should not be involved in a performance competition. The competition should only be with ourselves, to become better and more knowledgeable each day, and not to become better than others or win over others. There is a big difference if I teach someone to win or I teach how to ride well. If we compete in a discipline that only involves our own body, we are free to make decisions over that. But when the body and mind of another being are involved, that raises a lot of ethical questions. We can find proof of that in all equestrian disciplines.
- It is not necessary to apply so much pressure in horse education that bleeding becomes a possibility. Horses feel the wind on their skin, they are not dumb machines, and they can learn to understand the finest aids.
- Animal welfare organisations are already targeting horse sports, and rightfully so, one might ad. There are more than enough ugly pictures to prove their point. As long as so much sponsor money is involved, not much will change, but if that system should stop working one day, I see a good possibility that all riders will be affected by the ban of certain equipment or certain things we can do with horses. The FEI is giving all of us a bad name! I virtually have to explain all of my non-horse friends that dressage is not as cruel and crude as on TV…
- We should all stop supporting this system. We can do more than we think: stay away from events, don’t watch it on TV or the internet, don’t buy from sponsors, don’t buy the books or online videos. The rules of capitalism are what has shaped this ugly way of riding, so the same rules can stop it again. It seems that just being a good example is not enough. There are plenty of good examples, all over the world, and all the information about correct and incorrect riding is available to everyone. Nobody can say they didn’t know any better. The system willingly and consciously promotes wrong riding, we should all be aware of that. This is not an accident. Wrong riding is rewarded by judges, and whoever wins gets the sponsor money. You cannot tell me that all judges are collectively blind. The emperor is naked, and everyone can see it. Don’t support this system!
- We look upon the past with raised eyebrows, such as animal fights in the theatres of the Renaissance. But imagine a child in 50 years finding all those terrible pictures of competition dressage and asking, why we did that, or why nobody stopped it? What do you say? That usually, the rider trained very soft at home and all these “moments” were accidents and it can happen to everyone?
- I love my job and I love dressage. I just hope that these happenings will not make my job impossible one day.
Thoughtful greetings to all horse lovers around the world.
Photo by Anita Walkowska-Hopcia
Saddlefit 4 Life ®
This is something that needs to be said again and again, and again. It should be posted in every barn, every tack shop, every arena. It is so incredibly important for us to heed and understand. Our horses are not machines, they are living, breathing, feeling creatures and must be cared for as such.
Rushing to the wrong destination.
When we rush our horses in their training, we aren't expediting their fitness or building muscles faster - we are breaking them down and rushing to a place that will require more veterinary intervention, more alternative therapies, more time off, more risk of injury, more wear and tear on the fragile structures, and a quicker end to the riding career and soundness of our equine partners.
You cannot rush fitness, you cannot rush collection, suppleness, relaxation, it's impossible. Wherever you do rush and cut corners, you will end up with holes and issues in other areas of your riding and the overall health and welfare of your horse.
Don't want to take the time to teach your horse to collect, and instead just force him into a false frame? Well, you're going to be stuck with fixing the slew of problems that come with the tension you've just created.
Don't want to work your way up the scale to create true endurance and stamina? You now risk your horse pulling a muscle or injuring themselves from overexertion and being pushed too hard for too long when the body simply isn't ready for that workload.
Don't want to get a saddle fitted to your horse? Your horse will suffer the consequences of altering his posture and way of going to alleviate the pressure and pain caused by something that isn't suited to his build, even going so far as risking injury to yourself when he can't pick up his feet enough, causing a stumble which can be catastrophic.
Don't want to do boring small jumps to build up to the larger ones? You risk your horse not being able to find a good take-off spot, knocking rails, refusing and even crashing through the jump. You will also make the horse more nervous, anxious and again, tense and sometimes unwilling to jump again.
Don't want to waste time working up the scale of collection to achieve the proper head set without force? Let's just throw a harsher bit in his mouth, maybe tie the nose shut with both noseband and flash and begin seesawing on the mouth to get him into "frame". You've now lost all relaxation, the wrong muscles are activated and depending on how deep you yank the horses face in will determine if he's even able to swallow. Tension throughout the jaw and neck translate all the way to the hind legs, so zero collection is possible, even the slightest bit of engagement and lift of the back cannot be achieved.
Rushing will lead you nowhere except to more problems that could've been avoided had you taken the time.
