May 2010 Creating healthy biomechanics and stronger partnerships through combining natural horsemanship principles with the art of dressage... Karen Rohlf
never underestimate the potential for harmony & lightness to improve in ways you cannot yet imagine
Welcome back to the Temenos...
Dreams are free, so free your dreams. ~Astrid Alauda
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.
• Australia trip update
Port Clinton, Ohio Contact: Mary Ann Moore
• Feedback from students • Horses needed
• Two Essays
Finding the Sweet Spot
Phone: 419-341-2372 email@example.com
Upward Spiral of Success
Lindstrom, MN Contact: Sally Taylor Phone: 612.616.2550 email: firstname.lastname@example.org July 16-19
June 25, 26
Finding the Sweet Spot
Lindstrom, MN Contact: Sally Taylor Phone: 612.616.2550 email: email@example.com
Bridgewater, NH Contact: Brenda Ladd 603-217-0040 H 603-715-0253 C firstname.lastname@example.org
Finding the Sweet Spot
Clinic schedule: CLICK HERE Auditors Welcome At All Clinics!
NEWS Oz: Thanks for your patience in wait‐ ing for this newsletter. I just completed a month‐long clinic tour of Australia (18 teaching days within 25 days!). Now I am home soaking up all the good energy of the Temenos, and all the magniﬁcent crea‐ tures I am honored to share it with. Parelli Instructors Fiona Darling and Kaye Thomas were my hosts and their assistant, Pat Miller did the lion’s share of the organ‐ izing. (Thank you Thank you!). The trip had me everywhere from balmy Gold Coast to the variable weather of Mel‐ bourne and both ends of New South Wales in between. I was so excited to meet so many Dressage Naturally enthusiasts and students so far from my home. It was great having Dana with me and he took some amazing photographs. Each clinic participant was given a cd of our favorite photos from the clinic and a chance to order more. All clinic photos are viewable HERE
At the clinics I did my best to present my concepts of ﬁnding healthy biomechanics in a way that is in accordance with natural horsemanship principles. My focus was on conversations about Relaxation, Energy and Balance, as those are the building block con‐ versations we need in order to speak to our horses about their biomechanics.
Using my Big Picture Poster as the outline, we made sure foundation was there, then observed the quality of the conversa‐ tions the human is having with their Dana was much better at blogging during horse (see the article called: Yes Mo‐ the trip, so if you want to ﬁnd out more ments on my website.) I read the body about our journey and see some wonderful non‐horse photos (yes, there is such a thing) language of horse and human and try to go to: Dana’s Blog. He hasn’t updated it since interpret what is being said (I aﬀection‐ we got home, but he only had 2 days rest and ately call this closed captioning for the then had 2 weddings in a row to photograph! body language impaired!). If the student can’t have a good conversation with their horse about what they want to say... How can I then get them to communicate what I want the horse to do?
and ﬁgure out how to improve it. They also realize that I will stick with them until I know they understand what I am explaining. Some students got to experience what it feels like to be led through an exercise with relentless focus, until we came through the other side of the exercise... Not just doing it, but doing it until we saw and felt the bene‐ ﬁt... This caused us to take a look at the term
So many issues and postural Fiona Burnell (Melbourne clinic) aberrations can be traced to a photo: Dana Rasmussen lack of understanding. This is always the ﬁrst thing to clear ‘micromanaging’ and be able to discern the up. Once we have those conversa‐ diﬀerence between being there every moment tions working well, often a positive as in excellent ‘dance partner’ leadership, change in the horse’s way of going can already be seen. And if not, then and controlling aids that don’t give any op‐ it is relatively easy to make a further portunity for freedom or self‐carriage. suggestion from there. During my time there I wrote three essays
Angie Glover (Macksville clinic) photo: Dana Rasmussen 2
Students in my clinic quickly realize that I am happy to ﬁnd out what is not working and roll up my sleeves
which I will share later in this newsletter. My Facebook fans may have already seen these when I posted them there.
