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  1. #1
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    Mar. 26, 2011
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    Default Getting Forward on a Cold Blooded Horse?

    I have a 9 year old STB/perch cross who has been used for pleasure riding: English and Western, but has no dressage training. He's new to me (2 months) and doesn't have alot of muscle yet. As a result of this legacy he is quite happy to plod along at an easy tea-sipping gait be it walk or trot. I’ve been trying to get him more forward. I started off wearing my Prince of Wales spurs –mild spurs – thinking that I could give him a nice unambiguous cue when he gets behind the leg. It didn’t quite work that way. Yes he got more forward, but he also got twitchy. This is likely because my leg became very noisy in the process of schooling this horse. I also developed other bad habits like trying to help him forward by pushing my arms in front of me and hunching my shoulders (can you visualize that?).

    I’ve had great advice from many people, including most recently lovey1121. We do have a small cross country course behind the barn –it’s small but it’s slopey and bendy and comes with a steep sided pond. Lovey suggests I get forward out there. I’ve also ditched my spurs and shortened my stirrups. I did not expect, but found that I use my leg better without stirrups. So now I don’t hesitate to feel him with my whole leg and give him a good solid thump when he doesn’t respond to my forward cue. Also I have begun using a strong verbal cue to go forward. For example, yesterday afternoon we worked in the ring trotting the long sides and walking the short sides. I used the corners as you might to introduce canter on the correct lead, as transition points. The transitions were “and TROT” or “and walk”. The trot was usually fine but if he lagged I gave him a good thump with my heels to get him on again. This seems to have worked. And he’s a very smart guy, so he got those verbal cues really fast.

    My boy Carl Hester (I heart him) has a technique for creating responsiveness. He will ask first and then if he doesn’t get it, he’ll throw the reins and kick into a gallop –at least this was the report someone made from a 2005 clinic s/he attended. Sounds really effective, but I’m not sure I have the spine for it. Half the time I want to try it and half the time my brain goes “are you KIDDING”. I might be able to kick into a canter… would that be as effective.

    Any thoughts?

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  2. #2
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    Feb. 23, 2005
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    Default

    That is very similar to Jane Savoie's description of in front of the leg. You should be able to whisper an aid and the horse should SHOUT the response.


    So, if he doesn't respond to a light aid you really send him forward, (IME better with a whip than spurs, spurs are for refinement not brute force) making sure you don't inadvertently punish him by snatching him in the mouth. That's where the grab or bucking strap comes in. Let him go forward a ways then stop him and test for a response to light aids again. If he doesn't respond send him forward again.



    Jane Savoie has some great videos on youtube.
    Here are a few to get you started

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4QnhV8cH4M

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xq_0OdBEYFw

    She also has a very helpful newsletter and subscription website.

    Now I know you are not going to like this, sorry. I know we have discussions about fit and fat and I know you have said your fittness is improving but you still have a ways to go particularly in core strength. It really shows when you post. Do you have access to fittness classes or a gym where you teach?

    I have a BMI of 29 about the same as I believe you said you have.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/carolp3...52132904429762

    Can you see the difference in body control?
    Last edited by carolprudm; Sep. 13, 2011 at 12:22 PM.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  3. #3
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Default

    From the description above...there's a chance the horse won't become more forward if s/he's feeling any unbalance or bouncing hands/legs.
    Usually the more forward/fast a horse gets the more those things amplify for the animal. Causes confusion and/or discomfort and also makes them feel off-balance.
    Are you working with/have access to an instructor? If so, ask that person to ride your horse forward and watch. If the horse starts picking up a more forward motion with a different rider then it could be that you'll need a bit more work on your position, balance or core.
    If the horse isn't willing to go forward with a more experienced rider then it could be that s/he needs more work, schooling and time so the horse feels more balanced him/herself. Then it might be a good idea to have some training rides weekly and also take some time without reins/irons to work on yourself. (on your horse or another) If the two of you both have a tough time with forward at the same time...it's not going to improve and may set some really hard-to-break bad habits for both of you.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  4. #4
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    Mar. 26, 2011
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    Default

    Carol, I'm not offended at all. One thing I've discovered trying to school Fella is that I am not fit enough! I was fit enough to ride many lessons a week, but as with other observations about my form, I am learning that it is a different kettle of fish to school. My form has fallen apart with demands that I be a rider rather than a passenger with good position, and my fitness is in question for the same reason. It's not wind as much as much as muscle I think. I've got to include some core training somehow. Both schools have gyms that I think I have access to as an instructor.

