Sheep and Horses

There’s a new video of Hempfling working an 11 year old stallion:

The cutest thing on this video is at 2:04 with the sheep. SOOOO CUTE! following with their tails waving like the horse. The sheep are SCENE STEALERS!

Some of my thoughts….

Since I’m stuck in the boondocks of the U.S., the likelihood that I will meet Klaus is very low. Also, even if I met him, my track record on being disillusioned by trainers seems to be high so I’m not sure if I would WANT to meet him, if that makes sense, and would rather believe in my own interpetations of what he is doing.

Anything I write about what I see is just that my interpetation as I don’t have the money or proximity to state conclusively that this is what Klaus thinks or how he does things.

I know that geldings and mares are not as expressive as stallions, and for video or slideshows it wouldn’t show off as well, however, I would really like to see Klaus work with some “average” horses – trained, not a problem, but who we want to bring out more from. It would be very helpful to me to see this even if it wasn’t as showy.

One thing of note in this video is how loose and slack (Dorrance calls this “float” in the rope) that Klaus keeps the line between him and the stallion. Even when the stallion plays and expresses himself, Klaus doesn’t tighten and pull him back down but allows it, though there is a safe distance kept between them.

IMO this is where Klaus – who acknowledges herd dominance and how it plays into the character of the horse and our relationship with the horse – differs greatly from the natural horsemanship trainers in this country. He doesn’t seem interested in controlling the horse and assuming leadership through a dominance principle; rather he allows the horse to keep what independence he can, while being a presence in the horses’ life, first as a parallel leader that through the horses’ respect, gains ascendancy over the horses’ desires.

This is a rather subtle difference so I do not know if I explained it well enough. If not, ask me on this entry and I will discuss further.

From reading his books or seeing the videos, a horse person may get a warm fuzzy, romantic feeling and think his work stems from those spiritual emotions – when in reality, from watching his dvds, listening to his talks, and reading about him, he seems far more practical and realistic about the horses’ role in our life. While admiring the horse, he doesn’t sugar coat it.

I wonder if some visitors to his workshops might not be a bit surprised, especially when I look back on the clinics that I’ve attended and how participants were too often self-delusioned about what their problems where and how they needed to fix themselves before they worked on their horse (who wasn’t “broke” at all to begin with).

It also makes me think back to a message board on horses that I once managed, where another person was very negative about the dvd’s and his books. They didn’t “get it.” This person, while educated and doing great things with her horse, also did not get or like Bill Dorrance’s True Horsemanship through Feel – with the first, she felt the dvd’s were too artsy and Klaus’ book too negative to the dressage world; and with Dorrance she didn’t like his slow, autobiographical “talky” writing style.

Which goes to show that one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. It’s important for us each to find a mentor that speaks to us personally – for me Klaus is that mentor even if it is through media materials such as books, dvd’s and videos.

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5 Responses to Sheep and Horses

  1. I love the way that the big stallion is running around freely – “float” is an excellent term for it. He wouldn’t get that freedom and energy safely expressed if the stallion did not respect him.

    One question that may just relate to my horses is: how does he keep the horse’s mind off eating? Mine wouldn’t go two strides before thinking about food.

    You’ve had a lot more to do with trainers than I have. But I can understand some of your disillusionment. In Britain I see some who behave as if they had practically invented horsemanship. Some who seem focused on selling gadgets to make money. A self-righteous few who tell us that bits (and so on) are evil. Some people who promote good things (such as well thought out barefoot trimming) debase themselves by endorsing dubious things (such as treeless saddles) to make more money or gain more publicity.

    Meanwhile most of the consumers seem pretty dim. If the most fashionable trainer told them to wear orange clothes to ride better, you know what would happen.

    I agree with you that more people have problems than horses. Perhaps I see more of my problems because I have rather a straightforward horse?

    • On the “float” that is the term Dorrance uses for the loop in the lead rope – as opposed to people keeping it tight and pulling on it.

      I know he talks about in his book that he works out a cue for the horse to know it is okay to eat; no cue, no eating. And here is where I raise my eyebrows (as much as I love Hempfling) I’ve seen no video of how he does this.

      It’s like my recent experience in a certain training group and the video CLEARLY CUTS OFF where the horse has become difficult, then comes back on WHEN THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED. Hm…. and no this is not Hempfling but another trainer who I have come to suspect her methods and motives.

      Perhaps you have a straightforward horse because you do not live in a world of deception – even deceiving yourself? As perhaps a certain character in your story does….?

      Yes, I am heartily sick of trainers and I’ve gotten to the point I went back and deleted some of my firey, hellfire and brimstone rants about them and have moved on. I think the horses can show me what to do.

  2. Thank you for explaining about “float”. I like to lead Doru with a loose rope, however when he is in a certain sort of mood I prefer just enough tension to know how far away he is. A playful nip on the back or leg can come all too quickly. I like a trail horse also to lead along right behind me as well as more conventionally.

    That idea of giving a cue to tell him when it’s OK to eat – wish I knew how. At the moment, he thinks that the cue is to be led anywhere that has nice grass!

    Deception is a bad thing. That nearly landed me with a rather unsuitable horse not so long ago. Fortunately I realised in time, or perhaps Doru showed me? On the other hand, a little fantasy purely to keep the imagination active is no bad thing.

    You remind me that I need to write some more. That strange deceptive yet addictive character needs some more adventures, and so do I. A historical timeline somewhere between the Romans and the Saxon era seems reasonable, except that the Saxons came along as mercenaries to serve the Romans. Well, that timeline will need to be altered, after all some equestrian nomads might just have appeared instead (or as well) and have been given a suitable tract of land as their realm. (This seems like a breakthrough in terms of a timeline and an underlying assumption.)

    Anyway, I’ve another book to get out of the way (it needs copy editing and typesetting for online publishing) then I’ll have time for Far Forest (which, on reflection, might not be the best title for people who live in open spaces). Work is pretty slack nowadays, which isn’t quite what I want, but I’ll make what I can of the situation.

    • J I have not worked with stallions so I don’t feel I can comment on what Doru is up too 😛 While he seems easy going to ride, it does sound like he defines his territory on the ground.

      I think Doru showed you recently that it’s time to slow down. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have looked at another horse, but I’ve learned that I have to take it slow in making the decision to buy another because once they become part of my ‘family” that is a big emotional, physical and time committment. Thought O wasn’t for you, doesn’t mean another horse might not make a good partner and possible friend for Doru and you.

      Yes, you need to get writing again! 😀 and give me a minor character I can play with…

  3. Doru can be a bit territorial on the ground, though he tends simply to be pushy rather than aggressive. However, even being pushy can be dangerous so I am looking to curb his tendencies within reasonable bounds.

    I did, however, find out yesterday that the barn staff are feeding hay only once a day, in the evening. So, whilst he receives a full ration, nevertheless he is hungry by next day when I go to catch him. Perhaps that accounts for the pushiness when I take him from the field? Anyay, I’ve arranged for him to be fed twice a day, and hope for better behaviour.

    Given the straitened eonomy, I will stick with one horse. He needs time invested in getting him sound anyway. It would be nice to have another, but there are plenty of nice things that yet are not attainable or realistic.

    I need to get another book out of the way – the one on running a riding holiday centre. The text is written, and most of the photos are taken, however it needs typesetting and putting onto a self-publishing site. Finally I think that Danielle and I can afford the software that we need, then we can finish the job.

    However, yes, I do need to write some fantasy work too. I’ve stepped right back to preparing maps of the area that I imagine, and a timeline so that all is plausible. Then there are some assumptions and background, and these I need to type up and share with you, including the main cast of characters. I do tend to write to a plan, and the plan needs to make sense.

    I’ve seen some Tolkien-inspired writing too where members of a group each take a part. Trouble is, that seems to end up as discrete parts, almost like letters written, unless all are in a room interacting directly.

    Meanwhile, the archery store is getting in some horse bows. I’ll go and try one, after all it is “necessary research” for the writing project!

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