The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:39 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:28 am
Posts: 178
Caballus,

From your post, have you experienced total "oneness"?

I would like to tell you of my experience. My mother told me what collection was suppose to feel like and I've always wanted to know what that felt like.

One day, I was out riding my childhood horse, Oreo. Oreo was 3 at the time and she was such a show off. On this day, I felt something I thought was collection and was so excited to tell my mom. I told her that I knew what collection was and it felt like a bright light and dancing on the clouds and nothing else matter. It was me and my horse.

Later, it turned out that my mom actually couldn't comprend what I experienced. It turned out that my soul and her soul intertwined and we were in a different world. There was a bright light, but not blinding and we were in such a deep spiritual realm. It wasn't til later in life, that what I experience was way more than I thought it was. What Oreo taught me and showed me will stay with me forever.

Oreo, always made me look like a pretty good rider. She'd collect all on her own and piaffe and passage just to show off to a cow or squirrel, but lucky me, I got to experience total "oneness" not just once but a couple of times. I haven't experienced this since Oreo, but now that I have my horses I hope Nelson and I will become "One."

April

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:36 pm 
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Hi April. Yes, I have ... most strongly with my "Bub" who passed 2 years ago at age 30. He and I were totally "one" and I miss him. Here's an old photo of Bub from about 7 years ago that gives you an idea of his spirit: ImageBub, literally, saved my life 3 times during the time we were together.
But I know that we can become "one" with others as well ... just in a different aspect one from another, of course. Each horse is so individual. Relationships take time to evolve and grow and they must be nurtured. I have experienced this with others, as well, but not to the extent as with Bub. Both in spirit and with riding.

Something recent comes to mind with my "killer" mare, Misty. Long story to her background but suffice to say that she did turn into a killer after she and Bub were left in FL for 8 weeks while we moved back here to settle in and find suitable living arrangements for them. To the point that I allowed no one to handle her except me, for several years. She and Bub were together for over 15 years and she grieved horribly after he passed. She aged almost overnight and has not really returned to her 'former self'. BUT ... and I'll make it brief. She had an accident on the ice this Christmas. Was unable to hold up her weight on her RR leg. She wasn't eating, drinking and I thought that we would have to put her down. I was devastated but finally, after a week, "gave her permission" to go if she needed to. Woke up the next morning in hysterics KNOWING that she was gone. Asked my hubby to go out to the barn cause I couldn't face it. I was a total mess. Well, he came back in saying she was standing and eating and actually gave him a head butt. She lived and is still here, being "Misty". She distinctly told me, in my heart of hearts, that she stayed cause she promised Bub that she would "take care of me". I know this might sound flaky but it is what it is! At that very point I had no doubt in my mind that this mare would EVER, EVER try to hurt me again. She's told me that over the years since her "rehab" from FL but I still had doubt and could not totally trust her. Now we *are* one, in a different sense of the word apart from riding, and I know because I know because I know that she WILL "take care of me". She's recuping and I am hoping that, once again, we'll be able to do some trail explorations this spring. This is a mare, btw, who would attack to kill humans just 10 years ago. I've no doubt in the world that if someone were to try to hurt her again that she would, without hesitation, resort to her "killer" defenses again. Horses never forget. Those who know me have instructions to have her euthanized if anything were to happen to me only because I know what she is capable of in the 'wrong hands'. Don't want anyone to be hurt/killed nor do I want her to endure any further hurt from the hands of humans.

I could go on about the "oneness" that we experience but know that its different with each individual and I know that we cannot experience that unless we trust. :) I've been wondering lately if the horse's "trust" in us is directly related to our "trust" in them. I'm thinking it is.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 2:51 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:28 am
Posts: 178
What a wonderful story. I totally agree that each horse will have a different relationship. It's always a mystery where you'll end up.

You stated: "I've been wondering lately if the horse's "trust" in us is directly related to our "trust" in them. I'm thinking it is."

ABSOLUTELY! :D :D

It's amazing if we can just trust our horses then in turn the horses look to us as someone to trust.