    Misty, I do have access to a trainer and actually I'm discussing having him ride Fella at least once a week for 1/2 an hour. I'm also going to arrange some lunge sessions with my equitation trainer.

    I don't feel insecure on him. I've got nicely loose hips so I don't feel in danger of being unseated or anything like that. We'll continue with all the exercises for forward and keep these other options on the table.

    Gotta dash. I'll check in later.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  5. #5
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    Jan. 31, 2003
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    Default

    Does he understand to go forward on the longe from a cluck? In hand from a cluck/tap with a whip where your leg would be?

    The methods described work only if the horse has been properly schooled to understand what the leg means. Both Carl and Jane IMO assume the homework has been done, which is typical foe trainers who work with a system. It is the correct way, horses have no inherent idea at all that the leg means anything let alone go.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  6. #6
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    Feb. 23, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    Carol, I'm not offended at all. One thing I've discovered trying to school Fella is that I am not fit enough! I was fit enough to ride many lessons a week, but as with other observations about my form, I am learning that it is a different kettle of fish to school. My form has fallen apart with demands that I be a rider rather than a passenger with good position, and my fitness is in question for the same reason. It's not wind as much as much as muscle I think. I've got to include some core training somehow. Both schools have gyms that I think I have access to as an instructor.
    Pilates and or Martial arts would be good for both core strength and control. Another alternative is Curves SMART, the computer monitored version. It can give you a real good comprenhensive workout in a half hour at a reasonable price. Even a weighted hula hoop helps.
    But you can't get fit to ride by just riding.

    BTW that video of me that I linked to was taken on a broiling hot day shortly after my 61 st birthday so it CAN be done
    Last edited by carolprudm; Sep. 13, 2011 at 12:24 PM.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  7. #7
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    Sep. 16, 2010
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    In the windmills of my mind
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    My boy Carl Hester (I heart him) has a technique for creating responsiveness. He will ask first and then if he doesn’t get it, he’ll throw the reins and kick into a gallop
    So why don't you go take a clinic with your boy? and get your BFF Carl to ride the horse. Because for sure if you try that technique at your level of fitness and expertise, you are asking for a bad result-anything from a good jab in the mouth that will sour your saintly horse to actually parting company which , from watching your other videos, your horse does NOT want you to do. Your horse has judged your ability to stay with him and has decided to not chance dropping you. Hence you perceive him as " quite happy to plod along at an easy tea-sipping gait be it walk or trot". Meanwhile, the horse is thinking: This chic can't balance to save her life so I am not going to let her go fast enough to lose control of herself and end up hurting me!

    I was fit enough to ride many lessons a week
    If you were fit enough for that, I think you have a very kind and tactful instructor, as well as a forgiving and savvy mount.

    Lose the spurs. You don't have enough body control to use them properly and they will only anger/twitchify your horse and build bad habits in you, as you've found out. Get thee to a workout place with a personal trainer and do your horse justice. You MUST be fitter than your horse to school. Try an hour of swimming and an hour of walking every day for three months and then come back and talk to us.

    In the meantime, ride your horse with one hand on a bucking strap or neckstrap so you can stabilize your core and not jab your horse, and if you want to go faster use voice or crop. But really, slow trotting up hills and along trails for an hour or two a day will get him just as fit as faster gaits for your level of training.

    This problem is really not about your horse.
    If it ain't broke- TRAIN IT!



  8. #8
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    Sep. 18, 2003
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    4,584

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    I started off wearing my Prince of Wales spurs –mild spurs – thinking that I could give him a nice unambiguous cue when he gets behind the leg. It didn’t quite work that way. Yes he got more forward, but he also got twitchy.
    As a good friend/rider told me -- about the time you're skilled enough to use spurs correctly, you don't need them unless you're finessing higher level movements.

