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  1. #281
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    My coth world was shattered the first time I stepped outside of my door this year LOL

    Ive seen a german trainer on spanish horses doing french methods...

    So what do I know?

    Oh and they compete with excellent scores.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  2. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by mp View Post
    It is an exploration of what's different. But some people seem to keep bringing up the extremes of both sides and that it's not possible to use what's good from both. You're either too light with floppy reins or you're a puller -- one or the other.

    Yes, that is divisive thinking, in my opinion, and no one learns much from that kind of discussion.
    Whats funny is isnt everyone that is new to dressage usually doing one of those things? Tossing the reins or hauling on them? lol

    Lightness is dressage IMO. Once you learn dressage you actually do learn lightness... er or should.

    Lightness shouldnt be based only on the reins anymore than a good dressage score should only be based on the horses nose.

    But its too early in the morning to ask coth to be resonable
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  3. #283
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    Well, MP, what I said is what I have seen over decades!

    Do you know of any German school riders who let go of the horse's face? In training? In warm up? Is not the exact opposite true?

    How many good free walks do you see in the arena with folks who idolize the German system?

    Fair enough, how many riders who follow the french school wind up in the arena at all? Is that a function of feeling they will not be competitive or they can't ride? THeir horses are too flighty and they won't discipline them enough to even bring them to the show grounds? They are so focused an learning to train a horse and chasing the intoxicated centaur that they don't have the time or energy to show?

    Meh, it boils down to individual personalities. What you want to do, have done, what floats your boat. What works for you physically and mentally and emotionally. Horses can be ridden any number of ways.

    I just saw some BB stuff and I think he would ride horses brought along in the french school just fine.
    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
    ― Albert Einstein



  4. #284
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    You're really quite good at strawman arguments, HSS.

    I don't think anyone is trying to browbeat anybody into dropping everything and going "FRENCH" in this thread. It was started as explanatory, and there's been a great deal of information provided. There's no problem with disagreeing with theories, but also no reason to get your panties in such a twist.

    Not all of us were apparently as fortunate as you in our early encounters with dressage trainers.

    Here are the things I recall from my earliest dressage lessons.

    "More leg!"
    "More leg!"
    "More leg!"
    "Drive him forward!"
    "Get his head down!"
    "More leg!"
    "Get his head down!"
    "Drive him forward!"
    "More leg! More leg!"
    "More LEG!"
    "Get his head down!"
    "MORE LEG!"

    This from an American who had trained in some country in Europe that started with a G. It's unfortunate that this was long before there was much choice in dressage trainers in the US. When apparently I still didn't have enough leg, they told me to wear spurs. I had no business wearing spurs because at that point I couldn't control my leg. My horse began to rear, and yeah, I got scared of him. With reason.

    I look back and am amazed at what I remember, and how awful it was. Even then I knew why he was rearing, but I just blamed myself for being a shitty lazy rider who didn't get it. But maybe, at the expense of that horse, I began to get a glimmer that things weren't quite right here.

    I'll gloss over the next fifteen years. Suffice to say I worked with British trainers and cliniced for a short time in England, where the school horse I rode was so heavy in the bridle that I, having carpal tunnel, could simply not hold up his head. So they kindly put him in a double bridle. He did go lightly then--so obviously he could. But no one suggested that there might be a way to do this without a double. They did yell, "MORE LEG!" a lot.

    Meanwhile, my TB at home was, as my (different and considerably better) trainer described him, "Like pushing a chain down a sidewalk." I felt like he was always moving knee-deep in mud. She said "More leg!" a lot. Thankfully she didn't yell so loud. The closest thing I ever heard to a release was, "When things are going well, be quiet." I certainly tried to do that, and it did help.

    Somewhere along the way I picked up Racinet's little book. I read about "the lesson of the leg" and counted walk. I tried them, secretly, when nobody else was around, because I was afraid this was heresy and I wasn't really sure I understood what a counted walk was. In two days, I had a different horse. Not too long afterward, other students would get on my horse and say, "wow, he's so forward! He's so balanced! That's how I want my horse to go!"

