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  1. #1
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    Default Mary Wanless Techniques

    I am going to take a lesson with an instructor trained by Mary Wanless. Does anyone have thoughts on these techniques? I am only partially acquainted with her ideas (as well as Sally Swift). Just looking for thoughts and opinions from those who have tried some of this mental imagery.



  2. #2
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    People seem to love her or hate her. I have pretty much have read all her books and seen her videos, and I have clinicked with her. She has refined her techniques over time. You can get more of an idea from her website

    http://www.mary-wanless.com/


    She has jokingly called herself a "remedial riding teacher." I think that her emphasis is on TEACHING and finding effective methods of teaching many riders. I have found that sadly lacking in many trainers, who are only narrowly educated in dressage training and not in the science of how to teach others, physiology, etc. etc.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  3. #3
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    I think the Cliff Notes version is "Ride with your mind essentials." I really liked her - cliniced with her twice when I was just (late in the day) starting to think about these things.

    Good luck!
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  4. #4
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    I find her books very helpful, especially her very clear description of how the rider should be aligned. I would certainly take the opportunity to clinic with her if I had the chance.
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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  5. #5
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    It has been awhile since I've seen her teach. It has to be one of the biggest disappointments in my dressage life. Her theories read well. It is the actual implimentation method to which I object, which tend to make crooked horses even more crooked. Maybe things have changed since last I saw her.



  6. #6
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    When she became a cult of dressage training that conflicts with classical dressage and whisks away any technical conflicts with dressage theory as irrelevant and proclaims all other instructors and methods as inferior, rather than just teaching people how to relax and be aware of their bodies, I backed away, LOL. "Streamlined" methods, "revolutionary", "better than everyone else", and parelli-like 'disciples' that insist i just MUST DO WANLESS or i'm torturing my horse and not learning anything properly, that's when I run away screaming, LOL.
    Last edited by slc2; Nov. 19, 2008 at 07:25 AM.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    When she became a cult of dressage training that conflicts with classical dressage and whisks away any technical conflicts with dressage theory as irrelevant and proclaims all other instructors and methods as inferior, rather than just teaching people how to relax and be aware of their bodies, I backed away, LOL. "Streamlined" methods, "revolutionary", "better than everyone else", and parelli-like 'disciples' that insist i just MUST DO WANLESS or i'm torturing my horse and not learning anything properly, that's when I run away screaming, LOL.

    Huh, that must have been a much later development, because I never heard any of that whatsoever. Back in the day (early 90s?), she was just studying and teaching riding and not training. She did not even profess to be doing "dressage" per se, just good riding basics like Sally Swift, etc.

    In the past, she has partnered with physical therapists to sort out positional difficulties that riders have. She is currently doing clinics with Hilary Clayton. Her philosophy has always been to take information from analyzing excellent riders, as well as body work professionals, to try to demystify riding education.

    Her website (as well as her books, videos etc.) evidence nothing of the cult like "belief system" that you attribute to her.

    It seems that you may have her confused with someone else?
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    When she became a cult of dressage training that conflicts with classical dressage and whisks away any technical conflicts with dressage theory as irrelevant and proclaims all other instructors and methods as inferior, rather than just teaching people how to relax and be aware of their bodies, I backed away, LOL. "Streamlined" methods, "revolutionary", "better than everyone else", and parelli-like 'disciples' that insist i just MUST DO WANLESS or i'm torturing my horse and not learning anything properly, that's when I run away screaming, LOL.
    Funny - I attended two multi day clinics with her and saw none of this whatsoever. I agree - you must have her confused with someone else.

    She's trained as a physicist, so she thinks of the mechanics differently than most, and that's a very helpful approach for many. I like to merge her stuff with Sally Swift's. And there was nothing in her clinics that I saw that in any way conflicted with classical dressage.
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  9. #9
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    Default ditto

    Quote Originally Posted by angel View Post
    It has been awhile since I've seen her teach. It has to be one of the biggest disappointments in my dressage life. Her theories read well. It is the actual implimentation method to which I object, which tend to make crooked horses even more crooked. Maybe things have changed since last I saw her.
    I disagree with SLC (surprise!) but I do agree with Angel. I spent a lot of money on a 3-day clinic with her and got NOTHING out of it. I sit a tad crooked, but I'm aware of it and work to correct it all the time. She had nothing to add to help me. One of my problems is that I'm static and need to be more receiving in my body at all times--she wanted me to be MORE stiff--kept talking about my "boards" etc. It just got worse and worse.

    My horse was miserable and covered with sweat. I was frustrated. She talked to the audience, sold her books and tapes and ignored my questions (I was very polite and receptive.) What a waste of time and money.

