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December 2012 “Creating stronger partnerships and healthy biomechanics by combining the principles of natural horsemanship with the art of dressage.”

Karen Rohlf Dressage, Naturally is a reflection of Karen Rohlf’s training philosophy, which puts equal importance on the Mental, Emotional and Physical aspects of the horse. Dressage.Naturally clinics are designed to guide you towards implementing this philosophy, with the goal being to obtain the most noble results in dressage while actively preserving & improving the relationship you have with your horse. Our clinics fill up fast so it’s not too early to start planning now for 2013! To learn more about hosting or participating in a clinic with Karen or one of her endorsed instructors, please contact Sally Taylor:

For full clinic schedule, click here

In this issue: • • • •

Holiday WebShop Sale News & Recent Clinics Student Success Stories New Products Coming Soon

New Refined D,N Reins

• Q & A: Stretching • The Sweet Spot with Shelby & Breanne • Dressage & Natural Horsemanship

What is a ‘Temenos’? Temenos is an ancient Greek word. It refers to a sacred space that has no limits, where special rules apply and extra-ordinary events are free to occur.


uote of the Month:

“Anything that is forced cannot be beautiful.” - Xenophon


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News... Holiday Super Sale! If you’re looking for a gift for that special someone... or if there’s something on your own Wish List that you’ve been yearning for... we’ve got some super deals in the Dressage, Naturally Web Shop! The Web Shop has received a facelift and sales prices are in effect for the holidays! PLUS members of The Video Classroom can login to find a code that will give them an additional 10% off on everything in the WebShop!

LOGIN NOW to shop!

New Products Coming Soon! I’m almost finished with an Audio Recording where I talk about ‘Relaxation, Energy, and Balance’. It will be available as a digital download as well as on CD. Currently it’s in post production and we hope to announce it’s availability soon! Bitless Bridle: You may have heard the rumors that I’m developing a Bitless Bridle (and NO, it won’t be called a ‘side-pull’!). I am still waiting for the prototype to come back for me to play with and revise further but be sure that you’ll be notified when it’s ready!

ATTENTION: Students in the Netherlands Liesbeth Jorna will be holding a Dressage, Naturally Support Weekend April 20-21, 2013 in Vinkega, NL for students of Dresage, Naturally who have taken clinics with Karen in the Past. For more information, contact:

Web Shop & Video Classroom


Purchase a Web Shop Gift Certificate for any amount or 3 Month’s in the Video Classroom! During checkout you’ll be able to download your gift certificate and then you can give it to someone! When they fill out the information and get it back to us, we’ll set them up to enjoy 3 months of unlimited access to all the archives and Student Forum in the Dressage, Naturally Video Classroom. copyright 2012 Temenos Fields, Inc. December

2011 Classroom AVAILABLE on DVD! This 6 DVD set includes 12+ hours of lessons! Karen Rohlf’s Video Classroom has gotten rave reviews... from around the world... from D,N students of all levels. The Classroom videos include discussions, simulations, on line, and riding. See a range from basic exercises with young horses to advanced dressage movements. These videos are the best way to keep your D,N practice alive and inspired. The on-line Classroom & Student Forum are on-going. Sign up now to get the most out of your Dressage, Naturally education!

Non-2011 Subscribers (& everyone else):

Available to 2011 subscribers at a special discount price! If you were a Classroom member for more than 9 months during 2011, as a ‘Thank You’ for being a long-time member, you can purchase the set for: $55 with free shipping within the USA. ($15 shipping internationally)

The full 2011 archive (12+ hours) is:

$450 with free shipping within the USA ($15 shipping internationally)

Aren’t currently a subscriber and not sure if you qualify for the discount?

LOGIN to The Classroom

Send us an email. We’re happy to check for you!

to retrieve your discount code.

Enter that code in the WebShop when you place your order to immediately receive your discounted price.

