Thank you to Nancy Clarke for this wonderful piece that details the experience of riding with Dominique in a clinic!
A Clinic with Dominique Barbier, author of Dressage For The New Age
by Nancy Clarke
It is hard to miss the mustache and ponytail, but the most unusual thing about Dominique Barbier, and about his clinics, is the extraordinary rapport that he establishes with each horse within minutes of introduction. His philosophy is completely about the horse. About the horse as teacher, about the horse wanting to know his place, about the horse wanting to have a partner. This emphasis on the horse means that the emphasis is not on what we do to the horse, it is about what we do with the horse without pushing, pulling, or special gadgets. It is not a formulaic approach.
The three day format of the clinics has a particular progression: day one is to learn about the horse, day two is to learn how to be with the horse, day three is to dance with the horse. Each of the three days is divided into two sessions: in the morning Dominique works with each of the horses, up to eight of them, individually longing and working them in hand before riding them. In the afternoon, the student works with the horse, longing, work in hand and riding.
The longing and work in hand are the cornerstones of the program. The longing technique is different: the longe line is run through the bit ring and attached to the girth on the same side. Only one side rein is used, adjusted so that the horse is going on the bit and in balance. The horse discovers for himself the on the bit balance. Dominique sends the horse really forward at the click of the tongue, backed up with a crack of the longe whip is case the point was missed. From the very start the idea of the rider being #1 and the horse #2 is established. For horses that thought they could run the show, meeting Dominique comes as a surprise. When they realize they do not have to be in charge and can go back to being the horse, they relax.
Work in hand follows longing. It is done in four track shoulder-in position with angle and head height appropriate to the horse. Its goal is the suppling of the shoulders and hips. And also continues the #1 vs #2 positioning as the rider may walk into the horse’s space but not the reverse. Horses stiff under saddle are shown to be stiff in hand as well. The work in hand explains the shoulder- in concept to the horse, without the rider’s interference.
The Longing/Work in Hand is central to the training process as it allows the horse to learn about being on the bit without rider interference, and it begins each session’s work. Beyond the obvious training value, it changes the nature of the horse/rider relationship. It is more intimate and permits the rider to truly see the horse, how he moves, where he is stiff, how he is that day. Dominique rides every horse that comes to his clinics and with this basis he knows what he will find when he mounts. Watching horses and riders over the three days you can see them developing balance and confidence faster than one would think possible. From the 3 yr old Thoroughbred at his first clinic to the quarter horse switching from western pleasure to the combined training and dressage horses, the changes are real, and the technique is straightforward enough to be taken home without worry.
Watching Dominique ride is an education in lightness. He uses his own saddle when he rides, and it works with all the horses. He carries two whips. The horse is be on the bit from the first stride and walking forward from his loosened back, not legs.. The same click used in longing is used under saddle and means the same thing, forward now. A tap of the whip reminds if needed. Pushing legs are not allowed; it is the horse’s job to go forward, the rider to provide direction through visualization, knowing what he wants and staying focused. Shoulder-in and haunches-in are the key movements for all the horses. He asks the horse to stay light and in balance. And he works with the horse as he finds him that day, no matter what the level.
Dominique does not talk as he rides, he is busy listening to the horse. In between rides, anyone is free to ask any question. He does not lecture but rather conveys a desire to have the students listen to their horses and really feel the horse beneath them. His is not an easily defined formula of aids. It is rather a way of being with the horse that presupposes respect and communication, balance and trust. The Student will be told to put the little fingers on the saddle and keep them there to prevent floating hands that are unsteady, and to shorten the rein and keep the horse on the bit. As there is no pushing, so is there no pulling. The upper body should be back and the back loose. By the third day the flow is amazing as both horse and rider realize how little it takes to dance smoothly together.
On the middle day of the clinic, there is a lunch break followed by the afternoon session when the student receives a private lesson. Questions following each ride are encouraged. The clinic is friendly and informal, as is Dominique. He is remarkably accessible and wants to answer questions rather than give a lecture. His 25 year equine background is broad, encompassing jumpers and eventing as well as dressage. He studied in France, England, and with the great Nuno Oliveira in Portugal. His clinics are not limited to dressage riders. He sees his work as a foundation for all disciplines because it emphasizes balance and lightness in the horse.
If possible, it is useful to have read Dominique Barbier’s book Dressage for the New Age or seen his videos (available in the ESDCTA library) before coming to a clinic to get a feel for the depth of his philosophy regarding training horses. The book is available at the clinics.
The only equipment used in the clinic is a longe line, side reins, longe whip, two dressage whips, a snaffle bit (Baucher preferred), and protective boots or wraps. All levels, breeds and disciplines are welcome.
Join us for Symposium in October and experience a clinic with Dominique for yourself. Sign up here – auditors are always welcome!
Once again we are gathering together to celebrate the magic that comes from dancing in lightness with our horses! Come and join, June 7, 8 and 9, 2019 at Barbier Farm in Healdsburg, CA.