    Not because I had a clue, but simply because i got out of his mouth and out of his way, separated hand and leg and lightened my leg aids as much as I could manage to do it.

    It was totally my fault that I was a horrid, strong rider who hung on my horse's face and drove him forward at the same time, no question, but 16-17 years of "conventional" trainers had not suggested this was the issue. The issue was always "not enough leg."

    A number of my own horses later, I still do the lesson of the leg, and I still do it when nobody is around. And other people still love to ride my horses. We are a long way from perfect, I'm always in despair about my seat and trying to improve my aids and release, because that's the HARD part.

    I'm not an adherent of the "French School" in terms of flexions. I don't feel like I know enough about them.

    What I am is an adherent of behavioral principles, the "unifying theory" behind all of it. I don't care if you speak French or German or Swahili, or if you hate round pens and despise Parelli...if you don't understand that the precision timing of the release (ie negative reinforcement) is the foundation of everything for the horse, and I mean effin' EVERYTHING--then you are just groping in the dark and arguing about angels on the head of a pin.

    The fact is, though, nobody but the western guys teach this clearly, and they do it on the ground and mix it all up with other stuff like games. So it gets lost again for most people.

    Clearly there are Germans who ride like angels, but it happened to be a French guy who gave me the key, so I pay serious attention to what the French guys say.



  5. #285
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    "those dreaded despicable driving seat crazy making Germans."

    The French advocate "hands without legs, legs without hands" to keep the aids disctinct and not conflicting, more clear to the horse. It is pretty difficult to follow that rule when the concept (German) is to "drive the horse (with seat and legs) into the hand".

    It IS possible for a rider to catch the energy created, when the horse comes to the hand and softens in poll and jaw, IF the rider can feel the balance lighten and feel the hind engage and can time their release and they give a little back, it is THEN that they might be able to keep the circle of energy flowing and pull it off. For the average ammie rider who rides a couple times a week? It takes timing and feel to do that and that must be developed.

    There is more (workings behind the scenes) to which country stands on the podium than meets the eye. Who writes the rules has a lot to do with it. Even Klimke said this at a private clinic I attended.


    "Now we are saying that Buck good, Anky bad?
    He is somehow teaching French training? People seriously need to learn more dressage."

    Yes, that is actually what I am saying. Get past the cowboy hat and chaps, and the French theory and concepts are the foundation, just packaged differently.

    Lets not turn this conversation into another anti-rollkur thread.



  6. #286
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsefaerie View Post
    Do you know of any German school riders who let go of the horse's face? In training? In warm up? Is not the exact opposite true?
    Ingrid Klimke, for one. But then again, she IS the daughter of Reiner, who is/was in a class all his own, as others have said repeatedly on this very thread.

    I'd also say Uta Graf. DesignCadence posted a video of her 2nd place finish in the GP Special on her stallion Le Noir.

    I've read this thread with interest, but now I'll just go back to reading. I'd love to see a list of books as well.



  7. #287
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsefaerie View Post

    Do you know of any German school riders who let go of the horse's face? In training? In warm up? Is not the exact opposite true?

    How many good free walks do you see in the arena with folks who idolize the German system?
    ????????????????????????????

    you need to get out more and explore and be more open minded

    seriously.

    here you go - just a random video of someone who "idolize the german system"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kioa...hannel&list=UL
    Last edited by mbm; Sep. 11, 2012 at 11:47 AM.



  8. #288
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    Actually, watching a video of one of Anky's clinics, she did seem to be focusing on releasing the aids when the horse went forward, light aids and separation of aids, at least in that clinic.

    Since I don't want to get into the LDR or rollkur thing, I won't link it. For those interested, her discussion of aids starts around 3:30 in 2009 Maastricht clinic.



  9. #289
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    And now back to our regularly scheduled program: THE FRENCH SCHOOL.



  10. #290
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    Mbm, you must be joking.

    I took my first dressage lesson 51 years ago. Have done lots of traveling, teaching, scribing and I am talking about American riders, showing on American soil, riding in shows. Those who worship German competitive riders with NO knowledge of the history of dressage anywhere neglect the walk and a free walk is almost impossible.

