Trainers & Teachers

I have been very fortunate to have two wonderful equestrian trainers. My “main man” is Rod, and I’ve been in consistent training with him for several years. I’ll be talking a lot about Rod in this blog. (His link is to the right.)

But I want to get all my info on Mark in the same place, so I’m moving it here. Mark Rashid is a trainer and teacher who gives horsemanship clinics around the country and at his home base in Colorado. (His link is also to the right.) I’ve been fortunate enough to attend three of his clinics.

The first one was in 2003, not long after I’d purchased Angel. Mark was very kind and tried to tell me gently that we really needed some serious work. (I wasn’t ready to hear that then, so didn’t pay attention. Later, after a couple of painful falls, I went into training with Rod who said basically the same thing but much more forcefully. As in, “Get off that horse till I fix a few things!”) Then in 2005 I got to attend Mark’s week-long clinic in Colorado. Couldn’t take Angel, of course, but rode one of Mark’s horses. Highlights from that week are posted here:

Last November I took Angel to another week-long clinic in California. Highlights from that experience:

  • Today I worked on moving myself as a whole, not just my arms, and not thinking of myself as “going better” either clockwise or counterclockwise, but to think of myself as a whole person.
  • Mark said something today that really struck me: Horses don’t know the difference between what they feel and how they act. It’s all one to them. They’re not being good or bad, they’re just giving us information. Also, that if we stay centered, if the horse spooks he can’t move us. If we are centered, we can move with the horse and redirect his energy rather than fight him.
  • He asked us to think of energy as a balance of 10. I bring 5, Angel brings 5. To stay in balance, we must remain at 10. If Angel adds energy and goes to a 7, then my energy has to drop to a 3. If Angel is at a 3, then I have to rise to a 7 to keep the balance. When his energy goes up, it is natural for my energy to go up as well (ohmygod, he’s spooking; what if I fall; don’t do that!), but that’s the exact opposite of what will help the situation. If I spike at the same time as my horse, I’m not giving him leadership or structure. If he dials it up, I must dial it down.
  • Horses don’t do things to bother us; they just do things.
  • No faux breathing!
  • Mark suggests that the reason Angel tips to the center when we lope to the left is because my lower back is tight, and I’m not holding my pelvis in the right place. So the energy flow between his back end, me, and his front end is interrupted. Also, if I want to ask for the lope, I have to start loping (mentally) before he does. So then he can follow me. It’s all connected. How I hold my pelvis, releasing my lower back so it can move, riding with focus and intent, all affect how he goes forward and the rooting on the bit problem.
  • Mark said someone asked him once if he could sum up horsemanship in 25 words or less. He responded, “Speed, direction, destination.” When we ride, we must tell the horse what speed we want, the direction we want him to go, and when we’ve gotten there. A horse must know those 3 things. If he doesn’t get that information from us, he will fill in the blanks himself.
  • Why your horse spooks/misbehaves/goes wrong doesn’t really matter. Don’t analyze it; ride it. When working with a horse it is more important to act than to process. Process later; ride now.
  • Consistency breeds dependability; dependability breeds trust; trust breeds peace of mind; and peace of mind breeds softness. We are working on our craft, and craftmanship takes years.
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