Well, that's not completely true.
I totally got how the mind impacts on the body. A nervous horse will carry themselves with tension, often spook etc. A happy horse goes ahead with a relaxed frame.
Much of my work over the years with Carmen has been to get her mind relaxed so her body would follow.
More recently I've come to realize that horses don't have a sense of their mind and body as being separate entities. I believe that for them, it's a chicken-egg thing. If their body is relaxed then so is their mind and vice versa.
Not that this is my own discovery. I've been listening to much more learned horse persons than me (Karen Rohlf, Warwick Schiller, Tristan Tucker etc) as well as my own experimentation.
I think that this is true for all horses but really evident with reactive ones. I think that his true for peoples well. Like when we wake up cranky- it's easy to find things that give legitimacy to those feelings. Even though, on another day, these things wouldn't bother us at all.
For Carmen, I think she often felt off-balance and that made her feel uncertain and running away seems to be the right answer. My fearful and defensive response did not help this at all.
With this theory, I have been helping Carmen to find postures of relaxation as a path to get her mind to settle. It is interesting to see it work. If I can help her balance herself, she feels more comfortable and is more relaxed.
When Carmen is unbalanced (physically or mentally) she becomes tight and impossible to bend. Her hind legs go out behind and she disconnects from her front end- which is often resembling a giraffe and not a graceful steed.
|all of that pictured here from way back|
I find that helping her to bring her hind legs out and not allowing her to fling her head up. I struggle with the not letting her fling her head because it feels like I'm wrestling her onto the bit when that is not my intent. The trick, I find, is to release a rein so that there is a place to go. The other key is to not let myself tense as well.
No doubt. Posture also changes confidence for humans. My husband used to counsel many of his anxious patients to work on physical manifestations of confidence in order to gain mental confidence. This work varied, but was always successful. I'm not sure there's much difference between ourselves and horses, in that respect; the mind and body are one.ReplyDelete
That is interesting!Delete
Thank you! So much of this I struggle with as well.ReplyDelete
I feel like I've spent years with misguided kindness of wanting to be "soft" which was more like letting the horse do whatever, get anxious and then expecting her to come back to me.
Where as maybe some people are working on my head that I need to be in a posture where I can keep being calm and confident and that having a sympathetic, but constant hand isn't a bad thing.
And slowly, I have more moments of my horse being much more civilized and relaxed in the mind and body. There's an accepting of my guidance and that I'm not just popping in and out all the time.
Thanks for your post. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with a dragon mare and on a journey to rethink on how to ride is complicated for me!
I’m am glad to see that you are having a similar experience.Delete
I have definitely been enjoying the rabbit hole too!ReplyDelete
All the best people are there. 😁Delete
great post! i've really shifted a lot of my riding in the past year toward focusing on riding to a balance and rhythm, vs anything else, and it's made a huge difference in relaxation and relative softness. altho i haven't been doing it lately, riding with a metronome app running on my pocket was immensely helpful tooReplyDelete
I should dug that app out again. Thanks for the reminder.Delete
It's true that relaxation of horse and rider go hand in hand. I find the most important thing is not to think too much, just relax and mount up. The rest will take care of itself.ReplyDelete
Rosie is a very good girl but she is a suspicious horse too. You really have to earn her trust and let her know there's nothing to worry about. Case in point...the other night walking past the pond a bunch of geese decided to land in the water next to her on our walk. She stopped dead and had to have a good look, so I let her and when she saw that I wasn't upset then she just sighed and continued walking on. So really the best thing to do was let her know there was nothing to be concerned about and she was just being a silly mare. When I ride I try to let her know " don't worry about anything, its no big deal."
Carmen does that too. The sigh kills me. 😁Delete
When it all comes together and works it's like taking a big deep breath after holding your breath for eons.ReplyDelete
And then we wonder why it took us so long to figure it out.... I have had several of those moments and just shake my head when I think how I could have done better- but if you don't know how, you don't fix it. Thank goodness for the internet and all those excellent horsemen and women who share their knowledge and experience. I'm a big Warwick Schiller fan, and Mark Rashid ranks right up there too.
I love what I’ve read of Mark too.Delete
This is so interesting, and really aligns with some comments and exercises my coach had in my last lesson (when I was anxious to get it right and therefore making pony nervous, making me nervous, in a nice cycle of anxiety)ReplyDelete
There’s nothing like a good ‘ole anxiety cycle! ☺️Delete
Absolutely loving your insights lately. Thank you!ReplyDelete