Between the Reins 1

October 2012 To subscribe or contribute:

Between the Reins

H a u n t e d

L a s e l l

B a r t l e t t

This newsletter is an allvolunteer effort designed to reflect the horsemanship approach taught by Harry Whitney. While Harry will offer his thoughts and ideas, he does not take personal responsibility for the content of student contributions.

Good thing I’m open minded about ghosts and hearing voices of people who are not here in the room with me because I’ve been haunted. Haunted by Harry Whitney. His words intrude in my daily life, whether I’m working with horses or people or simply out picking berries by myself.

rest of the herd. Too close? He lost his mind trying to manage the other horses as only a strong-minded stallion would be keen to do. Too far? He lost his mind trying to manage himself back to a closer proximity to the horses.

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I was feeling ready to experiment with getting along in the more stressful environment of being out of sight of ly gelded dynamo. He had the herd, in the barn. A few years back, in a moment of desperation a history of pushing I don’t know what that overshadowed my around people and hors- scared me the most: es alike, and ended up in usual reluctance to Pony’s utter disregard bother someone I hold a rescue. I guess you of my physical presin high regard, I put in a could say I rescued the ence, or the amount of rescue by taking him. call to Mr. Whitney. firmness I mustered in Pony and I were making I certainly was desperorder to keep myself some progress toward ate. Desperate to do safe. I succeeded in getting along according to keeping safe while my the right thing to help the pony I had bought. my ideas of getting along, bloodstream coursed Softhearted and ambi- as long as we were close - with adrenaline. but not too close - to the tious, I had figured I could help this pretty Continued on Page 2 little 17 year old recent-

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P a g e 2 B e t w e e n t h e R e i n s

H a u n t e d ,

C o n t ’ d

Me: Harry, I know you can’t really tell me what to do because you’re not here to see what’s going on, but please, can you tell me something that might help while I deal with this situation? Harry: The sooner you do something, the less you have to do.

thing sooner’ opportunities. I suppose someone might want to hear a bit about what I actually did. I started with noticing how I felt when I was close to Pony, getting honest about my discomfort being close when he wasn’t relaxed and ready, open to guidance from me. I started asking him – expecting him – to settle before I came close so I didn’t feel threatened by being close and having so little of his attention.

yet, spend the rest of my life developing an inner calm so I direct the horse even before he starts showing me the largess of his determined commitment to maintain position as decision maker. By the way, I do not want an exorcism or psychotropic medications to get rid of these intrusive thoughts. Any hauntings by Harry Whitney are welcome to take up permanent residence in my head.

set about to do less and become more effective”


Feeling safer myself at a disThose were the words tance, I started studying Pony in order to notice the things that still haunt me. he did before he started walkArmed with the wise ing, like a shift of his gaze, his counsel of Harry, I set head, his weight. Seeing those about to do less and small movements for the first become more effective time, instead of noticing after because I was learning he was moving his feet, was a to do my doing sooner. huge help for experimenting I learned to help Pony with doing something sooner. stay with me mentally That is how I started helping both close to and far Pony change his thought befrom the herd. That was fore he committed to some rewarding. And while I action. was developing my own I imagine I will spend the rest new habit of paying of my life refining my observaattention to details, tion skills so I notice those what I learned with Poearly hints that I could be dony rippled out to my ing something already. And relationships with other spend the rest of my life rehorses. And people. And claiming my ability to react haunted as I am, I still instantaneously when my look for those ‘do someown survival needs are screaming for action. Better

Lasell Bartlett MSW (“The Horsey Therapist”) is committed to helping horses and humans develop the best relationships imaginable. Email: or find her on Facebook.