    Perhaps you too have taught clinics throughout the US and have seen different results or characteristics of the riders here, mostly adult ammies but some young trainers too.

    If openminded means catering to folks who demand my approval for what isn't so, I'll remain close-minded thank you very much.

    I teach and train a certain way. There are plenty of others who teach as described above. "More leg! Get their head down!' I am not one of them. I am not everyone's cup of tea but that is a notion for another thread.

    I have no idea what your philosophy is, what guides your training choices, but I assure you, I have gleaned mine with the approval of the horses I have worked with and their riders.

    Apparently to each his own is not openminded enough for you.
    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
    ― Albert Einstein



  11. #291
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    I've found a lot of interesting things to read and ponder here, and a lot of things that make me go . For me, the proof is in the pudding. How does the horse go? Not only physically speaking (ie, what "tricks" can he do?), but also mentally? Does the horse seem happy in his training? Is he relaxed? Are his eyes bright and his expression soft? All horses are different, obviously, so take different training methods to produce the desired result. But then "what is the desired result?" I guess is a whole different topic!

    I will say, it makes me to read theory and expertise spouted off by people who (IMHO) need to spend more time taking lessons and less time reading books. Lots of "talking the talk" here but can you walk the walk? I wonder if the majority of people (not necessarily here, although I do see it) are deluded about their own skills and think they are better than they really are? Sigh. Such is the nature of bulletin boards, I suppose.

    I can't talk the talk and I'm pretty sure I can't walk the walk, either!



  12. #292
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    Quote Originally Posted by HSS View Post
    OK, so now I "get it".

    Although I'm not experienced in the French School, a lot of the concepts of use of the aids in their school have been disseminated to other schools, and somehow to me even though I've had the utter horror of being taught by those dreaded despicable driving seat crazy making Germans.

    And even though I've used the same way of riding for every horse I've sat on- which included breaking Arabs for instance- the German way is only to ride those huge going warmbloods, which you have to hold up with all your strength because they are so dull and unbalanced, and for that you need the upper body strength of Aly Raisman or even Jake Dalton, matched with the pelvis of a porn star queen.

    So, when one is told that they "ride like a German" it's a base insult, like a slap across the face, and a duel is necessary to retrieve one's honor.

    When one ride's like a Frenchman, even though in the last 100 years maybe one woman has managed to make the international podium from that country, one is surrounded by angels soaring and birds chirping, and the horses go in total harmony, even with no reins, and even in the dead of winter with snow sliding off the indoor roof and they haven't seen anything but the 4 walls of their stall for 6 months, doesn't matter. And for a change, you can play all kinds of games with your horse on the ground, so that even though your body is getting less and less fit (remember dead of winter, couch, and chocolate?) your horse is parading about in piaffe and stunning every railbird who can bundle up enough to watch.



    OK, I GET it!!
    Why get all intimidated by this? No one here is insulting the Germanic method, which is the dominant one (no pun intended!) on Planet Earth right now. Any more than I'd be insulted if a cutting trainer told me my horses don't have "cow." We're simply talking about related, but rather different, methodologies which, correctly applied, all lead one ultimately to the exact same place. I do not wish this thread to be hijacked into the usual contentious COTH sh*t-fling between stylistic partisans. I have seen your horses and they are lovely--what you're doing is right and good and you are having great success. So party on!

    BTW--this thread is definitely not about "the international podium." By definition the Spanish-derived horse, who lacks the huge amplitude of the WB, will not pin there. Apples and pomegranates! The German style and look trumped the French legerete' long ago in International competition but that does not mean it does not have many fans and practitioners who enjoy and find it useful.



  13. #293
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    Pocket, I tend to agree with you.
    One of my frustrations is that to some people, "walking the walk" must include showing. I reject that orientation.



  14. #294
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsefaerie View Post
    ...
    Do you know of any German school riders who let go of the horse's face? In training? In warm up? Is not the exact opposite true?

    Example video great German riding - watch the whole video - Uta does throw back to the lightness school in her training methods:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFxIPsfURq8
    ...

