A Clinic with Dominique Barbier

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 rides Zeloso Interagro at Dancing Hoofbeats in Jacksonville, IL. Photo courtesy of Sarah Scheerer.

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.

Sarah Scheerer and her Lusitano, Escoteiro, at Dancing Hoofbeats in Jacksonville, IL

 

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! 

Looking Back and Looking Forward!

It is always such a pleasure to regroup and cheer each other on as each rider makes new discoveries with their horse under the tutelage of the Mestre, and this June clinic was no exception!

Carol Marrington with her mare, Domina DB – bred by Debra Barbier

Sarah Richter with Sedoso MAC – Lusitano stallion owned by Dominique.

 

It has already been a busy year for Dominique as he kicked off the spring to teach not one, but two clinics in Quito, Ecuador before heading to the Lusitano Expo in Brazil with Debra and a few very lucky buyers.

August will be full of clinics, including a new location in Brighton, Colorado, hosted by CH Equine.

 

To add yourself to the rider waitlist or to register to audit, contact Carrie Harrison at info@ch-equine.com.

 

Barbier Farms Clinic 2019!

Barbier Farms Clinic 2019!

Dominique and his stallion, Sedoso MAC at Barbier Farm. Photo by Keron Psillas.

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

 

Thirteenth Classical Series Symposium!

Thirteenth Classical Series Symposium!

The dates are set! The reservations are pouring in…make your plans now! Harvest time is super busy here in Sonoma Valley, but it is also a beautiful time of year to visit. Click on the tab above for the Symposium October 2016 for all the details.  Stay tuned to the blog for announcements about the Saturday night entertainment, reception, and dinner. Dancing Horse Events will be catering again (always delicious) and we’ll have a special guest for entertainment, along with the horses and riders of Barbier Farm. As always, feel free to write with any questions. ( barbierfarm @ aol.com )

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©Keron Psillas

One day left for great hotel rate during Symposium!

One day left for great hotel rate during Symposium!

Hurry! There’s less than 24 hours left to get a fantastic rate at the Dry Creek Inn, Healdsburg. They’ve extended their great pricing to us until midnight tonight, Pacific Time. Click on the Symposium tab above for all the information. And don’t forget to ask for the Barbier Farm rate! Here’s the number: 1-800-222-5784 or 707-433-0300

Topics for the 12th Classical Series Symposium include:
~When does a horse ‘give’ his back
~All the steps in canter from starting the young horse to pirouettes
~Are you imparting your psychological stress to your horse?
~Understanding the Barbier Extreme Shoulder-In

Reception and Dinner on Saturday the 20th…in the barn, weather permitting. Don’t miss this great event!

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Golegã trip report

As bad as the weather was last year, this year entirely made up for it! Wow! Sun and warmth and just the right cooling off in the evening kept us all, and the horses, comfortable! We had wonderful days of touring medieval castles, monasteries and Abbeys, some Sopa da Pedra in Almeirim (among many delightful meals), stayed in some marvelous pousadas and a castle or two, and even met the brother of a dear family friend from Healdsburg. It truly is a very small world.

One of the most touching moments of the trip was watching Mestre Luis Valença on horseback after an hiatus of many years. Everyone in the crowd was moved. Parabens, Mestre! He was flanked by two of his daughters and two of his grandchildren, Ines and Luis, both doing very well as young riders in Portugal, both for the family spectacles and in European dressage competitions. Congratulations to the entire family.

Riding for Mestre Luis and the Centre Equestre de Leziria Grande, Paulo Sergio Perdigao gave a wonderful long reining demonstration that was also a crowd favorite. Paulo Sergio is a long-time rider with the Portuguese National School of Equestrian Art. We have had the pleasure to watch him on both occasions when the Four Schools performed in Paris.

The champion three year old stallion was shown in hand by our friend, Carlos Oliveira, for owners who are friends from France. The champion, Hippus, was bred by Manuel Braga at Sociedade das Silveiras. Parabens para tudos!

And the best part? Faisao Vaz Freire, a grandson of Larapio, was Champion of Champions for Golegã 2015. And…another Larapio grandson was ridden to second place (72.39%) in the Grand Prix Kur by Rodrigo Torres of Torres Vaz Freire…and yet another Larapio grandson, Zimbro, took fourth place in the Kur, ridden by Maria Amaral, with a score of 67.80%. Congratulations to our friends at Torres Vaz Freire for a marvelous showing.

Enjoy the gallery of images from Keron Psillas…and make plans to join us next year. We can’t guarantee the weather, but we absolutely will guarantee a marvelous experience! Thank you to Rita Fernandes and Jose Neves for two of the photos below.