Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dr. Deb Bennett Clinic part 1

I just spent the most valuable 2.5 days of my equestrian life at at the Dr. Deb Bennett clinic in Big Sandy, TX. Dr. Deb is an influential clinician in the area of "real" natural horsemanship. She has studied with Ray Hunt and both Dorrance brothers. She has a website to read more about her work at

I found out she was coming to TX in November and since I have always admired her writing, I thought I would like to meet her in person and take the clinic. I honestly had no idea what type of material would be taught or how it would go at all. I had no idea how Liberty would respond to being in a large group of horses in an indoor arena with everyone's different styles of riding.

She began with a meet and greet on Thursday evening to eat snacks and just talk. She told us stories about meeting Tom Dorrance, through Ray Hunt. She talked a little bit about what we would be learning and definitions of collection and relaxation. The lecture on Friday was to be on straightness and on Saturday collection, which can only be achieved after straightness and relaxation.

Friday am we started with ground work. Since she didn't know how trained any of us were, we all started on the ground. She made the statement that all riding is driving and that a lot of driving is on the ground, so it's important to understand how we are driving the horse from the saddle. We worked on ground work for a good part of the morning, doing leg yielding, turns on the fore, and getting the horses to release their backs. The big trick was to only give enough pressure to get them to take one step at a time, instead of rushing around the circle. We also worked on lungeing the horses, but the way we did it was completely different from anything I have ever worked on before. We were driving from a different place on their bodies...we were actually driving them, as opposed to the clinton anderson way I have been doing it which is really more of a cue. My horse and I understand each other and these cues, but Dr. Deb said I was doing things much too abruptly and I had to soften.

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