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O c t o b e r 2 0 1 2 P a g e 3

M i n n e s o t a

C l i n i c

R e p o r t

D e b r a

H a l l

M o s e r

At last year’s clinic, I made my horse cross a tire obstacle and I felt quite pleased when we accomplished our task. Harry asked me this question as I rode off from the obstacle; “Debbie, how did your horse feel as you rode across the obstacle?” To be honest, I did not know and I was not even sure why I should know how my horse felt. During the 2012 clinic, it really began to click for me. It matters how my horse feels because I want to be the type of horseman that my horse wants to be with. I don’t want my horse to be tense, uncomfortable, and looking for somewhere else to be, other than with me. I want my horse to look and then travel to the left with a forward thought and motion when I pick up the left rein. I want my horse to stop with a

quiet shift in my weight and a suggestion on the rein. These few requests and responses from my horse are the foundation for everything else that my horse and I may want to do in the ring and on the trail. Sounds simple, but it is not easy to do. It is much easier to make our horse do what we want; instead of “ask and do it together”. Harry also helped me to understand what my horse wants from me. My horse wants clarity and precision in my requests. My horse is not interested in my warm fuzzy thoughts followed by unclear “demands”, which is what I call any part of a ride that leaves my horse tense with lack of confidence. I know that if I had read the above paragraphs last year, I may of glanced at them with

the thought that I already had that with my horse. After all, we could accomplish quite a bit in the ring and on the trail. In this past year, I took a good look at my horse as we did this or that, and I could see that my horse was often looking elsewhere and that there was a brace in the reins. My goal in the upcoming months and years is to be more like the horseman, Harry Whitney. One must see Harry with or on a horse to even get a glimpse of what that could be.
Debra Hall Moser lives in northeast Iowa on a farm where her husband raises corn and Debra raises old style Morgans. Please see her website at for more information about Debra and Morgans of H Bar M.

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A picture is worth a thousand words… I love the Stephanie Roundy photo of Harry on the last page of the September newsletter – a portrait of timing, balance and feel – a picture is worth a 1000 words. Thanks for sharing. Ann Bennett, Mount Pleasant, IA

Picture Inspiration
At the Bible Study Horsemanship Camp I attended last month, Harry Whitney gave a quite detailed explanation of how he handles rope reins. In this photo, Harry has asked the horse to go left. You can see the way he has moved his reins to the left and, it looks to me that he has opened his left leg a bit. Notice the right leg, no pressure. In fact, he is not putting any pressure on the horse at all. He is just asking. He always asks first but often his ask is so subtle, an observer doesn't even see it. In this case the horse is responding to the ask, but suppose the horse ignored the request. If I were the rider I would probably pull back with my left hand and put right leg on the horse, not Harry, however. If Harry is working with the reins, he would not want to apply pressure only with the reins. A common reaction is to pull back on the left rein, which inevitably twists the body to the left. Not only is the twist itself a big fat cue to the horse as to what is wanted, it will also, almost automatically, put right leg on the horse. How is the poor horse supposed factor all this out and know it was the reins he was supposed to be paying attention to? What Harry would do is leave his left hand in place and move his right hand out pulling the reins through his left hand. You will notice he is prepared to do this and has all the excess slack taken out of the reins and has the reins looped in his right hand. The bottom line of Harry's advice is to be sparing (light) with your cues when asking a horse to execute a maneuver . Page Schroer

A rare horseman!
Fifty years of teaching humans and some horses in the hopes of making things better for both and I've been a big fan of Harry's since I audited some of his clinics here in California. I just wanted to say that looking at the photo of Harry in the latest news letter, what strikes me (I come from a dressage background) is that if you could somehow measure the curve of that horse's neck from shoulder to poll, you would find that it was exactly equal in each vertebrae. In other words, no joint in the neck is being "over flexed" because of resistance or stiffness in another place. The "cherry" on top of the cake here (for me) , is the relaxation in the poll, that allows the swivel of the mare's head while maintaining an ABSOLUTELY vertical line down the center of the mare's skull (face) to the ground. It is, perhaps, difficult to appreciate such technicality, but take it from me, it is RARE indeed under ANY type of saddle. Congratulations Harry! Best. Donna Snyder-Smith