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Advertisement PHOTOWORKSHOPS WITH CHRISTIANE SLAWIK 2009 From the architectural masterpiece of art-genius Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the “Stanglwirt”, one of the best hotels in Austria, or the dream islands of the Seychelles combine wellness, luxurious short vacations or amazing enviroments with an equine-photography workshop. All in a relaxed atmosphere, so you can easily bring your partner, who might not be interested in horses or photography as much as you. We want you to have a great time with Christiane and her years of worldwide experience in equinephotography. Christiane explains the digital camera-technique in a very clear and easy way. You will understand ISO, AV, TV, aperture, shutter speed and manuall exposures. You will be surprised, what a true professional sees and uses, to get “the” perfect shot in any situation from every horse. 30.4.-4.5. LIPICANS at the Bio-Hotel STANGLWIRT, Going am Wilden Kaiser /Tirol Luxurious Photo-vacation with the legendary Lipicans (who are there frequently being visited by international celebritys), exquisite gourmet food and wellness in one of the best hotels of Austria in the Kitzbuehl area, surrounded by the breathtaking mountains of the “Wilder Kaiser”. INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org , Carmen Sartori, www.stanglwirt.com 16.-17.5.2009 ICELAND-HORSES at the ISLANDPFERDEHOF GUT PÖLLNDORF An Austrian Iceland-horse stud with absolutely everything around these wonderfull little horses! 60 cute models with long manes and foals, racking through the spring blossoms. What a wonderfull sight... INFO: email@example.com , Hannes Kirchmayr, www.islandpferde-online.at 30.-31.5. 2009 INDIAN RIDING WITHOUT EVERYTHING Waldshut-Tiengen Famous Horsemanship-Trainer Markus Eschbach and his wife Andrea show their horses including indian riding without saddle and bridle! The location is close to the swiss border. INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org , Markus Eschbach www.eschbach-horsemanship.com 12.9.-19.9.2009 ARABIANS on the SEYCHELLES. A DREAM! One week in paradise. Double bedroom, halfboard, workshop, excursions, beaches, horses and riding inklusive for only 1499.- Euros! More at the start-site. INFO: email@example.com , Christiane Slawik, www.slawik.com 3.-4.10.2009 ANDALUSIANS at the LINDENHOF, Hausmannstätten, Austria Perfectly trained Andalusians and other breeds will dance for us. You will never forget your spectacular shot, laying UNDER a rearing stallion! INFO: firstname.lastname@example.org , Lisl Stabinger, www.showpferde.at 5.-9.10.2009 HORSES, ART and PASSION at Rogner Bad Blumau, Austria This workshop combines the breathtaking architecture of Art-genius Friedensreich Hundertwasser in Blumau with horses and baroque riding in a very unique way. We life and work IN the spectacular, world-famous thermal village and will not only enjoy photography but also the healthy, hot thermal water! INFO: email@example.com , Anja Fahrig, www.blumau.com http://www.slawik.com Horses For LIFE
Contents PG 38
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Contents contâ€™d pg 80 pg 60
WELCOME to our free preview edition of this monthâ€™s Horses For LIFE Magazine. With 40 Editions over 600 Articles availabe online and now each issue available not only online but on DVD as well. FREE Registration to read the two free articles we have each month. Remember to check out our archives at http://horsesforlife.com or Subscribe for full access!! This month through knowledge and science and through the experiences of trainers from around the world we hope you find success and new opportunities in the relationhip with your horses. On behalf of all of us at Horses For LIFE may the gift of the horses be with you always.
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Her grasp of horsemanship and art combines together in creating amazing photoâ€™s such as our cover this month. The picture just as it came out of the camera. Christiane also provides material for about 40 international associations and companies, calendars, publishing houses and -magazines. Her own, richly illustrated books have been published with the Cadmos publishing house. http://www.slawik.com Horses For LIFE
Philippe Karl: Going on Alone VOLUME 40 •
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Continuing the Conversation [HFL]: Sometimes opening up the dialogue is the best starting point of all. And if for nothing else, when people who agree and don’t agree get together and start discussing it, it will open up a lot of people’s minds. Debate and discussion even amongst themselves opens a window where there wasn’t one before. Besides the series of the videos that you did, are you planning any more down the line? [PHILIPPE KARL]: Not at the moment. I have no advanced horse at the moment. They are being sold or going to students of mine. I mainly have young horses at the moment. Thomas Vogel was thinking [about] maybe taping the horses twice a year over two or three years to see how they develop. But we haven’t decided on anything yet. [HFL]: You are on the road all the time and it’s hard to train a horse when you are doing that. You and Bea, I don’t know how you do it. [PHILIPPE KARL]: Yes, we’re away fully teaching four months out of a year at least. We go away teaching for about two weeks and come back for three or four weeks, and so on. It’s not the best, naturally, because when we’re away, the horses are not in training. They’re just working on the lunge and out in the paddock. 14
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Carolyn Resnick on the Differences between Leadership and Dominance.
