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Monday, January 24, 2011

Opinion ~ January Mark Rashid Workshop

I happily traveled in the back seat of the truck while my friend who was going to ride in this workshop managed all the driving and the co-pilot; the navigating.  I even had a nap! It was about an 8 hour drive to the therapeutic riding center in Mebane NC where the clinic was being held.  Monday night was a farmhouse conversation where it seemed that the theme of Mark's teaching was unfolded.  Feel.

 It begins in the mind with a thought and then mirror neurons do the work of transmitting that thought.  We all have these mirror neurons, just look around and see how everyone does what everyone else does and we don't even know we are doing it or why! You know when you finish your long time partner's sentences and you begin to look like your dog.  We think we are different and suddenly what we like; have; do is popular.

Mark practices Aikido to stay centered and balanced.  That is a physical as well as emotional description of his way of being with the horses and the people at the workshop. It seems that this is the way he puts feel into words so the intellectual mind can understand it. I might also say, the woman's inquiring mind can hold it.  There were a few men in the room and none had questions or needed more than one demonstration.  While some in the room could not understand the concepts, everyone could feel them.

The format for Tues and Wed was 3 riders in the AM; 3 more riders in the PM. There was one thing everyone was taught; the back up with feel mostly through steady pressure.  Everyone showed up in the arena prepared to ride in the outfits of their chosen disciplines, Endurance, Eventing, English,  Western, Dressage The first lesson was at the mounting block for a horse who could not keep his feet still so the rider could mount.

Marks maturity as a teacher showed through over and over.  It really was all about what the rider wanted in conversation, but what the horse needed in deed.  The lady who was having trouble at the mounting block asked Mark to hold her horse while she got on.  He said he would do that or if she would like, we could just fix the problem and have the horse stand there on his own. Choosing the latter the lady stood back while Mark approached and stood on the mounting block.  He simply showed the horse what he wanted by moving him to where he should stand. This took about 15 minutes and then the owner did it herself and mounted up.  Day 2 the little saddle seat rescue knew just what to do and so did his person.

I noticed time and time again in Mark's maturity as a teacher, when the student explained that their trainer taught them to do "it" this way, he just showed them another way with no judgement, sarcasm or derogatory comments about anything.  He told me later that people just want help.  That's it. I noticed that he did not share his opinions about bits or bit-less headgear, spurs or not, shoes or not, saddles or not, or any of the other judgments and opinions that were clearly running through my mind.

Then I read a bit of his book "Whole Horse Whole Heart" It's his newest one.  I don't own or have not read any of his books, so I thought if I was going to buy one it should be the newest one. Right there in the beginning he muses about a dream that seemed to keep him awake about the Grand Canyon.  What was stronger the river or the rock. As he went on about that, he realized that it doesn't matter.  Like all the questions in my mind about saddle fit and rider position, they don't matter if the rider can actually hear their horse.  Are we listening to what our horse is telling us. His goal is to teach us to listen to our horses, feel them, feel for them. If we do that , we will fix all the other things.

I can't say I learned anything new about technique or strategy, but what I did was experience a seasoned, educated, balanced teacher, who made a difference for every horse and rider combination. I'm very particular about where I spend my training dollars and who's influence I allow into my horsemanship.  For sure I left trusting this teacher and I will ride with him when the opportunity is right.

1 comment:

  1. Well stated! Mark has a unique gift and it is always a wonderful experience to spend time with him when he is teaching.


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