We’re all different. You know that already, right? I’m a cold blooded Friesian. My next-stall neighbor is a hot blooded Thoroughbred. We think differently, react to things differently, and like different things. Does that make one of us “wrong” and one of us “right”?
It’s a very basic instinct to be attracted to things that are like you. The old “birds of a feather, flock together…” idea. But many of us have advanced beyond such basic programming. Advanced beings learn to appreciate things that are different from what we’re used to.
This can be a very powerful thing when applied to working with horses. We get used to a certain way of doing things, of feeding, of training, etc, and don’t even notice that we’ve developed a habit that might benefit from a bit of tweaking. That’s why we read books, watch DVDs, hire a trainer… so we can learn from the collective knowledge of others.
Ocala, FL (October 26, 2010) – Horse enthusiasts with the drive and passion to learn natural horsemanship will now have the opportunity to earn scholarships to study with world-renowned natural horsemanship trainer Pat Parelli. The Parelli Education Foundation will offer students over 100 scholarships during the next year.
Under the guidance of Parelli’s longtime friend Tim Sullivan, the Parelli Education Foundation will offer students from the novice level to seasoned professionals the chance to learn Parelli Natural Horsemanship, the number one horsemanship program in the world. “I have been friends with Pat for over 15 years and have worked with Pat as a musician, singing on his videos and on his tours,” Sullivan said. “I am very excited about the new Parelli Education Foundation. If a person has the desire and ability, we want them to come and study with us and we don’t want money to get in the way.”
Even if you’re not a dressage rider, it’s still important to sit straight and square in the saddle. Can you tell if you’re collapsing at your waist and sitting crookedly?
Ask a ground person to stand behind you and have them answer the following questions:
1. Are your shoulders level (i.e., the same height)?
2. Is your seat in the center of the saddle so that each seatbone (the bottom of the pelvic bone; in technical terms, ischial tuberosity) is the same distance from the middle of the saddle?
If one shoulder is lower than the other, then you’re collapsed at your waist and your seat isn’t in the middle of the saddle. Let’s say you’ve collapsed the left side of your waist; in this case, your left shoulder is lower and your seat is off to the right.
Your horse is perfectly justified in coming off the bit if all you do is give the aid for a transition. To do transitions on the bit, you need to give two sets of aids at once: the transition aid and the aid to tell him to stay on the bit — the connecting aids. When you give these two sets of aids at once, you’re telling your horse to do a transition on the bit.
Essentially, you’ll superimpose the connecting aids over the aids for a transition. That is, you’ll give the connecting aids before, during, and after the transition.
In this case, the connecting aids last several seconds. Apply them lightly before, during, and after the transition so that you “bridge” the transition with your connecting aids.
Thousand Oaks, CA – September 13, 2010 – In every equestrian calendar as the summer starts to disappear many national championship competitions begin to occur. This year included the 2010 USEF Pony Finals, the $100,000 2009-2010 The Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Presented by Dietrich Insurance, the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships Presented by Gotham North, and each discipline’s national championship. Kai Handt owner and trainer of the North Texas Equestrian Center (NTEC) made his way around the country because of this year’s success. In every discipline that Handt rides and teaches there was a NTEC rider and horse winning. In Para-Dressage Handt led his rider Jonathan Wentz to qualify for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. I had the opportunity to speak with Handt about his experience internationally and his accomplishments in and out of the show ring are astounding.
Lindsay McCall: Thank you Kai for taking the time to speak with me today. Let’s start from the beginning. How did your equestrian career begin?
When I see the new foals running around, I realize that I’m not a baby anymore. But that doesn’t mean I can’t take baby steps now and then.
Sometimes a job is just too big and overwhelming to figure out exactly how to get it all done. When that’s the case, baby steps is the way to go. It’s like when my stall gets dirty. Someone has to clean it out one scoop at a time. You may not notice one scoop being removed. But when you remove ten scoops, it really makes a big difference!
What do you have to do, or want to accomplish, that seems too big for you to achieve right now? Can you break it down into little parts? Can you take baby steps? Can you accept slow progress over no progress at all?
Horses live in the moment. We really enjoy physical sensations because we are NOW. We don’t think much about the future or the past. We live in the present.
Jane and I are back in Vermont now. The air here is so different from Florida! The smell of the spring storms and the pine trees is much more like my first home in Holland. I love feeling the coolness of the snow in my foot feathers and the crispness of the air in my nostrils. I like Florida, where the grass is always green, but Vermont really feels like home.
Dressage is as mental a challenge as it is physical. Many humans are drawn to it because it exercises the precision-yearning part of the brain as much as the physical senses of the body. I’ve noticed that sometimes people get too caught up in the mental part and forget to enjoy the physical part.
People often tell me that their horses leg yield very well as far as going sideways is concerned, but they tend to toss their heads and show resistance to the contact. In desperation, some riders even use a tie-down to put pressure on the nose to discourage their horses from yanking at the reins.
If your horse finds it fairly easy to cross his legs and move sideways with his body, yet he’s tossing his head during leg yields, it sounds like he’s objecting to your contact with his mouth. Any effort to steady his head with methods such as tying it down or using draw reins is simply treating the symptom rather than the cause.
Leg Yield vs. Rein Yield
The first thing that occurs to me is that you might be “rein-yielding” rather than leg yielding. Often when riders begin to teach their horses to leg yield, they try to move them sideways by pulling them over with the reins. As a result, their horses feel restricted and unhappy.
I have VERY exciting news for you! I have purchased a farm in Wellington, Florida to be able to continue to give my clients and horses the best possible training facility and “home away from home” as possible. I’ve been working on this special project since last April, and it’s finally done.
I am going to be offering a special rate for the first season of operation at our new facility, as well as offering month to month full care and training for those who can not afford the full season. After talking to numerous people about their needs and budgets, I have found over the years that a lot of you would love to take the opportunity to come to Fl for training. But due to the traditional billing of seasonal stalls, it’s just not feasible.
Of course, stall priority will be given to those horses who would like a stall for the entire season. But I am determined to offer training and full care at an affordable price for those who would like only 2 or 3 months instead of the entire season. I feel that this is a service that has been overlooked in Wellington.
One of the hardest things I’ve ever learned to do is the one-tempi changes. It’s like a whole new gait I didn’t know I could do. I was confused and a little bit frustrated when Jane started teaching me to do them. There was a point when felt exasperated, and I wanted to give up. But I know that life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you. They’re supposed to help teach you what you’re really made of. These challenges help you discover who you really are.
I’m an athlete. I know that. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to accept failure. So after a deep breath, I calmed my mind and really concentrated on what Jane was asking. Suddenly I was doing multiple one-tempis down the long side of the arena! Jane was so thrilled; she stopped, jumped out of the saddle, and hugged me around the neck! I knew I’d finally done it!
Today the one-tempis are easy for me. But it’s taken a lot of practice to get to this point. The key has been that we never even considered giving up. We accepted the challenge, took it one day at a time, and spent a lot of time visualizing, breathing, and practicing each piece of the puzzle. And now I’m showing at Grand Prix!