[CAROLYN Resnick]: Leadership in most people’s minds is a strong push. [HFL]: That is one of those things that I have to say that I really enjoyed about your books. You clearly differentiated the concept between dominance and leadership [which are] intertwined in people’s minds. [CAROLYN Resnick]: Well, the thing that’s really interesting is to take a look at how all horses gain leadership in the wild. That really explains what leadership should be. When we all have freedom to choose who we want to follow, then the leader is the one doing all the work trying to win the vote. But we came along putting a horse in the round pen, and we have an interesting phenomenon of trying to teach leadership in a round pen. [HFL]: Can I get you to expand on that? You touched on it in your book. [CAROLYN Resnick]: Well, the thing that’s wrong about teaching leadership in a round pen is that it is a leadership that is forced. And when we learn leadership, what we’re learning to be is magnetic, 18
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Follow Up On the Horseâ€™s Back By Stormy May Subscribe Online at http://horsesforlife.com
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The Insights of Looking at tho 24
ose Never Again Moments Horses For LIFE
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Many of the training programs of today are based on the concept of stretching the equine athlete. Much of the theory behind the stretching is extrapolated from the work and studies done on human athletes over the last several decades. From the use of in-hand stretching to the concept of long and low to the rationale of rollkur being used to stretch the equine back, all use the concept of stretching as the rationale behind the training methods. Until recently there has been little to no actual research validating the reasoning behind these training methods.
So if there has been no or little research on the benefits of stretching with horses, what is it that riders and trainers believe that stretching will do for the horses? For the majority - there is a rationale that we will be able to improve the movement of the horse through stretching. For humans, the suggested benefits of stretching are many. From reduced muscle tension, to increased range of movement in the joints, to enhanced muscular coordination, to increased circulation and increased energy levels. Many believe one of the greatest benefits of stretching is that you are able to increase your range of motion. Which means your limbs and joints are able to move further. With all of the benefits of stretching, it is suggested that stretching should be a part of your daily routine, whether you exercise or not. One of the key components of stretching in humans is seen to be injury prevention. Preparing our muscles and joints for activity to protect us from injury. Unfortunately, incorrectly, many people assume that stretching is warming up the muscles. And many of the training programs that we have today for horses use stretching as a warm-up program for the horses. But we already know from studies with humans that this is not true. We never should stretch muscles that are cold, that this actually increases our risk of injury, including pulled muscles. The first step in any stretching regime for humans includes a gentle warm-up at low intensity. We now know that muscles need to be warmed up first to ensure that stretching does not cause any damage. Having seen the benefits for the human athlete, many want to see those same benefits for their horses. Of course there are similarities, yet there are great differences between the human and equine athlete. Thus any supposed
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esearch on quine Stretching
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New Research on Bitless vs Bitted Riding One of the new questions that many equestrians are asking themselves today in reference to the welfare of the horse is the effect of the bit in the horseâ€™s mouth. A question that in some ways is unique today. While there have always been bitless performers who have wowed the crowds, until today the bit has been the accepted means of working our horses. Today it is differerent, as we see different models of bitless bridles coming onto the market. And many riders are questioning which of the two scenarios are better for their horses. There are those that would suggest that there is absolutely no question that riding with the bitless bridle is far superior for the welfare of the horse, suggesting that obviously the bit works through pressure and pain in a very sensitive area of the horse. There are others that suggest that while we can see many horrific examples of bad riding using the bit, this does not mean we can make an automatic assumption that everyone that uses the bit causes the same pain in their horses. They maintain rather that any piece of equipment whether bitted or bitless can be used incorrectly. Some even suggesting that not only the bit but the bitless bridle works upon the sensitive area of the horse as the bitless bridle relies on a snug nose strap that is relatively low compared to the cavesson, an area that we know has an extensive network of both nerves and blood vessels. One of the interesting developments in recent studies is using the measurement of the heart rate as a way to measure the stress level of the horse. A recent research study in Australia used the measurement of the heart rate as a way to measure the different stress levels on the horse while going through foundation training with some of the horses being trained in a bitted bridle and some horses being trained in a bitless bridle. Measurements were taken during three different stages of training, during bridling, during long reining, and while riding. Interestingly during this particular study there is no difference in heart rate between the groups during any of the training stages. The researchers noted, though, that the horses wearing the bitless bridle had lower heart rate variability when long reining, indicating that they were experiencing less stress than those wearing the bitted bridle while being long reined. While being bridled and ridden there were no appreciable difHorses For LIFE Check it out at http://horsesforlife.com