    Fair enough, how many riders who follow the french school wind up in the arena at all? Is that a function of feeling they will not be competitive or they can't ride? THeir horses are too flighty and they won't discipline them enough to even bring them to the show grounds? They are so focused an learning to train a horse and chasing the intoxicated centaur that they don't have the time or energy to show?

    Catherine Henriquet - leans on the French school to train her young horses - she is especially gifted in the work in hand:

    click on the video titled "Paradies Zauber February 2009" -

    http://www.henriquet.fr/english/fram...vaux_catherine

    She does however compete and in all fairness - one cannot adhere 100% to the classical French school in competition - Why you ask?? Because mes cheres, as you all know, its competition and to be competative these days you must have big movement. But you can do this whilst maintaining some degree of lightness.
    ...

    I just saw some BB stuff and I think he would ride horses brought along in the french school just fine.

    Perhaps. I know the "talented" NH guys use the same principles of applying the aids lightly/release immediately with acceptance (to put it very simply) in both thier ground and ridden exercises. Lord knows I've leaned on and used thier methods at certain points in training my difficult greenbeans or retrains. OK now can we leave the NH out of this discussion?? S'il vous plait - Its about the french school
    I love this thread - Merci 1000 fois pour l'idee !!!



  15. #295
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
    Ok so let me get this straight.

    Now we are saying that Buck good Anky bad

    He is somehow teaching French training? People seriously need to learn more dressage.
    Well, speaking personally, that IS what I am saying, because I don't care if she's won 40,000 Gold Medals I've always thought AVG sucked. Even before I knew who she was I was shocked everyone thought she was so great. Pushing, shoving, ankles flopping, seat driving; jeeze she looked like she was doing a tango on her horses...

    There was NEVER anything that even resembled lightness in her riding and her horses seemed constantly pissed off.

    That's what MY eye saw and from the reaction of many (far more knowledgeable) other dressage riders, that's what THEY saw too.

    But I really don't think that is what this thread is supposed to be about and if that is what you are getting from this thread you are the one that needs education about "dressage."

    There ARE different schools of riding (dressage) and they tend to stress different things; this is not someone's opinion, it's a fact. And fashions change...I've seen a shift in the face of competitive dressage in the last 15 yrs as to what sort of rider the judges are rewarding because it is all objective.

    There is no "Dressage God" who says horses should be ridden one way and not another after all. The OP talked about all the arguing that has gone on for centuries about what is "right" and "wrong" and nothing was ever decided...because for many of us the road is more about what sort of relationship you want with your horse.

    The lightness that stryder is talking about IS very addictive to some...it's like having a secret conversation with your horse than only the two of you can hear...

    And it's FAR less work, physically!

    Funny -- I was watching a woman I know (a German) ride her horse yesterday and she was talking about how she never really wanted to ride GP (she use to) because of how much strength it takes to push that horse forward!

    She said, "do you know how strong your core needs to be to drive them forward with your seat?"

    Well, if lightness is your priority, you don't have to do all that driving & such.

    Again, THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT/WRONG WAY. There are just different schools and what THEY say is "right" or "wrong".

    So from what I've been reading on this thread, many of the posters seem to know quite abit about dressage and it's history...quite the opposite of your opinion.

    And thanks for starting this thread -- I am really learning alot!



  16. #296
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perfect Pony View Post
    How can that be? If she was good she would be good at everything, with every horse, all the time. The fact that she wasn't meant she was crap at everything. Follow along.

    A good trainer also follows a certain school by the letter, never experiments with anything, and turns out every horse brilliantly within minutes no matter the horse's personality, conformation and temperament, always using the same rigid "school". Anything less and the "trainer" or rider is crap.
    Silly me. Maybe it's just MY definition of "a good trainer" must include the ability to TEACH the horse, not "blow it's mind."

    I don't care if they can teach the horse algebra, if the horse comes out a basket-case, the rider is NOT a good trainer, period.

    PP -- does that clarify things for you?



  17. #297
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    Default FRENCH CLASSICAL SOURCE BIBLIOGRAPHY

    If it would please the Mods. to make this post a "sticky," that would ensure that people looking for materials for deeper study can find them here, and just might save someone in quest of "lightness" the 15-year journey to find it that I took.

