The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Thoughts on Dancing With Horses

1) The "most  dominant" leading "zone" (3) - behind the horse - is the zone from which Gus used to drive Skipper forward - in a friendly, fraternal, but nonetheless insistent way.

2) KFH criticizes people for giving confusing signals and then punishing the horse for misunderstanding.  (p. 43) But perhaps the solution is simply to stop punishing.  Maybe absolute consistency is not the only answer. If my horse is allowed to "try out" different responses to my bizarre human requests, without worrying about adverse consequences, maybe he'll figure stuff out and won't need me to develop a machine-like consistency. My daughter learned in education class that an important prerequisite for successful learning is to take away the fear of failure.

3)  I am glad to learn that KFH believes the ideal height of horse for a 5' 11" person is 14:3 hh to 15:3 hh. (p. 59)  I'm almost 5' 10", and my favorite size horse to ride is around 14:2 to 15:2.

4) I like what he has to say about the forehand vs. the haunches (p. 51):
The forehand is built in a relatively linear fashion.  Additional burdens on it cannot be relieved through angles and elasticity ... The haunches, on the other hand, are built like an accordion .... Here resilience and elasticity can be easily developed to accept any additional burdens and ... cushion them.
Additionally, he points out that it is only in the flight response that a horse really burdens its forehand - and that horse racing aims to put the horse into artificial flight. A racehorse in flight no longer is able to use its haunches for weight bearing and puts all the burden of its weight onto the forehand. (p. 50).

5)  I have identified a goal for myself: to weigh the same as Hempfling.  At the time of writing DWH, he says he's 175 lb. I think I can make it.  I may never have a mustache and a pirate shirt, but by golly I can be light enough to ride the same horses as he does.

6 ) I like a lot of what he says about the seat and aids.  If I should ever find myself on the back of a horse again, I'm going to have to give it a try.  Although I think, as with so much equestrian advice, I would have to spend a long time experimenting and making it my own.

7)  He says he yanks on the halter if a horse starts to graze without permission. Isn't that cheating?

8) KFH talks a lot of about being accepted as the herd leader.  But a horse doesn't spend ages hanging on every word of the stallion.  She's off eating and chatting with her friends, and then when the stallion suddenly says, "Look out!  Grizzly bear at two o'clock!" she pays attention.  When the danger is averted, she goes back to doing her own thing.  Klaus has the horses trundling around the countryside for hours on end following him as if he were Elvis Presley.  There's something more going on here than "herd leader" and "herd member."

9)  I want to do cool stuff.  I want to "work" with the horses.  It's not going to happen until they say so.

10) Everything makes more sense when I stop trying.  I can't do your program, Klaus.  Sorry.


  1. My thoughts:

    1) I don't think it has got to do with zones, just attitudes.
    2) Punishing is almost never helpful with horses, especially when a person is really frustrated.
    3,4,5,6) if and when I start riding again, my most important goal is to stay mind-connected with the horse, so that it will not remind anything that has been done TO him/her, but it should be "being together" even when I am on his/her back.
    7) If horse starts to graze, I have been late on reacting to the first signals and I should let him graze for a while, keeping in mind that it is the thing they should be doing most of their time naturally.
    8) I have heard that KFH is actually a person with such charisma, that I think it is something he cannot teach and maybe even should not write about, as it comes naturally to him. I think most of the horses are so eager to work with him because he really KNOWS he can help every horse to develop into more balanced and proud soul.
    9) Yeah, me too. Maybe some day we'll stop wanting and start doing! :)
    10) everything also starts to happen when I stop trying ;)


  2. When I read that book a few years ago, I learned a lot from use of one's energy and body language. However, like you, I think horses can put up with inconsistencies. I think they read our intent. I find it difficult to always be so aware of my body and movements that each movement is deliberate and conscious.

    I think more and more for me it is about letting go, doing less and less rather than doing things, trying out new ideas etc, although there was a time I loved trying out new things.

  3. I think reading the book helps in that it makes me think about interesting stuff, and hinders in that it sends me off on a tangent away from the body language I've been developing with the horses and trying to do it "better" which turns out to be worse.

    I've been thinking that "Dancing" is an important word in the title. Maybe Klaus's leadership is akin to the man "leading" in a dance. Which is probably what he'd say. But I do think that

  4. Dancing is really a good word to describe it, as it should be something that is done in co-operation with each others, and always ready to change plans if one stumbles. Finding the flow and going with it.