Showing Naturally is a concept I have that all things can be done, solved and maximized using natural ideas, concepts and techniques to develop confident, happy, willing, athletic partners!
My focus is on developing the athlete mentally, emotionally and physically. I also am interested in not only teaching humans how to be the best riders they can be, but also the greatest partners for their horses, so Together they can achieve their dreams!!!!!
For over 30 years I've been interested in how all our equipment, training techniques and attitudes affect our horses and their performance. My experimentation started there inspired by great teachers and students of the horse. Rosemary Thomas of Summerduck Run Farm in Culpeper VA started me on my path in 1974. She is/was a most inspiring horseman always putting the horse first and teaching us that was the ONLY path to great success. By putting ego/goals/events/money/fame ahead of the well-being of the horse, one would never achieve all that was possible. She did not impose limits on our dreams, she encouraged us to look forward and make our own goals, but she did give us strong leadership in both the care and training of our horses and ponies.
I have had many great teachers and mentors since and I see the horse as a Whole Being that has many needs. The more of those needs we fulfill, the better performance we can achieve. I would like to present some new and some proven ideas to you here so you can see how our horses are vastly more talented than we realize! We put limits on them. We are limited by our own thinking and limited knowledge. The more we look for good answers, not shortcuts/quick fixes/ways to cheat, the more we will grow and develop as horsemen and humans. The power to be great, powerful and influencial is in all of us (and our horses), we need to find that spot made for us and develop it. We must live our own dreams, not those of others.
I have written a few things in the past that I will include here. I will also include things I have studied so you can do your own research and thinking. I plan to write a whole new collection of articles from my perspective today. In those you can view a lifetime of study. Perhaps you won't agree with all I have to say, no worries, you are entitled to your own opinions and experience. This is a place to start thinking and to start discussions, this is not the end, it is the beginning!
Older Articles I have Written:
Swirlology, The Study of Hair Swirls or Whorls in Horses
I have studied everything about horses in great detail from conformation - form to function; to horse personalities - which jobs suit which personality. Thinking horsemen are always striving to understand and maximize their horses more fully. Studying the swirls or whorls (trichoglyphs) of hair on a horse's face, head and body can offer many important clues to both personality and performance. Swirls and their placement give us a greater understanding of the energy flow through the horse. By accurately reading the swirls, one can choose the horse partner that is best suited to his or her goals, or reject an unsuitable horse before time, money and emotion are invested. Swirls can lead us to a deeper understanding and acceptance of our horses.
Introduction to Groundwork for Performance
Groundwork (and the Parelli Seven Games in particular) has had much exposure the past few years. Many people have celebrated it, and many people have teased about it being only for people too weak and afraid to actually ride. Groundwork is so much more beneficial than we ever realized when we start to look outside the horse world and see what we can really do with it!
Straightness is the Key
Straightness is the key to maximizing performance and this article puts all the new riding ideas, techniques and pieces into one comprehensive spot. If you wonder how it all fits together, here is your article.
Making the Connection
Tommy has just ‘made the connection’ for me and my ‘cooler-bred’ modern stock horses, from the place where we start, stiff and crooked, to a lovely body position/frame where they are ready to either relax and coast, or power up and do something fabulous. I am beyond excited and want to share with my friends and clients what I have learned. I believe this is the missing link in the classical training method. I believe this method is better for the horses with stiffer front ends (heavy on the forehand). The classical path is better for the horses with stiffer hindquarters (the classic method). I believe both methods get their respective horses to the same spot, ready to perform physically, mentally and emotionally prepared.
Use Your Body Position to Maximize Performance
Have you ever wanted to be the most beautiful rider in the show? How do you think we have determined what a 'beautiful rider' means? Shouldn't proper equitation be created to help our horses be efficient and effortless? Alas I do not think the great classic masters were considering the horse's comfort and ease of movement when they wrote down the rules of proper position. I think they were creating the most striking, intimidating, handsome position for war and leadership.
The Next Piece - Available Shoulders
"I had the most amazing experience today that opened up a door above me and catapulted me into the future! I saw a posture and an energy flow within a client's horse that I had neither created, nor comprehended before today! I saw the path to upper level dressage and its advanced movements! I saw why upper level dressage in its ideal form is the purest, most perfect process to develop and maximize every horse to its absolute fullest potential! I truly saw why the classic outline is perfect! I felt the potential energy to power out the most incredible trot and canter lengthenings, the straightness with explosiveness to do endless tempe flying changes, the balanced power for passage and piaffe! I saw a client's horse change before my eyes and give me a glimpse into the future!"
