Shillin Out with Warwick Shiller
Christmas is over, and New Years is fast approaching. It’s the time of year where we set goals and make New Years resolutions. A time to look back at this year and decide what experiences you’d like to repeat, which ones you’d like to do differently, and which ones you’d rather avoid.
This year was a little different for me than years past. The past few years I’ve done a lot of clinics around the World. Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK. I have also presented at horse expos in Australia and New Zealand, but until this year I’d never presented at one in North America. That all changed in 2016 which saw me present at Equine Affaire in Massachusetts and Ohio, The Main Event in Red Deer, Alberta and Chilliwack, British Columbia, as well as both Western States horse expos, the one in Pomona and the one in Sacramento.
I really enjoyed these North American horse expos, meeting lots of new people, spectators and other clinicians alike. I also got to see snow at two of them, which is a bit of a novelty for me.
Another project I started on in 2016 was a TV show for Farm and Ranch TV, which is a channel available on ROKU. Until recently , I didn’t know what ROKU was, so that has been a learning process. If you don’t know what it is, think Netflix TV via computer. The TV show is called ‘The Principles Of Training”, with each episode explaining a different principle. The show starts out with a quote from early 20th century efficiency expert Harrington Emerson that states “As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”.
There are several things I’m trying to accomplish with this show. One is to get people to understand the principles behind the techniques they have been taught. Once you understand the principles, you can adjust your techniques to solve an issue that may be slightly different. Understanding the principles of training has helped me a great deal at clinics around the world, where I often get presented with a problem that I have not ever encountered before.
Another thing I’m trying to have the show explain is that all of the equine disciplines, even the ones that seem completely unrelated, have the same basic underlying principles behind them. The techniques may seem worlds apart, but the principles remain the same. A great example is comparing dressage to cutting. At first glance the two disciplines seem to have nothing in common, but when you see it done at the highest levels you will notice that both the dressage horse, and the cutting horse have a great deal of hind end and abdominal engagement. Both of them achieve the result through transitions. The dressage rider uses transitions to teach the horse to carry themselves with more weight on the hind end, the closer together the transitions, and the higher that gait, the more engagement it creates. With the cutting horse, the cow dictates the transitions. Go. Stop. Turn. Go. Go faster. Stop now. Turn and GO ! Stop. Exactly what the dressage rider does, except the cow is calling the shots. When I was in Europe this year I was talking with a classical dressage trainer and she told me what the Portugese dressage trainers do to work on more engaged canter departures. From a standstill they canter 4 strides, back 4 strides, then immediately canter 4, back 4. Sounds a lot like the same sort of thing you’d do working a cow.
I have filmed the first four episodes, and they have been released. I’m happy to report that they broken the record for the number of views for a new series in it’s first month. Now that I’m home for a while I am working on the next few episodes. I have to do 26 episodes, and these initial episodes cover principles in general. As I run out of principles I will start going back and doing more in depth training, showing techniques and the principles behind them. I plan to travel around and visit different trainers of different disciplines and give them a principle to discuss and see what techniques fall under that principle, it should be fun!
I closing I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope that you set for next year are attainable, and that you reach them.
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