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Flexion of the Jaw By: Jean-Claude Racinet Extract from the magazine “Riding in Lightness” As time flies, my academic studies become a more and more remote memory. However I remember that, in our philosophy course, we were presented with one - amongst many - philosophical system. The name of that system I have forgotten, but I think I remember the philosopher’s. He was Jacques Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and lived in the XVIIIth century. He thought that God had created the world for the human to enjoy it, and that everything, every shape, color, odor, etc. was to be interpreted in this light. For instance, he thought that if a melon presents “ribs” or ridges on its rind, it is to help us slice it more easily. Or, for that matter, oranges, which are already prepared in slices inside their skin. Etc... It seems to me that the mouth of a horse is a magnificent illustration of the theories of Jacques Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. The first time a man rode a horse, he was confronted with the problem of steering and checking him. The more likely solution was to fix ropes onto his head, but it was rather awkward. Next idea was to put something in the horse’s mouth, and here, lo and behold, everything was organized for the human’s satisfaction. For it happens that the horse has no teeth where the bit lies (not a coincidence for Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, nor for me of course). And the marvel goes further, because it also happens that the play of this mouth under the action of the rider’s hand will provide us with the “golden key” of horsemanship, sit the horse on the haunches and give him in this way balance, impulsion, and beauty (this latter element being certainly part of the Divine program). The “golden key” I am speaking about is of course the “flexion of the jaw.” The flexion of the jaw is a very little understood procedure. Very few people know what it is, how to get it, what results it produces and why. And when they understand all of the above, guess what? They still don’t use it! So let’s examine these points in the order they came. 1/ What is the flexion of the jaw? The flexion of the jaw is as it happens a flexion of the TMJ (the temporo-mandibular joint), meant to annul temporarily the contractions that may happen in this area. This joint is located circa two inches behind the eye, under the base of the ear, and whilst we are focusing strongly on the bit, and the lower part of the mouth, the real thing happens high in the head, a good twelve inches away from the bit. The term “flexion” is a little misleading, since the opening of the jaw in itself is not what is looked for (although it is part of the process). Our purpose is to relax that joint, to prevent it from being contracted, to discontract it (the word does not exist in English, but it would be the exact translation of the French “decontracter”). In the flexion of the jaw, the horse “lets go” of the bit. This should not frighten you. It is about a momentary loss of contact whereby the horse “savors” the bits, making them “jingle.” The tongue goes up and down, several times; which shows, incidentally, that the flexion of the jaw is the sure fire remedy for “curled tongues.”
Many words have been used to describe the flexion of the jaw: mobility of the jaw, yielding of the jaw, mobility of the tongue.... Let me quote the two most famous: General L’Hotte speaks of a “light murmur.” And Captain Etienne Beudant has this admirable expression: the horse “smiles.” Indeed it is absolutely impossible to smile and contract the jaws in the meantime. As we clench our teeth, we can grin, but we cannot smile. 2/ How to get it? Contractions can’t be seen, but they can be felt. To help my students understand what sensation they have to look for, I ask them to take my hand, and press it strongly; on my side, I resist their pressure by stiffening my hand. Then I tell them that I will give up resisting and that they certainly will feel the difference. It is very reassuring to notice that every time I give up on my resisting, the student instinctively quits squeezing, which is exactly what should happen when a horse yields in his mouth. This shows that feeling the jaw flexion is within everybody’s reach.
“This shows that feeling the jaw flexion is within everybody’s reach.”
The snag lies in being in a position to yield when it is about a pressure applied, not on somebody’s hand, but on the reins. When you press (squeeze) my hand, you certainly don’t pull. But a rein is much smaller, thinner, than my hand. You have to learn how squeeze the rein and not pull on it.
You will perhaps tell me: “And what is the big deal if I pull? I am smart enough to yield when the horse yields.” Well, you think that you are smart enough, and I don’t doubt one minute your good intentions. But you are not. Nobody is. To show my students the limitations of our reflexes, I come up generally with an old trick that I have described time and again in articles and books, lectures and clinics, and that I will one more time describe here. It consists of holding a one dollar bill vertically (upright), as another person places two fingers of a hand, the thumb and index, on either side, one inch apart and at mid-height of the bill. Then I drop the bill, and it so happens that the person can never grab it. Because it takes a fraction of second for the person to realize that I have dropped the bill, one other fraction of second to send to the muscles of the fingers the order of “grabbing,” and one more fraction of second for the fingers to execute the order. Those three fractions of a second added to each other amount to too much time, the bill is already out of reach. This illustrates the human’s relative slowness. As compared to the horse’s reflexes, we are no match. For instance, I am on horseback, with long reins, happy and lost in my thoughts, and something happens all of a sudden, an explosion for instance. The horse will have noticed it, reacted to it and come back to calm