The Art of Natural Dressage

Using energy
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Author:  heather [ Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Using energy

I have been reading a lot recently about using your energy levels to communicate with your horse and have had very good experiences with lowering my energy.

I seem to be able to drop my energy easily by letting it flow out of my feet in to the ground with a deep breath and releasing the shoulders, also i can focus my energy inwards if need be, not dropping it necessarily but not focusing at anybody or anything but what i really am struggling is raising my energy intentionaly.

I find it happens by itself if i start to get frustrated or annoyed about something and i must focus and be aware of it and be sure to drop it back down, but i can't yet raise it myself, only by accident.

This is something I want to practise and feel confident at before using it with my horses and wish to be able to control how much and how fast i raise it and where i focus it.

Does anyone have any tips, no matter how silly they seem, for raising their energy calmly and for focusiong it and controlling it that i could practice?


Author:  Karen [ Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

Standing at your horse's side and asking them to move over without touching them. You can bring your hands up as if to push (but without contact) or not...that is up to you. But the "energy" really, is a feeling of confidence and clarity within you. It is simply standing up strong, tall, and proud. Where you look is important. Your gaze should be where you intend to look beyond the horse. When the horse makes a single step, or just leans a tiny bit, drop all your energy, your focus, your hands (if you brought them up), everything.

You have to find the horse's "move over button"...that could be at the rib cage, the shoulder or neck or at the neck/head (sometimes it's easier to start with only trying to move the front feet over rather than all four at once, and sometimes it's easiest to only ask the head to turn away without the feet moving at all), but try to stay at one side of the horse and don't get in front of him/her.

So you bring your energy (body language) up, and when the horse makes a move away, then drop it all away. This is, of course, a form of pressure/release and as always, the "release" or dropping of your energy is the most important thing.

You can also practice bringing your energy and focus down and then within yourself (or sending that focus through your core and out behind you) to draw the horse to you. This is easiest again to start at the head/neck. So you are practicing what it takes to draw your horse's head toward you (the feet will follow later). Then the simple exercise is to push, relax and then draw.

Hope this helps??

Author:  Morgan [ Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

Karen has given you great advice....I wanted to add.
I move lots of different horses around all the time in my day to day interactions with my body language alone. Some horses like mine are very sensitive and I can almost just think move and my body and posture moves so minutely that you would never see it and he reads it immediately. Other horses on the other end of the spectrum that have been desensitised alot or tuned out and switched off may need a more flapping hand, more obvious approach.
The intention is everything. You can flap and dance but if you are not directing that energy with full attention and meaning then you will be ignored. Equally if you are too loud, you are going to get a fright reaction. I will start at the lowest level of moving one hand only very slowly and opening that hand, if I get no reaction at all then I will make my body taller and aim my belly button at them whilst believing that I can walk right through the horse and it has no business to be there. I don't get louder and if the horse doesn't move I will stand back a few paces and move towards them again with a little speedier walk and speedier arm motion.
You can practise "herding" your horses around the paddock and then lowering your energy to see if you can approach without them moving off. Once they understand your intention and how your body language changes you will see how much or little energy you need to get the movement you want.
Watch how your horses lead from behind. It is very amusing, they herd each other all the time with very subtle body language......

Author:  ET [ Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

heather wrote:
I seem to be able to drop my energy easily by letting it flow out of my feet in to the ground with a deep breath and releasing the shoulders, also i can focus my energy inwards if need be, not dropping it necessarily but not focusing at anybody or anything but what i really am struggling is raising my energy intentionaly.

Last year we attended a clinic given by Hempfling, in the afternoon we concentrated on body language, energy and how it influences our horses. One of the first exercises he described was grounding ourselves, very similar to what you described above, the energy flows from the shoulders through the hips, legs and feet into the ground. He stressed the importance of keeping the elbows close to the body so as not to create any tension in any area of the body.

This relaxed state of being is how we should work with our horses it is the intention and the power of the intention that creates movement in the horse. If you wish the horse to move his shoulder , focus on the shoulder your intention creates the energy and most times the horse moves. If you and your horse are still learning how to use energy then you may have to gently touch his shoulder so that he understands what you want.

He also showed us how to raise our energy if a horse was charging at us, the energy comes from the abdomen and can be expressed with the voice , the palms of our hands face the horse at shoulder height. As soon as the horse stops the energy should be lowered immediately to reward the horse, at all times the body should remain relaxed. It is a similar use of energy to that used by those who break bricks with their hands,

Hope that helps


Author:  heather [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

thank you all, some good things to think about.

Karen - i love the exersize of bringing horse to you / getting horse to look at you with just energy. I think I shall be practising this one.

Annette - this is pricisely why i want to practising raising and lowering my energy so that i can do it calmly and slowly, stopping when i get to a point that is right for each horse instead of just blasting them with full power :funny: I think Jelli for example will need a lot less than sanni and so I really want to work on the ability to tune it just right for each horse and each circumstance.

Leading from behind or herding is something i havent really done as it was just too muh for Jelli, too much pressure. however this ould easily have been too much energy. another reason to practise practise practise my energy raising away from my hoses first and then at a distance probably with the exercise that Karen suggested and then maybe some herding...we will see how it goes. I have all the time in the world :D

Eilleen - that is very interesting. And a very good tip about the elbows, it is something I have become more aware of myself as I move around recently...the elbows are odd things i think to horses. Their legs move back and forth when they walk but our arms seem to move in all sorts of strange directions...probably rather confusing for them. Did you write about your hempfling clinic anywhere here? If you did I would be very interested to read about it if you let me know where...

