Volume 3

The hardest thing for some joining the instructor program or even just taking lessons, is it can be hard sometimes.  Especially when you are shown a picture or a video and the instructor or article says and here you can see this.

And you can't see it.

So you are left either believing something that may or may not be true.

Or you are left to put your faith in someone else.  Which is hard.  Because what if what you see is true and the instructor is wrong?

The one thing that we teach is that it takes time to develop your eye. This is something that can be taught if you are willing to put the time and effort into it.  But it should come as no surprise to discover that someone who has been doing it for 40 years can see things at a glance that it make take you a year or two to learn as well. 

How can you know which case you are in?  

The one where you don't see what the instructor says there is to see because you don't have the experience yet. Or the one where you don't see what the instructor says is there to see because it just isn't there!

One thing that might help is to think back on your relationship what you know to date.  Have there been instances where they introduced new concepts and ideas and said see here, and you could see it?  If it happened before it is quite possible that the same is true this time.

The instructor not only can tell you what they see, but they need to have the knowledge to explain why what they see is important.  Sometimes you can't see but having it explained why what the instructor sees is important can bring us understanding anyways and lead us closer to the day that we will be able to see.  It is this kind of instructor that is more likely to be correct in what they see, because they can see the effects, the cause, the results.  And in helping you to see all of that means that hopefully one day soon you will be able to see as well.

Another way to tell is how does your instructor act when you say you can't see it.  Do they get defensive?  Do they just say well you will in time?  Or do they look for different ways to help you see what they see?  What seems plain to them to see after spending a lifetime watching riders of all abilities.  As an instructor, we sometimes see things that we don't realize is not easy for others to see.  So we need that feedback.  We need to know that the rider can't see what we are seeing.  

But remember the instructor that you have in front of you today, has maybe spent days, weeks, years watching horses hour after hour after hour and will have that to their advantage.  Not fair to compare yourself or have expectations of yourself to be able to match that. 

 

(Think this might be good as a podcast or video, where we talk more in-depth about the idea that we  have only learned to control by creating limitations upon the horse.)

Power.  So much incredible power and strength.  Strength that we hope to be able to control.  

The question becomes.. is how?  How can we control the horse?  How can we control the power that is him?

I don't know that a lot of people have actually thought about this.  I know I hadn't.  The idea of how when we are faced with power that is not of our body or of us, how do control it or maybe, more importantly, how do we choose to control it?

There are obvious answers such as the equipment that we use.  Bits, bridles, whips, spurs, halters, curb chains, ropes, lunge lines.  It seems we have an endless list of equipment that we use to control the power that is the horse. 

But if we look beyond, we come to a moment of realization to understand that what we think of control is just us limiting the horse.  

Almost every single method ever devised by man to control the horse is in effect limiting the horse.  Limiting what he is.  Limiting what he is capable of being.  It is us taking something away from the horse.  Taking away from who and what he is.

And once we come to realize that, this opens up new possibilities for us to explore.

An idea.

What would it be like to be with our horses in a way that there are no limits?  If we could be with our horses without limits.

Or if at least if we could try to limit the very limitations that we impose. 

Every limitation that we impose, limits the possibilities of what could be.  Limits the possibilities of the grace, power, of what it can happen when we come together with our horses.

Once you have this idea, once you grab onto it.  Once you begin to live it, things begin to change.  Not only for the horse but for you.

This is what we are trying to do here every single day.  Helps riders all around the world to be with their horses where control comes not from what you limit but by what you set free.

Here at Kjrsos we see every limitation as something that we have to guard against, speak out against.

The closer we get, the more beautiful what we do with our horses becomes.

The closer we get, the healthier what we do with our horses becomes.

The farther away we get, the opposite becomes true, the more damaging it becomes for the horse.  But more than that the more we limit the horse, the more it damages the horse, the more it damages you at a very elemental level - you just can't see it. 

But the answer is not to do as little as possible.

The answer as always is to do everything possible where we merge so completely, that we no longer create any limitations upon the soul or body of the horse. 

This is how we begin to learn to work with our horses so that we both can try to find our way free and begin to work together without limits.

 

I think that is the hard part to understand. That Kjrsos is not an ending but a beginning. 

An amazing beginning where we know how fabulous this is going to be.  What comes next will be beyond our expectations simply because we really don't know what to expect.  It is a possibility that we have to allow to come into being, one that we haven't allowed before.  

Kjrsos is not a dogma.  It is not the final voice.  Which if you don't realize it is what almost all training programs are.  They are in effect a final answer.  Here do this, this way, here is the answer we are looking for.  They are endings of precious time spent evaluating, experimenting, experiencing. 

