Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

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Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by bohohorse on Mon Oct 27, 2008 2:19 am

As it says - I went to KFH's Dancing with Horses workshop yesterday. As a bonus, I met up with Debbie from the bitless group and Anne who I know from a hoof care course and forum.

Well, we all thoroughly enjoyed it. He spent some time explaining his methods and philosophy. I'll try to summarise it as I understood it:

There are three 'worlds'.
The first is the physical world that we see and touch in our everyday life.
The second is the 'sensory' world which to a great extent we've lost touch with in the West. It involves using all our senses as tribal people still do. These people can heighten their awareness to a point where they can hear the snake coming towards them before it attacks, or when hunting, pick out the animal in the pack that is ready to die.

He said that there was no great mystery in using our senses and it could be easily taught and practised. However he stressed that in order to use our sense we first had to be grounded in the physical world. To do this, he taught us some exercises - more about that later. He also said that we had to learn not to judge as judging involved stepping back and looking from a distance, whereas to be properly grounded we had to be 'in the moment' and clearing the mental 'chatter' (a bit like meditation I think).

He mentioned the third 'world' - the mystical and psychic realm. He was keen to distance himself from this and said that using your senses had nothing to do with animal communication or ghosts. He said that was all far too scary and if a horse spoke to him he would run a mile Laughing

So we went through some methods for clearing the mental chatter and grounding ourselves. We had to sit or stand straight with shoulders aligned and both feet on the ground. We had to become aware of our shoulders first. Then our feet, then our weight on our feet or the seat. Putting a hand over the navel helped the process. Meanwhile we had to attune ourselves to every sound and smell going on around us and every feeling. He said 'feel the air between your fingers'. So we were very aware of our own bodies but at the same time very aware of the surroundings.

It did feel like a meditative state, very relaxing and warming (some people nodded off a bit!). Actually it reminded me of a workshop I did on public speaking where we were taught how to 'ground' ourselves in a similar way. Those methods had come from the methods that stage actors use and I know KFH has a background in theatrics so it may have come from the same root.

So what was the point, well, simply that horses are aware if we are not 'present' and they find it harder to trust us in that state. As he put it: 'The horses cannot see you'. My way of thinking about it is that the horse is, at all times, 100% horse! And he is always living in the moment. So our disordered personalities must be confusing for them.

I also think that, although we were being 'taught' this, being 'present' is one of those things that the great horse people do automatically and that is one of the secrets of their success. We all know by now that we have to disconnect our ego and temper when working with animals! and being able to drop our assumptions and judgements helps in this process.

We then watched Klaus work with a horse which he had worked with the previous day in the Borderline Horses demo (horses who were considered extremely difficult and dangerous). The horse was stunning, but very edgy and nervous, barging and biting. He was led in in a bitted bridle over a rope halter and he was champing compulsively on the bit. Klaus took him into the picadero and removed the bridle. Interestingly, he didn't want to use the halter as he feels that they are harsh and asked for a webbing headcollar instead.

He demonstrated his methods of using his body language and 'grounding' to calm the horse and reassure him of his (Klaus's) dominance. It was interesting too, that unlike many other methods, he refused to apply pressure to the head - the rope remained looped and there was no jerking on the headcollar. He carries a whip but only ever strokes the horse with it.

When he was ready for the horse to leave, the owner came in and bridled the horse who started to become fractious again. After a moments thought, Klaus obviously decided that it wasn't the right time to finish. He said 'Lets get rid of this bit' to the cheers of the bitless members of the audience! The owner, by now, was a little upset - she had tried hard with this horse, of that we were in no doubt and obviously had lost confidence in her abilities. Klaus brought her into the picadero and showed her exactly what to do. We were able to watch her confidence grow. The audience were very supportive of her, having been to clinics before I know how your abilities (or lack of) are exposed for all to watch and judge and it was very brave of her to stand in front of us with her horse.

By now it was getting late, but no one was in a hurry to go. We all came down to the arena and worked through some exercises. A really interesting one involved standing behind a partner whose eyes were closed, holding their head gently and steering them around at halt, walk and 'trot'. The 'horse' had to keep their eyes shut. Being the horse was a weird feeling and certainly gave us empathy with the horse - it's very strange having no choice in where you go having to trust the 'rider' entirely! Also the 'riders' were amazed at how little pressure it took to 'steer' our horses. We then did some exercises that mimicked how to sit the walk, trot and canter. These all caused quite a bit of hilarity but it was undoubtedly very useful.

