Mar 26

 Response to the waspish ghosts of theological thinking.

  posted by helyn on 26.03.11 09:35 as General

Response to the waspish ghosts of theological thinking.


(Recently we have been under attack of a few ghosts who are loading facebook and other blogs with theories not even vaguely related to the way the horse’s physique effectively functions. They take a picture or a short video segment out of context and go on the rampage trying to show their science. I never read these blogs but Helyn keeps an eye on distorted use of our information . The funny part is that once this response was published these waspish ghosts of theological thinking are so concentrated on their self that they did not even realize that I was referring to them).


"An impression of motion can be achieved and photographic representation of various phases of motion can be done without any knowledge of anatomy and the detail of function but the situation is completely different when it comes to an understanding of the mechanisms involved. This can only be done through careful analysis based on morphology, physics and physiology. Each of theses branches contributes to the concepts of biomechanics, an essential part of which is the relation of structures to each other which determines the distribution of forces and consequent actions.” (C. W. Ottaway, 1962, The anatomy of motion. Vet. Ree. 74: 279-295)


A sample of cocktail party theorists, who never went beyond superficial impression of motion, have recently been on the rampage demonstrating why equine injuries and lameness issues have now reach an alarming level.  A cocktail party theory is an assemblage of words put together for their elegance and the hope that they will impress who ever is listening. The words are usually meaningless and it definitively needs a few drinks to find any meaning.

This breed of cocktail party theorists would be amusing to observe if they were not submitting their horse to their theories. There is nothing pleasant to see a horse suffering for the satisfaction of the rider’s ego. These so call experts are not interested in learning. In fact they do not have the opportunity to learn since their entire time is devoted to convince everyone of their greatness.

The picture introducing this text was used to illustrate a research study about the phenomenon of transversal rotation which is always coupled with lateral bending. The thought was to point out that if the knowledge of the horse’s thoracolumbar column transversal rotation has been known in the late seventies early eighties, which is when the picture has been taken, the horse’s technique could have been corrected. As a result, the hose’s career would have last longer than one year. Watching the picture, one can see that the horse was landing heavily on the left front leg, which is where the injury occurred. Picture and text were reviewed by a group of so-called editors. One of the editors, who is a cocktail party theorists, went on the rampage accusing the rider for the horse style. It just happened that I knew both, the horse and the rider. The horse was very difficult to ride and I always admired the rider for his ability to remain well centered over the saddle in spite of the horse’s violent rotation. The rider is a professional rider and a good one. He was riding the horse only in the show ring. He did not have the opportunity to address the horse’s defect. Knowing how difficult it was to ride the horse. I seriously doubt that the author of the harsh critics would have been able to stay on the horse even over a single cavaletti.  

Susan Hopf responded to the theologians with the measure of an intelligent and experienced professional. Her response introduced the "my trainer” syndrome, which is another interesting phenomenon of the equestrian world. Many years ago, I was training a group of young professionals. They were already graduates as monitors, which mean that they were authorized to teach in France. They had experience in the show ring and they were there to prepare themselves for the higher diplomat which is instructors. In the psychology class I warned them about the pedestal syndrome. I told them about the type of obsequious riders and horse owners who will place them on a pedestal flattering them at the level of adulation. This will last one year or more and then, these idolaters will need to move to a new idol. You will not understand why, since you will be the same person, probably even a better rider and teacher. However, if you do not move away, these peoples who adulated you will now attack you viciously. If you take this type of behavior personally, your life as a professional will be painful. These types of peoples are not eager to learn. They want to be flattered and by gratifying you they are flattering themselves.

When will come the time of your disgrace, your only fault would have been to be good professionals. You will have use encouragement to develop their confidence but you will also have try to make them progress. These peoples do not want to progress; they are, in their mind, already the best. It will hurt you at first but retrospectively it will be a good thing for you. Watch these peoples operate and you will see an interesting but pathetic pattern. They start with good trainers. They move then with no so good trainers who flatter them a little more. However they cannot be flattered enough and they turn toward mediocre trainers who flatter them a lot since it is all they can do. Knowledge is your way out of these sordid peoples. If you can resolve problems that conventional approaches are unable to address, you will deal with great riders and great horse owners. You will work with peoples who really care for their horses. You will rise above this society of mutual admiration where pathetic riders try to convince other pathetic riders than they are pathetically great.

