Friday, July 16, 2010

chris irwin tosses a gauntlet?

I don't know anything about Chris, but I found this intriguing. Anyone know more?


jme said...

i don't know anything about him either. he seems to be saying all the right things. it would be interesting to see him work with the horse. i'm a bit suspicious of of all these guys (and the heavy sighing is a bit dramatic) but i'd try to keep an open mind and give him a chance to demonstrate his method.... he couldn't do much worse than parelli did :-\

Katherine said...

Just Googled Chris Irwin and do not know enough about him to form a judgment, but did discover that he does not sell equipment and that he recommends basic equipment for his clinics. So I will be checking him out more.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I've never heard of him either. Wonder if there are actually videos of him working with a horse. I'm always a little suspicious of anybody, even if they are gentle and kind, saying they can 'fix' a problem in a short while with the media watching. I'll keep an open mind, but I'm sure he'll never hear from Whitaker. Just an observation, the sighing was a little dramatic for my liking.

Valentino said...


Let's see if he can walk the walk :) Apparently he isn't selling anything, but I'll bet it wouldn't hurt his business if he were successful at his "challenge".

billie said...

He does have a website, but no videos right now - I need to look on you tube.

I admit, he gets a few points from me by having a Hanoverian. :)

But the heavy sighing is a bit over the top.

Máire said...

That is interesting. I know of Chris Irwin, through a trainer I have worked with here in Ireland, who has trained with him, has an instructor's licence from him in fact. The key points I have got from her are a very strong emphasis on body language, in particular where your core is directed and never to drive the head of a horse.

I found that piece a bit stagey and possibly opportunistic. But it must be frustrating for trainers in the so-called natural horsemanship field to have to deal with all the Parelli associations.

billie said...

Maire, I found a video on you tube last night showing Chris Irwin working with a 'hard to catch' horse.

The horse wasn't allowed to cross Irwin's "girth line" which has something to do with his navel, and the horse also wasn't allowed to look away (this was at a distance of maybe 15 feet, and the horse was free in the pasture).

Irwin's response to these trangressions was to lift a whip, not as though he were going to strike, but as a driving tool used to push the horse away. Submissive gestures such as "bowing" were rewarded with Irwin's approach and open posture.

It all got too much like math for me - this line crossed that line, etc., and the whole respect thing being parsed down to the horse looking away, turning its neck, etc. is too 'controlling' for my tastes.

I understand the philosophy of it all, but I think a lot of these trainers take something they observed and turn it into some kind of scientific theory - when in reality most of it is watching and responding from a place of goodwill and peace.

None of this needs to be made as complicated as they try to make it.

I need to say though, I have not dealt with problem horses that are extremely dangerous in their behaviors.

OTOH, wrt Chris Irwin, I watched a different video of him lunging a horse and the whole bit about pointing your core to direct the horse works perfectly well with Cody, our QH, who is the low horse in the herd - so I guess he's especially attuned to all these signals.

The thing is, though, with Keil Bay, you will get laughed out of the arena if you start up this "natural horsemanship" stuff. He doesn't act like a horse though! So it makes sense.

ponymaid said...

Billie, I'd just like to point out that there is no such thing as natural or even unnatural donkeymanship - ironically, it could prove the undoing of someone like the Parelli person. Rafer and I could end that nonsense in under five minutes.

Máire said...

Billie, what you are really talking about is feel, I guess. And responding to each horse as the moment requires. That is the problem with 'methods', they do not take into account the particular horse and even the particular horse in a particular moment.

Claire said...

on the catching the horse front - was always taught to just "walk it down" so isn't what he's doing in that video (which i've not watched) just that, fancified?

billie said...

LOL, Sheaffer, you are right. :)

billie said...

I've watched a few more Chris Irwin videos. I like the things he says (for the most part) when he's helping other riders. I also like how he looks on his lovely mare.

I'm not so sure about the method he describes when working with horses on the ground.

Still, it's better than the ropes and twitches and loud music Parelli employs.

forever in blue jeans, Beth said...

Here is the "sorry you didn't understand" written video statement from PP -

I wonder, are veterinarians trained in horse psychology? How does having a vet certify Catwalk account for the emotional abuse inflicted on what was clearly a "bully" lesson-session (cleverly spun as "passive persistence")? BTW - "you don't understand" is also the excuse rodeo proponents use to explain away their animal abuse. I do find it very interesting that PP's response is a "written" response posted on "video" YouTube - perhaps PP is actually too ashamed to actually show his face ! ! ! I believe it is an established psychological fact that bullies are actually cowards at heart. Character will eventually show itself in behavior.

