“I’m enjoying relearning how to sit while training Islero’s first sequential changes. It makes me empathetic to how hard it is for the horses to change balance as I learn how to change mine to retain balance. It’s not all about avoiding the physical pain, as you have to train to the true straight balance for the horse’s sake, for his development. But it is a better end of day for me if I manage it! Baby learning steps while looking for high school expression evens the tables with such a sensitive and reactive horse. To find simplicity of care in each advanced move …”
This week, I took Vousy, my 22-year-old stallion, up to Cape Cod, Mass. to surprise my friend Tom Curtin (And you can see the look of surprise in his face in the photo above when Vousy and I walked into the ring). I had contacted the farm owner and Trina, Tom’s wife, to make the surprise complete. The look on Tom’s face when I rode around to where he was bringing up his horses for the horsemanship class was priceless! I enjoyed putting Vousy at age 22 in front of him in the double bridle because Tom put the first two rides on Vousy for his breeder, Mark de Champlain. Twenty years later, Tom and I were able to dialogue about the flexible light contact, the use of legs to seat needed in developing feel and the grafting feel to feel, which to me is the act of training. We also played with the primary principle of Baucherist theory, rocking the weight backwards and forwards on the spot until energetics are freed up in the horse’s feet. Vousy went off into big passage steps after that as you can see in the photo and video below!
Islero and Oso recently had their first outing to practice with live musicians. A thank you to Rivendell Dressage, Allison Kavey and Andrea Woodner for acting as hosts, to Ron Fayer for volunteering as horse transport and to the wonderful musical quartet that included cellists Christine Gummere and Loretta O’Sullivan, violoncellist Benjamin Wolff and Daniel Lee playing the viola da spalla. Bettina thanks all of you for volunteering your time to make it possible for Islero and Oso to have this important practice session. Click here to see the videos and photos from the day.
A big thank you to Kim Macey for taking all these great photos and for transporting Oso and Islero to Rivendell Dressage where Andrea Woodner kindly hosted us for a training outing. “It was Oso’s first outing and it was a success and Islero put out all he knew gently and powerfully. It was a tiring day but I was elated,” Bettina said.
Bettina and professional cellist Christine Gummere joined forces this week for a creative day featuring Islero and Formoso. The outcome are some “thank you” videos for those who have donated to help support the horses through Bettina’s illness. You can enjoy the results of the day in the videos below.
“This was a welcome opportunity for me to test out how much I am able to still attempt, while accustoming my two younger horses to these efforts gradually Christine donated her time for this practice as gracious gift that is much appreciated. I enjoyed letting her choose the music and riding in an improv situation to see how far the relationship of our training together would take us, said Bettina of the day. “
During a recent clinic trip to California, Bettina made a surprise visit to fellow Oliveira student Dominque Barbier:
“I landed yesterday in Santa Rosa, California to visit with Mari Austad Bourque, the owner of the excellent horse Nabucco (bred by France’s Dany Lahaye and that I broke in years ago), this before my new clinic in Nicasio. Mari mentioned to me that my friend Dominique Barbier lived ten minutes away! So we gave him a surprise visit as I wanted to congratulate him on the success of his memoirs of our time with the maitre Oliveira in Portugal. He was teaching a shoulder in session and when he looked up I said ‘you’ve told me to drop in for fifteen years so here I am.’
Bettina traveled to France in late February, where she first worked with Bernard Sachsé in preparation for his participation in the upcoming April Interactive Arts Workshop hosted by the Association for the Promotion of the Art of Horsemanship in America. After tme spent with Bernard, Bettina visited at France’s Cadre Noir for friendly consultations. Below are notes from her trip:
Living with chronic Lyme disease can be a challenge for both humans and horses, as both Bettina and her Quarter Horse stallion Vousy know. Once in the system, Lyme can easily reoccur resulting in a constant battle to keep the effects of the disease in check.
Bettina’s student Christian Gundermann has just published an essay titled “Equine/Human Lyme Embodiments: Towards a Feminist Ecology of Entangled Becomings” that argues for a different perspective in the treatment of Lyme disease for humans and horses.
An enjoyable trip down memory lane was Dominique Barbier’s latest book, Riding with Oliveira: My Time with the Mestre – Forty Years Later, revisiting his couple of years spent in Avessada with the Maître , now as Mestre Nuno to his students in Portugal.
It brought back the ambience of that amalgam of artist fervor and displayed and discussed technique , which made the time there so different. I also recalled the several instances of Dominique’s great kindness to the child I was, struggling to adapt from a very lively French family life to a colony of adults, all mesmerized around collective endeavor to equestrian higher education.