~ written by SG
Manolo Mendez Dressage
Fixity is the Enemy of Suppleness & Soundness (Elasticity Rules)
Something to keep in mind when you lunge your horse or work him/her in-hand - or ride him/her. Fixed headsets, fixed postures, fixed gaits for long or even short stretches of times do not build fitness, instead they build stiffness.
Too much energy/activity runs the horse down and damages its body. Not enough energy/activity and he becomes careless and indifferent, disconnected.
Remember to vary the gaits, and the gaits within the gaits and to vary the level of activity you ask of your horse. To develop elastic, supple, loose, flexible muscles, tendons and ligaments your horse's body needs to gather and extend, open and close, contract and release.
His/Her posture must be able to change, his/her neck must be able to shorten, extend, lower or rise to help him/her find its equilibrium and travel in balance.
This is true of a young horse and of any horse as it progresses up in its training.
Fixity is for corpses, for inanimate matter.
The horse's body (like our own) is alive. Bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, eyes, ears, lips, hooves, bones, everything is cells, fascia, everything is alive, constantly adjusting to movement, load, pressure, direction and thus having to be elastic, to absorb, and distribute and give and stretch.
The mind of the horse is receiving and telegraphing signals to its body constantly based on the data it receives about its environment but also based on its emotional state which impacts its tonus.
Bodies breathe, they expand, they contract, they extend, they flex, they stretch and release. Balance ultimately stems from all this life, these emotions, all these cells and systems being able to constantly self adjust to the space they travel in and the speed they travel at.
We do not want to block this process. We want our horses balance to spring from within. We want their minds to decide what to do based on what their senses tell them, not for us to take over their body's thinking.
We want to GUIDE and SHAPE, we do not want to create straight jackets and do hostile take overs.
We do not know better then the horse's body, it knows how to protect itself, given the chance. (99.99% of the time).
When we block our horse and restrict the body's ability to adjust, the horse is more likely to travel in a manner where he will hit the ground harder and wont absorb and dissipate the, energy, the shock waves throughout his entire body. His joints will have to work harder, his entire structure will suffer.
Blocking the horse's posture and demanding a high degree of activity at the same time is equally detrimental - it places too much stress on the horse's spine, pelvis, stifles, shoulders, joints and tendons and ligaments.
The caption reads: Saying NO to fixed headsets and gaits...Why? Developing elastic muscles requires our horse's body to open and close, open and close. Trotting in the same pace and posture for too long with make him stiff. To keep him suple, alternate short bursts of energy with a slower pace that allows him to stretch forward, down and OUT, and relax.
We do not ask him to perform with great energy for long periods: this will over tire his body and begin damaging him. We do not work him in a relaxed frame all the time or he will become loose and careless.
For more information on Manolo's 3 hour introduction to in-hand DVD check: http://www.manolomendezdressage.com/product/in-hand-lessons-with-manolo-mendez/
Resources:The Ins and Out of In-Hand Work by Manolo Mendez with C. Larrouilh:
Mind,Body,Life, Bowen Therapy and Equine fascial release
Cross fibre grooming .
Horses groom each other, they also roll on the ground, the action of stretching and releasing the skin triggering a release and relaxation response in the body .
When we domesticate and house horses we often separate them from others and remove grooming from another horse. We may also rug them
restricting contact with the ground if they roll .
Another aspect of horse care that has taken a down turn for some is proper grooming of the body and picking out of feet.
That is,to curry comb, body brush and wisp a horse daily .
Grooming in essence promotes fascial release .
My clients are taught how to do cross fibre grooming to promote relaxation in their horses, practicing a technique that promotes fascial release.
It also familiarises owners with their horses body, how the skin feels , if it is holding tension or elicits a pain response from the horse when touched or moved . It is something that is measurable by comparison from day to day.
If you look at the hair,it grows in different directions , generally the hair grows in the direction of the muscle fibres below the surface . The idea is to use a flat hand or a soft brush or a curry comb and gently run across the hair instead of along it . It only needs to be done once or twice in entirety to be effective .
It also is a great way to calm a horse down if they are feeling uptight or overwhelmed .
Stick to the soft tissue and do be mindful of bony regions also take note of responses and reactions . keep yourself safe and be mindful of reactions to painful regions that may elect biting or kicking at you !
Happy cross fibre grooming 💜💜
”How to “ Pinned video available .
Reimagine Horsemanship is now offering liberty lessons at our home farm in Poughquag, NY.
*Learn how it is possible to deeply connect with a horse completely free from restraint.
*Learn how to hone and control your energy while using it to encourage our horses to bind with you in a way that feels almost telekinetic.