when I am myself only at the stage of realizing that an explosion has occurred. I am slow; he was not. When we apply a traction on the reins, the horse reacts most often by pulling in the other direction. Then if we maintain that pressure, he will try several other answers, move his lower jaw sideways from right to left and left to right, try to snatch out the reins, lift his head, etc... One of these reactions may be, we hope, that he will yield momentarily by “letting go” of the bit. He then should be rewarded instantaneously, so that he understands that this was the good answer, and for that we cannot rely on our reflexes, whatever our good will. The release has to be automatic and not depend on us. This will happen if we apply on the reins a pressure and not a traction. A traction implies the action of the arm, a pressure implies only the action of the fingers. If you pull with your arm, you won’t control your action as the horse yields, because one more time, our reflexes are too slow, there will be a “recoil” effect and the horse will be punished. He then will think that yielding was not the good anHorses For LIFE
Jean-Claude Racinet - Flexions swer. If you press with your fingers, your yielding will certainly be as slow, but there will be no “recoil,” since you were applying to the rein (with your fist) and not to the mouth (with your arm). Applying to the rein only, was of course an indirect way to apply to the horse’s mouth, but in a very subtle - although sometimes very powerful - way. This way is called “the fixed hand.” A “fixed” hand is a hand that refuses to be carried away in any direction: forward, by the traction of the horse; backward, by the possible “recoil” resulting from the yielding of his mouth. The “fixed” hand is not fixed with respect to the horse’s body, like side reins, or with respect to the horse’s mouth, as when we go over a jump. It is fixed with respect to itself, meaning that it is not moved by the resistance, as well as by the yielding, of the jaw. The actions of reins can be divided in two categories: the “drawer” action (pulling with your arm to open a drawer) and the “lemon” action (squeezing with the fist in order to extract juice). When you pull on a drawer, if it resists, you will very likely be set off balance if it yields all of a sudden, perhaps you will fall. If you squeeze a lemon, whatever the resistance of the lemon, you won’t fall when it yields. One has never seen anybody fall by squeezing a lemon. As a rule, the hand actions should follow the pattern “drawer - lemon.” “Drawer” first, that is, a traction from the arms, in order to “feel” the horse’s mouth. Then, “lemon,” that is a squeezing with the fingers on the reins, to provoke the yielding of the mouth. When you do “drawer,” you don’t do “lemon,” and when you do “lemon,” you don’t do “drawer.” The error of many riders is to do “drawer” first to get the contact with the mouth, and then to add one strong “drawer” to get the mouth to yield. They thus pull with the arm, the horse won’t be rewarded on time upon yielding, and there will be a fight. You perhaps will “win” that fight, but that will be at the price of an irritated horse and a clattering mouth, and the good souls of the “other school” will tell you: “You see, I told you!” To make myself, I hope, definitively understood, I will use a last comparison: imagine you have to pull out a stump in your backyard, and that you have a tractor equipped with a winch, plus a chain, at your disposal. You will first fix the chain, one way or another, to the stump. But the chain is heavy, it is not “taut.” To tighten it, you will move the tractor forward. This represents the first “drawer” action, the action of the arm. Then you can do two things: the wrong one, or the right one. The wrong one consists in going on pulling with the tractor: when the stump yields, if it does, the tractor will be projected forward before you get the reflex to stop it. This compares to the first action I just described, the “drawer-drawer” action. The right way consists in stopping the tractor as soon as the chain is taut (quit using the arm), and then use the winch (the squeezing with the fist). When the stump yields, if it does, the tractor will not be projected forward, since its wheels were not involved in the process. Most riders know that they have a tractor (their arms), but do not realize that they also have a winch (their fingers). Today’s riders are taught that their fingers should be once and for all and beforehand (no pun intended, although the fingers are always before...hand), clenched onto the reins. Therefore they have lost their “winch” possibilities. They have only the tractor! So they pull, and the horse responds by pulling! What’s left for them? Halfhalt and push with the legs. And good day to you and come and see me again when you have recuperated your breath. On the contrary, the reins must be held between thumb and index, the other fingers being ajar, the “pinky” pointing more or less toward the horse’s mouth. Only this position of hand can allow one to perform the three stages described by La Gueriniere (“Ecole de Cavalerie,” 1731) of the “light hand” (fingers open), the “soft hand”
(fingers ajar) and the “firm hand” (fingers clenched). Modern riders know only the “firm hand.” Boom boom, “grosse Kanonen”! Energy!... Baloney! People believe that they will lose the contact when they open the fingers, but it is not so, if they follow my advice, it is to keep constantly the reins held, strongly if needed, between thumb and index. And there is the beauty of the thing, that one can open the fingers, realizing the “light hand,” while in the meantime squeezing the “pincer” thumb-index, in order to keep control. You will tell me: “OK. Suppose I do all that you say. What if the horse’s mouth doesn’t yield?”.
“Only this position of the Hand Can allow one to perform the three stages by La Gueriniere”
Good question (as a rule, in a lecture, always tell the person “good question”! That will make her or him more prone to accept your answer). Here is my (good) answer: certainly the rider needs an apprenticeship, an education in the flexion of the jaw; but so does the horse.