Anyway, it was a great day and I think everyone went away inspired. If you get the chance to see him I'd highly recommend it. Not just for the fact that Debbie, Anne and I all agreed that he's pretty hot (think a slightly greyer Russell Crowe in Gladiator) but perhaps we are all just as shallow as puddles. Laughing
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:36 am

That sounds absolutely beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing the experience with us!!
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by PiePony on Sun Nov 09, 2008 4:36 am

Great write up, thank you for sharing.
I was surprised to read somewhere, that KFH did not have any horse experience prior to his studies of horses interacting in natural surroundings.
The upside of that must be an open mind without tradition, so he was learning correctly from horses rather than incorrectly from humans.
KFH also had the intelligence to assimilate his learning and pass on his findings.
Imagine the consequence of a clean slate, for most of us it is hard to forget what has already been taught and what has become habituated.
Horses will have hope that young horse people and riders will be taught with consideration to KFH, Mark Rashid, Lucy Rees and many others, before they become reliant on fear of pain as a control method.
Now I have to find someone who will agree to walking about with closed eyes to try the exercise. Doubt without hypnosis I could manage a quiet brain. It clears when I am unaware of trying to achieve grounding. Trying results in awareness of how busy and elsewhere I am, with resultant frustration from trying and being ineffective. Grounding is harder to do than to describe.
Susie xx PiePony
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:28 pm

I've been watching KFH on YouTube and would really like to see him in person. I saw on his website that he has a DVD set coming out. Hmm...wonder if it'll be out for Christmas? lol Better start making my list. Or perhaps his site hadn't been updated for a while and it's already out? At any rate, I really like his style of training.

I had a lovely long chat with Fanny's breeder the other day. She said that Fanny's mother is the most sensitive Canadian Horse that she has, and Fanny's father is sensitive too, as well as being the most intelligent Newfoundland Pony she has. I can really see these traits in Fanny when I work with her.

She is settling in more and more at her new barn and is now with another horse. I went to see her today and stuck to our usual routine of what we do, except it was rainy out so we didn't do any groundwork. I took her into the barn and groomed her and took her for a little walk, etc..

When I released Fanny into her field, I walked around the field to check it out. She 'followed' me the whole way, not crowding me at all. When I did the KFH posture to stop, she stopped. When I moved on, she did. It was wonderful. I then jogged a bit and she trotted beside me, stopping when I did. No halters, no carrot sticks, just the two of us. I loved it.

I really think that she'd respond well to this type of training. At least the leading and bonding part, which is where we are right now and progressing so much better than at the other barn.

Just wanted to share this with you all Smile
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by lightertouch on Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:34 am

Great news Cyndi Very Happy
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:42 pm

I just picked up Dancing with Horses from the library last night. They had ordered it in for me from another branch. I started it last night and had a hard time putting it down. I'm still in the intro/explanation stage of the book and can hardly wait to get to the instruction part.
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:28 pm

Okay, I finally finished the book!!

Bohohorse...what types of whips did KFH use? In the book and on You Tube, the shaft looks long, yet the "rope" at the end is is quite short. I have a four-foot carrot stick with a six-foot string on it, and I'm wondering if I can just put on a shorter string. The long whip he uses looks longer...and "lighter".

The short whip he uses doesn't look like a crop, it looks more like a magic wand, the way it tapers at the end Smile I wonder if I can find something like that in Canada. Maybe a short thin stick from the woods lol! ?

The lunge line he uses is just a regular lunge line, yes?

I really enjoyed the book, and can hardly wait to build a temporary picadero for Fanny! I need to buy the book first, so that I can refer to it as I go along (or maybe even read it over again before I start). Just noticed on his site that the 7-DVD video series won't be out till spring of 2009.
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by bohohorse on Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:32 am

Hi - I think he uses a driving whip (as in, what you use for carriage driving) as it is shorter than a convential lunge whip.

