with Alexandra Kurland,
Michaela Hempen, Anita Schnee
and our very special guest
September 2-5 and Sept. 10
This is one of those good news, bad news announcements. But since the good news is very good indeed, let me begin with the bad news. Dr Jesús Rosales Ruis won’t be able to join us in September for Science Camp - nothing to worry about, he just can’t join us over Labor Day weekend. But his change of plans means we need to change Science Camp. That’s the bad news.
The good news is Michaela Hempen and I have transformed Science Camp into Dressage Camp. And the even greater good news is Anja Beran will be joining us as our special guest!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Anja Beran, I am sharing this image of three her books.
Anja is a classical dressage trainer who is truly committed to the welfare of horses. Her training is not just incredibly beautiful, Anja understands how to use the work for the good of the horse. Lateral work isn’t done to win ribbons. It is done to help horses heal physically and emotionally. Her training helps horses remain sound for decades. (https://www.anjaberan.de)
Michaela has been learning from Anja. She has shared some of the beautiful results of her training in our previous Science Camp events, at last winter's Clicker Expo, and in my on-line clinics.
As Michaela has said: "Anja shows me what to train. Alex shows me how to train it." In this Dressage Camp we’ll be connecting the dots from the foundation steps of clicker training to the beauty of Classical Dressage.
So let me give you the details.
We will be taking a deep dive into my favorite topic - balance. If you aren’t a dressage rider, don’t worry. As we connect the dots between the foundation steps and classical dressage, you’ll see how relevant this work is to all horses. Balance - physical and emotional - is a central pillar supporting all good training.
We’ll begin with loopy training, shaping on a point of contact, reversibility, and the contact trap. Horse people communicate using pressure and release of pressure. In command-based training this means true negative reinforcement where the horse responds to avoid or escape negative consequences. In cue-based training pressure isn’t a threat. It is information that the learner uses to get to his reinforcement faster. To use shaping on a point of contact well the handler needs to tune into nuances of movement.
We won’t just be talking about these concepts. Michaela Hempen will be illustrating them through the work she’s been doing with Blondie and her other horses. Many of you will know Blondie through the cribbing research project that Michaela has been sharing with us. In Dressage Camp the focus will be on not on cribbing, but on riding. Michaela will be sharing with us what she has been doing to unlock Blondie, both physically and emotionally.
Anja Beran will join us for one of the afternoon sessions. She'll help to refine our understanding of balance by comparing video of horses moving correctly versus that of horses being pushed and compromised to meet the demands of competition.
You won’t just be watching video and listening to Anja and Michaela talking about balance. Anita Schnee will be joining us again. Anita is a Feldenkrais Practitioner. She’ll be guiding us through daily Awareness through Movement lessons that will help you understand movement from the inside out.
I’ll expand on Anita’s work with Awareness Explorations. We’ll be in search of what comes before what comes before the change you want to click. You’ll experience for yourself how a small shift of balance can grow into complex movement.
We could have given Dressage Camp a different name. We could have called it “A Spa Holiday for Animal Trainers" because that’s often how people feel after the ATM and Awareness Explorations. They feel relaxed, energized, pampered - wonderful. A Spa vacation is a great side benefit of this deep dive into balance. The real reason we will be including the ATM lessons and the Awareness Explorations is because they help you understand where good movement comes from, and how loopy training, shaping on a point of contact and the other concepts we’ll be discussing can help your animal learners remain sound. When you watch Anja’s animated videos that compare correct movement with the non-examples that are seen in competitions, you’ll understand more clearly why good balance matters.
Dressage Camp is a virtual event. We’ll be meeting up on zoom. You don’t need to bring your hard hat. You won’t be in the arena riding your horse. You don’t even need to have a horse. We’re going to use this time together to explore balance from the inside out. There will be time, as always, for questions and discussions. We’ll have the same follow-us-down-rabbit-holes format that is the hallmark of Science Camp.
I hope you’ll join us. It is going to be an exciting, one-of-a-kind event.
When: Labor Day Weekend Sept 2-5, 2022.
Friday Sept 2, 2022 we will meet at 4 pm eastern time for Introductions
Introductions help to transform the event from a webinar in which you listen passively to speakers to an interactive event in which you feel comfortable to ask questions and participate in the discussions. The 4 pm start time will hopefully make it possible for you to join in to at least part of the gathering.
