Music and Horse's the Harmony, Balance and Rhythm unfolds , the horse is my drummer Our timing is allowing that Natural Rhythm to release in the moment creating our song.
I have been blessed to be around great musians, great teachers, and great horse's. This has resulted in the creation of Saddle Rock.
I can vividly remember the first time I truly improvised, taking Jazz lessons from Nicolas Zannovic, sitting in the studio explaining that I wasn't feeling like I was getting anywhere with my guitar playing . Nick quickly suggested we work on the tune Pick yourself up , I had technique and could rifle off a blurr of notes from my fingers , Nick would comment stop playing from your fingers and hear what you want to play . The exercise was only using 3 notes and creating from that , I started off awkwardly, then the magic moment, technique shut off and inspiration kicked in, time stood still. Suddenly I wasn't trying to make anything happen anymore, but things where sure happening on a level I had never experienced before. To validate what seemed like a great dream , Nick's wife stuck her head in the door and commented that I was starting to sound like a Jazz player. That ability to improvise has remained with me, it's inside. Later on I studied with Ronny Lee, any style guitar I was interested in he wrote a book on it , it almost became a standing joke I would mention something, I heard like a great Flamenco guitarist, and Ronny would come out of the back room with a book he penned on the subject, broken down into an obtainable format to get you started in a new style. Billy Bauer the guitarist with Charlie Parker taught me about bebop and how to practice with a meternome and make it swing. Ray Gogarty a gentle soul I now realize helped me with sensitivity, creating a teaching enviorment where I was comfortable to experiment and learn to express myself through the guitar, some of these positive values have reemerged in me as I learned to be effective with a horse. Even though I was in the horse world and music world at the same time , it was years later until they would finally intercept. I was doing a clinic at my home what we call Little T Ranch, we were discussing the placement and footfall of the horses feet . It was starting to sound like I was teaching a math class, and the result was dry and boring to my patient clients. One of them was a drummer David Farcus and I said to him think of the rear foot like a quarter note ------ THAT WAS IT THE LIGHT BULB MOMEN T. We went up to the house brought down a portable drum machine and a boom box , the mood, feel and the day was transformed into something where we where smiling it became organic. Music breaks through so many barriers and lightens the mood right off the bat . When I started to realize that the rhythm must come from the horse, allowing it to naturally unfold, the signature of the horse, again dramatic improvement. The horses rhythmic voice in our song, no force no pressure, its not a machine, but it is in perfect balance with nature , thats my drummer . Thats why I call it saddle rock to keep things light . I want this to make PEOPLE AND HORSES FEEL GOOD ABOUT THE TIME THEY SHARE TOGETHER . I have great respect for classical knowledge, but please don't let it paralize you , it needs to be attainable. The training Pyramid of Dressage is Rhythm, Relaxation, Connection, Impulsion, Straightness, Collection. Keeping things relaxed for the horse and ourselves is an obtainable goal for everybody, it is something we have control over, an excellent place to start. Photo's courtesy of Laurie Covino ,Sunshine and Saddles.