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Dr. Deb's International Classroom Online


A Message from Dr. Deb Bennett, Ph.D.:

The Equine Studies Institute “Q and A Forum” functions as my international classroom. Students of horsemanship from all over the world come here to ask questions on horse-related topics.

Forum participants not only ask -- they also make observations, give reports on their progress, share medical diagnoses and Xrays of their horses, and ask for explanation of veterinary procedures or training methods. Students seek specific exercises and direction with riding, training, and handling issues, and engage in dialogue with me and other students. My schedue and upcoming events are also announced through the Forum, so it's a good idea to check in regularly.

The Forum is a wonderful resource or “FAQ base”. It’s been on line since 1997 and contains hundreds of “threads” which represent dialogue between me and students on many different topics. I think I speak for all of the 5,000+ participants in this Forum in welcoming you here. Click on the blue "Go To Forum" button at the bottom of this page to enter. But first, please take a moment to review our Forum Participation Rules:

( 1 ) You need to demonstrate to me that you are a student of horsemanship. That means that you come with a real question – and a desire to discuss, rather than to show me that you are “already an expert.” We are all students here, and that includes me. However, in this context I am in the role of teacher. You will get much more benefit out of your time here if you are willing to at least “play” the role of student.

( 2 ) You must be ready to hear a substantive and sometimes very straightforward answer to whatever question you may ask. My replies to queries are often not what the student expected to hear, and this can be unsettling. Further, communication on the Internet is not like a live conversation where people can see the expressions on each other’s faces. The lack of visual input deprives the written message of nuance and this can make my answers seem harsh. Likewise, there's a chance that I will misunderstand your question or the real reasons why you asked it. For these reasons, I ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt – while I do the same for you. If you get mad and go off in a huff, you cut off your opportunity to learn from me and other students. If an answer “doesn’t compute” on any level, all you have to do is ask again!

( 3 ) If you flame, blame, or defame, I will pull the offending post. I have complete control over the content of the Forum and I check it daily, so toxic posts have no chance of staying up. One toxic post, and I will reply to you with a warning. A second offence will result in your post/thread being deleted, your registration being deleted, and your ISP blocked so that you cannot come to the Forum again.

( 4 ) Don't try to sell anything here. If you try to use the Forum to increase sales of some product, be assured that I will detect this immediately and pull your post. We allow zero outside commercial content or advertisements. Nonetheless, every now and again we get a commissioned salesperson who slyly comes in “apparently” asking a question – but the question is not innocent or sincere. Rather, it is designed to provoke replies such as “oh I’ve had such trouble getting a saddle that fits” or “oh I’ve heard about those bitless bridles” – to which the perpetrator then replies with the suggestion that all their problems would be solved if they would go visit her website where the product is sold.

( 5 ) Don't include your business card, logo, address, telephone number, or hotlink to your sales website. I have the power to edit any post in the Forum at any time, so if I see these things I will delete them.

( 6 ) I will not permit any dialogue of the form, “my favorite clinician can beat up your favorite clinician”. To prevent this, I maintain an A-list of horsemen whose names can be freely mentioned in the Forum. That list includes, but is not limited to, the following: Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Harry Whitney, Buck Brannaman, Joe Wolter, Bryan Neubert & sons, Melanie Smith-Taylor, Tom Curtin, Josh Nichol, Yvonne Miller, Sally Swift, Tony Uytendaal, Lendon Gray, and MariMonda Zdunic. Naming any other horsemanship clinician or riding instructor is banned (although you may certainly write to me by sending a private message through the Forum, asking whether you may mention some specific person – in some cases I will give permission).

( 7 ) So, what do you do when you want to ask about something you saw, heard, or experienced at a clinic led by someone not on my list? I suggest you write something like: “Dear Dr. Deb, I was at ‘Clinician X’s’ event last weekend and he required all participants to have their horses in running martingales. Would you explain what this was about?” This way of asking de-personalizes the question and focuses our discussion 100% on the horsemanship issue itself.

( 8 ) In similar manner, you may not mention the name of any product or the brand-name of anything that is for sale, i.e. saddles, bits, training equipment or whatnot. What you do instead is ask, “Dear Dr. Deb, I was at a Horse Expo last weekend and I saw this amazing saddle at a booth in the trade show. The salesperson said it would fit any horse. Is it really possible for one saddle to fit any horse?"

( 9 ) You MAY ask about any book, magazine article, or published research, and it is usually not a problem if you mention the title and author's name.

( 10 ) If you're new to the Forum, please familiarize yourself with the thread (near the top of the Forum Home Page in the Announcements section) which explains how to use the Google Advanced Search Function to search content in the Forum. Before you ask a question, it is helpful to me if you would review previous discussion on your topic of interest. If after that you still want to ask something and discuss, great, please write in.

There are hours of reading waiting for you here in the Forum. As former U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team captain Bill Steinkraus said, “if you want to succeed in horsemanship, you must not only be a rider, you must also be a reader.”

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