However I have used whatever is to hand...! I don't think it matters too much. I'm actually trying free lunging without a whip at all at the moment, just hand gestures. It's nice as you get a 'quieter' response. Zeno doesn't fear whips but they can 'excite' him! - probably because he associates them with tricks, fun and treats!
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:12 am

Thanks for the info!

I wondered if it was a driving whip.

The book slightly confused me in that he showed pics of where to position yourself, etc. while working with your horse, and in each pic there was a lead line involved. Then later on, he talked about doing some lunge work and made a comment about using the lead line now, even though the previous exercises didn't use one. Huh? I definitely need to buy the book so I can recheck that, because I'm pretty sure a lead line was used for all the exercises. Not that it matters...

Fanny is fine with a carrot stick, doing the friendly game, but she is so super sensitive to body language, that all I have to do is change position and slightly lift the tip of the carrot stick off the ground and she is off doing her circles. Guess I shouldn't complain, but sometimes all I'm doing is switching from one foot to the other and I move the stick and she's off to her circles. We still need work with that.

I hadn't seen Fanny for a week again, when I went to see her yesterday. Man, was she ever 'off'. She was restless and agitated in the barn when I was grooming her, and whinnying and carrying on. She's not usually like that. Even the barn owner said she wasn't acting normal, and he sees her every day.
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Jo on Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:28 pm

She's not in season is she Cyndi??
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Tue Dec 23, 2008 5:24 am

I hadn't thought of that, Jo. Normally, her season is April to September (or so), but I'm new at all this, so what do I know?

I wonder if part of her 'problem' is that she is inside a lot these days, with the colder weather. We had a huge blizzard last Friday and I don't think the horses went outside at all. Fanny loves to live outside, so I think it drives her batty to be stuck in a stall. But I can't leave her outside when all the other horses come in. Guess I'll just have to buy another horse for her to be with outside Very Happy I wish!!

It's supposed to warm up again soon, so I'll see if her mood changes with the weather.
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Wild Pony on Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:37 pm

OT again...I can't believe I found a site that refers to KFH let alone have read the books! OMG! I'm in heaven!!! Heaven, I say.

A forum that has heard of Kelly Marks and Klaus....and no says, "WHO?" or says, "That sounds alittle touchy feeling..."

I LOVE THIS FORUM!

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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:18 pm

Hi again Wild Pony!

I was going to mention in my other post to you (about Kelly Marks) that I am also a huge fan of KFH, but I deleted the sentence because I didn't want to overdo it!

I ended up buying Klaus's book, "Dancing With Horses", and I also bought "What Horses Reveal" this past summer. I'm still trying to figure out my horse's character. Most of my problem is due to not knowing what some terms are in regard to physical appearance - whether her eyes are close together or far apart, or whether her ears are large or small, or what size or shape her nostrils are. I should just post a bunch of pics and let the people in here give me their opinions. I have an idea of what her "character" is, but I'm not certain because she suits a couple.

I am "registered" for Klaus's DVD learning series, but will have to wait to see what the cost is when it comes out. I recently emailed them and asked if there will be any sort of support once this learning set is released - if there'd be a special forum for people to share their experiences, and encourage one another, or if there'd be some students of his who could answer questions we may have, but unfortunately, there will no support. I wish there was someone nearby whom I could talk to if I need help, to observe me and point out what I may be doing wrong, etc..
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Wild Pony on Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:43 pm

My youngest is the KING. Not sure about the another ones...Smile

I too wish there was a place to observe... I do better when I see hands on. In a book...it can be well...interrupted wrong.

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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

Post by Cyndi on Tue Dec 08, 2009 3:12 pm

When I had emailed KFH's organization about the hopes of a support team, they urged me to get in on one of KFH's live demos and take some of his courses. Of course I'd LOVE to do that!!! I'd make the trip out to Denmark to do that any day (uh...except in the middle of winter!). Unfortunately, it's a little far to go for a weekend demo

I should send you some pics of my horse and see if you can figure out what she is! As far as looks go, one of the characters she could be is The Modest One. Maybe The Origin too. She does have large eyes and a large jowl. She's gentle, sensitive and intelligent. I'm just not sure if her eyes are forward, if her ears are large or if her nostrils are big or low, etc....
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Re: Went to see Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling yesterday

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