For this, you of course can take the book of Baucher and practice all the flexions described in it. They are certainly very useful, as I shall demonstrate later. But I will give you here two or three very simple ways. First, on foot, face the horse, take both rings of snaffle with both thumbs, and push up, toward the joint between second and third vertebrae (that is to say, by and large, following the natural direction of the mouth itself, a little lower). Push steadily, progressively, strongly if necessary, but please introduce this strength gram by gram! When the horse yields, relax, drop your thumbs. Second: if this does not work, facing the horse, push the snaffle (or the curb bit) vertically (upright) against the upper palate of the horse, that is, apply the pressure not to the lower jaw, but to the upper jaw. Same recommendations as for the first procedure here above described. Don’t hesitate to go as high as needed. You will feel the horse yield when he quits pushing down on the bit. Release immediately, and drop the bit. The horse’s head then falls in a vertical or thereabout direction. After each of these flexions, take advantage of the horse’s positive answer, and try to foster the same result by applying a traction on the reins, perpendicular to the mouth. Third: in hand, or from horseback. Bend the horse’s head laterally, to an extreme, while fostering a “rotation” of the line of the ears, that is to say that the outside ear should be lower than the inside ear. Wait until the horse flexes his mouth. Resist, don’t pull. Drop your action immediately upon the horse’s yielding. This latter flexion seems “unorthodox” because of the “rotation” of the line of the ears, but it is physiologically correct. I could demonstrate it, but this would “swell” this already too long article. When the horse has been initiated to the jaw flexion through these exercises, this flexion is asked for, from horseback, by applying a steady, progressive hand action, which Baucher and his students of this second “manner” would call a “slow force.” This action may be possibly strong in the end, depending on the horse’s resistance, but you should establish it gram by gram, by squeezing your fingers on the rein, “in a convulsive manner Horses For LIFE
Jean-Claude Racinet - Flexions if necessary” (Beudant), the hand remaining totally fixed. This action cannot be confused by the horse with the hand (and seat) action destined to slow, since this latter should be pulsated (lasting less than one half second, and reiterated), whereas the “slow force” is steady and progressive. For that matter, you have to establish a convention with your horse. This convention will be all the more rapidly established as, when you are asking for a flexion in motion, if the horse resists, you will stop him (pulsated actions), relax the jaw at a halt (steady resistance) and then start the movement again. 3/ What results can we expect from a jaw flexion? They are immeasurable. The flexion of the jaw resonates in the whole body of the horse. Put a close-contact saddle on your horse, and, at a halt, ask for a jaw flexion: you will feel the muscles of the horse’s back move under your seat. An indication that something big is happening. The flexion of the jaw destroys all the resistances. Take for instance a horse who, at a halt, is reluctant to move his haunches to right or to left under the pressure of a single leg. Then ask for a jaw flexion, and upon it coming up, use your single leg: the haunches will yield nicely. Take a horse who is reluctant to back up. Then ask for a deep, thorough yielding of the mouth, with the bit jingling, etc.., and upon it coming up, raise one hand softly: the horse will back up, and to boot, he will move first the diagonal on the same side as the hand action. The flexion of the jaw is a token of balance. Often, on occasion of my clinics, I have to ride horses whose balance is faulty, and I am obliged sometimes to elevate their neck quite a lot to get that balance. But as soon as the horse understands that he must yield with his mouth, the elevation of the head no longer matters, the horse remains in the proper balance. One can thus ride with looped reins on a quiet, cadenced and self-impulsed horse. Riding with looped reins on a contracted horse, i.e. abandoning the horse onto the forehand without any preparation, may be life threatening. Riding with looped reins on a horse who remains seated on the haunches thanks to the yielding of the jaw, is heaven. The flexion of the jaw is the tool for the “mise en main” (“bringing in hand”), which establishes and keeps collection. I will introduce this notion pretty soon in this article. 4/ Why does it work? A hardship that almost every young boy playing soccer at school will experience at least once in his lifetime, is to be hit by the ball in his groin area. Believe me, it hurts. Then he will be told to go and urinate immediately (it is supposed to help). Yes, but what if I can’t, since it hurts so much? Then they will tell you to swallow your saliva, and low and behold, that makes the thing more possible. In other words, the fact of swallowing the saliva relaxes all the other sphincters. It has an altogether relaxing action. Given the fact that a horse is quite centered on his stomach (What is a horse? A digestive tube with something around it), this fact may be still more prevalent as concerns the equine. I don’t doubt that the up and down movement of the tongue, accompanied with a swallowing of the saliva, resonates upon the whole autonomic nervous system of the horse. But how? That would have to be studied seriously by a vet. But let me come up here with a more immediate explanation. The flexion of the jaw, we have seen, applies to the TMJ. The area it is about lies right under the horse’s ears. In this area, there are three joints very close to each other: the temporo mandibular joint, the “atlanto occipital” joint (between the occiput, on the back of the skull, and the “atlas,” the first cervical vertebra), and the “atlas-