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Feedback from Australia: Hi Karen & Dana,
Hope you had a good flight home and not feeling too jet lagged from you trip down-under. My heart-felt THANKS for the incredible 5 days that you shared with us. Everything was in alignment to allow our time together to be the best experience I have had with my equine partner Mr Ed. I now know where I am headed as you have provided me with a clear picture of the correct Rhythm, Energy and Balance to go forward on my journey. I am truly humbled to have been able to have you share that with me. You structured the Clinic in such a way that I was able to absorb the information at a very deep level and I know when I need it at any given time that it will be available to me. Your humour and physical presence were inspiring ( even though-you-work-hard-for-your-money) and I have been cantering all round the house, much to my dogs delight if not my husbands. Thank you Dana for taking such magic photo's and being the "Invisible Man". The photo disc
captures it all and it is brilliantly put together to make a lasting memory. I hope all is well with your beautiful horses and your dog is as excited to see you as we were. May we all Dance with our Horses Vicki H Hi Karen, I just wanted to write and say thank you so much for all the wonderful information you presented in the clinic at Young. My mind was so full trying to capture and process the material you presented - I think some at least has penetrated my skull and I look forward to it seeping into my brain and influencing my attitude and actions in the future! Thank goodness for your fantastic resource material as well - I know I will be utilising it repeatedly! Please also pass onto Dana my thanks for capturing such lovely images of Whopper, the horse who owns my heart. I was just looking at a quote on my calendar the author is unknown and you may have seen it before but it is beautiful - 'To understand the soul of a horse is the closest human beings can come to knowing perfection'.
forward to participating in, or auditing future clinics you may have in Australia. Whopper and I are off to continue expanding our foundation! I hope the cockatoo's and Kookaburra's are not also stalking you at Maitland! Have a safe and relaxing journey home. Regards, Belinda
Hi Karen, It was so great getting to finally meet you in person You are everything plus sooooo much more that I hoped you would be as an instructor and horsewoman, I loved what you offered not only riders but auditors as well. I would love to ride with you when you come back again. I will be riding my horse today and I look forward to putting into practice what I learnt over the two days. Enjoy the rest of your time in Australia. Warmest regards, Lee
Thanks again Karen, I look
Clinic Groups Clockwise from upper left: Gold Coast, Melbourne, Young, Macksville
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Horses needed: As you may have heard, I have a new course called the D,N Intensive. It is a 10 week course for 5 participants. The ﬁrst course happens this October‐mid‐December and is already full. Most of the participants are bringing their own horses, but I have 2 stu‐ dents who will need horses as they are com‐ ing from Australia and Germany! I already have one horse lined up and possibly a sec‐ ond, but am looking for additional options just in case (you know horses!).
Oct. 2 ‐ Dec 11, 2010. The horse would be living at Temenos Fields and would be taken care of by my staﬀ plus the participant.
‘Extreme Release’ Revisited In an email to my mailing list on April 9 (re‐ printed below after this note) I wrote about my technique of ‘extreme release’ meaning that leaving the country for 5 weeks could be a powerful training tool. I told readers about each horse and what impression I was hoping to leave them with.
What was really fun was to see how Bre and Marj’s horses also beneﬁtted from the expe‐ rience. It is so helpful to get a chance to have the feeling of what you are looking for in‐ fused into you. Riding other horses can give you that feeling. Bre has become more con‐ ﬁdent and clear in riding transitions and self‐ carriage on her powerful mare, and Atomic gave Marj a greater sense of rhythm and bal‐ ance to take over to her more... squirrelly young arabians.