Kjrsos is about beginnings.

About taking what we know and looking for what is possible.  What comes next.  It is a journey of discovery.  One that we are going to take together.  What is presented here is the starting point.  A jumping-off point.  A place to begin.

But a beginning that has a past.  Taking the very best of what we already know and give us a place to jump-off from. 

And that is how Kjrsos is divided.  

We present the knowledge that we know will help you, help your horses.

And once that is a part of your understanding and if you choose to apply to our Instructor Training Program then you join with other talented, ambitious, knowledgeable people in a community dedicated to that third beginning.  Dedicated to suss out what is possible, what is there still for us to learn and understand, where we can go next. And bring that into the world and to others. 

Kjrsos is just the beginning.  What is here, now, is just a starting point. A place to begin.

To get ready for what comes next.

It is well documented that sports and activities that require a greater range of motion result in higher injury rates due to poorly stabilized joints than those sports that do not require such ROM.

"This is not because “it just is that way”, but rather because it is simply much more challenging to maintain active control of a joint across a much larger ROM, than it is to maintain active control of that same joint across a much smaller range. (And it is commensurately much more challenging to refresh, retrain, and strengthen that active control when the range of motion is much larger). " Dr. Phil Maffetone

Some of the difficulties for injury prevention in these sports is that athletes who participate in extreme flexibility and mobility events are often trying to increase their flexibility and mobility, which implicitly means that they are venturing to acquire more ROM than they presently have the capability to actively stabilize and control. Most athletes do go on and get that new stability and control (because the movements of the sport require it), but (a) some don’t because it is difficult, or (b) they get injured in the interval between acquiring the raw ROM and developing the capacity to actively stabilize and control it.

We need to realize that active control of the joint with this new range of motion needs to accompany the new range of motion, otherwise there will be instability in the joint and this threatens the health of the joint and increases the risk of damage to the joint as well.

==================================

Research from the American Journal of Applied Physiology and reports brought to us by the American College of Sports Medicine show that passive stretching can decrease strength and muscular power output by up to 20%.

 

Passive stretching can also tear your soft tissue thus creating less available muscle for you to create power.

Static passive stretching will dampen the nervous system activation of the involved muscles, essentially making them looser, weaker, and less stable for at least an hour afterwards (Reduced strength after passive stretch of the human plantar flexors, 2000, Fowles).

This reduces strength and joint stability and can negatively effect your athletic performance as well as increase risk of injury.

"A study consisting of 1543 serious runners linking stretching to muscle problems was carried out by David Lally, PhD, (University of Hawaii). The important finding in Lally's survey was that 47% of all male runners who stretched regularly were injured during a one-year period, while just 33% of male runners who didn't stretch were hurt; a statistically significant difference (9). Another study indicates that athletes in the highest 20% of the flexibility continuum are actually the ones with the highest rates of injury (15)!

Some people might argue that they can achieve a greater range of motion using passive stretching. However, this increased range of motion in static positions does not carry-over to the dynamic range of movement associated with sport. Even worse, achieving excessive range of motion is not necessarily beneficial to an athlete." Josh Hewett

https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/stretching_types.htm

Additional Reading

References

 

1. 'Should Static Stretching Be Used During a Warm-Up for Strength and Power Activities?' Strength and Conditioning Journal, Vol. 24(6), pp. 33-37, 2002

 

 

 

2. 'A Randomised Trial of Pre-exercise Stretching for Prevention of Lower-Limb Injury', Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol. 32(2), pp. 271-277, 2000

 

 

 

3. 'Injuries in Australian Army Recruits, Part III: The Accuracy of a Pretraining Orthopedic Screen in Predicting Ultimate Injury Outcome', Military Medicine, Vol.162, pp.481-483, 1997

 

 

 

4. 'Effects of Static Stretching on the Maximal Length and Resistance to Passive Stretch of Short Hamstring Muscles', Journal of Orthopaedic Sports Physical Therapy, Vol. 14, pp. 250-255, 1991

 

 

 

5. 'Viscoelastic Response to Repeated Static Stretching in the Human Hamstring Muscle', Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Vol. 5, pp. 342-347, 1995

 

 

 

6. Shrier, I. Stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of local muscle injury: critical review of the clinical and basic science literature. Clinical J. Sports Med. 9: 221-7. 1999

 

 

 

7. 'Predicting Lower-Extremity Injuries among Habitual Runners', Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 149, pp. 2565-2568, 1989

 

 

 

8. 'The Ontario Cohort Study of Running-Related Injuries', Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 149, pp. 2561-2564, 1989