axis” joint, the joint between the first two cervical vertebrae (“axis” is the name given to the second cervical vertebra). Those joints are very important. For instance, it is at the level of the “atlas-axis” joint, between the two first cervical vertebrae, that the head of the horse turns to right or to left; it is this joint that allows this movement, and not the joint between atlas and the skull. This latter joint, on the other hand, allows the flexion of the head in a vertical (or “sagital”) plane, the famed “ramener.” In other words, when a horse says “yes” (nods), he does it with the “atlanto occipital’’ joint, but when he says “no,” the movement happens at the level of the “atlas-axis” joint, one vertebra farther back. When a horse says “no”, he does it with his head and atlas moving together; in other words, it is the atlas that says “no” and not directly the head, the head is just carried away by the movement of the atlas. (Incidentally, there is some irony in the fact that so many riders hope that the horse is going to says “yes and get his “ramener,” in making him say “no,” by pulling alternately on the reins...but after all, everybody knows that two negations amount to an affirmation!). Those three joints form a “triangle” of small dimension: the distance between the TMJ and the “atlanto occipital’’ joint is perhaps 2 inches, and the distance between the “atlanto occipital” joint and the “atlas-axis” joint equals the length of the first vertebra, to wit perhaps three to four inches. Because of this proximity, it is impossible to think that if the TMJ is “locked,” the play of the two other joints is going to be supple and easy. Now this play is most important for the good functioning of the equine machinery, if only because when the poll is high, flexed and relaxed (through the relaxation of the TMJ), a position which is called “mise en main” (“bringing in hand”), the horse is ipso facto collected, which means that he “tips” his butt under and raises his rib cage between the shoulders (without the intervention of his rider’s legs). This latter observation is the basis for the Baucherist doctrine, which looks for the “mise en main” (“bringing in hand”) at a halt first, then at slow gaits and progressively endeavors to keep it unaltered in the more extended gaits as well. The persistence of the “mise en main” is the guarantee of the persistence of balance, a perfect balance, resulting from the general posture of the horse who maintains his rib cage elevated between the shoulders, and his pelvic area “tipped under.” This is the balance that Baucher would call “equilibrium of the first genre” in the 1864 edition of his Method, which marks the official start of the “Second Manner.” This sets in evidence the importance of the jaw flexion, for without it there is no “mise en main” (“bringing in hand”) and with no “mise en main,” there is no real collection, that is, a collection based on lightness. 5/ How come the jaw flexion is so overlooked? The notion of “flexion of the jaw” was introduced by Baucher in the middle of the XIXth century. It is so much at the core of his doctrine that on his death bed, his last words, addressed to the future General L’Hotte, were to emphasize the notion of “fixed hand,” without which there is no possible flexion of the jaw. The technique itself underwent some vicissitudes in the course of Baucher’s quest. Baucher started with using a whole set of lateral flexions of the neck, which were considered as completed only when the horse would relax his jaw (making the bits jingle”).. The lateral flexions were meant to prepare the “direct” (fore and aft) flexion. It was a flexion of the poll which itself had to be accompanied with a yielding of the jaw. Later on, in the direct flexion of the “second manner,” the jaw had to yield before the poll. This direct flexion was prepared by “semi-lateral” flexions of the neck, the head being positioned high. Whereas Baucherism took hold in France, the Germans never subscribed to it, they even vilified it. At the time of the creation of the FEI, their representatives were of course fully aware that this jaw flexion technique was Horses For LIFE
Jean-Claude Racinet - Flexions quite prevalent in the French way, and since the French riding School was at that time still very prestigious, they had no other way than to pay lip service to it (lip service is a very fitting word as it comes to flexion of the... jaw). The political and cultural battle turned, as everybody knows, to the advantage of the Germans, whose influence is now overwhelming in Dressage. Therefore, in the last twenty years, as dressage developed rapidly, the only Gospel that was preached was the German Gospel, which ignores, or even condemns, the notion of jaw flexion. In the USA, only the riders of the old American School, this of Fort Riley, knew and practiced the flexion of the jaw. Their influence, like this of the French School, is now reduced to a homeopathic level. There also is a psychological aspect in that matter. The Germans like to control, and for this they want their horses firmly hooked on the bit (although I believe that light in hand, a horse is more disciplined than when bearing on the bit). This in turn will require sometimes conspicuous aids, which is not to discourage a German rider. As for the independent thinkers, and researchers, their opinion on the flexion of the jaw will depend on the results they got when they first experienced it. Now not all the horses react in the same way to it; and here I have to introduce a new factor, the vertebral blockings (usually called “subluxations;” I prefer the word “blocking” which emphasizes more the loss of mobility of the vertebra). As we have seen, the direct flexion of the jaw is the base for the “mise en main”, realized when the poll is high, flexed and relaxed (through the relaxation of the TMJ). This entails a lifting of the withers, and a “tipping under” of the pelvis. This posture defines collection.
“This faulty collection, for which Baucher was reproached.. is often to be seen nowadays on the Dressage grounds.”