However, you will never be fully immune from these peoples, especially if you are doing a good job and introducing pertinent ideas. Muppets of the equestrian world never find anyone flattering them enough so they turn to criticism. They feed their large ego criticizing everyone else. In their mind, they value themselves criticizing others. They are the intellectuals of empty theories whom, as say Dwight Einsenhower, are taking more words than necessary to tell more than they know.


Jean Luc


[ posted by carla wardlow, 02.04.11 18:24 ]

For the 40 years I have spent around equestrian "professionals" I have always pondered why there is so much difference of opinion and controversy.
I think this syndrome you describe applies equally to the professionals as it does to some students.

I've often wondered: WHERE is the science? WHY are there so many training methods for one species? I'm currently trying to apply your science and methods and have great hope for their veracity and efficacy.


[ posted by JEAN Luc, 02.04.11 19:16 ]

Colonel Hans von heydebreck Who edited the fourth version of Gustave Steinbrecht wrote, "There are a few theses which do not hold in front of the findings of recent research studies." This was in 1935. Most trainers do not have the ethical integrity to try to understand how the horse's physique works. The main reason is that modern knowledge does question traditional thinking. This was already the case in 1935. I can only encourage you to further your understanding of the horse physiology. The world ahead of you is wonderful. Horses are more sensitive, subtle and clever than conventional training techniques like to believe. Looking at actual knowledge of the equine physiology, you will refine your partnership with your horses at a level that the waspish ghosts of theological thinking, trainers and riders will never have the opportunity to experience through their life.
Jean Luc


[ posted by Susan Hopf, 02.04.11 19:42 ]

Science must prevail over tradition and ego. Thank goodness we have JL Cornille to help us toward that road. Science and art are intricately linked for without the study of one's subject true art does not exist - just mimicry. Those "cocktail theorists" are the squeaky wheels that too often get all of the attention and sadly in the horse world, as JL states, the horses suffer. But so too do the human students of these types of trainers - they wallow in their ignorance and think they are learning - it is not their fault as individuals it is the fault of the system which panders to this. I attended a clinic with Mr. Cornille and he said something so simple yet so profound that it has stuck with since - "you must stand up for your horse". And science will give you the best leg upon which to stand.


[ posted by Jean Luc and Helyn, 03.04.11 15:17 ]

(E-mails after e-mails we have been submerged by riders trainers and horse owners recognizing ghosts around them. The surprising abundance of responses gave birth to the idea that we should compare one per one empty theories surfing the web and compare them with actual knowledge of the equine physiology. The purpose is not to educate the ghosts since they already know all but unravel the danger of opinions and theories unrelated to the horse’s physiology.)


[ posted by Betsy Arnold, 07.04.11 20:09 ]

An evaluation should be made, as Jean Luc and Helyn suggested, to better identify irrational beliefs held by waspish ghosts. Hopefully this might make people think, and hopefully decrease equine stress and pain.
Horse people are a diverse group with no knowledge of overall excellence, thus each group designs their own goals, or follows the less then perfect equine judging at shows.


[ posted by Jean Luc, 07.04.11 20:40 ]

Hi Betsy
Your comments are right on. I think one easy evaluation would be the horse's muscular development. In the next text about the waspish ghosts, we are going to talk about the lowering of the neck. Proper equitation should develop the muscles primarily involved in forward movement and balance control. If the horse does not develop a large base of the neck, the training is not working. We will show two pictures of the same horse. Upon arrival and months later. Such muscular development is normal. If comparable muscular development does not occur, the training technique is not developing the horse's
physique properly.


your name*

email address*

You may use these HTML tags:<p> <u> <i> <b> <strong> <del> <code> <hr> <em> <ul> <li> <ol> <span> <div> <a> <img>

verification code*