 

 

 

9. 'New Study Links Stretching with Higher Injury Rates', Running Research News, Vol. 10(3), pp. 5-6, 1994

 

 

 

10. 'Muscle Damage Induced by Eccentric Contractions of 25% Strain', Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 70, pp. 2498-2507, 1991

 

 

 

11. 'Acute Muscle Stretching Inhibits Maximal Strength Performance', Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Vol. 69, pp. 411-415, 1998

 

 

 

12. 'Identification of a Threshold for Skeletal Muscle Injury', American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 22, pp. 257-261, 1994

 

 

 

13. 'Influences of Strength, Stretching and Circulatory Exercises on Flexibility Parameters of the Human Hamstrings', International Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 18, pp.340-346, 1997

 

 

 

14. 'Physiology of Range of Motion in Human Joints: A Critical Review', Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine, Vol. 6, pp. 131-160, 1994

 

 

 

15. 'Strength, Flexibility, and Athletic Injuries', Sports Medicine, Vol. 14, pp. 277-288, 1992

 

 

 

16. 'Flexibility and Its Effects on Sports Injury and Performance', Sports Medicine, Vol. 24(5), pp. 289-299, 1997

 

 

 

17. 'Investigation into the Effect of Static Stretching on the Active Stiffness and Damping Characteristics of the Ankle Joint Plantar Flexors', Physical Ther. Sport, Vol.2, pp.15-22,2001

 

 

 

18. 'Passive Properties of Human Skeletal Muscle during Stretch Maneuvers', Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Vol. 8, pp. 65-77, 1998

 

 

 

19. 'Stretching during Warm-Up: Do We Have Enough Evidence?', Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, Vol. 70(7), pp. 24-27, 1999

 

 

 

20. 'Dynamic Warm-Ups', Sports Coach, Vol. 24(1), pp. 20-22, 2001

 

 

 

21. Yamaguchi, T., Ishii, K. Effects of static stretching for 30 seconds and dynamic stretching on leg extension power. J. Strength Cond. Res. Aug;19(3):677-83. 2005

 

 

===================================

 

 

 

It started out with me looking at YouTube videos looking for examples how horses often look to the outside naturally when lunged.  The first two videos in and all I feel is sad.  

The first a Friesian being lunged for the first time, long before they even enter the arena I am asking myself what the heck is this rider doing.  It is obvious this horse as it is being led doesn't feel safe, doesn't trust the person leading him.  Why would you take a horse that doesn't even trust you to lead him into an arena and think you should start chasing him with a whip?

The second a three-year-old Warmblood stallion.  Absolutely gorgeous but a horse that has no relationship again with this trainer who admits that this horse is very bonded with a pasture mate.  It is obvious as he runs around wildly, he doesn't feel safe, he has no reason to want to be here, that he is scared and the trainer speaks about disrespect when the horse turns his hind end towards him.  Then the lesson begins with the trainer putting 'pressure' on the horse to keep the horse moving forward and to encourage him to keep his hind end away and to 'respect' him.  He doesn't know him, how can you expect him to respect you, to want to be with you?

I see more frightened horses, one horse, a pretty grey gelding a rescue and the trainer speaking of disrespect when the horse stays a little too close for the trainers comfort.  This isn't disrespect, this is uncertainty, fear, a horse looking for a place of safety, looking to the human for safety.  The trainer at first not happy when the horse keeps his hips turned away from the lunge whip and then moments later pulling the horse into the center facing her, something she just disciplined the horse for, saying if I don't push the horse away from me the horse won't respect my leadership.  Maybe if you were a real leader you can see he doesn't understand why you are trying to push him way in the first place, why would you not be happy to let him keep his head close to you.  At which point did you explain that this time would be different from the endless times before that you led him?  Then he finally, finally starts to move out and she immediately drags his head back to her what she has just finished disciplining him for because he spooked..  

I really, really don't understand.  She has a fearful horse and her answer is to chase him. Consider how fearful he is acting I am not sure how this is supposed to help.  

Granted it can appear to help because eventually, the horse becomes less reactive.  But less reactive doesn't mean better.  It just means that the horse gives up on you. 

Dynamikoú.

A concept that can express everything that we hope to achieve with our horses as riders.  All expressed in one simple word.  Dynamikoú

Potential, a state of being.  A state that expresses what is possible. It means in a way to hold the future in your hands.  What are the possibilities in this moment?  

And that is what we do as riders.  We are treasure hunters, but what we seek, what we crave, our drive, our lust, not for gold but for potential.   