D, N Video Classroom

D,N Web Store

Student Success Stories A Joyful Ride! Geri, a dedicated D,N Student, reports: Fischer and I went to Linda Hoover’s Refined Horse Versatility Show this past weekend. We scored a 67% on our Intro Test C!!! He even offered a lengthening when we went across the diagonal in a working trot. I tell you, I never thought I’d see the day. I am so pleased with our progress and I have a happy horse. The judge called it ‘a joyful ride’! It’s on to Training Test 3 in the spring. Thanks so much for all your patience and dedication to us. ~ Geri

Does this make me a Dressage, Naturally Grandmother? D,N student Niki Wilde has been helping students of her own and shared a VIDEO SLIDESHOW of ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of student, Teri Toelcke, and her horse “Stormy Weather”. The change is so remarkable I thought for sure it was two different horses! She went from a 54% (highest score in 2011) to a 63.4% (highest score in 2012)... Well done, Niki and Teri! It’s so nice to see these concepts passed along so successfully. 2

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Q &


STRETCHING... Beginning Basic Alignment Exercise Q: How do I suggest my horse stays in the stretch longer? I watched the October 2010 video and it was a wonderful explanation and visual reference. I’ve had great success with the Basic Alignment Exercise. It has helped my very stiff and crooked Thoroughbred to stretch down, come through his back, and for a few strides, provide a glimpse of what his movement could become with further development. It has been a great source of hope for a horse that I had considered giving up on. The challenge at this point is to spend more time in that posture. Often, it feels like a mental thing, whereby he doesn’t want to give himself over to the relaxation it brings and I wonder if he would benefit from a stronger suggestion to stay there. But how? He’s a hot horse with a busy mind, like Atomic. Lots of complex mental and physical issues that I feel would disappear if I could crack the code of consistency. I notice that you do not directly endorse using an aid/cue for the stretch. You mention that you like to set up the circumstances that make horses ‘feel like stretching’. Could you elaborate on that, please? So far, I have tried to emulate what I thought you were doing with your horses; ask the inside hind to step under, find a better alignment, and gently give room to stretch. A visiting trainer to our barn rode Mascan and used the ‘traditional’ aid for the stretch down; side-to-side bending (looked like sawing on his mouth to me!). But, in all fairness to her, he stayed long and low, and looked just wonderful and had a happy relaxed attitude to boot. I would really appreciate any thoughts on how to move forward on this. Thanks!

A: Re: Beginning Basic Alignment Exercise Lots to think about with this! To address your questions and comments... Stretching has always been important. It has been a part of lower level dressage tests for years, which highlights how important it is to ‘traditional’ dressage, too! Re: Staying there longer... having a ‘cue’: Once you search and find the place where they want to stretch... you will hopefully have learned what they need to be in that place of ‘desire to stretch’. So in a way, there ends up being a ‘cue’ if you mean ‘something you do to cause your horse to do something’. But I guess my point is that it can be different for each horse, and for the same horse in different moments... and we always want to be thinking that the desire to stretch is a result of balance... and balance can be regained differently, depending on what went missing. So if I think: ‘I want my horse to stretch’, my next thought is to scan the whole system and diagnose the alignment, or energy, or my position... etc.. As I get more practiced and aware I can do something very small very soon. So if he stretches... then at some point he is no longer stretching... I will swoop in and help regain the balance right away!... at the moment he begins to stop actively stretching... so the result is he is staying in the balance where he can stretch. And, you have a certain thing you do to regain the stretch. What I caution is a cue that tells them to put their heads down even if they don’t feel balanced enough in their body. That can be helpful for general relaxation, and for some horses so they know that is a place they can go... but in the end we want a stretch in the body, due to balance... the head and neck are an extension of that (although sometimes something going on in the head and neck could be the reason they don’t feel balanced or stretchable, in which case doing something in the head and neck to free that up can work! (cont’d on page 4) Karen Rohlf and Natilla, 4 yr. old PRE Andalusian Mare, demonstrating a balanced, full body stretch.


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Re: that trainer using as you said: the ‘traditional’ aid for the stretch down; sideto-side bending (looked like sawing on his mouth to me!): Eek, that is not really ‘traditional’ and not something I was ever taught in my dressage training. In fact, I was taught to definitely NOT do that. One could argue it was kind of like basic alignment exercise of the head and neck, and sometimes I can change the positioning of the neck from right to left in order to ask the horse where he feels best... but since you described it as “sawing on his mouth”, let’s just say that is not a technique I would tend to choose. I also see you said he looked good after, so we have to listen to that and think Karen Rohlf and Jedi about what was it about that technique that worked. Was it the bending, was it the ‘submission’ and attention gained from doing that with a horse who can be difficult mentally? See if you can figure our the cause and effect, then find a friendlier way to get the effect. The MOST TRADITIONAL way of thinking about the stretch is that it should be a natural consequence of correct riding and training. I was originally taught that it is something we offer, and if it does not come through, then we need to think about how we are riding the working gaits because when a horse is in balance and relaxed, and he trusts the contact, he will stretch. We sometimes have to get a little more creative because not every horse is a clean slate; the ones who have more established patterns of stiffness/crookedness will need a little more physical therapy. Anyway... if this stuff was easy I would have a lot more free time! :-) Stay in touch! Cheers, Karen

