Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Call me the tortoise

I'm in New York today. Here for a couple of days to audit a clinic with Leslie Desmond, and connect with some horsey friends I've not seen in a while. It was a long drive over yesterday after a short night's sleep, but well worth it and I picked up a few things I hadn't noticed so clearly in my prior times with Leslie, and these things will be useful.

Useful at least to me and my horses at home. I still wonder how to bridge the gap between 'normal' pressure and release horsemanship and what Leslie is presenting, release without pressure. I wonder because it is relatively very easy to teach people to handle with more subtle, gentle use of aids, but still on the pressure and release continuum. Taking this next step of teaching people how to really think like horses in terms of space, that remains something I wonder about.

I suppose that the more I fully incorporate it into what I'm doing with my horses, the easier it will be to pass it along. It is something I will explore, but with full understanding and support from 'my boss' at the therapeutic riding program because... well because it means asking each of our volunteers to not just shift their thinking and behavior habits, it means asking them to relinquish something that is quite familiar in order to have an opening to learn something quite unfamiliar in the horse world.

But it never means letting go of all one has learned before. It means adding something.

It is something I will continue to wonder about regarding those work roles, but I have no doubt I'll be using it more than ever before with my horses. I wish I had a webcam behind my eyes so I could share some of what I saw yesterday, and last year, and 3 years ago, and 9 years ago... It's a little humbling to admit this is nothing new, and admit how long and slow it's been for me to integrate something I value so highly! But there it is. Call me the tortoise, not the hare, when it comes to shifting well established patterns.


At 17 September, 2008 18:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being a bear of little brain I can't remember if I've posted here before or not - but I've been reading for a while and always enjoy the topics and insights you have to offer.

Thanks for introducing me to Leslie - I hadn't heard of her before. I just checked out her website and look for her books or videos.

Have you read any of Kelly Marks's books? Something that struck me about Leslie and Kelly is how they both stress rewarding the horse the instant he or she *thinks* about doing the right thing rather. One of Kelly's students did some experiments with horses and with humans testing how timing rewards affected learning - really interesting. Turns out that rewarding when the subject was inclined to do the "right" thing was the most successful.

At 19 September, 2008 14:42, Anonymous Esther said...

Hi LJB! Thanks for stopping by! If all goes well, Sheba will be get the feel of her new home in Africa in four days! :-) She's such a lion and could do with some more "room for mischief" :-) Looking forward to getting in touch with the horses too, especially Isolde the filly. I must admit that I have lots to learn about the ways of horses and can only be eternally grateful for having one of the more gentle and loving mares (Arwen) who goes out of her way to please me... Sahara isn't so bad either! But seeing how I've changed with dogs over the years, it's all about taking time, trying to the best of one's ability and starting over when things didn't go as expected... Looking forward to a year with both puppy and filly!

Greetings, Esther

At 20 September, 2008 14:54, Blogger LJB said...

Coy Mackerel, hi. I am a little familiar with Kelly Marks, and very familiar with a number of fine horsepeople who urge us to be aware of the horse's mind, and respond to their thought to do something, rather than wait until they have already done something. It certainly is easier to influence a horse before they are committed to something!

Esther, I'm sure you'll learn a lot with your little Isolde!

At 21 September, 2008 07:26, Blogger Victoria Cummings said...

LJB - I totally understand how it takes time for things to sink in. Sometimes, i re-read a book or listen to something that I've heard a trainer say years ago and it has a whole new meaning for me. That happened a few years back for me with Ray Hunt's little book. So, I've just revisited Leslie Desmond's website and read some of the articles. I'm very interested to learn more about her exercises for finding better balance. What did you learn about that from her? Sounds like you've been to another great clinic! I really appreciate it when you share what you've experienced with us.


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