a symposium review from a two-time participant

Our intention has always been to create a transformative experience for horse and rider during clinics or the Symposium here at Barbier Farm. We are happy to have this proof of what we know happens here…. Join us for our next event in February 2016. Click the link above!

~Amities, Dominique and Debra

At his clinics Dominique Barbier shares his insights and examples of enlightened horsemanship in a format and learning environment designed for seeking and discovery.  The symposiums are set apart by their complement of riding clinic and lectures on diverse topics, with abundant space for questions and answers.  A light happy horse in constant partnership and communication with its rider is the goal of this training and what you will likely observe in the clinic portion, where horses from all walks of life perform exceptionally and in relaxation. As a participant in one of the symposiums, I found that Dominique’s expansive response to a single question about my horse’s behavior led to a lasting change in my relationship with that horse, from one of mutual inattention and mistrust to one of quiet confident partnership.  Another participant, who rode in the symposium on a Barbier Farm Lusitano, was so moved by the stallion’s generosity that at the close of his ride he was brought literally to tears, and the entire audience with him.  This is classical training that synthesizes the theoretical, practical, and empathic, a unique experience that can be truly transformative. Not to be missed.”  ~ Jane Otto, New Jersey

 

A message for the New Year

I am very sad to note the passing of one of the best ecuyers of our time. Mr. Michel Henriquet died December 8, at home in France. Debra and I extend sincere condolences to Catherine.
Michel was not only a refined rider, he was a great teacher. He was the author of many books on French Classical dressage and was an early promoter of the Lusitano in France.
After being a student for many years of Mestre Nuno Oliveira, he went on to coach his wife, Catherine Durand, and achieved some success in using and adapting classical methods in competition.
Michel and Mestre Oliveira exchanged letters for years about l’art equestre. Those letters, along with Michel’s diaries, create a day-to-day peek into the life and practice of the great teacher and an accomplished student who would become a master. He was part of an era when many disciples were passionate about the art and exchanged letters, experiences, techniques and books. Along with Dom Diogo de Bragança, Professor Da Costa, Dr. Borba and Monsieur Baccarat (who translated the Mestre’s first book) they were the core of the students who would follow the teachings of Mestre Oliveira and take that knowledge to their students via their riding practice and the books they would write. It is, sadly, the end of an era. There are very few original students left.
Sometimes I have a great deal of nostalgia (saudades, longing) for this time.
Looking ahead, as we must and as it is all we can do, we see the art of riding becoming less physical and more mental. Riders are slowly becoming more conscious of the well-being of their partners and because of this we are making some progress in the right direction.
With gratitude for all the Masters gave us in the example of their finesse and dedication to l’art equestre, we look to the New Year with renewed commitment to the health and happiness of our equine partners. Let us always have in mind these four questions when we are working with our horses:
Are we being compassionate?
Is our practice sustainable?
Is our practice honorable?
And is our practice enlightened?
Amities, and Best Wishes for a Healthy and Happy New Year!
Dominique and Debra Barbier

The latest Review for ALCHEMY!

We are pleased to repost this review from horse-journal.com. Thank you to Karen Havis for the review and to all the readers who have made this book so popular! And a special thanks to Trafalgar Square, Horse and Rider Books! Take a moment to read the review? And then order your book here, by clicking on the link above. And then….sign up for the February Classical Series Symposium. We’re taking topics from the book for in-depth discussion along with all the demonstrations, lessons, fun, food, and legendary Saturday night dinner!  We’ll be back with more news before the Holiday Season is over…but until then, peace and joy to all our readers and riders. Amities ~ DBarbier

Media Critique: The Alchemy of Lightness

Dominique Barbier and Dr. Maria Katsamanis give us the impetus we need to seek joy in our lives and in our horses.

By Karen Havis

November 21, 2014

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This article from the November 2014 issue of Horse Journal.

Dominique Barbier is best known for his doctrine of “lightness” in a dressage horse, and he makes good use of it here.  His co-author, Dr. Maria Katsamanis, brings a doctorate in clinical psychology into the mix, which meshes well with her own riding and training experience. Together, the authors present a philosophy of life and riding that is both inspiring and captivating.

Their theories revolve around “energy.”  The authors believe all living beings are connected through a field of energy, one that can cause measurable molecular changes as well as observable behavioral changes. (Think about how humans influence each other using energy from thought, love, or intent.) Frankly, training approaches based on energy are far from new –  consider Tai Chi, Reiki, Masterson Technique, and TTEAM, all popular methods.