Some (many) will tell you that the elevation of the withers does not exist, that it is only relative to the lowering of the haunches, in other words that it is about an optical illusion. They are wrong, since there exists a muscle, the “serratus costalis,” whose job it is to elevate the rib cage between the shoulders. This muscle originates in the upper inner part of the shoulder blade, and is inserted down on the 8 to 9 first ribs of the horse. When this muscle contracts itself, the rib cage is pushed up. There is no denying this. Still one can understand those who don’t acknowledge this fact. It so happens that they have dealt mostly with horses whose vertebral column, more so in its cervical segment, is the setting of vertebral blockings. As a result, their withers lose their possibility of rising. Most often, these blockings result from forceful riding: immoderate use of side-reins, head set too low, strong contact with the rider’s hands. Such horses are often reluctant to give a “direct” jaw flexion, because they are in pain, or at least they feel uneasy. Conversely, the direct flexion of the jaw will not take care of these blockings. One will have then to resort to Baucher’s lateral flexions, whereby the jaw is asked to yield, upon the horse’s neck being laterally bent, the line of the ears remaining horizontal. Time and again, since I started studying the osteopathic manipulations of the vertebrae ten years ago, I have observed that the flexions of Baucher in his first, as well as in his second “manner”, if well performed, and regularly repeated, will release the possible vertebral blockings of the cervical vertebrae, and even of the three first thoracic vertebrae. This is quite a lot, and is likely to help considerably.
Some cases will remain when a horse will not be “free” enough in his rib cage because of blockings situated farther back. It is for these horses probably that Baucher was obliged to artificially bring the hind legs under, with the whip, working in hand, and the spurs when mounted. The hind legs would come under, but with no engagement of the hindquarters, that is, no “tipping under” of the pelvis, this tipping being made impossible by the blockings in the back. In the meantime, in order to alleviate the pain suffered by the horse in this position, the front legs would come under the mass as well. This faulty collection, for which Baucher was reproached in his first manner, is often to be seen nowadays on the Dressage grounds.
“Another reason for the abeyance ..If we pull, the flexion of the jaw will turn into “the razor in the monkey’s hands.” ”
Another reason for the abeyance in which the flexion of the jaw has fallen, is that it may be tricky to use. People have to learn how not to pull; this requires discipline. Because if we pull, then the flexion of the jaw will turn into “the razor in the monkey’s hands.” But is it because a scalpel may be dangerous that we should dismiss surgery altogether? A third reason for this “eclipse” of the flexion of the jaw is more elusive. When I was in France, I had an “aristocratic,” or “esoteric” way of teaching the jaw flexion: I would teach it only when I thought the student “worthy” of receiving the message. That was a kind of “initiation” to high horsemanship, a horsemanship anyway that would be forever reserved to an elected few. Coming to the States, where I see some students only twice a year (because of the distances), which imparts to me the obligation of giving as much information as I can in a clinic, I had to change my way, and I started to preach the Gospel of the jaw flexion to the lay public. Sometimes with a vague feeling of guilt. But my concern was very unfounded, since I discovered that the flexion of the jaw is esoteric by nature. You preach it, people listen to you, they believe you, and...they don’t do it. The few who receive the message are the blessed ones....J.C.R. Reprinted with Permission
Jean Claude Racinet author of several texts including Another Horsemanship was injured in Germany. The family finds itself in a difficult situation, if you would like to help, you can send donations to: Susan Norman – Jean–Claude Racinet Benefit Fund, 1987 Funf Kinder Road, Fredericksburg, Texas, 78624.
