Hey Y'all!! I have been thinking on the subject of "training" videos for a while now. I have even thought of putting up some on you tube, but the more I studied other's the more I realize the problem with it. Now let me say, I've studied horses and horsemanship seriously for over 12 yrs now, and most of the study materials I've had has been on video ( I once had a library worth well over 10,000.00), yet the "learning" has been in the field , on a horse. I didn't really learn what I learned until I spent those years working with those hundreds of horses that I volunteered to work with, for the experience. What I mean is I found that a video can never be used to train a horse. There is just too many variables from horse to horse. Now granted the information is valuable, but as I started working with all those horses, I really started to realize what Tom Dorrance meant by "You have to adjust to fit the situation" and "Every horse is an individual". There is just way too many variables in each horses mental, emotional and physical state to make a video with one horse, and say this is how you do this. The "Do this and this and you get that" formula don't work with horses. Videos are good to show how to work with THAT horse in THAT video, but the horse you have and the horse that is in the video are going to need a different approach, a different feel, and different levels of pressure. Plus horses go on a moment by moment timetable, you may get one thing with a certain feel one minute, then completely lose it with the same feel a minute later, simply because the horse has gotten into a different state of mind, "You have to adjust to fit the situation". When you just factor in each horses, "make up", is he dominate minded, or fearful, low spirited or hot bloodied, thick skinned or sensitive,has he been spoiled or abused in the past ? So many variables that will be different than the horse on the video, and each one of these variables will require a different feel and approach, that's not even mentioning the number of combinations of these variables. All those videos I had didn't really start making sense to me ( I mean REALLY making sense) until I learned it on the horse, then Id re-watch the video and see what I had felt on the horse.
That's why I HATE the term "method". That to me just conjures up the notion of "do this and this and you get that" formula. In Tom Dorrance's book True Unity, there is a part where he talks about these factors and how people are always looking for a "quick fix" type answer, yet when they called him with advise on how to solve a problem, his answer was most always the same, "It depends". Tom would almost never give out advise until he was looking at the horse and rider interacting and could observe what was going on with both. That's why you won't find a video of Tom Dorrance or Ray Hunt,with one horse, saying " Now this is how you do this with horses". It just don't work that way, and they understood that. In every video they put out, when they are teaching they are talking to the owner of a particular horse and how they need to approach that horse. It's not "horse training videos" it's raising peoples awareness of what each individual horse needs at a particular time,and again, how to adjust to fit the situation.
These videos are good to get the information you need to feel for on your horse, but if you watch a video looking for a cure all "method", I can almost guarantee you won't get it. If you can't work with an experienced horseman that can coach you moment by moment with each horse, until you get the feel timing and balance you need, the only way you'll really learn is experience, trial and error. Videos can be helpful but I would strongly advise anybody to not approach them with the idea that "that's the correct way to work with horses" because it's not going to work out for you if you do. Experience and wet saddle blankets are what's going to teach you.
There is a happy medium of force. I've got a horse who was spurred bloody, and I doubt anyone on this forum would try to justify what happened to him. But there are also a LOT of ruined horses who have been ruined by Black Stallion Syndrome: Love your horse and he'll love you and do what you want. On the whole, at least among pleasure riders, I think Black Stallion Syndrome is more dangerous than most spurs.
I enjoyed some of the videos if only because they were so unorthodox, but in life, there often is a reason heresy is considered heresy. In his discussing the sitting trot, for example, he's partially right - bouncing up and down with a stiff spine won't give you a good sitting trot. However, his alternative went in a strange direction. Short stirrups, bent knee, gripping with the knee and stiff back...yep, that will make you bounce. That doesn't mean you need to stick your feet out front and lean back, though. How about trying a long, relaxed leg and a moving back, before trying leaning way back?
"...there are only two criteria of your position;
A) are you in fluid balance and rhythm with your horse or not?
B) does your seat enable you to control your horse efficiently?"
- V.S. Littauer
His alternative style of sitting trot may provide rhythm, but the balance is questionable & it didn't look to me like it passed the "does your seat enable you to control your horse efficiently" test! His posting trot advice had the same flaw, as smrobs pointed out. Riding a horse isn't just staying on, but controlling the horse as well.
And some of us - OK, me - learned riding on a spooky mare. She is much better now, although far from perfect, but for general purpose riding I like to add a third test of riding: will you stay on when the horse hits the fan?
I don't own the Black Stallion. She's more of a Night Mare, so to speak. After 4 years, we're building some rapport and understanding, but part of my understanding is that she has some internal demons of fear and trusting me over what she hears from them is hard for her. She tries very hard, but prudence dictates that I ride her on trails with someone else, and that someone else keep the cell phone on them.
I tried imagining me riding her down the trail using his sitting trot technique, but my dream kept ending with me stuck like Wile E. Coyote to the side of a saguaro cactus...