DRESSAGE, NATURALLY... RESULTS IN HARMONY Dressage, Naturally ... Results in Harmony (Book and DVD) Holiday Sale Price:


A Guide to the Basics of Dressage from a Natural Horsemanship Perspective. A result of Karen Rohlf's combined experience as a dressage professional and her immersion in natural horsemanship, this book/DVD bridges the gap between these two worlds. The material will take every horseman on a practical and philosophical journey to create healthy bio-mechanics and stronger partnerships through combining principles of natural horsemanship with the art of dressage. NOTE: This is currently available in German Translation from Cadmos Publishing, and in Polish from Galaktyka Publishing


copyright 2012 Temenos Fields, inc. December

DECEMBER Classroom Videos New videos for DECEMBER are online in The D,N Video Classroom! Transitions with Ovation (Riding 24 min.) Sharing The Movement (Simulation 18 min.) Engaging The Stretchable Horse (Riding 27 min.)

This is a powerful bunch of videos! I think you will get a lot out of these videos... I ride

Ovation for you while I talk about what I am thinking of regarding transitions. Transitions are such a powerful tool for increasing communication, engagement, balance, and power. The simulations use exercise balls and are some of my favorite ones for obtaining relaxed tone in your body, as well as feeling how to share movement, and not leave just one of you doing all the work! Then we observe as I teach a student over 5 days to improve their balance and engagement. This video will let you really see the incremental progress.

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Transitions With Ovation (Riding) Karen rides Ovation and talks through what she is thinking of when riding transitions. The theme is that riding transitions with quality is all about preparation. You need to be able to think about the next gait while still riding the one you are doing. This video is excellent for anyone focusing on riding transitions in working and collected gaits with quality.

Sharing The Movement (Simulation) Karen demonstrates and teaches a horseless simulation to help you find your best active neutral, using exercise balls. It is about postural integrity and ‘sharing’ the movement’. You will learn a way to scan your body to find the best combination of ‘toned’, yet able to follow. You will also learn a way to practice being aware of when you are sharing the motion with your horse. This video is excellent for anyone who rides, at any level!

Engaging The Stretchable Horse (Riding) Karen teaches a student over 5 days. This horse and rider have an excellent foundation and are accomplished at finding The Sweet Spot for let loose posture. Now they need to come up off the forehand and begin to carry with the hind legs. This is a nice example of the different things Karen focuses on to gradually build the ingredients necessary to change his movement from forward and down to: poll highest, stretchable and in self carriage. This is an excellent video for anyone looking to establish balanced working gaits.

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Finding the Sweet Spot

of Healthy Biomechanics This clinic is a must for anyone interested in learning about the principles of Dressage, Naturally and how to apply them in practice! You’ll spend 3 days participating in theory, discussion, simulations, on line and riding exercises. This clinic is an all day group format that has proven incredibly successful in reinforcing the concepts by observing many different students and horses, and by creating a supportive learning environment. Dressage, Naturally Instructors Breanne Peters & Shelby Hume have both spent extensive time training with Karen and are available to teach this progressive and motivating clinic; “Finding the Sweet Spot for Healthy Biomechanics”. Breanne Peters fell in love with a pony at the age of 4 and her passion for horses has never ceased. She began her natural horsemanship journey with the horse she bought at age 12. She trained in Western, Reining, Pleasure, Conformation, Barrels and Competitive Trail Riding.

Shelby Hume has loved horses from her first breath and started her work in 4-H where she rode and competed in a wide variety of events. She was drawn to Dressage but her first experiences with it did not match the picture of the ‘happy athlete’ she was hoping for.

Eventually she found Parelli, achieving her Level 1 & 2 in one year. She was working on ‘old’ Level 3 when her horse was diagnosed with a serious illness. At this time she traveled to B.C. to work on a ranch for seven months to gain more horsemanship experience. It was through working for the ranch that Breanne found Dressage, Naturally. In 2007 Breanne moved to Temenos Fields for one year to spend more time learning Karen’s methods. Breanne has since returned for 6 month periods of time for the past two years to continue her education.