    Riding outside is a good idea, but I think you're onto something re: your own fitness. With a green horse, you have to quietly and consistently set parameters with your legs, seat and hands. So, rather than disciplining your horse when he isn't sufficiently forward, you make it the easy thing to do. You open the door and he goes through.

    But the door has to remain open -- no jiggling or bracing on the reins, no tight legs or bouncing seat to make forward less than a very pleasant thing to do for him. (IME, most horses LIKE to go forward. It's in their genetics. It's us humans who set them up to view forward as not fun.)

    In addition to working on your fitness and having the trainer ride your horse, take some lessons. He/she can help you focus on one or two things each time to work on in between.

    Your horse looks like a very willing soul. Just take your time, be patient and stop reading so much. Without the feel to go with it, you're just getting words on a page. Right now you need hands-on experience + eyes on the ground.

    Good luck and have fun.

    PS -- your horse not going forward may have little to with whether he's cold-blooded. The gelding is I ride is PB Arabian and they don't come much hotter blooded than him. He wasn't very forward either ... until I made it easy for him. Just FYI.
    Last edited by mp; Sep. 13, 2011 at 01:00 PM. Reason: 'nother thought worth sharing
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  9. #9
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    Jan. 25, 2011
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    Default

    -Longe lessons. And more longe lessons. And more longe lessons.

    -Pilates or yoga.

    -A good but strict german trainer. They're huge into core strength. Ask me how I know THAT.

    As someone said, he might be lacking the forward because you're unbalanced and he's being a saint in trying to keep you seated. (not saying that's the case, just that it could be). Lose the spurs, if you have poor leg control that will eventually make him cold to the spur.

    Also, when you're schooling, remember that just because he is "green" to dressage, doesn't mean he can talk you out of having a correct position! I started rounding my shoulders (which are naturally rounder anyways) when schooling my OTTB, until a trainer yelled that at me. I mean, think about it: what does weakening your position by hunching and throwing your hands forward do for your horse? It sure doesn't help him! To get him thinking on his backend and off his forehand, you need to engage your seat and your core and sit UP. He should move forward into your hand; but that won't happen until you have enough body control to have quiet, sympathetic hands.

    Good luck to you and Fella!
    I've heard there's more to life than an FEI tent and hotel rooms, so I'm trying it.



  10. #10
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    Dec. 23, 2010
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    I agree that trails would be the way to go right now, and preferably ones with long straight stretches if you have access to them... I think the horse needs to free up his whole body, and needs you out of his way if he's going to learn to flow forward.

    At the same time, you can be working on quieting your hands and legs on other horses... yes, this is partly a strength issue but also I think there's an element of coordination and independent control that's missing. The point is, in order to really develop FORWARD "Fella" needs to not feel impeded in any way. As it is he's not only sucking back and shuffling because that's what he thinks is right, he's also filtering out a lot of noise from the rider that doesn't help in developing responsiveness. Maybe the shortened stirrups have addressed this, but the exercise you mention from Carl Hester or the Jane Savoie one will only be effective if the aids are clear and not muddled with unintentional bumps and nudges with hands and legs. You're not that far off from this point, but for the moment you might want to do most of the work in walk where an independent seat is easier to maintain. Make that boy MARCH forward with every step, halt where you ask and move off crisply and energetically. Reinforce the leg aids with a strongish tap from the whip if you get anything less than an immediate response. Leave out the trot transitions until your hands are a bit more consistent.
    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.



  11. #11
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    You're all talking the truth. I'm at one of my schools now preparing for class and yes they have a gym, and yes I have free access I'm going to be at the other school tomorrow and I am sure the case is the same. Sigh

    RE: Your horse has judged your ability to stay with him and has decided to not chance dropping you. Hence you perceive him as " quite happy to plod along at an easy tea-sipping gait be it walk or trot". Meanwhile, the horse is thinking: This chic can't balance to save her life so I am not going to let her go fast enough to lose control of herself [falling off]!