As far as Ovation: I am thrilled. They told me that after I left he became quite the ram‐ bunctious trouble‐maker out in the ﬁeld. I think he got bored and actually missed com‐ The riders in the course are of excellent I am happy to report that I was really pleased ing out to play! YES! This is just the thing I foundational skills (strong Level 3 Parelli). I want my low‐motivation horse to experi‐ with how my horses were when I returned. will be looking at the horses in this course as Atomic and my working student, Marj went ence: The feeling of ‘Please play with me’. horses in training with me, being developed physically he feels great and now I have the on a conﬁdence and freestyle mission. I through the participants, so it is a great op‐ tough job of not doing too much with him pulled up the driveway and noticed that portunity to get your horse in front of me at there were pool noodles hanging from trees too fast while I slowly get him back in shape, no cost! The ‘deal’ would be a free lease, in a and sticking out in strange places, and most of course 24/7 turn‐out on 10 acres in a herd win‐win situation: The participant does not kept him generally legged up. (Lucky boy, I toys had been moved around the property. pay to have the horse, and the owner of the know!) Marj showed me how she and Atomic had horse does not pay for it to be under my su‐ excellent impulsion freestyle, relaxed transi‐ It is so nice to feel his balance and through‐ pervision. Part of the goal will be to recon‐ tions and that he could approach and go ness be right where I left it; evidence again nect the owner and horse so the progress through noodle squeezes and car washes that good biomechanics should feel good to made in the course can be continued suc‐ with conﬁdence. I was really pleased that he the horse too. If you train in a way that puts cessfully. was accepting her leadership and I think he self‐carriage as a top priority at all stages, appreciated stepping back and spending Here is my picture for the horse; the horse gets a chance to feel it is their way some time gaining consistency at more basic of going, not just something I am making • Already has a good foundation (solid Level exercises for a while. them do. Then they get to own their progress 2 minimum) and I get to enjoy it! He felt good and even after 5 weeks of no Could also be a dressage horse that needs • connection with the reins, he came up into Thanks again, to Bre and Marj... I can imag‐ ‘naturalizing’ beautiful working gaits with even more solid, ine they felt ‘just a little’ pressure of taking relaxed self‐carriage and rhythm. Yay! care of my beauties! :‐) • No major safety issues. This is not a colt start or a challenging‐horse course! Bre did a wonderful job with Monty. My goal Here is the original essay: for him was to stay in shape and to feel mag‐ • Already in a riding program with the owner Extreme Release that will be continued after the course, so niﬁcent so he can teach Bre. She did an ex‐ cellent job of keeping him with her mentally progress can be followed through on. Ahh, traveling season is upon me and (not always easy with a clever guy who although I love it, it does make my knows he is King). She kept his working gaits horse's training program more erratic. • Sound/healthy/ﬁt tuned up and balanced by making sure the At first I used to get frustrated thinking • Owner able to come towards end of course freestyle prerequisites were there within that it would take so long to get back in to learn about progress. gear gain when I return. But after 5 them. She also learned more about how to years of being gone for most of the If you have been stuck in your ﬁnesse, want a use her core to do all the transitions on him. summer, I have realized that this simply boost to take your horse to the next level, or He has lots of buttons and if you don’t push isn't true! My horses are often just as them just right stuﬀ comes out that you have been dying to get my eyes on your good when I come home... Sometimes didn’t think you asked for! He felt aerobically even better! horse, this could be a great situation. Please ﬁt, relaxed, keen and ready to go when I got email me at: I sometimes joke to myself that they Karenrohlf@dressagenaturally.net to tell me on him. about your horse. The ﬁrst course is from 4
become great when I am away and when I am home I just do my best not
copyright 2010 temenos fields, inc May
to mess them up! (Anyone else ever get this feeling?) :-) So what I have learned, is there is a strategy to be put to use. We know that with horses, it is the release that teaches. A release of pressure, a change of the exercise, a pause to catch your breath, getting off and sitting on the fence for a moment, walking away, or... Leaving the country! All are forms of release. So if we can use a release as 'payment' in proportion to the degree of effort or improvement, then it makes sense that I could use this 5 week trip to make a very powerful impression! Often at clinics I ask my students to complete this sentence: "If only _________ were better, everything would be better." So before a trip I think about how I would complete that sentence for each of my horses. It can always be answered by saying "If only we were the best humans for our horses everything would be better", but it is helpful to get a little more specific than that, too sometimes. Based on where they are and what the next steps are, what would be the one thing I would like them to understand? Leaving everything on a nice easy, comfortable note will leave things just the way I left them and all will be good, but what if I really utilized this opportunity of the more extreme release (going to the other side of the world for 5 weeks) to give them a more powerful message... To create a bigger breakthrough in proportion to the upcoming bigger release. Its a risk if it doesn't work, but payoff can be great if it does. The key is to be conscious and to start enough days in advance that you can set them up for success... I aim to get the big improvement a few days before I leave so I have a little buffer in case things don't go according to my plans. Atomic has been so wonderful lately... accepting more and more leadership from the saddle, and dressage-wise he has learned how to carry himself and be powerful! (Not an easy task with a delicate, fearful, defensive, sensitive, clever arabian/saddlebred!) So I have been thrilled with his dressage; starting all lateral work, lengthenings, counter canter, simple changes.... BUT the missing blank is to check that all that power is still in balance: "If only he was settled here under me, everything would be
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better." So this past week has been a focus of freestyle to a higher standard, really making sure his rhythm is good and he is truly carrying himself mentally, emotionally and physically. Each day improved... then he really 'got it' at a new level a couple days ago... DONE... leave the hemisphere! While I am away, my working student, Marj will be his buddy and their goal is to quietly continue to build his confidence with 'scary objects' and to ride out more. For Ovation: He has been so amazing and has also turned into quite the powerhouse. Mentally, emotionally he is super, but physically, at the stage of dressage he is at, I answered the "If only" question by saying "If only he realized he could take shorter, quicker strides and bend his hind leg joints, he could carry himself easier and everything would be better". So I went on a 'heading towards piaffe' mission. Excellent basics is the best preparation and for sure we have those, but I started asking a little more 'formally'. At this stage I joke that it is "The-movement-soon-tobe-called-piaffe" or "An artist's rendition of piaffe". I am asking not because it is easy for him, but because it will develop a missing piece in his mechanics. 'Take your worst game and make it your best game' sort of thing. As with everything with Ovation, it has to be a game, and very quickly he could feel me preparing for piaffe and he would also start to prepare. We soon were getting the correct reflexes with 24 steps of an 'artist's rendition of piaffe' that will allow this to eventually become real piaffe. I also then used it like medicine and would go to canter afterward, so we could both feel how much better balanced/ easier everything was after (giving a benefit to the exercise that he could also feel). We also have been doing jumping grids... bounces to one-strides to, to improve his quickness with his feet.
grooming and feeding. Monty... what can I say, he is the King and he is just fabulous. My working student, Breanne will be exercising him while I am away. At 19, it is better to keep him in shape than to let him all the way down. Motion is lotion. He is a wonderful schoolmaster for Bre and knowing she would be riding him made me really pay attention to how I ride him and what he feels like. We all have the certain little games and compromises and 'funny indescribable things' that we consciously or unconsciously do with our own horses. I needed to make sure he was at the top of his game and that the cues I would tell Bre to use would really work! It warms my heart to see Monty accept Bre after so many years of being a horse who didn't cooperate with anyone. At this point in his life I actually think he likes being the older, wiser teacher. She is doing a fabulous job with him, so this week has been more about me weaning off of him and watching them together. With Monty it has always been: "If only he knew how magnificent he was, everything would be better." So I am hoping this will be part of his process to true confidence in his abilities instead of worrying and becoming emotional. At this point in his life, this is my main message to him... that he is magnificent and he doesn't need to worry. I think this time being a teacher for someone else will be great for him. (I think Bre is pretty psyched, too!) :-) Karen
We had a challenging ride several days ago, but then it all fell into place and a couple days before I was due to leave was a ride of dreams... success at this new higher challenge... DONE... leave the hemisphere! While I am away he will enjoy a total break, with just interactions with working students for
horse what it means to have a gas pedal, and we have built up his Wind In The Sails desire to go and his trust in us that There are many analogies to try to we won't push him too far. Fortifying the banks of the river comes describe the delicious feeling of riding a horse in a positive connec- from developing a horse and rider tion with the reins: The ʻhorse fills that are aligned, and focused. The 'rocks' are created by areas of up the contactʼ, ʻyou can feel the hocks in your handsʼ, ʻlike riding a physical or emotional tension, lack wave of energyʼ, a complete circuit of balance or conflicting aids. of energyʼ... Unfortunately there are even more words to use to de- When a horse and rider are able to scribe the horrible feeling of it go- have energy flowing freely and smoothly from back to front (water ing wrong. doesnʼt pull, it pushes) then we have the best chance of having a When I observe or ride a horse I positive connection with the reins. am very aware of the energy, where it is going and where it is Of course, we need to make sure leaking out. One analogy that works well for me is it is like there that the horse in general has a positive response to the reins. is a river of energy, flowing within Standing still I like to check all the the banks, and it is heading always in the same direction as the yields; I check that anywhere I line of direction of the horse. In or- move the bit or halter, my horse can follow smoothly. This I do der to get that feeling there must be energy flowing (not a stagnant through what i will call ʻmicroyieldsʼ. I am not wanting to think pond), there must be clearly defined banks to that river (not mud, that the horse must put his head not so low that water splashes out head anywhere, he just needs to relax and open himself. The yields the side) and there must not be any rocks in that river causing tur- may seem imperceptible to others watching, but I know the feeling of bulence. the horse saying yes and being open. Creating the energy is the easy part if we know how to show a 6
If I feel an opposition, I wait there until he relaxes and when he does I donʼt ask for more... Just that he is ok holding hands with me, not over-flexing and not jumping away from the contact. I want it to feel the way it feels when walking though the park holding hands with my best friend; we can swing our arms as we walk, connected, light and balanced in our own self carriage. The analogy I like for riding in connection is like I am windsurfing. Again, there needs to be a 'wind'; there needs to be a desire and willingness to apply effort and activity. Then the horse and I need to be positioned (aligned) in a way that the 'wind' (energy) is going straight into the sail, otherwise the sail will just luff in the wind. I need to be holding the sail. I canʼt pull it towards me more than there is wind going forward or I fall over backwards. I canʼt be so ʻlightʼ that I let go of it. I need to be in my own self-carriage or we both fall or suffer. Those are lots of star that must be aligned... And sometimes finding the precise balance of all these factors will feel like looking for a copytight 2010 temenos fields, inc May
very small doorway in the dark. But when you find it you and your horse will propel forward, enjoying a freedom and power that is greater than each of you alone.
thing we look at is our conversation about the gas pedal. We get VERY particular... expecting nothing less that 100% matching of our suggestion... but for only a moment. When this is willingly communicated and offered Prepare your ingredients. Visualize we play with strategies for causing our strongly and positively. Search horses to sustain our chosen energy with great curiosity for that very level... 100%... while the riders resmall doorway into that wonderful main in neutral. A tall order for sure! place! So, shouldn't the horses feel this is too demanding? Shouldn't this make them want to not participate? Wouldn't this be a nightmare for any happy-goInteresting circles lucky horse? What happens is quite the opposite. When this strategy is done well, the result is very, very clear, interesting conversations that lead to effortless perpetual motion. The horses' minds engage through the preciseness and clear feedback, their bodies balance At the end of the course two students through the more active hind leg activity, their posture matches their inpulled me aside to tell me that they spired state, and they relax due to the had been hesitant and a little conconsistent rhythm of their gait. (We cerned about coming to a 4.5 day know already that rhythm creates redressage clinic because their horses laxation... this is true of the rhythm of were really unmotivated in arenas. One said that it was a big problem and their gaits also!) things could get pretty ugly when her horse turned off and had had enough. I have seen a lot of 'interesting' looking circles in my time as a teacher of dressage... But at this recent clinic I had several students comment that they never realized circles could be so interesting!
Add to this the Basic Alignment Exercise I discuss in my book/DVD... and all the aids and suggestions we make to our horse cause him to find a more comfortable, relaxed, energized and balanced way of moving... Sure sounds like that would feel good, doesn't it! It does... Even to the horse! All of the basic biomechanics are FOR the horse. Sometimes we have to work hard to get to a place where we don't have to work hard. When you get that particular and that pure in your conversations with your horse, things not only get more comfortable, but they become very very interesting! It was so fun to see the horses come alive and become more engaged, inspired and free, offering more power each day, all seemingly with less effort. Body, Mind, Emotions... All linked. Fun to see students discover that by riding the body well, the mind and emotions can also improve.
What was interesting is that I had no idea! Their horses had been lovely and quiet willing. For one of them I spent the last sessions letting her know she could slow her tempo! So how could this be so? We sure did a lot of physical exercise so it couldn't be that they were just fresh from standing around! The first exercise I do in the clinic is to make sure we are starting in relaxation, and that we can talk to our horses about being relaxed... that they know when the game is over. Then the next Michelle Wharton (Melbourne clinic) Photo: Dana Rasmussen copyright 2010 temenos fields, inc May
So thatâ€™s it for this month! Next week I get working on editing Results in Harmony DVD #6 I also have a new educational project up my sleeve... Stay tuned. As always, do your best to Enjoy Life, !
Be Relaxed, Energized, Balanced... Free
Find your dream, then put some power behind it so you can Be Your Dreams.
Nell Gray (Macksville Clinic) 8
Photo: Dana Rasmussen copyright 2010 temenos fileds, inc May