And the more possibilities that exist in any one moment, the more perfect is that moment and the more beautiful our horses.  The more possibilities that exist in this moment, the higher state of potential the horse is in.  And it is this one concept that overall in the possibly the best definition of what the concept of collection is supposed to be.

Kjersos Principle: The ability to liberate the horse into a higher state of potential.  Libérer à un état de potentiel supérieur.  

It is that state of potential that it seems what riders have always struggled with through the centuries. And with that being the one overall goal of almost all riders, the one thing there is more questions about than any other, the one thing that it seems like a barrier that so few can cross, is how do we get the horse to be in a state of potential, how do we tell the horse how to collect.

Although I would like to challenge the idea that we get the horse to collect.  That there is something that we do, to make this happen.  Perhaps that is where the problem lies.  We think by holding onto his face, we think by making him yield to hands and bits, we think this is something we do.  

This was never something that we do, it was always something that it is for the horse to do.  It is not ours, it never has been.  We just need to get out of his way so that he can do it.

<iframe width="915" height="515" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/F4fwgt1tDCY" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This is not a thing to do, it is a challenge that we ask.  

To do this is to intimidate this is something physical, when it was always something for us to ask.

A challenge to the horse.  A challenge to his brain not to his body.

<iframe width="915" height="515" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0mn2L5X62bY" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

It is us letting him know that this is his responsibility.  That it is up to him.  He is the one that has to be ready, he needs to hold in his hooves, the possibility of what comes next.  The readiness to fulfil what comes next.  

It is the potential that exists in the body state at this moment.  The level of collection merely reflects how much dynamic potential the horse has in his body at this moment in time.  The more potential, the more possibilities that exist, the higher the level of collection.

Collection from us to the horse is not a thing we do, it is an answer to a question that is asked and has been answered and is already living in this moment in time in the horse.

This is not for us, this is for the horse.  This is his job, his responsibility, this is our expectation that he lives here, that he is ready for what comes next.  We don't need to prepare him, because he is already living there.  He is ready for what comes next.

<iframe width="915" height="515" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FY5zUrjnVE4" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This may seem like a simplistic answer to an age old answer. 

But it is a true answer.  

It is one that you can follow and find success consistently.  

When you learn how you will perhaps be even more surprised by what was once so difficult can be so easy when the underlying truth of what we do is true, then the actions that come from it are true as well.

Are you ready?

That is the question.

You might ask ready for what.  The what, how many is what defines the potential, the level of collection.  But it was never the real question.   The only question is are you ready? 

And this is not us asking in this moment are you ready for the next.  This is not us forecasting what we are about to do.  It is a question that has been asked and 

 

Collection is not a look, it is about what you can do.  It is about the centaur body being in a better balance, in a better place, where there are any number of possibilities available right now.

It is the energy and balance that need to already be present, readily available, ready to be expressed in the very next moment.  This is dynamic potential.  This is what collection is supposed to be.

Balanced between possibilities.  Up, over, right, left, it is living in this moment with as many possibilities as possible.  It is living potential.  All in the body of the horse.

But not a balance that we take or hold but a balance that the horse has to put himself into to be in potential.  A place he lives to be ready for a moment that is not yet here, but one that may come.  

Potential was always the answer.

It is also the means.

 ***********************

Two Articles

Why No to the Half Halt  (Should be a separate article as to what is written below.)

It is a living breathing version of half-halt without the half-halt.  

*************************

The concept of the half-halt is one of rebalancing the horse preparing him for the next movement.  And there is a value there especially with certain movements, certain changes we might want to make in the horse in preparation for extreme changes in direction.  But for some, this is something that they are told to do, all the time, before every new movement.  I struggled with this when I first came across the concept of the half-halt.  

The idea I understand is to get the horse to take more weight on his hind end.  To prepare him to be in a better balance for the moment that comes next.  The idea that we ask again and again throughout the entire ride and that we create a state or perhaps it is a habit of the horse spending more and more time on his hind end.  More and more time in collection.

But still I struggled.

For me it was like putting in an extra step, an extra unneeded command, it actually took away rather than added to what I already had with my horses.  To take a moment to ask for a rebalancing was to take away the sweetness of the flow from one movement to the next, it interfered with connections to be found, the energy flow of taking what was in one moment and sharing that with the next moment.  And taking that energy of that moment into the one after that. 

It is a constant interruption, making each movement distinct, and we lose the ability to joining one movement to the next.  We lose the ability to have one movement prepare the horse for the next.  Because we lose the connections between the movements.

It was also just noise because I am already always looking for ways to bring my horses into a higher state of potential, helping them, challenging them, trying to find ways to liberate them into a new balance.  So why ask for what already was?  If we need to ask for a rebalancing then that means the horse was not balanced in the first place.  