    You are absolutely right. Fella has great packer potential. He came with that skill and unfortunately my ability on him has put me securely in his horse-sense category of packee.

    BTW my boy Carl may be on the left coast in 2012. I'm going to have to save my ducats and go audit him.

    RE: I started rounding my shoulders (which are naturally rounder anyways) when schooling my OTTB, until a trainer yelled that at me. I mean, think about it: what does weakening your position by hunching and throwing your hands forward do for your horse? It sure doesn't help him! To get him thinking on his backend and off his forehand, you need to engage your seat and your core and sit UP.

    What an awful habit. On my commute to Hagerstown today I practiced being aware of where my shoulders and back were in relation to the seat while driving. I'd start off thinking and sitting up straight and then realize that I am sitting hunched forward and had no idea when that happened! So I'd sit up and back again, and then discover that somewhere along the line I hunched forward. I'm going to take advantage of the drive and work on that.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  12. #12
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    Mar. 24, 2010
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    Do you get Dressage Today, or have someone you can borrow the September issue from?

    Read the Heather Blitz article, and apply it as fits your skill/ability level right now. It's on the same idea as Carl Hester's tip, only more appropriate for any level of fitness and training for both horse and rider. I've actually found it works TOO well, and my horse starts cantering off each time I take a deep breath. Translation: I love it!

    I think all the suggestions about working on yourself are great, too. But I am a confirmed "unworthy" rider when it comes to my horse - he keeps himself just where he's a challenge for me, and any time I improve he gets even better, so I'm the obvious limiting factor!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by EqTrainer View Post
    Does he understand to go forward on the longe from a cluck? In hand from a cluck/tap with a whip where your leg would be?

    The methods described work only if the horse has been properly schooled to understand what the leg means. Both Carl and Jane IMO assume the homework has been done, which is typical foe trainers who work with a system. It is the correct way, horses have no inherent idea at all that the leg means anything let alone go.
    This x100.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.



  14. #14
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    People would get on my Friesian and he would putz along, and I would get on, and his motor would turn on. With him, you had to be finely balanced and very strongly controlled in your core, or he just.wouldn't.go.at.all. I don't care how hard you whacked or kicked him. You had to sit up (not at all forward) and really commit to his forward.

    Taking him out on the XC wouldn't have worked. Sure, he would GO out there, and then suck back as soon as I got back in the ring. It was really all about my own balance and core strength. Once I started working with a decent trainer who got me working on ME, our work together improved by leaps and bounds.

    There is a certain mental component, as well, that I see a lot. You can say you want forward all you want, but you can see hesitation all too often in someone's balance and body language. Their voices say go, as do their legs and whips, but their bodies say stop stop stop.



  15. #15
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    I agree on the trails or put in the open suggestion. Fella needs to learn forward on as straight of terrain as possible. I also suggest popping him in a huntvseat saddle and getting up off his back and avoiding contact with his mouth while he learns to lift, stretch and go forward. I've retrained several Western horses and this was the best way to get them to open up. Unless you are an advanced upper level rider with impeccable control over your body and aids (and let's be honest...most of us aren't! LOL) then this is the best way to stay out of his way while he figures it out and you can work on quieting your hands and legs. Once he's strutting his stuff all big and stretchy and you're able to have quiet hands and a solid leg in a shortened stirrup hunt saddle switch to your dressage saddle in the trails and see if you can keep up the big, swinging, soft movement and quiet seat/hands in a dressage saddle. If THAT goes well then try bringing him in the arena and keeping the impulsion going. Sometimes circles and upright position are too advanced in the early stages of training and you just need to get out of his way and get him to where he can move out without hitting a wall. Also, during this time in the ring he can be lunged (no sidereins, etc) and teach him to move out forward without rushing. He should move off voice on the lunge exactly as you want him to move under saddle. Then, when you come in the ring again...longe lessons on your nicely trained horse who will go to the gait you verbally tell him to. If at this point he sucks back again then you'll know it's your riding and sadly (as we've all done before) you need to go back to the very basics and start from scratch on developing your seat and hand. If that happens we'll all be here to cheer you on and give you tips on restarting! :-D Sorry for any spelling errors, typing on my iPhone! LOL
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulaedwina View Post
    BTW my boy Carl may be on the left coast in 2012. I'm going to have to save my ducats and go audit him.
    Not to take anything away from CH he is not the only great or even good clinician. I believe Paula Kierkeguard (SP?) travels regularly to your area. She's Gallopp (sp?) on UDBB. I've been lucky to see Lendon Gray, Steffen Peters and Jane Savoie teach and I am all twitterpated to see that Jane will be back at the Equine Extravaganza here in VA. Bummer that I'm not qualified to ride (training level on a good day when my ankle doesn't hurt) but I sure will be watching. See who will be teaching at the Equine Affair in Jan.
    Join PVDA or at least check out their calendar
    http://www.pvda.org/Lists/Calendar/D...alendar%2Easpx