With Jazz it really shines through. When I first started with him I told him "I'm trusting you." What I was meaning was I'm trusting him to do the right thing. He really wanted to stomp on me and the way I said it, got through to him. With this horse, I didn't say Trust me, because I knew he didn't and I knew he had every right not too. If I was treated the way he was treated, I know I would've started fighting. Putting words the right way and believing in those words to be true, your soul and energy comes out beaming. Okay not exactly the words I was looking for.

With Nelson, I told him the other day that I was trusting him that he'll stand here and allow me to put his rain coat on him. He was about to leave, but there was no reaction from me and so he saw that I was trusting him. He allowed me to put his rain coat on.

Such simple words, but with HUGE MEANINGS. That is, as long as, you believe it yourself.

April :D

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Horse's idea becomes your Idea...

April


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:16 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:56 pm
Posts: 9
From reading through this topic it would seem that our energies and the trust relationship between us and our horses are also linked? Or do I have it all wrong?

I am currently in the process of trying to find my horse - Flint's "switch off" button. He is a hot blooded and hot minded individual and now that I want to start riding him I realized that we will have to work on 'calm'. A friend (who is great with horses) gets him to switch off and it is just lovely to see how calm and soft he can be then. In practicing this with him myself I have come to realize that I am also often tense with lots of associated 'high, nervous, (negative)' energy (directed a lot at him?). So I firstly have to work on 'calm' myself before I can ask it of him! Would my less than desired amount of trust in him (regarding safety as he can be a wild character when he wishes) contribute to my lack of calm? I guess the answer is yes?!

I would appreciate any thoughts on this and any ideas for working on calm and switching off both for Flint and myself...


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:50 pm 
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Ursula wrote:
I would appreciate any thoughts on this and any ideas for working on calm and switching off both for Flint and myself...


The most amazing (and quick) change in a horse´s behaviour resulting from a change in the human´s behaviour that I have ever seen was when I watched Josepha and Owen playing this summer. Within seconds he changed from the overexcited horse who could hardly stand still for a second to a horse who was having an amazingly calm and powerful energy, just when Josepha stopped hopping around and being edgy herself. So maybe she can give you some suggestions and tell you how she does it?

What helps me personally in case I get overexcited and drive my horses crazy is to remind myself to breath slowly and consciously and to watch my own movements and behaviour as if I was looking at an animal in an aquarium :funny: ...then my breathing and movements slow down all by themselves. But actually I don´t have much experience in this, because usually I am a rather calm type of person.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
Posts: 760
I have found a lot of helpful information on this topic in Mark Rashid's book "Horsemanship through Life". He is an Aikido instructor as well as horseman and has helped a lot of people with high energy and/or nervous horses use energy well. He also has a DVD out that is called "Developing softness in the Rider" which teaches basic Aikido centering exercises, including but not limited to breathing, which I believe will help with centering emotionally and physically both on the ground and when riding. When we are centered we can be calm but able to react quickly should the need arise for our or the horse's safety.
Hope this is helpful. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:17 pm 
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Would my less than desired amount of trust in him (regarding safety as he can be a wild character when he wishes) contribute to my lack of calm? I guess the answer is yes?!


Yes!!!
:funny: :funny:

Ursula, in my experience it's often that simple -- and, of course, then, that hard, because turning off our nervousness is not easily done.

I think that you are reading this thread absolutely right and energy/trust are very much linked. They aren't the same thing, of course, but they are a really important bridge back and forth to one another.

Here's an example of what I mean:

If you have a horse who is, like Flint, naturally hot, you're dealing with a horse who spends a lot of his life on alert. Big awareness, big energy, big reactions. Just like people, if he gets around anyone else who has similar energy, his wound up energy is going to get bigger. And it will go back and forth between the two players -- whether that's other horses or you and Flint. People and horses can get each other incredibly wound up. And, likewise, we can bring each other to calmness, too. I'm pretty confident that Flint is responding to your friend because she's saying to him "it's time to be mellow and relaxed and safe" and he's relaxing into that. (I also want to take a second to acknowledge that it can be a LOT easier to do this with someone else's horse -- the emotional stakes aren't as high, so it can be much easier to get cleaner.)

I actually think this is one of the places where people and horses are really similar -- we tend to be extremely reactive to the energies around us, just like horses are. The cool thing about this is that it can work in our favor, because if we figure out what calms us, we can figure out what calms horses.

