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HHT News: The WHOLE Works! New Holistic Options
August 26, 2015

HHT California Clinic 2015

Piloting Our Holistic Services

Last month we traveled from our base in France to California to give a 5-day clinic at Distinction Ranch near San Diego. It was a great experience that allowed us to test out and develop further our concept of Holistic Evaluations.

This was the first time both Camille and I have managed to get away together to give a clinic. A big thank you to Ruth Mansfield for doing a wonderful job of looking after our extensive animal family while we were away - it was great to know they were in safe hands!

This clinic was also the first time we have offered what we called Holistic Evaluations in addition to normal riding lessons.

We are very grateful that so many of the participants took us up on this proposal, as well as our hosts, Len and Bethany, who were keen to have us assess many of their horses in this way.

In addition to numerous lessons, we carried out 10 holistic evaluations in the course of the clinic. This gave us the chance to thoroughly test out the concept and understand how we can develop it further.

A clinic that is restricted to riding lessons alone does not allow us to address the whole picture, and help people move forwards with their horse on all levels. This is our real passion, so we were excited to start developing this opportunity.

What is a Holistic Evaluation?

Our central philosophy at HHT is that achieving a mutually trusting relationship with a horse, with the potential for gymnastic excellence in training is about addressing the WHOLE picture of the horse's being. We have come to understand that this 'whole' is made up of several levels of influences on the horse, which we have illustrated with our holistic pyramid.

The first level is everything that makes up the horse's lifestyle, health and maintenance.

This is the very foundation of the horse's well-being, and is therefore not to be underestimated in its importance. Everything else we wish to create with a horse - a positive relationship, sound training and riding - is built on top of this, and the only way to make it a solid foundation is to address every building block of the horse's natural requirements for stimulation and health in mind, body and spirit.

The first step of the holistic evaluation is therefore to look at each one of these building blocks that make up the foundation. In the format of the Holistic Evaluations in the US clinic, part of this information, concerning the horse's daily lifestyle, diet and care, was gathered by detailed questionnaires filled in by the owner.

One of the changes we decided to make in the new format, described below, is that instead of the owner filling out a form with this background information, we will have a what we call a Holistic Consultation with the owner. This will be a friendly one-to-one discussion with the owner/carer of the horse, where we get a feel for the horse's everyday life situation, and also an opportunity for the owner to discuss any issues they may have with their horse on any level. We will fill in the preliminary part of the form during this consultation to make sure we have all the information we need.

The rest of it was what we could assess directly from the horse, for example the health of the feet, assessed by me, from the basis of my barefoot trimming experience, and any physical problems, energetic blockages or emotional imbalances, assessed by Camille using her skills in Craniosacral and energy work.

For this clinic, we were happy to find that the horses were mainly coming from a fairly natural lifestyle, where their owners were aware of their natural requirements to a reasonable degree.

Although there was room for improvement to make their daily lives more stimulating, none of the horses were kept on their own or stabled. The vast majority were barefoot with the right conditions for healthy hoof function, helped by the dry California climate.

On the other hand, many of the horses had been rescued from difficult backgrounds involving injury and sometimes abuse, so there was a lot to be recognized through Camille's energetic work.

In terms of riding work, we were not in an especially dressage-orientated context, but all the riders were very open to working on the basics of their postural connection with the horses, and we had many wonderful moments where this connection stared to flourish and transform the horses' way of going.

Bethany achieving some lovely softening with Galileo

Another big plus of Camille and I working together is that we were able to give some presentations where one of us rode and the other explained what was going on (we were fortunate to have been given access to an excellent sound-system to help us do this!).

One of the challenges of gymnastic riding is that it is inner-quality-based, not outer-results-based, and this means that is is not always easy for the spectator to see what the rider is working on and how the horse is responding. In fact it is much easier to feel balanced movement than to see it, but an explanation in real-time helps to bridge this gap for those watching.

More Than Just an Evaluation!