Unhinging the Poll and Throatlatch
This unhinging is the deliberate movement necessary to open the nueropathways to your horse's brain so you can work on and 'fix' his settings in his propreoceptive system. With this access to his brain and its settings, we have the ability to take our horses to an even higher level of refinement and performance!
Posture is One of the Keys to Personality
Ever since I started studying Parelli Natural Horsemanship in 2004, I have noticed the PNH Seven Games have been much more powerful and had greater positive effects on my horses that I ever anticipated or expected. I use them to check and fix 'sticky' feet, open neuropathways, balance responsiveness and energy, but one of the greatest uses of the games is to understand and change posture.
Bad Riding/Good Riding
There are certain body positions of the rider that allow the horse to really move and allow energy to really flow easily through his body correctly. Then there are body positions that really block his movement and energy flow. Great riders/trainers understand how there body interfaces, connects and affects their horse's body. They use their body and its positions to create the energy flow and 'picture' they desire from their horse. Until one understands their imput into the picture, one will never achieve the results or maximize their horse as much as they could.
Shake that Snowglobe
When we are working with horses and especially when we are teaching others, we need great mental pictures to help us understand the concepts clearly. I believe 'The Snowglobe' is a concept almost everyone can see, understand and use.
Get the Mental Picture
A single image, video or moment can open our minds to an entirely new realization and reality! By opening your mind, watching and remembering great images, one can transform herself (or himself) into something greater than ever before. It has been proven that the mind can grasp and process images at a much deeper level than most people understand. By purposely seeking out positive mental pictures, we can change ourselves and our horses in ways we never imagined.
The Magic of Mirroring
Mirroring is one of our horses' greatest undiscovered and under-utilized skills. Horses are hard-wired to mirror their herdmates for comfort and safety. It is one of their greatest survival skills. If we recognize the concept and power of mirroring and put it to work for us, our horses will start to offer more than we could ever demand from them. With this offering comes relaxation, free choice and peace for our horses. When a horse or human offers to do anything with these three things in his heart, an entirely new level of potential and performance are realized! Meet your horse where he is, and then lead him to where you want him to be by offering him the perfect posture to mirror.
Opening Nueropathways for Rehabilitation and Higher Achievement
I have always been facinated by the horsemen who could maximize every horse in their program. I wanted to be that horseman. As a child I experimented with equipment first (bits, draw reins, gimmicks) and found although a complicated bit or a complex tool might artificially create something that appears correct, this result was soon lost when the bit or tool was removed. True horsemen use the greatest tools of all, their heart and mind, to develop and maximize their horses.
Showing Naturally Clinic March 2007
When we stop thinking and training for events/classes and we start to understand and use natural concepts, principles and techniques, we can achieve a balanced horse physically, mentally and emotionally. This horse can apply his foundation to many events/classes with success.
Keep Your Eye On the Road from Foundation to Finish
I feel there is a real lack today in complete knowledge of how horses progress from Starting through Finishing. We have a plethora of articles on every subject but where can one go to make sense of it all. I have clients every day bringing me excellent articles with wonderful ideas and information, which are totally not applicable to that client’s stage of development. I do my best to keep ‘the big picture’ in my mind’s eye and my clients’. It is a challenge we all face daily.
Putting It All Together - Belly Muscles and Greater Performance - After reading 'Tug of War' by Dr Gerd Heuschmann I realized we were missing huge pieces of understanding in the way the horse's body was conformed and worked. With this knowledge we have been able to make sense of and put to use all our new techniques and theories!
Saddle Pain -There are many cause for back pain and poor saddle fit. This article highlights one of those reasons. I have been educated by many different excellent saddlefitters but I had never heard about the 'floating ribs'/transverse processes that could interfere with the way our saddles fit. This might be news to you too!
Seat Bones/Hind Legs - After my recent enlightenment about the biomechanics of the horse through the ideas and techniques of Dr Gerd Heuschmann, all my extensive study on horse posture and rider position has been greatly simplified. Gerd teaches huge advanced concepts and he has made them incredibly simple. He definately starts at the beginning, both with young and remedial horses, and he gives a solid, crystal clear path all the way to 'the end'. I am thrilled! Gerd says 'in the end you are seat bones talking to hindlegs'. This idea is so perfect and simple, we can teach the basics to every horse in a matter of minutes; and every rider from the beginner to the highly advanced can grasp the concept and use the technique within 30 minutes.