Friday, 27 October 2017

Silke Valentin clinic October 2017

Silke Valentin clinic 20 - 22 October 2017 at Billinghurst Stud, Bourne End, Bucks UK

Hosted by my instructor and friend Jo Bates - Inspired Natural Horsemanship ( or look up the Facebook page).

For those who don't know Silke, she is a 5* Parelli instructor from Germany and she trains her horses and instructs from a motorised scooter. Her son Yannick accompanies and assists her.
When Jo coached me in June, we played with some of Silke's techniques for stretching and relaxation, and shaping and framing. I was interested to see more of this.
Over the three days of the clinic, which all took place on the ground, we looked at cues for stretching and framing, combining the two at walk and trot, improving lightness and the quality of responses, the sequence of teaching, and having a plan.
There were 7 participating horse and rider partnerships, and a few auditors. Weather was cold and windy.

Let's look at solutions

Don't let's waste time on what happened in the past, and what we can't do, let's look at solutions

The format was a combination of Can you's (challenges, such as Can you back your horse up using body energy), with workshops to address different needs of the handlers or horses at different levels, such as improving lightness in the halter, sitting on the haunches, lifting the leg, etc., or for the less advanced, addressing behaviour issues and handcraft, rope and stick handling skills and communication. Also patterns and games, to develop confidence and give meaning and purpose to the exercises.



Some recurring themes:


Isolate, seperate and recombine

Mind flexion weight feet

Teach, reinforce, refine

Qualities of teaching


Overview & notes

Day 1 started with a classroom session, getting to know the horses and what everyone would like to work on, depending on their level; their dreams and goals, and any difficulties they were encountering with their horse's behaviour or learning.

Out in the big play field, getting warmed up with the horses, Silke reminding them to have a plan, see what needs fixing and to use a pattern of choice to do so, then asked for observation and feedback from each person.

She talked about the sequence of teaching (the horse), and about looking for the next quality of response, for example, if you can back your horse up, can you now do it without pressure, can you then do it more softly, with more speed without losing quality, etc. Bearing in mind that slow and right beats fast and wrong, but if you can do it slow and right, can you next do it faster and right? Thinking about using micro releases to reward the try and jackpot (game over) when the movement is performed successfully. Giving the horse a good break to reward the effort and reflect. How and when to use grass as a reward and downtime, how to dissuade casual grazing or grabbing for grass.

Exercise: causing flexion and relaxation with porcupine game on circle. Technique: teach isolations: long and low massage on crest at centre of length of neck; bending reflex, pressure at centre point of slope of shoulder. Put together on circle, both sides at walk then trot. Causing inside bend, lightness and relaxation. Next step is to add in framing. Then lengthening and shortening stride.

Tip: think about height and position of stick, when long and low, should be touching ground and trailing behind, in a neutral position. Vertical stick means framing so be careful not to use this position for anything else, or inadvertently.

Tip: Teaching relaxation with stick and string, eg. if horse is looking away, can draw attention and stop turning stick and string when attention comes back to you.

Afternoon. Checking isolations, vertical flexion, remember body first then stick vertical. Frame then relax down stretch. Lead backwards with hand on knot but forwards with your energy. Workshops, lightness in halter, backup, vertical flexion at halt, using stick cue framing, taking it into long and low. Beginners, teaching relaxation with the stick.

Teaching and cueing sitting on the haunches.

Day 2 Saturday am. Very windy! Start with some Can you's. Continuing and combining long and low with framing, in small circle at trot, for those who were ready. Simulations.

Tip: use/develop an audio cue for trot, eg. one click for trot, two clicks for canter. Also, remember to cue trot or canter in own body first, also when asking for long and low, and framing. Support with hand or stick if necessary, the goal is response to body language.

Lengthening and shortening stride at trot. Metronomic. Music.

PM: the Rockfall. Isolate, separate and recombine. Improve every element, until not using stick, just energy.

Shoulder in - in the covered school. Use vertical stick for framing. Hand light on knot. If horse pushes on hand, back up.

Sideways away, then towards. Balance both. Teaching the draw towards. Stick high and vertical for towards, if you get framing as well that is good. Stick low for hindquarters away. Change the bend.

Day 3 Sunday am. Classroom session. Summary. Lightness in shoulder, vertical flexion, sitting on haunches, the way to lightness in riding. Workshops plus project, equals the Plan. Using 7 games to teach and encourage healthy movement.

Practical session followed, with horses, in play field.

Game of shoulder in on circle. Similar to DL's Game of 2 eyes, but sending ribs away to cause flexion, instead of shoulders (we have taught vertical flexion to vertical stick so confusing to use stick on shoulders as seen at DL clinic). Using hand outside but not touching the nose, to cause and support flexion towards. Should be able to walk with and forwards with horse, not drawing him backwards. Comfort spot is forehead, reward the two eyes. Then in trot, remember to trot first in your body.

Starting Spanish walk. Teaching horse to lift leg when tapped. Use dressage stick for this training. Release to teach him to move weight, then lift leg, then hold it up, then place it forward and move onto it, etc. Start against fence, less room for drift. Teach all legs, starting with both front legs.

Thanks to Jo, Silke, Yannick, and all the brave participants and their beautiful horses!

Look out for Silke's book coming out in English version in 2018!

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