So -- if you're wound up, what do you do to calm yourself down? You might do big, deep breaths. You might go sit somewhere quietly. Or listen to soft music. Etc.

Think about what tools you use to calm yourself -- you can use most of those tools when you're working with Flint. The next time you're wound up together, think about what you do (especially with breathing, imagery, and movement/stillness) to bring your own energy down. And do what you need to do -- not even worrying about him. This is about you at the moment.

When you've done that, really brought your energy down to where you need it/want it, where it feels soft and warm and easy, look around and see what Flint is doing. It may take him a little time (because when we -- horse or human -- gets really wound up, it can take a while for the buzzing to stop in our heads! :funny: ), but I am willing to bet you that eventually he will come down, too.

The more you do this, the more quickly that you will be able to shift each others' energy with calmness rather than nervousness. In part because you'll start to learn how to feel this better in each other and in part because you'll start building this into the habit of your interaction. I'd be willing to be that some of the nervousness you're both feeling right now is simply because you both are so used to that being a part of how you interact -- you can shift that if you're consistent and patient. You can change the baseline.

I haven't seen Josepha work live, so I'm extrapolating a bit, but I have read lots of what she's written and watched her on video, so here's why I think she's able to play with Owen so clearly with such big, clean, fast energy shifts. (Josepha, it will be interesting to see if you agree with me! ;) )

First, she and Owen know each other really, really, really well. They've spent an enormous amount of time together and have learned each others' mood and energies really well. They trust each other pretty much implicitly, it seems to me. So their language together can be really clear and really subtle -- it's like talking to a family member -- you can have all sorts of short cuts and private language and such because you come from the same place, essentially.

Now -- I've seen Josepha bring horses down to softness remarkably quickly (again on video) that she didn't know as well as Owen -- sometimes that she doesn't know at all. This is where the clarity that she's learned and the self control over her own energy comes into play -- she has learned to speak "energy" pretty fluently in person dialect and in horse dialect.

I think achieving this is possible for anyone, like you, who is able to see what their energy is. That's really the hardest part, I think!

Now you just need to work on it -- and if you work on you, I guarantee that Flint will come with you. It may not be at the switch-flipping speed that Josepha and Owen can exhibit, but it will get there.

And if there is fear in that nervous energy that you're seeing/feeling as negative coming from you, I think you need to climb into that first, figure out where it's coming from, and work to figure out what to do with it. That's something that this group can be really, really helpful with, too, if it's there.

Hope this makes some sort of sense!

Best,
Leigh
PS: As Birgit and Romy suggest, yes, breathing!! Breath exercise! Aikido, yoga, even Pilates, etc. -- sometimes even just simply really focusing your breath, dropping it down into your diaphragm, using it to soften your body very consciously can be enough to change the game -- both for you and the horse. When I get into a moment where I'm feeling like we need a time out, I stand and very consciously drop my energy and my breath down through my body and let it soak out of my feet into the ground. This can ground all of us (me and my horses) really quickly. I will sometimes drop my head and close my eyes to really make sure I'm focusing on it.

PPS: Just read this over and realized I needed to add that while there are days when I've got this down and am master of energy speak, there are also days when I REALLY have to work on it -- so please understand my answer is as much about my own process as anything, and not coming from the illusion that I have this figured out at all moments! FAAAAAR from it! ;)

Okay, gotta go back to work now!
8)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:06 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:53 am
Posts: 4
It is true that horses are not only inherently attentive to physiological biology, but also communicate largely this way.Humans, on the other hand, can often experience an unawareness of physiology, and in that way remain controlled almost by it, as it is never allowed to become conscious enough to be resolved.

Horses can then help us to be more aware of our own unconscious underpinnings, as this is one of the most prominent, and unavoidable methods of self preservation, and the communication on which it depends for them.

Thanks for drawing all of our attention to this valuable topic!

Claire Dorotik M.A., author, ON THE BACK OF A HORSE: Harnessing the Healing Power of the Human-Equine Bond
www.clairedorotik.com


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:32 am
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Location: Douglas, MA
As it is said, Horses are our mirrors. ... :yes:

_________________
-- Gwen
www.thepenzancehorse.com
www.barefoottrim.com
www.horsecourses.net
www.spirithorse.us


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