"The half halt is a nearly invisible, simultaneous action of the hand, seat and legs used to capture the horse's attention and regain balance."

"A half-halt is an especially useful tool when riding. With a half-halt, you can ask a horse to balance. You can get his attention, to notify him that you're about to ask for something different: a turn, a transition, a halt, collection, extension, and so on."

 "Regain Balance."  Dont't we have to ask why did he lose it?  Or maybe for some the question might be why didn't he have it in the first place.

"Ask for something different: a turn, a transition."  So according to this definition if I am asking the horse to turn in the opposite direction say every three strides, I half-halt, then say turn to the left, half-halt and say turn to the right, etc.. and all I can think is why?  Why would I want to?  Have to?  Why would I want to disrupt my aids of the smooth flow from the graduation of left to right and back again?  Where is the horse world does the horse go, oh, I am about to turn, better think about stopping for a tiny, tiny split second before I turn.  He looks at the bull and he goes eek deek left now!!  His body moving before his brain has even time to process where it needs to move next to avoid those sharp pointy horns!  He doesn't need preparing to rebalance to chance direction or gait, because it is already there!  And that is the point.  That we seem to have lost.  Somewhere, somehow.  

Not only have we lost the concept that we shouldn't need to rebalance the horse, that the horse should already be in balance, but secondly that is his or hers, not ours.  Our job is to challenge the horse to be ready for anything.  To be in a balance and an energy level that many possibilities exist simultaneously.  If he is not, then he is not collected.  Not collected, not prepared, not ready.  In a world without humans that could mean death.  This is his. His heritage, his ability.  It is not up to us to put him into balance, it is up to us to maybe ask are you in balance, did you remember you need to be ready for what comes next.  By seeing a need for half halt we take that away from him.  We take that responsibility away from him and in the process, we take collection away from him.  (Taking collection away might make a nice magazine article using this lesson)

Think about it we literally take collection away.  With our lack of expectation, with the accepting of the responsibility that it is our job to "rebalance", "Prepare" the horse, we take away his birthright, his responsibility for his own body, his own balance, his own expectation that he needs to be ready for whatever is to come next.  Some might say this is what a half-halt is an ask, a reminder for him to be in balance for what comes next.  But there is a difference between asking if you are ready and rebalancing.  Those are two completely different concepts. The one is saying you might already be in balance, just checking to see if you are, the other says we need to change your balance because I took you someplace where you are no longer in a balance that can do more than this one thing. 

And that isn't balance.  Balance is to be ready to do more.  To have more possibilities ready to be expressed.  It is a state of potential, of possibilities. 

I would also suggest that once a horse is in a higher state of balance, I don't plan to do anything to unbalance him.  And if I don't unbalance him, why would I need to rebalance him.  And if he is already in balance, if he is already prepared, then what am I preparing him for.  While I might be looking for that next level of balance, that next level of potential, that at the same time I expect he will stay in this one.  All by himself.  Whether we turn left or right, walk, trot, halt to trot, to rein back, every new request, me challenging his abilities, to the point that he knows this, he understands this, is the norm, so why would I need to ask every time in between.  The horse already knowing, expecting that I will be challenging him every step of the way.

Some might ask but in different movements, there may be different levels of collection necessary and we don't ride our horses at the same potential, the same level of collection all the time.  And I would counter, why not?  When I am in halt, I live in this amazing state of potential, so many possibilities existing, I can release my horse into walk, or I could be sitting upon a beautiful powerful trot directly from halt, I can ask for the next stride to be lead by the left or right foot, I can pirouette in place, there is all this energy, all these possibilities sitting just waiting to explode outwards.  The energy in the halt no less, perhaps even more than the trot it will end up being. Even piaffe, is no more than a trot in place, yes requiring more strength and hence one might argue more power, but the strength once built into the horse is there not only for the piaffe but for the trot as well.  Every stride of your trot should be as expressive as full of power as the piaffe. And until your horse has enough strength for that incredibly expressive trot, until he has achieved a higher level of balance we shouldn't be playing with piaffe anyways.

The concept there is a halt in this moment of trot, or a trot in this moment of halt, are two sides of the same coin.  The concept that in this moment there is a balance that exists that make either moment possible.  This is what collection is, should be, can be. Once upon a time, I can see a rider who first tried the half-halt, who in a moment of trot, said "I wonder", "I wonder if in this moment, my horse is balanced well enough that I could just have him step under and come to a complete halt."  and in that moment of thought, the horse so well connected, began to do just that and the rider surprised, released and found the horse perhaps even in a better state of balance, the horse waiting for that next moment in trot, when he might be asked for a halt.  Prepared, ready, carrying his body in a better balance waiting for the request to be repeated.