She pursued a degree in Business Administration and strengthened her teaching skills in the equestrian world and in Tae Kwon Do. She has spent time in the world of Reining, showing and being a NRHA judge. taught a college equestrian program, and coached Intercollegiate Riding and Judging Teams throughout her years of employment there. She studied and rode in Portugal, fell in love with the Lusitano Horse, and a version of Dressage that was closer to Shelby’s ideal picture (but not quite there yet!)

Breanne has trained her current horse to 2nd Level Dressage in one year and has aspirations of reaching higher levels with quality. Breanne is eager to share and assist others in their horsemanship and Dressage, Naturally journeys.

Her challenging Lusitano stallion caused her to pursue Natural Horsemanship and through this journey Shelby learned of Karen Rohlf. She has studied with Karen over the past several years and considers Karen to be her “true north” and looks forward to sharing her passion for this way with others.

For more information about hosting or participating in a clinic with Breanne or Shelby, please contact Sally Taylor:


copyright 2012 Temenos Fields, inc. December

by Karen Rohlf


CLASSICAL DRESSAGE & NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP German CAVALLO Magazine interviewed me recently for an upcoming issue on the topic of: How riders can combine the techniques of ‘Classical Dressage’ with the principles of ‘Natural Horsemanship’. Following are just my own brief notes from my phone conversation with Cavallo for the interview, but I thought my newsletter readers might enjoy reading them. CAVALLO: Please explain why riders should make the CAVALLO: What capabilities does riders need to be able effort to understand and master both methods, and what are the benefits of the combination compared to the restriction to only one of the two systems?

to combine the two systems successfully?

K.R.: Capabilities: to be open minded and curious... to know that even within ‘one’ system there are many

K.R.: First, there is not just ONE system. There’s the systems... they can all be right or all be wrong, depending French, German, Dutch, and Spanish, all calling themselves ‘classical’... and there is not ONE natural horsemanship system. I think these labels get in the way. Even within one of those systems there are different teachers who can vary wildly in their methods! Because of this, everyone has a different picture that comes to mind when they think of ‘Natural Horsemanship’ or ‘Dressage’. I learned dressage from ‘O’ judge, Ann Gribbons, who was a student of Bengt Ljungquist, and I learned NH from Linda and Pat Parelli, so I don’t know how to label myself. Really, I am just ME... a combination of all my knowledge and experiences. NH is about foundation... by definition supposed to prepare you to build something on top of it... but to me, NH is also an attitude. Either way I think it’s strange that it is thought of as a separate ‘discipline’ and makes sense to me that every horse and rider should follow all the best principles within NH and dressage. Dressage gave me so much information about the Physical aspect of the horse, and of course, some about Mental and Emotional. NH gave me so much about the Mental and Emotional part of the horse, and of course, some about the Physical. If you study both you will have a greater range of information about all... Mental, Emotional and Physical.

on when and how each technique is used. You need to be able to combine all the knowledge, and also be an independent thinker, as there are not so many people out there who can help you in this integrated way. You need to think in terms of end goals, cause and effect, and awareness of exactly what is going on with you and your horse. Even in my ‘system’ I mostly teach students to be curious, and to explore and communicate with their horse... and of course I gave them ideas of thing to communicate about and ways to challenge them without force... but I hope to create students who will know how to get information from any other system that gives results that are positive for the horse. Open mindedness will keep you looking at the whole picture, not just what happens in the arena, but how the whole experience and relationship is for your horse. To be a little confident and also put your ability to have a positive relationship with your horse, with communication with your horse a priority above everything else. Whatever a system or a teacher tells you, they must also be able to explain why you need to do it, so you can feel positive about asking your horse for it... not to just follow blindly.

The FEI describes the object of dressage as: The development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education, resulting in a horse who is calm, loose, supple and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving a perfect understanding with his rider.

If you are an integrative thinker you will be able to find the common threads of different systems.

Doesn’t that sound like the objective of natural horsemanship too? 7

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CAVALLO: What is the advantage if I don’t think of dressage and NH so much as separate one combines both methods instead of ONLY doing dressage or ONLY doing natural horsemanship?

K.R.: You can better see the whole picture: mental, emotional, physical. I feel I have more tools and awareness so I can more easily diagnose any issues.

CAVALLO: During the education and training of a horse, are both methods equally important? Or are there times when you use predominately horsemanship techniques or mainly dressage elements? Does that change, eg. when a horse gets older?