You will find some of the hypotheses presented here familiar, such as how our mood directly impacts how we interact with our horses. Which one of us hasn’t experienced the change in our horse when we ride in an angry, tense state? The horse usually mirrors those emotions, becoming restless and edgy. And if we ride in a Zen state . . . the horse often reflects that as well.

Proper breathing is discussed here, too, with a reminder of its powerful impact on ourselves and our horses.  Short, shallow breaths cause anxiety and fear in our horse. Deeper, slower breaths can relax both us and our horse.  “If we are calm and centered, the horse will likely pass through resistance or disturbance much more easily.  He will happily partner with us,” the authors state.

Barbier stresses the power of visualization, a technique used by many sports psychologists. “What we imagine, we can create,” he states. “What we believe is happening shapes our reality.  What we visualize for our riding, for our horse, is well within reach.”  If you’re a dressage rider, you might have a vision of Edward Gal in your mind when you ride.

You’ll recognize other widely accepted terms, too, such as “clear intent” and “centering,” which are core concepts in many martial arts and in Centered Riding. And, of course, every rider learns one day how powerful the concept of “less is more” can be when trying to elicit a behavior from your horse.

But other points challenge conventional wisdom. While you may have experienced some of the concepts discussed in the book, the theories presented by the authors may surprise you. That said, they readily  acknowledge how little research is available to truly explain the connection between horse and rider.

The photography is stunning, and the pictures of Barbier riding portray true harmony between horse and rider. Indeed, he can create what he discusses.

Bottom Line: I truly appreciated Barbier’s emphasis on the importance of energy gained from  joy and happiness in our lives.  He insists we should constantly remind ourselves to look for that childlike innocence so long gone. “Horses are not intellectual beings,” he explains. “We need to be in this simpler, more innocent, childlike space with them.” Since some of the happiest moments of my life involved horses, this made perfect sense to me. And reading this book helped me think of ways to improve my state of mind and thus my relationship with my horses.

Best suited for: Those who have studied an approach such as TTEAM, Masterson Technique, Tai Chi, Alexander Technique, or Centered Riding or are open-minded enough to consider the theories presented.

You might be disappointed if: You are looking for a traditional “how to” riding manual.

A note from Dominique….the ‘stunning’ photography is by Keron Psillas.

– See more at: http://horse-journal.com/article/media-critique-alchemy-lightness-26157#sthash.rCtZ64eq.dpuf

A note about students of Mestre Barbier

For many years Dominique has had the great pleasure to share his knowledge with many people of all levels in their horsemanship. A number of aspiring professionals and mature professionals have studied with him for decades and we are pleased to support their efforts and value our collaboration.

In response to a number of inquires about our co-author for The Alchemy of Lightness, Dr. Maria Katsamanis, Barbier Farms is offering this information for clarity: Dr. Katsamanis’ valued input for The Alchemy of Lightness was to gather and assemble the wealth of scientific evidence that is emerging to support the consciousness and teaching of the methods of Molecular Equitation©(2010). Dominique has developed this these concepts and offered them to his students for more than 40 years. We are exceedingly grateful to Dr. Katsamanis for her input.

Barbier Farms has no association with clinics or training that is offered by anyone that has not studied with Dominique for considerable time.  If you are interested in hosting a clinic to deepen your relationship with your horse and create a more brilliant, harmonious relationship with your equine partner, please contact us for available dates.

With gratitude and respect for all our students, for open hearts and minds, and especially for our teachers…our horses,

Dominique and Debra Barbier

 

Portugal, part 3…final

A little quiet time after the Holiday gives me time to write the last post about my trip to Portugal in September.

The days were filled with visiting the breeding farms and trainers and filled, too, with good food. But I had a special afternoon at Senhor Manuel Veiga’s Quinta da Broa. They were putting the finishing touches on a spectacular new picadeiro. It is constructed in the old foundation out of native and local materials. It is absolutely stunning. Parabens Quinta da Broa!

But the extra special thing was getting to see an original copy of Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere’s Ecole de Cavalerie. I’ve seen framed prints from the book and have read the reprints, but it was amazing to hold the original and leaf through page after page of the marvelous etchings.

I also learned that my old friend and dear friend of my Mestre, Nuno Oliveira, Dom Diogo de Bragança, had compiled a library of hundreds of the best and most rare books on the equestrian art. I hope that someone will recognize the value of keeping that library intact. It is a treasure beyond measuring for lovers of true horsemanship and classical dressage.

Thoughts turn to the future now. We are looking forward to celebrating a Holiday filled with family, with friends, and our horses. We’ll be developing the lecture series for the Symposium in February (click the link above to register now and get a great rate at the Dry Creek Inn!). Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with an abundance of love and compassion.

Amities~ DDBarbier