But that isn't what the half-halt has come to mean today.  One thing to ask for the horse to be in a better balance, and if he is, then whey would you keep asking for the same change in balance? And that is what you do every time you use another half-halt you are asking if I asked at this moment in time could you halt, could you?  And that is a yes or no answer.  Either he can or he can't.  If he can't then you need to deal with that separately, and if he can this moment, and the next moment and the moment after, how does asking for it again change anything?  And the real strength of the half-halt is destroyed, unmade.  

Riding should be about creation not destruction.  We need to create potential, open up the possibilities and always be looking to liberate our horses into a higher state of potential.

 

Note this article/lesson is based on The Real Definition of Collection - Possibilities Lesson 450

 

Kjersos Principle:  Liberating our Horses into a Higher State of Potential - Possibilities of Energy and Direction.

 

 

The Ridiculousness of Dressage Tests and the False Narrative they tell us.

The Ridiculous False Narrative of Dressage Tests

Not only ridiculous but damaging.

There is an ompa loompa in the room.  Something so strange that none of us are acknowledging it. 

We now know that the spine is fully formed and developed on the horse at years of age, let's keep that in mind as we progress in this discussion as well.

The FEI dressage test for the 4 year old horse, seems basic enough.  Working walk, trot and canter and at worse a 20 meter circle.  Of course this won't work for all horses and all breeds.

The preliminary dressage test for 5 year olds, note this is the preliminary test includes half circles at 10 meters, counter canter, medium walk and trot, and..... collected trot.

So where did that come from?  All of a sudden you are supposed to have the magic of collection. Collection has magical appeared?  From where?????

You have been working on working trot and poof collection appears?  Like a rabbit out of a hat? 

Actually very much like a rabbit out of a hat.  I mean who expects to find a rabbit in a hat?  When was the last time you went to the closet, picked up your hat and went 'Oh dang, there is a rabbit here.' 

"We can create from the very beginning a Horseman who is so exquisite that they bring out the best not only in themselves but in their horses.   "

 

From the very beginning…

There are those who think that it is only in advanced work and in advanced movements that there is beauty in the horses.  I would disagree.  If from the very beginning, the work is correct then there is beauty from the very beginning.  To think that out of false work - beauty can come over time - is disingenuous.  False work is always unattractive, if not hurtful to watch.  It is only on the base of correct healthy work that creates a beauty that is there today as it is tomorrow and all of the days to follow.

"Watching a horse stride out with no constriction and no restriction in his body fully active every muscle loose released, the base of the neck undulating freely the rider's body moving into that, is true beauty that is wonderful - it is amazing and it touches my heart every time.  ". Talking about beginner Riders and trainers being able to do this to have these abilities and these accesses from the very beginning of their riding career

When someone becomes an instructor, they become the authority.  The person you look to for answers.  Human nature and our society has created this response in us to respect authority.  To follow their instructions, to listen to what they tell us to do. 

 

Being the teacher means to come across as having authority, as having the right answers. 

Taking away it seems to have a right to say "I don't know". Because to say "I don't know" is saying I am not the expert, I am not the authority.  It seems the more you progress, the less likely that you are to proclaim to the world, I don't know or I just haven't figured that out yet, or that confuses me. 

I would like to suggest that we go through three basic levels as instructors.  The first level we are young, untried, unconfirmed in our authority, still willing to look at other instructors for knowledge and help.

The second level we write the book, we win some prize, we become the expert and we are confirmed in our authority, we are the authority and can't admit that we just don't know, or are questioning everything that we are teaching, or asking you to pay for.  

The third level we are no longer the expert, we see so much that is being taught that troubles us, and not only can we say we are still questioning, still asking, we can admit that we are still and always will be in the process of discovery.  And we are willing to show you our past mistakes, where we went wrong.  Share those stories, those experiences so you can see not only how fallible we are, but how brilliant the horses are.

This is a difficult level, because as soon as we ourselves proclaim to the world that we are not experts, then people believe us and they turn away, as they look for those experts who will tell what to do and in some ways what to believe.

You know it is interesting how in the equestrian world we get to proclaim to the world what our level of authority is.  When we, in turn, reach the third level and say to the world well maybe we are not the expert we thought we were, they believe us, what they don't believe is that you have just matured into a new level of authority. 

And then perhaps there is a fourth level. 