Saturday Sept 3 through Monday September 5
10 am to 1 pm eastern time
2 pm to 5:30 pm eastern time.
If you've been to any of my clinics, you know how these days work. We pack a lot of great learning into these days, but we do provide breaks as needed during the sessions. And you won't be sitting at your computer the whole time. The sessions will include the ATM lessons and Awareness Explorations.
Saturday Sept 10: "Campfire" Gathering
Start time: noon eastern time
No "camping" experience is complete without a campfire gathering. This one will be an informal gathering. What new questions do you have? We won't have a set program for this event. Rather we will follow where the questions take us.
If you have any questions about the event, do please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's a question many of you may have: Why don't I see a schedule of presentations?
Dressage Camp will be following the format of our very successful Science Camps. We don't have a "normal" set schedule where one speaker stops and another begins a different program. Instead we follow the presenters down whatever "rabbit hole journeys" they want to take us on. It will have all of the good learning, the great conversations, the laughter, the discoveries, the connecting with friends that an in-person Dressage Camp would have. It just won’t have the mosquitoes, and you’ll get to sleep in your own bed instead of a tent.
We take full advantage of zoom to get everyone involved. Questions definitely drive the process. The days will be filled with discussions in which everyone can participate. And every day we will have the added treat of a Feldenkrais Arareness Through Movement session.
This informal schedule creates the perfect conditions for a deep dive into balance. You are not attending a large conference where tight schedules make it difficult to ask questions or to take a topic further than the allotted time allows. Here the schedule belongs to all of us. That means we can explore in depth how attention to the details of balance helps us to be better trainers, teachers, and communicators regardless of the species we work with.
Space is limited. If you are interested in attending, do register early, and come join us for a weekend of great learning, great discoveries, great conversations, and great fun.
If you have any questions about the event, do please email me: email@example.com
Who Should Attend?
You! That is - if you enjoy exploring new ideas, training and hanging out with like-minded people, then this is the event for you. It's a different kind of conference! Come join us for this one-of-its-kind Dressage Camp!
Our very special guest:
“Classical equestrianism is orientated completely according to the nature of the horse. It does not demand specific sequences of movement or carriage which would not be natural for a horse to perform in freedom. The horse is intended to find its balance by means of good, logically developed exercises so that it happily and confidently submits to the will of the rider, without any detriment to its natural sequence of movement. It should not suffer any damage, either physical or mental, in connection with its training. Instead the aim is a horse which will remain healthy and able to perform up to an advanced age.” Anja Beran
is a pioneer and leading voice in the development of clicker training for horses. 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of her first book and the “official” introduction of clicker training to the horse world. Since then, Alexandra has published two other books on clicker training, including the recently revised edition of "The Click That Teaches: A Step By Step Guide in Pictures". She has written hundreds of articles on clicker training, produced The Click That Teaches DVD lesson series and an online course (click here for details).
She is a regular speaker at animal training conferences. She is one of the original faculty members of the Clicker Expo and a founding member of the Art and Animal Training Conference.
She publishes regularly on her blog theclickercenterblog. She produces Equiosity, a weekly podcast with Dominique Day. And she is the founder of Horses for Future, a group dedicated to helping horse owners learn how to make a positive difference in the climate change crisis.
To find out more, visit her websites:
For Clicker Training:
For Climate Crisis Action:
Horses for Future (a facebook group and podcast)
holds a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine and an MSc in equine science, specialising on equine behaviour. She is working as a scientist which made clicker training especially appealing to her.
She is working on a research project that is looking at behavioral interventions for horses that crib. Her work is under the guidance of Dr. Rosales-Ruiz.
She has studied with Alexandra Kurland since 2010. She is now one of Alexandra’s Click-That-Teaches coaches. She runs the German version Alexandra’s online course and provides coaching support.
Apart from clicker training, Michaela has a strong interest in classical dressage, particularly inspired by Anja Beran, applied behaviour analysis, and the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, all which are closely interlinked with Alexandra’s work.
Anita Schnee, a Feldenkrais practitioner, will guide us through a Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson.
Anita's skillfully crafted Awareness Through Movement lessons give you direct experience with a constructional approach to learning new skills.
Exploring your own movement over the course of three days, you may experience significant changes. Movements will become more fluid, easy and graceful. This can have a significant effect on the interaction with our animals.
If you want to learn more about Anita and the Feldenkrais method, listen to the two part Equiosity podcast interview with her: