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Posts Tagged ‘seven deadly sins’

As I’ve learned to be a parent over the last five years, I have often noted—admittedly, not always with joy—the parallels between being “mom” to a son and “mom” to a horse. The constant need for food and poop removal, for example, stands out rather vividly in my mind…

But it of course takes far more than basic physical care to raise a child or train a horse:

  • We must constantly deconstruct our requests—both the simple and the complex—and translate them into a language our pupil can understand.
  • We must recognize a “try” and reward quickly and accordingly, even if it isn’t exactly right…yet.
  • We must constantly monitor behavior in the hopes that a gentle correction early can prevent an uncomfortable confrontation later.
  • And we must be prepared to be firm when necessary, because the establishment of boundaries and respect for you as leader/teacher/parent is ultimately integral to the safety of the child or the horse, as well as necessary for either one’s success when venturing forth into the world without you.

“Just as good parents find within themselves the strength to correct their child, you have to find within yourself the strength to keep your horse under your authority,” writes trainer and dressage rider Douglas Puterbaugh in his book THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE. “In both cases, the intent is entirely proper. For his own good, a child must learn to distinguish between behaviors that are acceptable and those that won’t be tolerated. Horses are similar…Like a child, they look to your leadership to show them the right way to do things.”

 

Douglas Puterbaugh, the author of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE has a new website--click the image above to check it out.

Douglas Puterbaugh, the author of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE has a new website–click the image above to check it out.

 

Douglas says that horses require “discipline with a purpose.” This phrase stands out in that it doesn’t advocate being a teddy bear or a nag or a tyrant. As parents and as horse owners, we must cultivate the ability to correct at the appropriate moment, to sometimes leave our pupil alone and give him time to “figure it out,” and we must always be in control of our temper.

“When your horse misbehaves you have to act quickly,” writes Douglas. “You must get your horse’s attention and immediately give him direction. This should be done firmly but gently because unwanted behavior does not necessarily mean a horse is deliberately misbehaving.  It just means he’s doing something you don’t want him to do.

“You must always rule in favor of the horse. You must always be clear about what you want him to do.  You must always be clear with your aids, and you must always carefully measure your response.  Any reprimand must be proportional to the offense. Furthermore, a reprimand is deserved only when the horse knows better and is willfully disobeying….Never reprimand a horse that doesn’t understand something.  You want to teach your horse, not bully him.  A docile horse will tolerate being bullied, but a noble horse won’t.  A noble horse will bully you back.  Either way, you lose.  You lose the trust and confidence of one that’s sweet, and awaken the doubt and defiance of one that’s a king.”

Again, Douglas’ last point rings true to the parent in me as well as the rider! How often I’ve seen children cower in fear beneath a sharp reprimand, while I’ve witnessed others volley screams until it was the parent who retreated in defeat.

In truth, wielding discipline in the barn or arena is a delicate balance, like so much else we do with horses. It has a necessary place in good training, just as it does in good parenting, but it must always be conscientiously applied, and it must always have a purpose.

 

Douglas Puterbaugh’s THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE was featured in the Dutch magazine BIT this month. And Douglas has also kicked off the new year with a new website (www.puterbaughdressage.com)—check out his beautiful stables and training facilities in Howell, Michigan, by CLICKING HERE.

7DeadlySins-250THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE TO READ A FREE EXCERPT AND ORDER NOW

 

–Rebecca Didier, Senior Editor

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“From time without beginning,” writes Douglas Puterbaugh in his chapter on FEAR in THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE, “man and horse have shared something in common: an ancient and deeply rooted emotion called fear.”

Interestingly, although mankind evolved as a predator and horse hung on in the role of prey, both rely on fear to save them via fight or flight. It is this natural and powerful response that can divide horse and rider, that can cause the horse to jig, shy, and bolt, and the rider to quake, tense, and fall off.

And while fluttering white ghostly figures and things that go “bump” will surely send many a horse (and rider) into a whirling, spinning, tizzy, it isn’t just Halloween that gets us spooked. We come face to face with outer and inner demons every day, and our fear response holds us back as we strive to achieve partnership and higher levels of performance with our horse.

How can we conquer our own anxieties and our own fears, so we can help instill a greater sense of confidence in our horse? Here are four tips from top riders and trainers for saying, “BOO!” right back:

1  Practice, Practice, Practice

“There’s a direct correlation between study and test performance,” says dressage trainer Douglas Puterbaugh in THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE. “There’s a direct correlation between practice and performance in competition. The only way to perform at the best of your ability is to practice diligently…when you’ve practiced so thoroughly that your movements have become almost automatic, that old nervousness won’t the fear it once was.”

2  Scare Yourself…a Little

“If you are trying to build your self-confidence,” writes USEA Hall-of-Famer Denny Emerson in HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD, “don’t hurt yourself, and don’t scare yourself—too much. You have to scare yourself a little to give yourself something to build on, but only a little. Keep doing the slightly scary thing until you have had so much success that you know success is inevitable. Then make whatever it is that you are trying to do a little harder…You can be timid, or shy, or indecisive, or reticent. You can be burdened by any one of many afflictions that result from a lack of self-confidence, and you can improve every one of them if you can figure out a way to scare yourself just a little bit. Too big a scare, and you will find your self-confidence in pieces on the ground.”

3  Employ “Thought Stopping”

“When you find yourself visualizing imminent disaster,” says Olympic coach, dressage rider, and popular motivational speaker Jane Savoie in IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RIBBONS, “break your pattern by doing some ‘thought stopping’ right away. As soon as the alarming picture pops into your head, use an action word to quiet your mind and erase it. Your action word might be something like: ‘Clear,’ ‘Focus,’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Relax,’ or ‘Breathe.’ Replace the negative thought with a positive one. This is an important step, because if you don’t fill your mind with a positive thought, the negative picture will creep right back in.”

4 Create Safe Habits

“Learn what you need to do to be safe on the ground and in the saddle, and then do those things the same way every time you work with your horse until they are as automatic as the safety habits you use when driving a car,” says Melinda Folse, author of the bestselling THE SMART WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MIDLIFE HORSES. “Even experienced horse handlers can unwittingly grow careless over the years, so it never hurts to take a good look at your habits to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep yourself safe to ride another day.”

Melinda gives us a few ideas of the kind of “safe habits” we all should employ on and around horses:

-Teach your horse to respect your space.

– Pay attention to where you’re standing.

-Wear a helmet.

-Practice the one-rein stop and the emergency dismount.

“Fear is a conquerable thing,” Melinda reminds us—and indeed, all the featured authors remind us in their respective books, “and being safe around horses is something we can be proactive about.”

So don’t stay scared. Get busy!

And Happy Happy Halloween!

Be sure to see what Buck Brannaman says about fear in yesterday’s post CLICK HERE

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Just in and already flying out the door, THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE is a horse book like no other. We’re all human; we’re all fragile; we all succumb to temptation at one time or another. But the question of the hour is can we look at ourselves in the mirror and say we are the best rider we can be? Can we look our horse in the eye and say we are the best friend and partner we can be?

We all fall from grace. There is no question of that. But have we the will to face our inner demons, acknowledge our faults, learn from our mistakes, and ride better in the end because of it?

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE offers an earnest testimony to the faults most often found in the dressage world, how to identify them, how to conquer them, and in the end, how to rise above our very humanity and meet the horse on the honored plain he inhabits…within our power, and yet forever and always more powerful, true, and honest.

Order your copy of THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

What readers are already saying about THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE:

“A book that touches raw nerves yet leaves you with great hope for redemption. I know I will be a more just rider from here on in.”

“If you ride you will find yourself saying, ‘Amen, brother.'”

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF DRESSAGE NOW

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