of teaching children and how they learn has always been a source
of heated debate in our society. We created different school environments
- private, charter and public - to teach our children because
we cannot agree on a curriculum or delivery method. What they
all share is the reality that the individual who does not learn
as quickly or in the same "style" as other children can easily
fall behind becoming difficult in temperament and frustrated at
the lack of “success” as measured by whatever system he or she
children will do well because they are instinctively smart or
figure out ways to work within the system, others would fare better
if in more individualized programs based on their learning “style”
and rate of absorption and processing of information. Home schooling
has become increasingly popular, along with specialized learning
centers that try and address a child’s individual needs. We now
better understand that a “C” student might be an “A” student if
the learning were based on visualization; a failing student might
rise to average or above if the learning were based on touch and
feel, for example, as it might be if associated with animals.
Teaching and the metrics of success should be based on how each
student can learn best and most effectively process information.
horse training should follow a similar path to more individualized
of my demonstrations at the Minnesota Horse Expo in April, I encountered
two very different horses. They were both strangers to me, and
I met each of them with the identical approach and watched the
reactions. I intentionally introduced a common denominator in
rubbed W&H InBalance Oil
into the palms of my hands.
the three-year-old filly with my hands open to her and let her
smell and take in the aromatherapy. I rubbed my hands around her
muzzle and nostrils further infusing the aroma into her brain.
I spoke to “Storm” gently as I stroked her face and applied acupressure
above her eyes, behind her ears and on her upper neck points,
then asked the handler (her owner JoAnne) to take her for a walk.
The filly stretched her neck and yawned numerous times and went
down to the end of the arena. I asked for time and patience for
the filly to absorb the chemical shift I had given her. I asked
her to wait there while I worked on the other horse.
the second horse the same way. He was a five-year-old stallion
who was full of himself and acting out with his handler. I used
the oils on my hands, offered it to him and massaged his muzzle
and nostrils. The handler warned me that he would bite if I weren’t
careful. He did not bite. I started working on his upper neck
right away as I could tell this horse was very tense. I also massaged
the nuchal ligament area at the top of his mane line and massaged
his withers to try and bring down his blood pressure.
was a beautiful, athletic horse that clearly exhibited the characteristics
we know in humans to be Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. His
issues had not been addressed outside of the stall. His owner
told me that in the stall he was quiet and mannerly. He presented
a completely different set of issues from the filly who was still
relaxing down at the other end of the arena. These two horses
were closely related and yet the stallion was nervous, hot, agitated,
bucking, pawing, and jerking his handler around. The handler had
a chain around his nose and a tight hold meant to control him.
His tail was bound up because (they said) he didn’t like his tail
hanging down naturally. I found this to be very curious and unwound
his tail. I spent several minutes massaging and lifting his tail
and stroking all the way down his tail giving him a comfortable
to the handler about being the calm "rock" with him and constantly
going to the neck and wither massage while walking him to bring
him around at least for 30--second or 1--minute intervals of “attention”
from him. I recommended that the crowd not applaud at the end
of the session and that we let the stallion walk back to the barn
in a quiet and mannerly way.
clearly was calm and happy within herself, while I felt the stallion
needed a great deal of ground work (without chains on his face)
along with aromatherapy, Rescue Remedy, a possible de-toxing of
his system, massage, acupuncture and acupressure and short sessions
where he could totally focus on his trainer and learn to contain
and behave himself.
In a large
training operation, as in a large public school system, this stallion
might be isolated from other horses, handled with chains and poles,
tranquilized, over-equipped with draw reins and tight nosebands,
and treated with force in training.
might be able to adjust to a large training operation where horses
can become numbers rather than individuals, but the stallion,
in such circumstances, would become the proverbial train wreck,
seen to support the stereotype of the incorrigible, difficult,
rank, rogue of a breeding horse. As a child, he would have visited
the principal’s office, been repeatedly sent to detention and
sentenced to drug therapy.
attention, the stallion would have a chance to become a happy,
well-adjusted, well-behaved, comfortable, safe horse for his entire
thousands of horses that don’t fit the "average mold" and fall
somewhere in between the quiet, calm filly and the obstreperous
How does your
horse process education the best? Is your horse functioning at
a safe, happy, comfortable, well-adjusted level?
horse individually and you will find over time how to best teach
and train them with the respect and trust they deserve.
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How to Ask A Horse to Canter
I was recently
asked by a beginner for the best way to get her horse to canter.
No one needs to struggle with this transition as it can be brought
down to simple terms off of the horse.
standing on the ground in an aligned manner, place your feet
approximately 12 inches apart and pretend you are sitting in
the saddle. In this position both legs are at or near the placement
of the girth around the horse.
2) To ask
for the left lead canter, widen the knees out and gently squat
(just a slight ballet plie) and slide your right foot back.
The toe of your right shoe should be just behind the heel of
your left shoe or the right foot is one foot’s length behind
are standing with the left leg at the girth, the right leg behind
the girth with slightly opened knees.
hands are equally connected to the horse’s mouth and elbows
soft near your waist. Now think about sinking slightly down
through your lower spine, scooping your tail bone slightly deeper
toward the ground and doing a pelvic rolling tilt up toward
your left leg. (I keep emphasizing “slightly” because these
are very subtle moves inside of your body.) All of this happens
in one movement. It’s as if you were dancing in this position
rolling your pelvis underneath you and up with the left hip
can do all of this movement while sitting quietly on the horse
in an aligned position. When you engage this entire movement,
the legs, the seat and the hip joint into one you are saying
"Canter" with your body. But you have to be “free” in the hip
joints for your message to be clear, which means you need to
stretch everyday and strengthen your core muscles to maintain
while mounted on the horse is the same, except that you will
add the leg pressure as well. Use a 20 meter circle to learn
the canter at first with someone experienced to lunge you. Find
a nice balanced trot on the circle, go into the sitting trot
for a couple of strides, place your legs into the canter aid
position as described above and simultaneously squeeze with
both legs (keeping the knees open is a must for the female rider
to maintain the balanced seat) and give your horse the cue to
go forward with your seat by slightly rolling under through
the pelvis, with the emphasis up and to the left. I teach to
squeeze or gently bump the horse with your heels from both legs
because in the lower levels of training you emphasize the outside
leg aid and in the upper levels of training you emphasize the
inside leg aid. By using both legs, it will help you get the
canter while you are learning and your horse will be clear about
the aids. In the upper levels, your horse will not be surprised
when you start shifting the aid more to the inside.
For the right
lead canter, employ the exact same process using the left leg
behind the girth and the right leg at the girth. The scoop under
with the pelvis is the same, except this time you will send your
hip joint toward the right shoulder of the horse.
have the canter, sit quietly, squarely with even legs again and
focus on your direction between the horse’s ears. If your horse
is lazy, breaks from the canter easily or is not balanced yet,
you may want to hold your canter aid leg position. If you feel
him loosing balance or beginning to slow too much, reinforce the
outside leg aid with a little bump with your heel. This will remind
him to stay in canter at an agreeable rhythm.
I hope this
helps and simplifies this cue or aid. (In western style lingo
it is "cue" and English style lingo it is "aid".) It is just like
taking a dance position and putting it into action. In fact if
you have ever tried cantering yourself, you will generally be
in the right leg position.
Hint: Worm your horse during a full moon. The worms are the most
active at this time and you will get the most efficiency from
and I are working madly to get the next Dynamic
Rider System® DRS installment ready. Stay tuned and happy