    http://www.pvda.org/Lists/Calendar/D...52F13%252F2011

    http://www.pvda.org/Lists/Calendar/D...52F13%252F2011

    ETA:, great as clinicians are IMHO NOTHING beats a good LOCAL instructor.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  17. #17
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    Aug. 25, 2008
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    And truthfully, a clinician I saw made me do 6 months of riding with no contact, but she didn't make me ride like a hunter at the time - I was to send him forward BIG and hard, but I had to sit correctly - she stressed that I had to stand upright for part of the ride (I was kind of doing lunge work training on myself since the horse was decently broke by that time), holding onto the grab strap and testing to make sure that my feet were under me and I could balance. It was horrible...When she saw me again there had been a marked improvement. And I did get him out of the arena for this, but it wasn't the WHOLE secret. I suppose that's what I'm stressing. You can putz just as well on a trail as you can in the ring.



  18. #18
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    My form has fallen apart with demands that I be a rider rather than a passenger with good position, and my fitness is in question for the same reason.
    Just wanted to let you know that I feel ya here (and I have a BMI of about 19.5). I have the opposite problem you have -- my horse is very forward and is more likely to rush than to plod -- but training a green (to dressage) horse really made me feel like I can't ride. The good news is that over several months it's starting to come together and it is SO much fun to be able to bring my own horse along. You've gotten lots of good advice. Don't forget to have fun too.
    MelanieC * Canis soloensis



  19. #19
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    Forgot to add I second your decision to get rid of the spurs and second the decision in teaching him to move off a whip. I use the three strike rule...a proper leg cue. If no response a proper leg cue paired with a tap from the whip behind the leg. If no response a proper leg cue paired with a smack from the whip behind the leg. Don't punish a big response. Just repeat until he learns a proper leg cue means GO NOW! without the use of a whip. Better than having a dead sided horse who ignores your leg snd turns you into a bumping, pumping, kicking machine up there! LOL
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mp View Post

    PS -- your horse not going forward may have little to with whether he's cold-blooded. The gelding is I ride is PB Arabian and they don't come much hotter blooded than him. He wasn't very forward either ... until I made it easy for him. Just FYI.
    Heh. Agree on this. My Morgan mare can be hot, but she will just laze around if I let her. (She is hot AND lazy at the same time.)

    She's a well-trained horse, and very easy to ride but very hard to ride correctly. That's true of a lot of good "packers."

    The "escalation of aids" works pretty well as long as you use aids the horse is familiar with. Mine will ignore my leg the first time, every ride, but after one massive correction (kick plus whip) followed by immediately dropping back down to the walk and retesting with a light aid, she'll listen to whispering aids for the rest of the ride, usually.

    Also, trail riding helps! Unfortunately most of the trails I have access to don't have great footing, so we have to stay at a walk, but I can make it an on-the-bit, marching walk when that's appropriate. (I don't ask for it when we're picking our way through rocks and tree roots, just when we have a stretch that's reasonably flat and not full of hazards.)
    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

    Proudly owned by Mythic Feronia, 1998 Morgan mare; G-dspeed Trump & Minnie; welcome 2014 Morgan filly MtnTop FlyWithMeJosephine



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