Author:  Romy [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

heather wrote:
Did you write about your hempfling clinic anywhere here? If you did I would be very interested to read about it if you let me know where...

We have two topics with clinic reports here: Hempfling Clinic UK and Hempfling's seminar in September

Enjoy! 8)

Author:  heather [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

i know what you're thinking romy "why can't these people ever just use the search box", right? :blush: :funny: :blush:

guilty as charged, sorry. i shall try to use it more often.

thank you very much for these super links. i shall enjoy reading about them later, if i ever get the kids to bed, that is. :roll:

Author:  Romy [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

heather wrote:
i know what you're thinking romy "why can't these people ever just use the search box", right? :blush: :funny: :blush:

Not at all! :)

First, the search box only works for posts that were added after the forum has moved last year, so all the older posts can´t be found in that way. You can still use the advanced google search (searching only in the AND forum), but for that you either need a clearly distinguishable word that doesn´t appear in every second thread, like "treat" ;), or an exact quote or expression that you remember (like "he stopped death" when I want to find one of Josepha´s descriptions of Owen escaping and coming back to her). But (1) you can only know these expressions when you have already read the topic, (2) I know that not everyone has a strange memory like me that stores lots of exact phrases, like photographic but for verbal expressions, (3) even when you perfectly know what to look for, the google links for topics before the move don´t work most times and (4) it can´t find posts in the diary section, which contains almost half of this forum´s posts.

And second, there are things that people who haven´t read almost every topic here just can´t find, because there are no clearly distinguishable words in them and so you can only retrieve them if you know the context - like when I want to find a certain post by Miriam: It´s useless to search for it by looking through her 1807 posts, but because I have been here almost from the start, I might remember that it was a reply to Danee while she was rather new here... so I only have to look through her first few posts. Oh, and some things that you might be interested in are hidden in threads where you would not expect them - like Donald´s great description of the appropriate distance between ground poles, that you would most likely not look for in Brenda´s video topic of Lucy chasing the tiger. :smile:

Well, all I wanted to say is: don´t worry if you can´t find something, that´s what moderators are for. :green: Only in the Horsecare and Health departement I am rather useless, because I have just skimmed most of those topics right from the beginning, so I have never elaborated them very deeply in my memory and that is why they are not stored there. :blush: But for the rest I am glad if I can help! :)

Oh, and it has a very positive side effect for me as well: in that way I have to reread those old topics, which gives me the chance to get back to some wonderfully interesting posts that I had forgotten and so I can read them again or put them into the "special posts" or "links to threads about different topics" threads if I think that they might be of special interest for other people as well. :)

Author:  heather [ Sun Aug 02, 2009 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

Thanks Romy, your efforts are appreciated :D

I had a little break through with this energy stuff a few days ago and i thought I should share here.

I thought I needed to lift my energy and direct it at certain parts of the horse in order to ask the horse / make the horse move in the direction i wished. i was thinking along the lines, I guess, or Tai chi (spelling?) type stuff however, I think I have been barking up entirely the wrong tree.

A few days ago I was with Sanni in the field and was trying to find a way to get her move over away from me without touching her. I tried lifting my energy up and directing it at her shoulder but found that really i was getting nowhere. Getting a little frustrated with myself I centered myself - wasn't looking at anything, infact I was staring into the air just in front of Sanni shoulder about 20cms away from me, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath relaxing myself, not thinking of anything, trying to re-ground myself I guess. When my chest was at its fullest, chest out, shoulders back, chin parrallel to the ground but energy levels very low i opened my eyes to see Sanni just starting to move away. she didn't move over she moved forwards but away from me! Well, what a revalation (which you're probably all going "well, duh!" to, but to me it was at least :funny:) all the time I thought I was supposed to be lifting my energy but the thing that worked was keeping it low and just using my stance, shoulder back, chest out, head up but non threatening, eyes looking at the air in front of/ or even through - i guess as i was looking at the area but not at it, if you know what i mean - the place I wanted to move away.

Just like Karen said in fact :funny: :blush: but which i dismissed a bit, I admit and i'm sorry Karen, as i thought I was looking to lift my enegy not just better my body language. I stand corrected and am quite excited about it now. thank you all again for your wonderful help.


Author:  Karen [ Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Using energy

Heather, it's's words and how we use them and how they make different mental pictures for different people. Just yesterday, I finally figured out what it means (and how it feels) to RELAX in the saddle. It's amazing.'s something other people just know how to do. It's something I'm pretty sure I USED to know how to do! But somewhere it got lost and it has a been a rather frustrating road to find it again. But I think I'm there! Ask Tam how happy he is about that.... :funny: :funny: :funny:

But I think we figure things out because we're determined to figure them out. Too many people will try what they think is the way to do it, then give up when it doesn't work. What you've done is to keep experimenting and taking note of what works and what doesn't, and you find your path to where you need to get to. I think that is so much what this forum is about. So many roads, so many variations. We all have to find it for ourselves, and keep looking.


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