Combining concepts from TTeam and Connected Riding, this was a weekend full of learning! Cindy drilled down to the underlying physical issues of a variety of problems of the different horses and riders, designed and trained ongoing exercises and strategies to address them, and even followed up post-clinic for updates and further suggestions. The horse issues ranged from training balance and confidence in a young horse just under saddle, strength building for a one-sided one-lead horse, compensating (and understanding expectations) for a short-necked horse, and maintenance for a DSLD horse and a PSSM horse to lengthen their comfortable working lives and eventual retirement. The people issues addressed back, hips, knees and softer seat, avoiding creating or exacerbating a stiff-backed horse. The focus of ALL was COMMUNICATION WITH THE HORSE, not force or coercion, but softer and much more effective 2-way communication.
I was at the Friday night seminar you did for Sea Island. I tried out what I learned this morning on my trail ride and we had a wonderful ride. My horse was much lighter. She also was not as reactive to the heavy equipment & logging trucks we encountered. I injured my right knee many years ago & by turning out slightly from the hip & using the stirrup iron behind the ball of my foot, I had no discomfort in my right knee!
I want to tell you that I am so glad I attended the clinic – even as a non riding participant (auditor). This evening was my first ride since the clinic and it did make a difference. I could really tell Bucky's hind end was engaged. I have been working on the "S" pattern during the week and that has helped to loosen him up. When I got off Bucky and after a little while of moving on the ground I noticed my back was arched and my right shoulder was tense. Hmmm, so I have some things to work on. But, I am noticing them. Thanks for putting on a great clinic and it was so nice meeting everyone. You and Peggy get an A+ from me!
And from Carol in Maryland:
This note is to express my extreme satisfaction and appreciation to Cindy Pullen. I travelled from Maryland to Georgia to spend 6 days with Cindy. It was a learning experience I will never forget.
I came to Cindy with a desire to help my horses become more balanced and supple.I had learned to ride with the lightest hands I could manage and be mindful to keep my posture "erect". On the ground, I was doing much of the "natural horsemanship" exercises, but I still had trouble maintaining forward motion and getting smooth lateral flexion.
I had become interested in TTouch, and got the equipment and tools. I taught myself the maneuvers, but didn't see the same responses that I saw in the books and on the DVD.
Cindy took this raw material and really brought the foundation home for me. First and foremost was my posture. I had to get to neutral pelvis. She showed me exactly why what I was doing wasn't working. Too much pressure, moving too quickly from point to point and constantly interrupting the horses' learning process with my "kindness". Cindy taught me to be clear and precise and a whole new level of cooperation opened up for me.
Taking all of this to a higher level was the addition of Connected Groundwork and Riding. Now, everything came together for me. On the ground, I refined my inspection process and was able to easily identify bracing and tension. Cindy gave me the knowledge to address, relieve and get release before we ever left the stall.
Leading now became a ballet. I was clumsy and heavy but Cindy was patient and intuitive. Soon, Shaklana and I were dancing together in harmony. I could now "dial down" a horses' tempo by "combing" a thin nylon lead. REALLY?!!? Oh yeah,.....talk about your aha moments.
Under saddle, I again started out unsure and unsteady, but Cindy was able to teach through my nerves and give me the basic skills to continue my groundwork while riding. Cindy is a terrific teacher. She uses her leadership and organizational skills to completely cover the task at hand..
Covering all of this material in six days was intense, however Cindy knew when I needed time to process. She used repetition and demonstration to facilitate the process.
The barn is immaculate and the horses are wonderful. Cindy went out of her way to make me comfortable and took the time to share her friends and community with me.
I came home with solid skills and the confidence to implement the program with my own horses. It has been two weeks and I see tremendous improvement in their freedom of movement and self-carriage. I am so impressed that I am actually thinking that my dream of Western Dressage might be something Spirit and I may journey into.
And finally an exerpt from an adult student's journal on her lessons with Cindy:
Written by Etta (Georgia) -I started riding lessons with Cindy more for my horse than for me, I thought. I have ridden or as I usually say sat on a horse for about 6 years. I am now 49, so I did not start this young and flexible. We had ponies and a horse to ride but my father grew up when a horse was like an automobile. The result was, I got on the horse and said “go”. When the horse did not go, I kicked. If that did not work, I hit. If hitting failed then the horse was evidently playing games or just being bad. At least this is what I was told by well meaning horse riders. Turning was simple also. Just pull the reins in the direction you wanted to go. Of course my poor horses mouth would be contorted. She would try to grab the bit in her mouth raising her head. Then well meaning people suggested a tie down. The key word was control. Kick and pull to control. When I bounced up and down in the saddle, the well meaning people said, “ push your feet down, heels down toes up and keep riding and eventually you will find your seat!” As I tried all of this my poor horse, aptly named Darlin’, jigged more and more. I bounced more and more. The well meaning people said “ it’s just the horse”. I changed horses to Patten. He was forgiving but quicker. As I gripped with my knees and rammed my feet forward, he would jump and spin and I would fall off.
All of this finally led me to Cindy for help. She first suggested I check out information about T Touch and Connected Riding to make sure I was interested and willing to commit. From the first glance, I have been intrigued. I have read countless books, articles and watched countless shows, but they really did not answer the need I felt.
The first lesson started with me. I have slight scoliosis of the spine which leads me to be basically crooked. Cindy worked on my posture in the saddle and just standing and walking. The first lesson was on "finding neutral pelvis position" to help me stop bracing and arching my back. When sitting in the saddle, Cindy showed me how to check my position by pushing down on my knuckles on the pommel. She also showed me how to “zip up” like zipping a front zipper to get my spine in a better position. Cindy demonstrated how this position helped with balance. It is amazing how easily I could lose my balance in the old positions but how difficult it was for someone to push me over when I was in the new "neutral pelvis seat." This has also been helpful in everyday standing and sitting. I stand in front of the classroom for hours; I use this exercise by just pushing against the podium which helps release my back and lowers my stress levels. I also use this exercise while on my long 60 mile commute to work. I push my thumbs on the steering wheel.
It was not until the second lesson I actually got on my horse. Even after the first lesson I had control stuck in my head. When I first got on Darlin’ I really went back to jerking her around while clinching my knees. Cindy really worked with me on keeping “froggy legs”. From the first lesson, Cindy had me on all fours like a horse, and from that position the pressure on my sides was so uncomfortable. The horse had the same reaction of irritation and movement to try to relieve the discomfort. This lesson translates well to the trail. The last time I went on a trail ride I noticed when Darlin started jigging and her head went up, I was clinching with my knees. When I remembered “froggy legs” her head went down and she walked.
There has been so much more in just a few lessons but at a pace that is not overwhelming. Auditing a day with a clinic w/ Peggy Cummings was also very helpful for spreading the information out and reiterating points.