*Learn about the biomechanics of how a horse moves and how to develop his ability to carry a rider with grace and agility.
*Learn how to shape a horse's behavior and develop his cognitive abilities to help him become a better learner and willing partner.
Our liberty work sessions are now available to the general public in hopes of bringing more awareness to the life-enhancing aptitudes of this sort of horsemanship for both horses and humans. For further details, please PM or visit our website www.reimaginehorsemanship.com.
Wadi Farm Equine Learning Centre
“People understand that there are situations in everyday life demanding total concentration; mysteriously it may not occur to the same people that, in dealing with a horse, there is the same requirement.
Perhaps someone will allow himself and the horse to be interrupted by a phone call, which not only breaks the person’s own concentration, but that of the horse. When you work with a horse you ask him to leave whatever he is doing and pay attention to you. You are trying to reach the same wavelength as that of the horse and, if you allow an interruption on your end, you are being disrespectful to him.
We humans may be able to switch on and off, or from one subject to another, at the drop of a hat but a horse is not so flexible. If he has decided to give you the benefit of his full concentration, and you lightly drop it because something more important to you crops us, he might not want to risk giving you the same degree of attention again.”
~ Frédéric Pignon
photos (c) KAW
Ecole de Légèreté Perth
The walk is also a working gait!
Occasionally I’ve happened by a dressage competition that’s under way. If I’ve got the time, I like to go have a stickybeak at what’s out there. One thing that’s struck me, time and time again, is how the horses in the warm up arena seemed to spend 95% of their time in trot. Well, ok, I know it’s supposed to be a warm up and all, but the horse does have other gaits, and it’s quite nice to start in walk until the horse is warmed up.
One time, I watched one fellow steaming around in a very active trot, doing shoulder in. Shoulder in up one side, down the other side – very, very active. I also noticed that he only did the exercise on the left rein. The horse did appear quite stiff to the left, and I thought he was probably trying the shoulder-in in trot to remedy this. (It is possible, of course, that he was unaware that he hadn’t ridden the exercise on the other rein...) I couldn’t help but think he’d be much better off coming back to walk and trying the shoulder-in there. The slower speed and greater stability would help both horse and rider work towards greater suppleness on the left rein – and of course, changing to the other rein would also be beneficial for suppling ALL the horse’s muscles, and avoiding fatigue.
If you are having some problems with one side of the horse and you’re aiming for suppleness, don’t forget that the walk can be wonderfully effective! The slower speed and more stable balance can make it easier for both horse and rider. Especially if the horse has some tightness in one side, lateral movements in walk can be very effective in warming up and getting the horse to stretch. The fact that walk is far more stable than trot or canter means that you’ve got more chance of developing more stretch and carry than in the faster gaits. And don’t forget, the problems of balance are never only on one side: it might be that the horse’s crookedness bothers you less on one rein, but it is still there. You just need to discover its effects on that rein, and learn how to vary your exercises so that you work on straightening up his crookedness here, too.
To show that the walk is a good gait to explore the horse’s flexibility within the walk, I’ve selected some pictures of riders of the Ecole de Legerete doing a shoulder-in. Do you have a nice picture of the horse looking stable and supple in walk? If so, please share it in the comments.
horseandhound.co.uk ‘[The horse] may not be wearing it in the conventionally accepted manner, but that is not the rule’
Manolo Mendez Dressage
How does Manolo work with BITLESS riders?
"At one of the clinics Manolo asked the audience:
"who am I to ask her to put a piece of metal into the horse's mouth and tell her that it's better? "
I think that Manolo trains me like any other rider - the most important thing for him is well-being of the horse, correct movement, requirements adjusted to the level of the horse, keeping the horse sound, happy and motivated.
His teaching method is not based on micromanaging and dictating every step, but rather on choosing exercises that would encourage horses to offer us something themselves and this way we are able to feel what has changed in the body of the horse and what feelings we are looking for later during the ride.
Of course, the bit and the action of the reins are not to force the "correct" posture of a horse. If a horse finds the right balance, then the neck and head will find right position themselves.
With this kind of approach, it is not so important if we ride with the bit or without, as long as it's comfortable for the horse."
Justyna Rucińska is a highly regarded horse trainer with a passion for dressage. She starts young horses, trains and teaches bit-less. She is also a trained psychologist, an animal psychologist and a sport psychologist. http://www.szkoleniekoni.com
PHOTOGRAPHY by the talented Magda Senderowskiej (https://www.facebook.com/Drogawmiedzyczasie/