====================================================

 

The Fourth Level - The Kjrsos Difference

 

Having acknowledged to the world that we have reached the difficult third level that we are still questioning, still in the process of discovery is one thing.  But it is completely different when we take you along on the journey.  Invite you into the process. 

It is one thing to admit to say, I admit I don't know it all.  It is completely different to say, hey here is what I don't know, here is what I am questioning today.  Yes I know there is an answer, I am just questioning is there any reason to believe that the answer is wrong, what if we change this one parameter of our assumptions, what could this change?

As soon as we show them how much we are questioning how much we don't understand, not only are we saying we don't know it all, but we are actually demonstrating it!  We are physically showing and telling them, well I am not sure about this, or this, or how about that, and I am having a tough time trying to understand this, and....

And this is the conversation that Kjrsos intends to create.   The conversation we want to have with you. We want to hear you, hear the voice of riders with questioning minds, with a fierce intelligence, with the ability to think creatively in new ways, asking new questions. Personally, I want your help!

And with those four words, I tumble out of any position of authority. 

"I want your help."

I do.  I just don't want it, I need it. But let's just make it clear I was never in any position of authority. That was just me fooling myself with my self-afflicted human arrogance. The horses have more than made their point about who is teaching who.

It seems the further down this road that I travel, the more I break everything down, the more questions I have.  The process of putting Kjrsos together has been mind-boggling, eye-opening, in and of itself a process of discovery.  Hundreds of pages created written on what I have learned just in the process of trying to put this all down in this format layered on top of all the knowledge and experience of what previous decades have taught me. I have learned so much and had more 'eureka' moments I think in this short time span than in what my previous life's experience has taught me.  And these new ideas and insights just keep coming as I see things from a new perspective. But at the same time, the questions I am coming up with are getting tougher and tougher and some days faster and faster.  

It is difficult to reach out. Not because I have a problem with saying I don't know.  That is part of the process of reaching the fourth level, you can't care that people realize that you don't know, that you have more questions then answers it seems as you progress.   Because the questions become the most important thing.   I know the depth of my knowledge and my experience.  I am comfortable and at ease with my abilities to help any rider who comes before me.  I know the wealth of information that my life and the horses have gifted me with.  And in my heart I know I have reached a level of mastery that demands, giving me no quarter, to pass on what I know.

There is the difficulty, of course, arising in sharing this conversation because of the inherent risk that presented with such a format that there will be those who go well if you are questioning and looking for my help, then obviously you haven't reached any level of mastery.  

"One theoretical physicist lamented, "We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or to describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn't any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work. " Richard Feynman

And that is sad because we would have learned other things that may be important to other facets or to the conclusion that you did come to today, that knowing that thing might completely change our conclusion ten years from now.  Or in the process itself, raised questions, hinted at possible answers and could have opened up our awareness to new adventures.

"Nowhere is there a place to publish... what you actually did in order to get to do the work."   It seems this should not be an acceptable process in any scientific journal, in any scientific method, or teaching method on any subject anywhere. "What you actually did in order to get to do the work."   Except now, here, at Kjrsos.  Because we believe in your intelligence, in your insights, in your experiences, in your questions."

Here at Kjrsos, we have two levels of the 'Discovery Process' those who become part of the instructor training program become part of the discovery process in real time, become part of the process.  Who get to see every wrong turn, the mistakes, the blind alleys that we go down as we stumble along. Because we know that when we do this together amazing things happen because it happens all the time. Every discussion, every lesson, when we get together human to human, human and horse, or human to horse to human, rider, horse and instructor there is a lesson to be learnt.

The second level of discovery is woven through our work everywhere in part because it is who we are, what we do. Forever asking questions. And because we believe in infinite possibilities, knowing that what we know today is very likely to be changed by what we learn tomorrow we want to at least share with everyone some of these journeys of discovery. Here is one of those journeys.

================================================================= 

The Questions Become the Most Important Thing

"They niggle, they wiggle, they cause doubt, they make you doubt yourself, what you know, sometimes even who you are. When resolved they often show you just how wrong and maybe even stupid you were and sometimes heartbreakingly they show you that you have actually hurt the horses that you love so much because of your lack of knowledge, or pride, or just that stupidity again.  Questions are so difficult to live with. But more often they bring about joyous revelation of a magic and wonder in a universe designed to delight."

 

 

From <http://castlemare.com/administrator/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&layout=edit&id=387>

 

 

From Kjrsos: The Book of Discovery Publication 2020

I love the magazine concept.  I love how beautiful it is.  It has a beginning and an end.  At the end you have created something.  Something that can stand on its own.

