Well, this is the 24th winter I’ve offered my own class sessions for riders…BEFORE they ride in the coming season!
This was the second winter in new home state of Oregon, so all who attended were glad that the freezing fog and snow took a break for the day…rain had come back this past week, and to our surprise, the FYRW day had long segments of real sunshine!!
Letting light shine into the classroom seemed appropriate to the process I love to share…opening one’s mind to allow more light and new ideas enter the brain, the neural pathways and the body. Some may believe that the skills needed in riding only come when one is riding the horse. Over the years of learning that I’ve experienced, I have found that improving the balance, stability and fluidity of the body (and the mind!) BEFORE I mount truly changes so many old habits and patterns that interfere with how your horse can perform. We sit on the most delicate segments of a horse’s anatomy…the Spine, the mid section of the whole structure, and a meridian line from head to tail that contains something like 600 points of connection to the function of the horse’s body…Wow! And the horse is sensitive enough to feel a fly land on it…so do you begin to understand that whatever patterns we have in our bodies do transmit into the horse, like it or not?
These days, what with computers, multi-use phones and driving cars…well, you can guess what body habits we may be developing more strongly than we realized, eh? The horses will feel all that and simply reflect it to us, like a mirror…so before you blame your horse for less than perfect performance, be sure to clear up your body first.
In these series of classes, I like to mix up things that make learning both expanding and fun…gym balls, mini tramps, wearing horse bridles while others are managing the reins in various ways, learning to exhale differently by blowing the “Slow Mo’ bubbles, and more…then I finish with an MBS Feldenkrais Method segment called ATM…”Awareness Through Movement” . I have the students lay quietly and first mentally scan their entire body as it lies on the floor mat. Then I talk them through a few fascinating, gentle movement sessions, relative to whatever is the theme we focused on in that course day. At the end, I have them scan themselves again…and many are shocked at the differences they observed of how their bodies are different in the relationship/contact on the floor!
We finish the day with a repeat of whatever ‘role playing’ game we did in the beginning…and those who play the part of the horse are distinct in their observations of changes in the style, technique and clarity of their ‘rider’s signals and cues!
I sent out two big flyers this month with great comments by riders of the results their horses showed them after attending these winter workshops. If you want one, contact me via my website…
Are there other benefits to be gained beyond your riding skills in these classes?
Here are what some students have emailed to me just this week:
“Thank you so much for the lesson…I had the best sleep I have had in ages that night!! I would like to do all your classes.” (this student had two major riding accidents in the last year, so feeling such improvements in her balance, and more, was quite awesome to hear )
“I follow your Alternative Methods that you taught me when I had my horse, who has passed away some time ago…I still miss him. I hope you have a lot of riders doing the ground workshops. What a gift of knowledge that has extended into my life now and made a tremendous difference in handling my current illness (Fibromyalgia). I have been riding therapy horses since this illness…my brain would tell my body what to do and my body would respond “What?”. So rather than get frustrated, I would think of what you would say, and I relaxed. What a difference you have made in my life.” (this is a student I’ve known for a long time, including her illness years…this update came in the day of my January 2013 winter workshop)
Bottom line today is…listen to your body, learn to improve how it is organized, so that your horse can enjoy listening to you more easily!
The horses Thank me for this concept repeatedly : D