I'm quoting Donald, too!
The poll naturally releases as the head comes around to the side, and one can use the same tickling and instant rewarding for the slightest movement laterally. The flexing and stretching from one side to the other, I think, develops the muscles needed more gently and softly in smaller groups, right and left, before the larger muscles needed for Ramener.
This is SO helpful -- I've repeatedly noticed that if Stardust and I haven't worked in a couple of days, he's really unsure if he do a nice ramener.
(He gets stiff very quickly if he hasn't been moving around a lot.)
What I've noticed is that when he's stiff in his poll and neck, he tends to reach laterally first, and then diagonally with his head, cocking his head so his jaw comes up.
I've not felt particularly good about that, thinking that we were missing a good, clear, balanced ramener.
Reading this just turned on a big lightbulb for me.
It's NOT a bad thing, but instead is Stardust's effort to loosen his poll before he can comfortably stretch it into ramener. DUH!!!!
When I try this on myself, it makes perfect biomechanical sense. (Thinking about the very top of my spine as it comes into my neck as my poll -- I realize that when I stretch my neck out, particularly as I try to mimic the roundness and lift that comes as my version of a ramener, I am specifically softening and imagining warm air in my imaginary poll -- it softens and opens the movement.)
I'm realizing that I need to make a more conscious effort to remind myself what stretches feel like in my body, and what the natural progressions of those stretches are -- this could be really helpful to Stardust!
And this thought process has gotten me intrigued with the imagery I use when I'm stretching -- how to look at that more closely, and think about how I can use those images when I'm working with the big SD and the golden princess.
Thank you Donald! I, too, would love to hear more!
"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi www.imaginalinstitute.com