I love the online course structure concept.  I love the idea of having all the knowledge organized in a logical way. Where learning one concept prepares you for the next. I love that it is never done being created, because you are always adding, changing, updating course content.

It bothers me when I look at past issues of the magazine, and through time and experience realize that was written as an article in the magazine in the past, is not what I would teach today.

I love that in a course I can update as knowledge expands, as new people become involved.

I love how in a magazine article you can tie in many different concepts showing how they all interrelate there are no limits on how you jump from one concept to the next.

I love how in the course structure, we are always endlessly trying to break down concepts to their most core functionality, to a better simplicity, that helps people understand them better grouping topic and subjects together from a more in-depth understanding.

I love how in online course we can ask questions, interact, and approach many of the classes as a teaching opportunity.  This changes how we present the material. I didn't appreciate when I started this, how much I would love that and how much different it would actually be.

Which makes sometimes taking an article written from the magazine and putting it into the course outline a project of frustration and days of work especially if

"Decisions should be made out of love, not fear."

Maggie Cox

 

It occurred to me as I was reading this that too many of our decisions especially when we work with horses are made from the common base of the fear that is natural when faced with a creature so much more powerful than we are.  No matter how much we love horses that fear is never more than a quick heart-stopping flash away.  The horse spooking suddenly as we lead him can leave us flattened to the ground, have 1200 lbs nailed onto our big toe, or leave us with rope burns.  There is nothing more terrifying than being on the back of a horse and losing control have the horse thundering madly ahead and you with no control over the speed, the direction, not knowing how long you will be able to stay on or the fear experienced on the back of a horse that decides to buck madly, desperate to toss you with all of his power into the dirt, not knowing if this time it will be your neck that will snap.

No matter how many years, or how much you trust the horse you are with, your body reacts surging with adrenalin before your mind kicks in.  The fear instant, your stomach clenching, your nerves screaming for action.  

 

I have never been one to go for heart-stopping carnival rides.  My excuse being that I risk myself every day in my real life, I don't need to go look for thrills elsewhere.  Not sure how much of that is true and how much of that is because I have always had motion sickness. But it is true being a person that lives with horses makes us different.  Makes us different than most people around us.  Yes, people do involve themselves in sports that are risky but for most people that is not how they live.  Not what they live with every day.  And almost always they don't give over their thrill-seeking for some other entity to control.  To some degree they always maintain control.   They have control over the skies that slice into the white snow on the mountainside, they may take risks, but they don't give up control to someone else.  Perhaps this is the scariest thing of all, to give up control.  Why is it that we make this choice?  This choice to give up control.  This choice to live every day in danger, knowing that sooner or later we will be hurt.  The law of averages demands this. And yet we continue.  Why?  (This should be a separate article.)

We learn to accept the danger, to accept the fear, to accept our risks because we can't do otherwise.  Our need driving us.  We need to be with these creatures, we crave being with Kjrsos, being with horses, as if it were a drug that we cannot do without.  An addiction that our hearts crave, without thought, that complete us in some incomprehensible way.  And that completion can be denied but to do so, takes something out of us. 

It is sad that at the same time that the horse completes us it can make us do things that make us less than what we could be, can be, should be.  Because fear drives us, scares us and in that fear we do things that are not in the best interest of that creature that we so desperately need to complete us, that creature that we so love.  We end up making decisions not based on love but based on fear.  And sadly too often we don't recognize that this is what we are doing. 

This is the moment to change that.  To move forward from that unwitting, hindbrain that reacts without thinking, without knowing.  This is not about not being cautious, about not being safe, but to find a different path.  One where you look for alternatives.  As you go to place that bit in the horse's mouth, take a moment and think do I need this bit, is there one that is less harsh, that help me use the bit as a way to communicate, rather than force.  Knowledge can help you find alternatives to tie-downs that hinder the horse's healthy and correct movement.  Alternate training can protect the horse from the many physical challenges that rollkur imposes on the horse's body.  Take the time to assess and reassess and reasses again every choice that you make and make sure every choice is one made out of love.  This can change your life.

For those of us that try to make all of our decisions based out of love and not fear, it can be easy to judge those who don't.  Those who utilize harsh hands, spurs, whips, tie-downs and methods like rollkur.  (This should be a separate article.) Or rather you have had the benefit by being started by someone who gave you the skills and knowledge that you needed so you could start this journey with confidence and joy, rather than angst and fear.  Perhaps you had the benefit of being started well on horses well prepared to take you on the journey.  Horses that you instantly felt safe with, horses that gave you no cause for fear. Often our very first experiences are those that shape us and define our emotions and the decisions that we make in years to come.