    I have listed the following books, which I have found of value, by only the title and author's name since that's the easiest way to find them on amazon and other online booksellers. Be warned; they range from a few cents to over a thousand dollars, and many are now out of print though still obtainable:

    School of Versailles: Classical French, pre-Baucher, the basis for the FEI rules that still pay them lip service, and the riding practiced as closely as possible by the Vienna School:

    SCHOOL OF HORSEMANSHIP, Francois Robichon de la Guerinere. (Still the Bible!)

    THE COMPLETE TRAINING OF HORSE AND RIDER, Alois Podhajsky. (Vienna school training recipe--flawless & enjoyable)

    MY HORSES, MY TEACHERS by Alois Podhajsky. Autobiography of one of the 20th century's greatest master horsemen. The feeling and philosophy behind the training; fabulous!

    The life, work, methods, and controversies of F. Baucher:

    FRANCOIS BAUCHER: THE MAN AND HIS METHOD, Hilda Nelson. Rare, expensive, exhaustive--read it if you can find it!

    ANOTHER HORSEMANSHIP, Jean-Claude Racinet. The alpha and omega, indispensable, ultra-accessible manual for beginners. Hard to go wrong with this! You will know right away if it's going to work for you or not.

    RACINET EXPLAINS BAUCHER, Jean-Claude Racinet. Pretty much reprints JCR's famous series of articles that appeared in the early 90's in D & CT magazine. Buy it, study it, leave it lying around, and contemplate it endlessly . . . if you're a professional trainer, you just might get a rep as a miracle worker; but be careful!

    Any of Jean-Claude's other books will be of interest; WHAT THE HORSES HAVE TAUGHT ME connects the flexions of Baucher with osteopathic manipulation, a tangent JCR pursued passionately in his last years. Of interest mostly to massage therapists or those whose horses have NQR problems nobody can diagnose. Seen it done, helped him do it, some miracles; some wrecks. Make up your own mind . . .

    Versailles School/Baucherisme Synthesis: Modern French System, In chronologically descending order, more or less:

    ALEXIS FRANCOIS L'HOTTE: THE QUEST FOR LIGHTNESS IN EQUITATION, Hilda Nelson. Great historical context read, includes a valuable translation of L'Hotte's "Questions Equestres."

    BREAKING AND RIDING, WITH MILITARY COMMENTARIES, James Fillis. Ancient collectible book which can be picked up cheap! and has almost everything you'll need to know, by L'Hotte's Russian friend and disciple. Wonderful flavor of that time in history when the horse was a matter of national security. Makes the connection between academic equitation and outdoor riding.

    ACADEMIC EQUITATION by General Decarpentry. If you only get one book, this would be one I'd consider strongly. French Classical (Versailles) School overtly, Baucher hiding in plain sight. Recommended!

    THE WAY TO PERFECT HORSEMANSHIP, Udo Burger. Eventers take notice! Commonsense synthesis of theory and outdoor practice to make up the competent XC horse.

    HORSEMANSHIP & HORSEMASTERSHIP, United States Cavalry School, edited by Gordon Wright. The French origins of the "American Forward Seat," includes flexions & exercises.
    The only book we had, or needed, when I learned to ride.

    2 more pertinent books for jumping riders who want to truly understand the history and evolution of form and function:

    REFLECTIONS ON RIDING AND JUMPING, W. Steinkraus.

    THE AMERICAN JUMPING STYLE, George H. Morris

    For the Western-interest rider who would like to understand the historical connections between ancient tribal horsemen, the conquests of Europe, Spanish horsemanship coming to America, the gaited connection, and ultimately the California Vaquero and modern Western riding, highly recommended is:

    CONQUERORS: THE ROOTS OF NEW WORLD HORSEMANSHIP, by Deb Bennett

    20TH-Century Modern Masters of our own time:

    DRESSAGE: THE ART OF CLASSICAL RIDING, and everything else written by Sylvia Loch. Portuguese/French connection.

    REFLECTIONS ON EQUESTRIAN ART and CLASSICAL PRINCIPLES OF THE ART OF TRAINING HORSES, Nuno Oliveira. Indispensable, timeless books by the 20th century's acknowledged greatest equestrian artist. Deeply human, contemplative, incomparable. Not to be missed!