    The people I know who love her and got a lot out of their lessons were VERY beginning riders who had no clue about seat bones, seat aids, etc. For those people, or those with serious alignment issues, she would probably be helpful.
    \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo



  10. #10
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    Default

    Out of all the "riding with your mind" people (Sally Swift, Jane Savoie, Susan Harris, etc.) I find that Mary Wanless jells with me the best. I'm not the greatest at imagining that my body is a stick of melting butter, LOL, but if you tell me to put body part A over HERE, I can deal with that.

    From her two books that I own (and I'm not a MW disciple by any means; just find her books interesting), she figures out what natural riders do NATURALLY and instinctively, and she manages to put it into layman's terms so that everybody can do it. For example, natural/gifted riders have a muscle tone that allows them to move with the horse and not against it, especially when sitting the trot. People, as a whole, tend to bounce backwards in the saddle as the horse is moving forwards, which causes us to bump against their backs and go against the motion. The more we fight this tendency, the more we work against our horses. MW has an image of pressing the front of your body up against the bars of a cage, so that you are constantly thinking "forward" with the motion, which counters the bumping backwards that we naturally want to do. I found this image to be extremely helpful with my sitting trot.

    I'd say go for it, especially if you are struggling with a specific riding or training problem. Like another poster said, she doesn't "train" the horse - she fixes the rider, and that in turn allows the horse to move freely and comply with the rider's wishes.
    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."



  11. #11
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    Cool

    I found in general that she makes a great deal of sense, as I understood her.

    I firmly believe that in order to ride a horse correctly, we must be in proper alignment and that stiffness, of any body part, will only hinder our progress. I cannot see how proper position would encourage a crooked horse to become even more crooked, unless of course we were not strong enough to maintain correct position while correcting the horse.

    It does take strength and coordination to do different things with different parts of your body simultaeously and think too>
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  12. #12
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    Red face When her first book came out, I rushed to get it.....

    Can't remember the titile, but it was about an inch thick. For some reason reading Mary Wanless and watching Indiana Jones movies are, like, the BEST sleeping pill for me.

    Since then, I have been to a couple of clinics with Heather Blitz who credits Mary for most of her success at the uppper levels, and I LOVED Heather.....

    Also, for whatever reason, Centered Riding has been SO much more helpful for me. I am very receptive to the use of imagery... just wired that way I guess.

    Good luck and best wishes from Kansas.
    What's the scoop?



  13. #13
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    Default

    if someone can gain extra thoughts or another prospective in how they are doing things
    then as with any trianing method you get out of it what you want
    theres no cult to it just commonsense



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    When she became a cult of dressage training that conflicts with classical dressage and whisks away any technical conflicts with dressage theory as irrelevant and proclaims all other instructors and methods as inferior, rather than just teaching people how to relax and be aware of their bodies, I backed away, LOL. "Streamlined" methods, "revolutionary", "better than everyone else", and parelli-like 'disciples' that insist i just MUST DO WANLESS or i'm torturing my horse and not learning anything properly, that's when I run away screaming, LOL.
    thinking of your statement and the amount of post on the dressage that you do as in some thing like 20,000 is your words righteous or cultyfied especially when ones a novice
    could one call you a cult as in listen to me me me cults brainwash peoples minds by righteousness



  15. #15
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    Default

    I had my lesson last night. It's been about 13 years since I have actively schooled or trained dressage and I know I'm rusty. I have not gotten too far with my young mare on my own. She had been intermittenly on the bit, but I can't seem to make things click. Anyway...some of the stuff felt strange, but the imagery must have helped because my mare was beautifully forward, round and when I was able to sit correctly she was more round and on the bit then I have ever managed before. I think I will have to play around with this some more. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I have been riding long enough to know there are over 1000 different ways to acheive the same thing. As I said, I think I'll play with this and see where it goes!



  16. #16
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    A barn in my area has regular clinics with her. They are usually 3 or 4 days long and upwards of $600 to ride. I audited a few years ago to see what it was all about. Frankly, I was really disappointed. Not only did I feel like she wasn't a good instructor (many of the riders seemed to be confused), she was also rude and disrespectful to some of the riders. I don't need to get into details here.

    Regardless of what she may be able to accomplish with other riders, her "feedback" to the riders was seared in my brain and left a very bad taste in my mouth for all things MW. In my opinion, there are too many other good clinicians that CAN teach who are also polite and gracious (and don't cost $$$$ to ride with).



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulosey View Post
    I had my lesson last night. It's been about 13 years since I have actively schooled or trained dressage and I know I'm rusty. I have not gotten too far with my young mare on my own. She had been intermittenly on the bit, but I can't seem to make things click. Anyway...some of the stuff felt strange, but the imagery must have helped because my mare was beautifully forward, round and when I was able to sit correctly she was more round and on the bit then I have ever managed before. I think I will have to play around with this some more. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I have been riding long enough to know there are over 1000 different ways to acheive the same thing. As I said, I think I'll play with this and see where it goes!

    maybe matey, you just realised that your not fighting with the horse as much as figihing with your self
    the clue is in the last statement, sometims people think to much in stead of getting on with it as you have now found out, that if you got on with it and dont think of what if's and if only;s your horse was more resposnsive becuase your mind was clear on what you wanted to do, so therefore the signals and direction was more senistive and direct to the horse - if you get what i mean



  18. #18
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    OK, my opinion is based on watching a series of Wanless videos in the early 90's, auditing a couple of hours of a clinic of hers about the same time and reading parts of "ride with your mind".