It doesn’t matter if you have been coming for years or if this is your first time, you are always welcome! And if you do not have a horse of your own to bring, consider auditing or contact Debra for a lesson on one of our magnificent school horses. Riding is space is limited, don’t delay!
AUDITORS – $75 PER DAY OR $180 FOR ALL THREE DAYS
As per tradition, this coming week we will host our Saturday evening Symposium champagne reception, rider exhibition, and dinner in the barn catered by Dancing Horse Events! Saturday, March 23, Marylou Lawrence will join us for a live fado performance.
Marylou was born in Manteca California, the daughter of immigrant parents from Terceira Azores. After seven years of living in the states, her parents started their own dairy farm, keeping their culture alive through Marylou by speaking Portuguese and listening to Portuguese music, as was common among the Luso-American kids of her generation.
While she always had an interest in music, her true love for fado came through records of Amalia Rodrigues and other famous fadistas played by her mother throughout her childhood and she enrolled in choir at the age of 12. As she sang for various city and social events throughout junior high and high school, her passion for singing fado never left her mind.
Her dreams of singing were placed on hold after her marriage at the age of 18 and subsequently raising a family. With encouragement from her husband, Steve Lawrence, she decided to begin singing again at the age of 45 and has since been invited to sing in several fado events among well-known fadistas such as David S. Garcia, Zelia Freitas, Isalino Santos, and most well known Sara Pacheco.
Whether you are a devoted fado fanatic, or have never heard of the genre, we are all in for a treat.
Exquisite Lusitanos, fine food and wine, live entertainment, and good company…Needless to say, it is a night to be remembered. Whisk yourself away to the best Portugal has to offer…right in our backyard!
Join us! And claim your seat at the table here.
Though long overdue, there is much to say about our trip to Brasil in late May/early June.
We arrived and went immediately to the show ground for the International Lusitano Expo in Tatui. Our friend, Dr. Clélia Erwenne has done a tremendous job at Hipica Tatui. The atmosphere was relaxed and inviting. Congratulations Dr. Clélia!
Though the numbers were smaller this year, we saw young horses of good quality from a good number of breeders. Roberto Pedrosa, of Haras do Drosa, took home Best Exhibitor and many placings with gold medals in the classes. It was great to connect with old friends and see their babies and horses at the show. Raul Silva from Rocas do Vouga, Cecilia Gonzaga from Interagro, Geraldo LeFosse from Haras das Mangueiras, Davi Carrano from Manege Sant’ Adelaide, Ndzinji Pontes and Isabella Sanches from Coudelaria Funçao….and the list goes on! It’s been nearly 20 years that we’ve been traveling to Brasil in search of great Lusitanos. While they continue to be our reason, the real treasure has turned out to be the friendships we’ve created. The Lusitano world has lost a number of very important friends and breeders this year, so it is all the more reason to acknowledge the relationships that exist within this special group.
After the fun of the Expo, we visited the farms and Debra’s babies! It is with great pleasure and pride that we say the H, I, J, and L babies are coming along splendidly! After just two months of handling and initial riding, Hermes DB and Herodes DB are showing the qualities that make us love the Lusitano. They are steady, willing, expressive and courageous! (And they are sons of our very own BAILADO DO TOP!). We hope to take the I, J, & L babies to the 2017 Expo. Debra is particularly proud that Larapio DB and Lagarticha DB are showing all the great qualities of their namesakes.
Lastly, congratulations to Caylee Sparry on the purchase of her new horse, Galan Do Nico. He’s a lovely fellow and will bring you many years of joy and learning!
Stay tuned….Debra and I are planning a buyers-only trip back to Brasil in the fall. With all the horses fresh in our minds AND the dollar still so high, it’s time to go with us! Contact Debra for details: barbierfarm AT aol.com. And don’t forget, click on the link for the Symposium above and join us in Healdsburg October 7, 8, and 9 for the 13th Classical Series Symposium!
Dominique and Debra Barbier
Have a look at Herodes, just several weeks under saddle. Thank you, Davi, for the wonderful video surprise!
The webpage for the foundation is up and the video archive and content is growing each week. Have a look and please share with your friends.
We will keep you updated about our latest projects, all designed to bring honorable, compassionate, sustainable and enlightened training practices to equestrians young and old.
And to further your education, make your plans now to join us for the Thirteenth Classical Series Symposium in October. Invite your friends and join us for a wonderful weekend during the harvest here in Sonoma Valley. There are spaces left for auditors and just a few spots for riders after the Symposium. Contact Debra (harbierfarm @ aol.com) for more information and click on the link for registration. https://blog.dominiquebarbier.com/october2016symposium/
The link for the Société website:
Debra and I are headed to Brasil in about ten days. (make plans to join us next year…generally the last two weeks of May…) We’ll be visiting the farms, riding Lusitanos, and watching the International Lusitano Expo. We’ll try to post some Facebook updates. And please, click LIKE on our Barbier Farms and Société pour L’Art Equestre pages. It helps us keep you informed!