I recently had the Pleasure of attending a Mark Rashid Clinic. It was a great experience. I took lots of affirmation of my own work as well as some new tool nuggets for some problem solving I had been doing. My good friend and her Cowboy Mounted Shooting Mare (seen in the photo with Mark) rode in the clinic while I audited and videoed. I have been working with her and her mare for a couple of years and she had a basically no right lead canter. I felt that this was a chiropractic issue and lo and behold Mark was working side by side with an Equine chiropractor at this particular clinic. So horse after horse came in with what looked like soundness issues and after an adjustment on site, went a whole bunch better. It was awesome to see the before and after from just one adjustment. There was also a lecture from the chiropractor about the structural issues in horses that was very enlightening. My eye got even sharper then it already was before by talking to him and getting his feedback on what I was seeing in the "off" horses.
Mark and his wife Chrissi worked with a variety of horses and disciplines and levels which is always good to see. Him and his wife were very soft spoken and kind but firm when they needed to be. I liked that. We came away with an exercise for my friends mare that would help strengthen her push off leg into the canter after she got adjusted. He agreed with my evaluation of her being physically unable and too weak in her muscles to take the lead with a rider. In other words super one sided.
The key points I took away from the clinic were: Breath!!!!, Ride from your core always. Think in terms of you and your horse as a "We" not a "I" tell "you" what to do and you do it. "We do it together" Use visualization first always. Never release on an un quiet mind. Those are just some of the broad strokes.
I highly recommend attending one of his clinics if you can make it to one. It was one of the best I have ever been to. Also, check out his books and DVD's and website.
I have wanted to talk about the Training Pyramid (or Scale) for some time as I believe if you understand it and use it, it will help you with even the most basic training of the pleasure horse. Whatever discipline you ride or train, it is a simple comprehensive guideline to successfully moving up the more advanced manuevers. What is the Training Pyramid you ask? Well it may be associated with Dressage mainly, but as a student of Horsemanship and Trainer of all disciplines, I use this system to start, train, and problem solve issues as I go. The image you see at the top is meant to be read from BOTTOM to TOP. It is a system that basically if followed carefully and understood clearly will provide you with a simple formula for training. So Rhythm is the first focus of the system. Look at Rhythm as the first grade or entry level of the scale. You start here and you get it as close to perfect as you can before you go to the next stage, which is Suppleness, and so on. I will get into what they are one at a time in each part. When you combine this with a Natural Horsemanship philosophy, it is win win. Stay tuned for the next section in the series.