We had originally used the term Holistic Evaluation to indicate a kind of all round assessment, but in reality we went much further than this in terms of actually working with the horse and rider, both energetically and gymnastically.

For this reason, we have decided to change the name to 'The WHOLE Works!' because it sums up perfectly the synergistic philosophy of the whole being greater that the sum of its parts.

The WHOLE Works!
A Complete Menu of Holistic Options

On the basis of our experience of the Holistic Evaluations we offered in California, we have decided to provide more flexible options for people, depending on their individual goals, interests, and on the horse's stage of training. We have put together 4 different options, each one in the series including another level of the holistic picture.

We have divided these four options into two sets:

HHT OnTrack options do not include riding work, so are suitable for young horses not yet backed, rehab cases not yet ready for riding work, or for anyone who just wants to explore the first stages of the gymnastic process.

HHT OnBoard options address the same foundations, but progressing to riding work in the form of both a schooling session where the horse is ridden by either Camille or myself, and a separate riding lesson for the client.

A schooling session with Lightning, who made an amazing transformation from extremely hollow to beautifully engaged

Within each of these two choices, we have made two options: the Sphere option includes Craniosacral Therapy, a powerful healing tool in which Camille is very experienced. CST brings to light and helps shift layers of both physical and emotional restriction which are very often holding both horses and humans back from fulfilling their potential.

The OnTrack Sphere option includes a CST session for the horse.

The OnBoard Sphere option includes CST sessions for both horse are rider, since the rider's own physical 'pattern' comes into play once they are in the saddle, and it's important to address this too.

The Circle options of both OnTrack and OnBoard do not include CST, giving clients the choice of whether this is something they want to explore or not.

An additional holistic service, which can be added to any one on the four options, is a barefoot trim. We have kept this as a separate option because it is only relevant to horses who are already barefoot.

Writing up the Holistic Evaluation sheets - there was a lot to put down on paper!

We will put a page up on the HHT site shortly with further details of each element of The Whole Works options that we will be offering at future clinics.

If you are interested in organizing a clinic with HHT in your location, don't hesitate to contact us by email:

This week we are off to Sweden for a clinic hosted by Ann-Britt Bolinder at the Gustavsborg Stud. We look forwards to another great teaching and learning experience!

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The equestrian world is one dominated by traditionalist ideas and conventions, but we would like to help inform the growing minority of horse-owners who want to make their horses happier with progressive and holistic methods.

Happy Horse Training now has over 100 pages exploring many different areas of holistic equitation. Do have a look through our site plan to find the subjects and categories that interest you.

Available from HHT:

New! The Gymnastic Rider eBook

Available exclusively from HHT, a unique and comprehensive guide to practical rider biomechanics. This professionally produced eBook takes the rider through the process of developing their body in the specific way that brings the horse's movement into harmony and balance, without force and constraint.

The information in this book, including over 55 000 words, represents what we would normally pass on in a minimum of 12 specialist lunge lessons, focusing on each part of the position and its influence on the horse, with a value of at least €450. The Gymnastic Rider is available for only €29.99.

Click here for full details, and to download the 15-page introduction to the book for free.

How to Train a Horse Without Force eBook

The first part in HHT's Training series, this unusually profound and well-written e-book gives a unique holistic understanding of training horses, from the very first contact with a young horse, through to a thoroughly explained method of lunging, that is beneficial for any horse, not just in preparation for first riding, but at any stage of training.

With your purchase you will receive a free bonus supplement on Horse Trauma - cutting edge insights on this subject that up until now have mostly been applied only to human trauma. This supplement shows how to recognise, avoid and deal with horse trauma, which is much more common that we realise.

These two e-books - How to Train a Horse Without Force and Horse Trauma comprise more than 75 thousand words and are richly illustrated. They are available for only 19.99 Euros (around $26). Click here for more details.

Other HHT Products:
The Simple Seven-Step Natural Trim eBook

Learn how to perform the ideal barefoot trim with this comprehensive how-to guide.

Click here to visit Happy Horse Training

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