    CLASSICAL HORSEMANSHIP FOR OUR TIME, and anything else by Jean Froissard. Second only to Racinet's books for pure, distilled, accessible theory. Some of the writing is dated in ways that will make you howl or cringe, but well worth having in your collection.

    Purely Inspirational (Philosophy and meditation, more than hard technique):

    DRESSAGE FOR THE NEW AGE, and anything else by Dominique Barbier. A "great artiste" a bit in love with his ego in a very Gallic way, but in love with the horse more. For the "woo-woo" rider!

    RIDING TOWARDS THE LIGHT, and the rest of the series by Paul Belasik. Marvelously real-world inspirational writing on riding and training. Suspect he is more of a rider/trainer than a teacher, but it doesn't matter. Delicious stuff for a winter night by the fire with a cup of hot cider.

    That's pretty much what's on my shelf now; if you can read French, there are many others you can access, including the works of Faverot de Kerbrech and others. If anyone has a book or article they found worthy on this subject, by all means add it to the list I've started!

    Remember--all roads lead to Rome!

    Good Riding.



  18. #298
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
    Ive seen a german trainer on spanish horses doing french methods...
    Impossible. You must have dreamed that.

    Quote Originally Posted by horsefaerie View Post
    Well, MP, what I said is what I have seen over decades!
    Your experience ... which could be prejudiced ... even just a little, maybe?

    Your previous post implied you were wondering how this thread became about extremes. Someone who admires accomplished German riders might find your comment about NEVER turning loose of the horse's face more about us vs. them rather than
    d i f f e r e n c e s.

    For the record, I'm not a one school vs. the other. Period.

    I've had the pleasure of working with really good horsemen (FOUR, now that I think about it ). They don't worry about "crossing lines." If a horse needs a different approach, they'll try something different. If it works and the horse is better (mentally and physically), great. If not, they'll try something else until they find the answer. The discipline and approach may be different, but lightness is always the goal. End of story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pocket Pony View Post
    I've found a lot of interesting things to read and ponder here, and a lot of things that make me go . For me, the proof is in the pudding. How does the horse go? Not only physically speaking (ie, what "tricks" can he do?), but also mentally? Does the horse seem happy in his training? Is he relaxed? Are his eyes bright and his expression soft? All horses are different, obviously, so take different training methods to produce the desired result. But then "what is the desired result?" I guess is a whole different topic!
    I completely agree, but I don't really don't think that is a different topic.

    I see happy competitive horses and I see ones that are nervous and tense. I see the same in horses that have never been ridden in an arena or been to a show. Any training methodology in the hands of someone who has no feel for the horse will eventually be taken to an extreme and then you have problems. Or at least the horse will.

    At his clinics, Ray Hunt always said "I'm here for the horse." And that's what every good horseman should be. Not for the competition. Not for the discipline. Not for the "school." For the horse.
    __________________________
    "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
    the best day in ten years,
    you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."



  19. #299
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyzteke View Post
    ...
    The lightness that stryder is talking about IS very addictive to some...it's like having a secret conversation with your horse than only the two of you can hear...

    And it's FAR less work, physically!

    ...
    Yes thats true BUT it is far more work "mentally" - the emotions must be kept out and the sensitivity factor must be pulled in to be able to ask/release immediatly - thats really hard for most of us amateurs much less pros.

    However it also takes physical fitness to maintain control over your body to ride this way - not the force factor but the self control factor comes into play. That is more difficult for us as well.

    IMO the french method is difficult to teach well - there are few who teach it well - your student must be totally dedicated and committed to learning these concepts. Its is easier to just shout at a student and teach them to ride forcefully than to learn sensitivity.



  20. #300
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    Quote Originally Posted by MelantheLLC View Post
    You're really quite good at strawman arguments, HSS.

    I don't think anyone is trying to browbeat anybody into dropping everything and going "FRENCH" in this thread. It was started as explanatory, and there's been a great deal of information provided. There's no problem with disagreeing with theories, but also no reason to get your panties in such a twist.

