Philosophy, methods, current influences

It's the rider. Simple, Elegant, Us. Thousands of competent teachers can tell the rider what the horse should be doing differently but few can tell the rider how to tell the horse! My particular talent lies here, with the rider, since it is she who leads the dance. The horse is a beautiful living breathing bio-feedback machine and it is with him that my first loyalty lies - he shows me how the rider feels to him. I return the favor by helping the rider to communicate with clarity.

I strive to keep the work as simple as possible and as detailed as necessary to achieve the rider’s goal of competitive success or personal enrichment. If you can learn to feel your own feet in the ground you can learn to feel his and he will follow you. So after a lifetime spent with horses, the last 25 yrs of dressage study, it has occured to me that dressage is really very simple. Not easy but simple.

Horses and students are individuals and certain matches of temperament and physical attributes make the journey together a bit faster but it is my life work to make the journey rewarding for both. I ride all of my “program students” horses regularly to check my eye with the "feel" of the horse. Custom training programs or school horse lessons available.

My primary current influences: I have been a student of the Alexander Method since 2008 I was first introduced to Alexander's work by Mary Wanless who has been a major influence in my career as a teacher.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The riders leg

Warning! I have thought a lot about this topic so this is a long post about the ideal riding leg. First I had to find the ideal, then how the heck to achieve it. I have found the answer and it is fairly simple but obviously it is not easy. My Alexander teacher, Robyn Avalon has taught me that falling through myself to the ground allows gravity to bounce me back up, if my alignment and relaxation allows it. Robyn is brilliant at finding ease in movement regardless of what the movement is. So when she was without a solution to the conundrum presented by the necessary width of the riders feet, I started looking for the answer. Many years later, after a total realignment of my body, I believe that I have found the answer. A human is designed to balance over their feet through correct vertical stacking allowing the body to fall "though" supple ankles. to acheive this one needs a "neutral spine" to be falling into a "level pelvis", then falling through the legs and into the ankles. The challenge in maintaining this "throughness" when riding a horse is that the feet are too far apart (horse in between) to allow an optimal "fall" through the legs and ankles. To find that "fall" into a springy elastic ankle which allows the heel to fall (or "heels down"). The goal then isn't "heels crammed down", any more than the horses neck can be forced down to acheive the soft "falling down neck" that is the holy grail of dressage. Both must find vertical/horizontal alignment and both lateral and vertical elasticity/suppleness. It is this elasticicity of the entire spine that allows a very subtle weight shift from foot to foot. Just as the horse must shift his weight from foot to foot. This is the how the rider can "sit still" and still be at ease with gravity when their legs are too far apart. fortunately the horses back "rolls" with each stride and if we are laterally supple we can simply follow and fall through our seats and into our feet resulting in the perfectly elastic sinking heel. Stephan is usually a good model for this. The lateral suppleness must go all the way though the riders head for maximum ease. Sarah Baily, longtime student of mine describes the sense of having a bubble fountain for a spine and that there are little hands patting it very slightly back and forth causing a sense of a vertical and lateral shimmering allowing her to have a lovely sinking heel.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

 Keihanna on Morse:   Jr/Yr State Champions with a combined average score of 69.9 at 1st level. 
shown here with proud grandmother, Judy holding a really nice riding jacket that actually fits! 
Congratulations to all!  

Slick, "hey it's a square halt, hurry with that sugar!"

 Janet and Slick in the warm up at Devonwood summer show.   In large classes (15-17) we somehow placed 5th each time with respectable scores in the low 60's at 3rd L test 3.

At the Lake Oswego Hunt show in August we earned a 67..% at 3-3 and hence have qualified for the Regional Finals. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slick and Sarah.  2nd Level t 3 - 67% sporthorse nationals Res. CH. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Finally the coach gets to hold the swag!   Reserve Champions at 2nd Level Am 67%. Arabian Sporthorse Nationals 2012.  photo by

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Still at the Arabian Sporthorse Nationals and now it is time to come home as we have run out of places to hang his swag!   He won another Second Level Reserve Championship this time with a 67% and it was a lovely fluid and correct ride that we were all proud of!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sarah Baily in Nampa Idaho at the Sporthorse Nationals.   First day of Competition:  Champions In Hand Geldings Open and Reserve Champions with a 66% at Second Level Amateur.