    I didn't find anything particularly wrong with what I saw, but if Indiana Jones movies put you to sleep, try watching the person teach in person or on vid. Soporific.

    I think people like MW, SS, and the parsleys do have something to contribute- there are a lot of people who lack the basics of seat position, for whom reading the horse's mind does not come naturally, etc. Basics. Because I learned these things so long ago I don't even remember when, there is a part of me always surprised to find that folks don't know even a single method of basics well, and thus appreciate and need some sort of simple systematic teaching. And some become fanatics- having acquired a hammer, everything they see needs to be a nail.

    Evangelistic devotees of lesser skill with big egos.

    The thing is, the way I and other "old hands" learned all those basics leaves much to be desired. In some ways I am lucky to have survived the helmetless days of being put up on a never ridden horse because I was small and skinny and too young to know it was deadly. it's probably better that folks learn the basics some other way. But one must be smart and savvy enough to know that many paths exist and no one person has all the answers.
    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF



  19. #19
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    horsepix76 - maybe we were at the same cinics - because I went to 2 in Indianapolis! (2005, 2006)

    It was very good for me, because although I'd read Centered Riding, I couldn't "feel" what was being said. What Mary did for me was help me open my mind and body to the "feel." I had literally just started with my current trainer, who has trained with many but especially Vi Hopkins, and it was a very different way of thinking. I went again, a year later, and we were really shooting down the path in the right direction.

    Not everything she says works for me, but then, that's true for every book I've read. Sometimes they are saying the same thing, but in a different way. I am very fortunate to have a trainer, when, I don't "get" it - will work with me in a different context and set me up to "feel" it.

    For example - last night, we worked on releasing my horse's poll, and then asked me to feel the (VERY!) subtle movement my horse makes in his back - kind of an undulating wave that lifts his back up. I had to really focus on feeling it - but then, she asked me to influence and ask him to give me the same in movement. Not so easy! What these people - Mary Wanless, Sally Swift, my own trainer, etc. have done for me (and especially my trainer! I can't tell you how fortunate I feel!) is open up my eyes to my own imbalances and crookedness. We all have them - whether inborn, whether influenced by injury, whatever. And they so strongly affect your horse. What feels comfortable isn't necessarily right! And this is the greatest lesson I think I take from those techniques - a way to be unbiased in judging my own position and what I am truly asking of my horse - not my intent - but what my body is saying to him. One of the best feelings is not only to feel him through and connected but feel him relaxing in the jaw and poll and licking the bit.

    In a way - I think I rode as if I were deaf to what the horse was saying back to me. I could talk, but I couldn't listen. These people and technqiues helped me realize that - and maybe I'm still not getting everything my horse is saying, but I'm listening!!!

    So, maybe not for everyone - but incredibly useful for many, I would think. And I didn't find her comments antagonizing - if anything, I thought she was pretty funny. Maybe that is a cultural thing? The British sense of humor is different - I have several British friends and colleagues and I think my sense of humor is far more like theirs.

    But you're right - there are many clinicians out there, and I think they all have something to offer. It's whether or not it works for you that counts.
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  20. #20
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    i'll have to disagree with horsepix 76. I rode in all but one of the MW clinics in Indy. All on very different horses. Not only did she improve my riding, but also was able to teach me that moving part A affected horse B in a certain way. she implies perfection in yourself is what helps the horse carry itself perfectly..and explains how to do it I never found her rude or disrespectful to anyone at those clinics. She did note to me that I had gained weight from the previous year and wasn't riding as well the year before...which i didn't find rude, just truthful..
    For one clinic, i was horseless and using a friends horse that looked lame but always tested sound and the vets could find nothing wrong. (it had a funky way of trotting), most trainers would say leave, that horse is lame..but i begged her to look before judging..she did and pointed out that the horse wasn't lame and very asymmetrical..which was the problem, the horse was leaning well left and thus would have to work 2x hard to lift the left foreleg..she had me take my right seat bone and use it to suction the horse to the right to get her off the left forehand...it was such a small movement (and hard as hell to do), but it worked and the horse shifted it's body off the left forehand , by the end of the lesson, the horse was moving fine (as long as i could continue the "suction")...while most people were telling me to use the left leg to support the horse more... .

    with the various trainers that I have ridden they all say you get out of a clinic what you put in..and while everything may not work for you, it gives you more tools to use. I like the way mw describes how to use your core and has some philosophies that others dont..or they do and she just explains the why and how come better.



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