Beth and Cookie,
in Virginia

billie said...

thanks, Beth - there was research done awhile back on doctors and malpractice - and it found that when doctors simply took responsibility and apologized for making a mistake, the patients and families involved were less likely to take legal action.

Sometimes I think we as a society have become so bent on justifying our bad behavior and trying to avoid accountability, we lose CREDIBILITY.

I would be so much more open to Parelli if he just stepped up to the plate and said, "You know, I got caught up in proving I could do something, and it was a mistake. That's not the way to work with a horse."

To me, that would say so much more about his mindset wrt horses and his training philosophy, not to mention his decency as a person.

Instead, we are told we don't understand what we saw, and that our gut reactions were wrong.
He made a rape analogy in the excerpt I posted. What about treating the people who paid money to see him work with a little respect? If people walked out, and people were in tears, he needs to look at why, not discount their reactions.

forever in blue jeans, Beth said...

I think we've a more deeply rooted problem that most folks might recognize - harkening back to our schools, the "what" and "how" of our children's education. Taught to rely on "experts" and "authorities" and to "obey without question" rules. Is it really any wonder that people are somewhat like sheep lost and looking for a shepherd in what seems to be an abdication of personal responsibility for decisions that may counter popular culture, that may be difficult.

I appreciate independent thinkers - they may make me uncomfortable at times, but I love how they make me "think" about things, spin them around to look at them from a different perspective, or multi-layered, instead of just "going along to get along," or rush out to buy the latest - whatever. It's is a kind of mindless herd-mob mentality which isn't about survival as far as I can see, but is about a very human need to feel like one belongs to a group, or herd, or cause, or church, or whatever. The age old "us/them", "insider/outsider" mentality.

And I fully realize and acknowledge that I'm as guilty as the next fellow - I've bought plenty of my VA Tech logo stuff (I belong); I went to two Parelli clinics and got swept up in the circus, medicine man show captivating mentality; bought the gear, went home enthused. Thankfully, after talking it over with Cookie, we mutually decided his "approach" wasn't going to work for us. But PP did get some of my money - shame on me for not doing the research :) I handled it differently before signing up for CR's class - I waited a year and followed her blog and got feedback from previous students and watched lots of video, read her book (wonderful, and significantly different from Parelli's material). However, I'm not married to her method - just looking to learn different approaches to meld into my own vision of bonding with Cookie :)

I'm just sayin' :)

billie said...

Ultimately, it's about having the good sense to see if what we're doing, whether it's a technique we made up ourselves to creatively address a particular horse issue, learned from a trainer, or picked up in a clinic, etc., actually HELPS THE HORSE.

If it doesn't work, instead of trying to justify that, we need to use our brain, our heart, and our creative capacity to try something that DOES.

I think you're right that many of us learned to follow the "leader" of the "group" we were taught we needed to join.

And the bottom line is that the saying 'ignorance is bliss' is pretty much true. When we take it on ourselves to read and learn and practice and own the responsibility for not only our successes but our mistakes as well, we open ourselves to a world where there is often conflicting information, where things are NOT black and white, and where we have to make judgment calls. It is harder. There is no one to "blame" when things go wrong. But I think it's a richer, more vibrant life when we choose that path.

Taking the independent path doesn't mean we don't learn from and mentor with people we identify as masters in their fields/crafts, nor does it mean we don't affiliate with like-minded people and groups. It's whether we go on autopilot mode or use our minds and voices while we commune that's the difference.

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - I can't access this video clip because it wants me to accept the sender's invitation - how do I do that? I read Chris Irwin's book "Horses Don't Lie", and it's interesting that in it, he talks about Jung and how horses force us to face our "shadow selves". It appears that's what happened with Parelli. Very much in the public eye. These trainers who become as full of ego as rock stars or evangelical preachers travel a precarious path that loses sight of the wisdom and the lessons that horses teach us.

billie said...

Victoria, great point about the shadows - I haven't read the book but if he talks about Jung, I probably should!

It looks like the video has been made private - when I first posted it, there was no message about invitations, etc. - I wonder what happened?

Basically, he offered to work with Catwalk and show Parelli and Catwalk's owner his methods, and that he would stop the moment the horse became upset - which he felt wouldn't happen.