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Roman Gladia Roman Gladiators I went, compelled to watch, excited by the thought of how beautiful it would be to watch and perhaps take a picture or two of horses jumping free. A nearby stable had advertised a warmblood judging class and one of the first classes was chute jumping. The power and bascule of the horse going over a jump thrills us all. (pic of jumper) How much better it would be to watch horses jumping free of all human interference. To watch the horses gracefully hang in suspension, legs tucked, faces free of bridle and bits, the power of the take-off, the haunches sliding underneath for takeoff. It sounded too yummy to miss! They began with the three year olds. Colts and Fillies, warmbloods, big, strong and powerful, the size creating a breathtaking beauty that cannot be denied. First were displayed floating trots as the handler raced by with each spectacular horse. Then each was taken to the run-through where three small jumps were arranged, starting with a small x. The jumps were a size that more than one horse took the last of the three, the largest, at little more than a big canter stride. One after another, the three year olds came through, displaying their abilities for both handler, judges and spectators. Impressive was how each handler quickly denied the opportunity to work with yet higher and higher heights, happy with the beginning efforts of horses untried. Wise as well, these experienced handlers were not just breeders but trainers as well, and well knew that confidence in their own abilities was something to be carefully nurtured in the young minds of their charges. The first horse came through - a big colt, who agilely and easily went through the combination. The judges were there not just to judge but to help each horse along, quickly involved in the decision on whether or not to raise
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the bar, or consulted on whether to add an extra ground pole or to increase the distances between the jumps to help the horses along. The handler each time ran with the horse to the first small x and quickly released the horse to the jumps. Few, or next to none of these three year olds even hesitated at that first small x. A confidence booster and excellent introduction to these strong colts and fillies to the two jumps to follow: having jumped the first, it introduced the idea that the next two were to be jumped as well. After all, how is a horse supposed to judge the difference between a fence or rope or wire that we don’t want them to jump and one that we do? And after we surround them with boards and fences all the time, in our efforts to keep them in! But it didn’t go quite so smoothly for all. One horse crashed through the yellow keep-out crime scene tape rather than go over the last more formidable and solid jump, seeing an obstacle that it had no confidence to go over. But we would get to see “what this horse was capable of” as the horse again was encouraged to go over. Encouraged and, well, chased by lunge whips, the horse, bolting through the jumps this time, went on and perhaps a little through as well as over, a loud crashing sound informing us that one of the poles had been well hit by tender cannon bones. The filly was again taken through and this time cleared all of the jumps well. The bar of the last was then raised so that all of us, spectators and judges, could see what this filly “could do.” Yet...it was disturbing to realize, as the announcer informed the audience, that for almost all of these three year olds, this was all very new. That just the night before they had been first introduced to the jumps. The loud crash made one wonder at the pain the filly was experiencing. I cannot even begin to imagine what most people’s reactions would be if asked to run and fly over a series of jumps just after having someone take a 2 by 4 and having them smash it against their shins. The pain, the bruising...would incapacitate most of us, one would think! Yet, the horse kept jumping. That last loud crack somehow disturbed me at a level I cannot begin to describe, and as I left the arena, quietly saying excuse me, so I would not tread on the toes of the other spectators, I heard comments. Comments of how “she really could jump, couldn’t she?”, “Well, now she knew what to do”, “Well, now she knows to listen”, and others. And it struck me how each comment seemed to say that the job was well done by handlers and trainers in chasing this horse through these jumps. That the horse has now learned something. And I have to stop and question that. What did the horse learn? The horse learned to choose between two fears, between her fear of jumping and her fear of the trainer chasing her, lunge whip in hand. Most there would probably argue that well, by facing her fear, she learned to have confidence in her abilities. As if choosing one fear over another raises one’s confidence. As if the confidence of any horse when it comes to trusting the humans that it interacts with is in any way raised, by being chased with whip flying, always a threat of impending pain. After all, why run from a whip unless at some level you understand the promise of what is to come if you don’t run?! The horse learns that humans impart pain. That if their wishes are not followed, pain will follow. The horse
â€œ..a vision of arches and the dust...as the crowd cheers on their favourite gladiatorâ€?
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“...cannot we as trainers find an alternative training method to introduce young, although tall and powerful, three year olds to the concept of jumping? Should we not as judges and spectators expect that the horses, clear in eye and heart, thrill to soar over the jumps?” learns to run from the whip and the human holding it. Their flight instinct engaged, their fear is so active that they would rather have a two by four slamming against their shins. Yes, the next time the horse learns to jump higher, to lift legs higher. And those around congratulate each other and the handlers and a round of applause goes out as the horse shows its beautiful form in going over the jump. And somehow, unasked, a vision was overlaid, a vision of 2000 years ago, of arches, and the dust of the arena raised in the air as the crowd cheered on the efforts of their favourite gladiator. The cries of the audience echoed in my head with the cries of the now envisioned coliseum. The dust of the arena mixed together between reality and the past. What joy, what satisfaction can this audience find in that loud crack of bone covered only by thin skin as the front legs of the horse hit the jump? Watching the horse rise in this incredible power to go over the jump can be something truly beautiful to behold. And there is no doubt that there are horses that only truly come alive when in the presence of a jump, who adore jumping. But cannot we as trainers find an alternative training method to introduce young, although tall and powerful, three year olds to the concept of jumping? Should we not as judges and spectators expect that the horses, clear in eye and heart, thrill to soar over the jumps? How difficult would it be to take some time in introducing the concept of jumping? A few x’s introduced into the arena, a horse working in freedom with us, beginning by jumping with the horse over the small x, the horse trusting us to be a good leader, following where they trust us to go. The game introduced, the encouragement, the delight of the trainer, awakening in the horse his playful spirit, going wow, look how impressed my human is with me! Wow, I must be really special! And like a bright child, the horse begins to want to show off. Well, if you think that was good, how about this, or what about this?! Treats? Fabulous, do you want me to do it again? Desire and courage need to be carefully nurtured in all of our horses for every activity that we do with them. It truly is worth the time and effort, and then perhaps we won’t hear in the far off distance the sounds of the cheers of the crowd at the Roman Coliseum because we have forgotten how we have supposedly grown since then.. By Nadja King
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