K.R.: NH to me is the content within which I do everything else... so it is not separate to me. But among traditional systems, and even among trainers of the same ‘traditional’ system, there will be a difference in what is prioritized with any given horse. One person prioritizes energy and the important thing in the moment, another will say balance is the priority. So, every day is a new day... the relationship, and communication are always a priority... so my awareness is always there. But as the relationship is stronger, we don’t have to fix things there as much. Maybe like any good relationship, we have to stay aware, but hopefully we find a way where it is mostly happy! There are times when the balance or gymnastics is important, and like any training, there are moments that are challenging, and maybe even uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean I am not still taking care of our relationship. I am always looking to train in a way that challenges and develops my horse but also so I can pay him back and keep him in balance mentally and emotionally. But dressage is supposed to do this too... as stated in Article 401.

disciplines as all. I think of them as different knowledge bases that are there to help me build my dream with my horse. There may be horsemen out there who don’t want to call themselves ‘nature’ or ‘dressage’... because maybe they have only seen the ugly examples of each... but they can still be great horsemen who listen to their horse and strive to learn as much as they can about them mentally, emotionally and physically.

CAVALLO: What comes into your mind when you think about the following four terms [ideas, preferences, importance, related problems or misunderstandings, etc.].: Trust/Confidence, Respect, Balance, Fitness.

K.R.: If Trust/Confidence is missing you are never going to be as good as if it is there. We need to Respect that our horse has little choice in his life and few ways to get us to understand him. We need to respect that his whole life is our responsibility, and the most of his ‘problems’ are due to us. To be in Balance is the ultimate goal. I mean this physically from a bio-mechanical point of view, but also that his life is balanced. Mental, Emotional and Physical Fitness all matter. They need to be strong, but we need to be able to tell the difference between “I won’t because I can’t” and “I can’t because I won’t”. Natural Horsemanship students can tend to assume the horse doesn’t do something because they don’t understand or aren’t motivated, while Dressage people tend to assume the horse isn’t doing something because they need to be stronger, or need ‘help‘ balancing, when sometimes they just don’t understand, or are scared.

CAVALLO is Germanys top-selling equestrian sport magazine by far. Numerous consumer-oriented articles in every issue convey a high level of specialist knowledge. The large editorial team maintains an independent, dedicated and critical attitude to research and coverage. CAVALLO is renowned for its breadth of topics of a highly practical nature, the main editorial focus being on all styles and methods of riding and horse training. It offers numerous product tests, critical tests of riding schools, soundly researched reports on equine medicine, behavioral research or feeding. All rounded off by portraits of fascinating horses, races and riders. 8

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News... (cont’d) ‘Finding The Sweet Spot’ Texas Clinic November 15-19, 2012 there was a ‘Find The Sweet Spot’ clinic at Hazel Clinton’s Hy Court Farm outside Austin, Texas, organized by Sue Littlefield. I enjoyed teaching Hy Court’s program director and resident trainer, Janet Manly and all the students that participated!

Sue Littlefield, Karen Rohlf and Lynn Reardon

The winner of the Video Classroom 2011 DVD Set raffle was Sue Littlefield. We raised $1150 towards LOPE, an organization that helps retired racehorses find new partners and careers. Lynn Reardon, LOPE founder, has written a book called: Beyond the Homestretch: What I’ve Learned from saving racehorses which can be purchased through Amazon. There’s also a video on YouTube about the book.

‘6 Days at Temenos Fields’ October 28 thru November 2, 2012


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Web Shop Instructional Material Reins, Art Prints... & More! SiMoN The School Master Noodle Kit For Learning Lateral Work.... You will not find anything quite as effective & fun as SiMoN for understanding the classical lateral positions!


copyright 2012 Temenos Fields, inc. December


I am done wi! my traveling for " year... And a#er all " techniques, and all " progress, and all " focus... It & !ese quiet moments !at tell me I am successful in my life; remembe'ng why I love horses... And !at & how I know I am truly ‘home’.

“Creating stronger partnerships and healthy biomechanics by combining the principles of natural horsemanship with the art of dressage.” ~ Karen Rohlf Dressage, Naturally | Temenos Fields | PO Box 11 | Lowell, Florida 32663

December 2012 Newsletter  

December 2012 Newsletter from Dressage, Naturally and Karen Rohlf