OK, Lasell, and anyone else interested. Here is my best shot at my experience and what I've learned, from attending one and auditing two clinics. Oh, first of all, if anyone is interested, his website is www.sumeraltherapy.com.
To begin with Dan discusses horse thinking, herd dynamics, and helps us to learn to interpret their language, and to speak to them in their language as best we can. He tells stories of his experience getting into horses as a 40-something year old with no prior horse experience at all. Although he does admit to being somewhat of an adrenaline junkie, skydiving, racing motorcycles, that sort of thing. So he was drawn to endurance racing. He tells the story of Sunny, the Arab stallion he bought, "because he was pretty". Apparently, the seller told him that he should not buy the horse, but he did anyway. To shorten the story dramatically, Sunny ran away with Dan 42 times in the mountains of Colorado. He was told to geld the horse, which he did. He was told to get bigger bits, which he did. He was told to take the horse to "Fancy Horse Trainer of the Season", which he did (many of them). He did everything you are supposed to do, and nothing worked.
So Dan decided he had to figure it out on his own. Most of us would have sold that horse years ago, but apparently he's a little bull-headed ;-) So he said he went into a roundpen with Sunny. He asked him to move. He asked him to change direction. He did this, he did that, and before long, Sunny was beginning to realize that Dan did have a clue, and knew what he was talking about, and he could trust him, and believe in him. Sunny hasnt' run away with him since. Dan does readily admit, however, that Sunny is a horse that needs work constantly, or he starts with the little signs of the domination game, trying to take over again.
We learn what those signs are. The horse gets into your space uninvited and demands attention, runs you over, bulges their shoulder or ribcage into you brushing you as they walk past, ear pinning, cow-kicking, bolting their feet to the ground when you ask them to move. Soon you have a horse that doesn't lead well, then a horse who gives you a hard time under saddle, bolting, running away, bucking, rearing, or just plain old being difficult.
Next, Dan discusses many of the things a horse needs to be happy and comfortable, based on their evolution. He discusses shoes vs. barefoot. He discusses all the reasons that shoes are not good, what problems they cause. He discusses the pumping action of the hoof, the traction, the concussion, contraction. He talks about the fact that horses will run 50 mile endurance rides barefoot over rocky, mountainous terrain, but a dressage horse in a groomed arena that is ridden for an hour needs 4 shoes on to be sound. What is up with that? Aside from the excuse of "Well, that's what he needs", or "Oh, he has bad feet, my farrier said so", or "Of course he needs shoes because he's ridden". Well, stalls are what's up with that. Keeping a horse stalled inhibits the circulation, which causes poor hoof quality. Keeping a horse stalled is bad for his joints as well, as he doesn't get enough movement. It is bad for his back, because it keeps him living with his head up, eating with his head up, and trying to get some mental stimulation while in confinement, holding his head up to look out of his stall. It is worse for his mental health, because he is denied companionship, in an animal that has evolved over millions of years to rely on herd interaction to warn him of danger coming, for companionship, play. Would you lock your child in a closet when you are not playing with him, and toss him some macaroni and cheese twice a day?
Dan also discusses bits. He quotes Dr. Cook's papers written while a doctor at Tufts University. Those studies are available on his website. From my memory, those studies show the effects of a horse carrying a bit in its mouth, with no rider, and no reins, just carrying it, on a treadmill, and it had something like a 20% decrease in airflow (that may be wrong, please see the website for accurate details). Holding the horse "in frame" decreases the airflow another percentage. In all, the airflow is decreased something like 60%, which is what causes all the foamy sweating ... its shear panic, and trying to work while having your airflow decreased by 60%. This is not even considering a shanked bit, twisted wire, ported, etc., bits. All the salivation also, tells the body that it is eating, which ramps up the metabolism for digestion. That digestion doesn't happen, there is no food coming in so what happens? Ulcers. Which are painful, plus the decreased airflow. Is it any wonder these poor horses start to act up? That doesn't even take into account poor saddle fit or poor shoeing jobs!
Dan also discusses saddle fit, but admits to not being an expert. He does a pretty decent job, IMO, of teaching us things to look for in saddle fit, i.e., bridging, rocking, checking pomel/cantle levelness, checking the shoulders for being pinched by the tree.
Then you get to go in the roundpen, with your own horse. The goals are to get and keep your horses attention, and that the horse should be calmer at the end of the session than the start, and I've forgotten the third goal. Oops, sorry. Dan uses a plastic bag on the end of a whip as an attention getter. The owner steps to the center of the pen, and shakes the bag to get the horses attention. The amount of bag movement is directly dependent on the horse. I've seen horses that all you had to do is touch the whip so the bag just barely moved, and the horse is outta there. I've seen others (at the same clinic, incidentally), a woman needed TWO bags, and was leaping up and down waving her arms and the bags around, and her horse barely even glanced over his shoulder at her, than proceeded to lazily walk away, dragging his hooves in the arena surface, gazing out the door.
So once you have your horse moving, you need to ask the horse to change direction. The goal is for the horse to change direction calmly and respectfully at your request. Some get emotional and worried, and for these all you may need to do is take one step to the left or right. Others try to barge right through your request, and for those you need to get very animated, only going as far as you need to go to get them to pay attention, and no more. Depending on the horse, you ask it to change direction a few times. Some that pay you no attention at all, you need to work pretty hard at getting them to pay attention to you. Others require a lot of retreating from you, away from their bubble, to take the pressure off.
After you get a few good changes of direction, the pressure comes off. You stand still and get quiet, and do NOTHING. Wait for the horses reaction. Some may continue running around (the emotional ones), others will stop and look out into space, others will stop, and look at you. The looking at you is what you want. For the emotional horses, typically you need to retreat, take a step back, one at a time, until you cause them to turn toward you. Some may turn toward you, then back away again. That's OK, its a try. We reward the try by leaving them alone. I think 99% of them come back when they are ready. The ones that look out into space, ignoring you, we typically do something to get their attention back. Usually just shaking or wiggling or popping the bag. As long as you have an ear or an eye on you, that is enough, leave them alone. Sometimes we need to block their forward motion to get them to stop moving, if they are ignoring you and looking for another horse, buddy, etc.
Once you get the horse to come to you, you do nothing. Just leave them be, and let them get quiet, and comfortable with you. Some may leave, and for the most part, they come back, depending on the horsenality. Others wander off because they don't think you are really very important. Our job is to make them think we are important enough to pay attention to.
So once you have the horse really connected to you, we do some off-lead exercises, of inside turns, outside turns, stop, back up. Then we put a halter/lead on, and do some lead-line exercises. The horse is expected to walk quietly and calmly on a loose lead, not barging ahead of you, running off with you, stepping on your heels, etc. Dan has you flip the lead rope up in the air if a horse is running you over, getting pushy, or barging on ahead. When that is good, he ups the pressure, and opens the gate to the roundpen. That gets almost every horse ready to head out the gate ... its just habit. The gate is open, lets go! So then you work on some leadline work, and keeping the horse focused on YOU, not the gate.
The second day he has all the participants bring their horses into an area, and do some leadline exercises all together. This again increases the pressure, and it gets even harder to keep your horses attention, but it is a great exercises.
So, that is my own personal interpretation of these clinics. If there is anything that makes no sense, it is all my own ineptness. It is far from a complete write up, that just isn't possible, each horse is different, and you make decisions as you go along depending on what the horse brings to the table (or roundpen) that day.