    Not all of us were apparently as fortunate as you in our early encounters with dressage trainers.

    Here are the things I recall from my earliest dressage lessons.

    "More leg!"
    "More leg!"
    "More leg!"
    "Drive him forward!"
    "Get his head down!"
    "More leg!"
    "Get his head down!"
    "Drive him forward!"
    "More leg! More leg!"
    "More LEG!"
    "Get his head down!"
    "MORE LEG!"

    This from an American who had trained in some country in Europe that started with a G. It's unfortunate that this was long before there was much choice in dressage trainers in the US. When apparently I still didn't have enough leg, they told me to wear spurs. I had no business wearing spurs because at that point I couldn't control my leg. My horse began to rear, and yeah, I got scared of him. With reason.

    I look back and am amazed at what I remember, and how awful it was. Even then I knew why he was rearing, but I just blamed myself for being a shitty lazy rider who didn't get it. But maybe, at the expense of that horse, I began to get a glimmer that things weren't quite right here.

    I'll gloss over the next fifteen years. Suffice to say I worked with British trainers and cliniced for a short time in England, where the school horse I rode was so heavy in the bridle that I, having carpal tunnel, could simply not hold up his head. So they kindly put him in a double bridle. He did go lightly then--so obviously he could. But no one suggested that there might be a way to do this without a double. They did yell, "MORE LEG!" a lot.

    Meanwhile, my TB at home was, as my (different and considerably better) trainer described him, "Like pushing a chain down a sidewalk." I felt like he was always moving knee-deep in mud. She said "More leg!" a lot. Thankfully she didn't yell so loud. The closest thing I ever heard to a release was, "When things are going well, be quiet." I certainly tried to do that, and it did help.

    Somewhere along the way I picked up Racinet's little book. I read about "the lesson of the leg" and counted walk. I tried them, secretly, when nobody else was around, because I was afraid this was heresy and I wasn't really sure I understood what a counted walk was. In two days, I had a different horse. Not too long afterward, other students would get on my horse and say, "wow, he's so forward! He's so balanced! That's how I want my horse to go!"

    Not because I had a clue, but simply because i got out of his mouth and out of his way, separated hand and leg and lightened my leg aids as much as I could manage to do it.

    It was totally my fault that I was a horrid, strong rider who hung on my horse's face and drove him forward at the same time, no question, but 16-17 years of "conventional" trainers had not suggested this was the issue. The issue was always "not enough leg."

    A number of my own horses later, I still do the lesson of the leg, and I still do it when nobody is around. And other people still love to ride my horses. We are a long way from perfect, I'm always in despair about my seat and trying to improve my aids and release, because that's the HARD part.

    I'm not an adherent of the "French School" in terms of flexions. I don't feel like I know enough about them.

    What I am is an adherent of behavioral principles, the "unifying theory" behind all of it. I don't care if you speak French or German or Swahili, or if you hate round pens and despise Parelli...if you don't understand that the precision timing of the release (ie negative reinforcement) is the foundation of everything for the horse, and I mean effin' EVERYTHING--then you are just groping in the dark and arguing about angels on the head of a pin.

    The fact is, though, nobody but the western guys teach this clearly, and they do it on the ground and mix it all up with other stuff like games. So it gets lost again for most people.

    Clearly there are Germans who ride like angels, but it happened to be a French guy who gave me the key, so I pay serious attention to what the French guys say.


    Your thread made me laugh outloud...the last time I watched one of my friend's dressage lesson I swear the only thing the trainer said was "MORE LEG," and "INSIDE LEG TO OUTSIDE REIN!!"

    Over and over and over again...

    But I was really intrigued by the results of the "counting steps."

    Bill Dorrence (among others) emphasis in hand exercises done early in halter training where you move just one foot at a time. Eventually they move with you at your speed, with float in the lead rope. I actually have a friend who is a leading endurance rider who did this alot with a problem horse she had...it built a bond between them that really was amazing.

    So, which JCR book are you talking about? (OP was typing at the same time as me...would it be JCR's "Another Horsemanship"?

    Can someone explain (step by step ) how you would do the exercise "counting steps?"



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