We got a really interesting question from a friend in the UK that we though we should share here. I'm sure others have the same question:
"I think my concern is I bought my mare (June 2012) straight after she had been backed traditionally, and have then followed the parelli natural horsemanship programme, working and riding mainly in a halter so this would be a big step change in my method. Also I thought it would be like the straightness training from maryke de jong that Rupert told me about, which i was interested in as she also uses natural horsemanship. However the equipment that you and Rupert use is more traditional so I'm not sure what to think or whether it's right for my horse??
What's your thoughts ?"
all valid concerns - but believe me there is no conflict between parelli and the classical (which marijke is part of too)
the reason we will show you the side reins is that horse boy horses have to have twice the muscle and topline of ordinary horses as they take one and a half riders, in collection, at the canter, and need not only the muscle for the job but also to rebuild in between sessions as they tend to hollow out a bit during back riding. so we use them for that.
marijke uses a very strong cavesson and old fashioned curb combination which, in inexperienced hands can be very harsh indeed - much more so than the regular bridle we'll be working in. marijke trains people over time how to use her equipment but its more than can be learned in a weekend.
but the exercises you will learn are the same ones. to give you an idea about how close our systems are (ie the same system) marijke is coming to new trails for a week, free of charge, in the spring to work with our staff and horses. having done her home study programme (which is brilliant) I can tell you that the french/portuguese school of dressage (which is what josh will be showing you) is very very close to her baroque dutch technique. the reason is that during the renaissance, holland was actually ruled by spain and portugal, so the sam etechniques applied. thats also why the frisian horse exists - a mix between old Dutch drafts and PRE blood.
parelli is the first to embrace classical dressage and actively encourages his pupils, at the higher stages, to pursue it. for example, one of the only 5 star parelli instructors out there - david lichman - comes and works with us (josh actually rode demos for him back in september when he came to texas) thoroughly endorses it. think of the parelli as the kindergarten through fifth grade phase, then the classical stuff we or marijke would teach you as high school through uni through post grad. its all the same system at the end of the day.
all the best
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one last thought re equipment - if you look on our facebook www.facebook.com/horseboyworld you'll see us using the same equipment at marijke - the cavesson - in the recent levade and pesade pix taken in the forest. basically we like to be as versatile as possible, working in everything from simple halters and duallies when we start the colts, to simple cavessons and bosals later on, to the snaffle and finally to the curb and double bridle.
by the time the horse is five years into the training they know it all, are comfortable with it all, but can still be hacked out or simply schooled in halters or even just a neck strap (we will put up some facebook pix this week of us giving jumping lessons in just the halter and neckstrap). the main thing with any piece of equipment is to know what its for and therefore when to use it and when not to. but the progression above is the norm - for example many of the parellis' horses go in curbs and double bridles by then end of their training, but like ours or marijke's, they dont start that way - they graduate to it slowly, as does the rider.
again the in hand work is the real key in all of this as it eliminates the question marks in the horses' heads
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