The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:10 pm 
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A few weeks ago I had some interesting exchanges with someone in another forum, who is working with mental images a lot. That's something I do in my interaction with horses as well and I thought it might be nice to have a collection of different mental images. If we have discussed them in more detail elsewhere, I am adding a link. I am writing down those that come to my mind right now and I will edit this post whenever I remember or find a new one. Please share yours as well! :)
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Groundwork

● Drawing the horse towards you - Being tied to the horse with a rubber band; Creating a vacuum between you and the horse
● Carefully asking the horse to move away - Moving him with silk gloves; Touching the magic crystal ball (also see the post in response to Karen a bit further down the page)
● Moving forwards together - Throwing your focus and then jumping after it


Riding

● Starting to walk or upwards transitions - Starting to fly; Jumping down from a cliff; Walking into an open room
● Canter departs - Releasing the horse forwards/upwards like letting a cork pop out of a bottle
● Stopping - Seeing something scary or unexpected in front of you; Growing into the ground with your feet
● Turning - Waltzing
● Sitting the trot - Being a bag of water; Imagining that the horse's legs are your own


General things for different situations

● Shifting your focus backwards or becoming straight - Talking to someone who is standing behind you
● Becoming smoother in your movements - Moving like honey


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:34 am 
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Oh, just saw these post, great idea! As I wrote in Summy's diary, when working with Pan observings helped me much more than verbal describings. But these nice mental images are helpful as well because they are making sense to me and helping me to understand and realize. Thanks! :f:

At this place I have another example which just come into my mind and I think it fits very well: Every spring/summer horse owners have the same problem with the grazing thing (often no chance for walks without pulling of the horses nose towards the grass). In order to be able faster than Pan you told me that I shall imagine that grass is something like poison and I have to prevent that the horse can eat that. Maybe it can be helpful also for other people. :smile:


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:07 pm 
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That is a nice idea and beautiful, helpful pictures. I already found some, I will try.... :f:

Doing groundwork, I often have the picture of dancing Tango Argentino together... meaning, that we are both very much concentrated on each others bodies and timing and both doing the movements really together, though (according to the difference of the bodies) each one does the movement in his way. Mostly one is leading and one is following. But the leading and following may dissolve, if both are really together. If 'I am in the Tango picture mood, timing and moving becomes really fascinating. I don t have this picture, when we work on something new. Maybe I could try to create it consciously then.

Riding (though I don t do it these days...), I love the picture of us being one body...


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:09 pm 
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Yeah, mental images are so powerful! :yes:

I definitely use the classics like:
  • for drawing to me: a thread of wool connecting my hipbone with the horse's
  • for yielding: pushing the air between us. Sometimes the air is electrically charged and I have to take care, not to shoot lighting bolts from my finger-tips.

Then there are others like:
  • for rearing: the horse is made of down feathers and I can just softly whirl them up with my hands
  • for general engagement or for situations when heightened awareness is needed (from me or from the horse): I imagine like I am wading through a knee deep river and I don't see the ground. Therefore I have to position my steps carefully, feeling the ground instead of looking where I'm going. Also, I have to bend my knees to withstand the current and lower my base of balance.
    Alternatively, I visualise a Tai Chi master like from a movie. Every step is placed with purpose - heavy as a rock, yet softly as a feather.
  • to strengthen the focus on me and my movements in general: I exaggerate my movements, or try to make my movements like dance-steps with the horse being my partner. It's similar to the point above in many aspects.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:18 pm 
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I love this tread...
Iuse following mental images with Beau:

when holding reins or a rope I imagine warm water or a lot of love flowing towards my horse so I have a soft feel
when asking my horse towards me I imagine my navel being a vacuum cleaner and I suck him in
when wanting him to go further away I imagine myself being the sea and my waves push him out

the image of water is one I find works great with me, the flow of it is wonderfull, when I ask Beau on a circle I will imagine pulling my hand through the water around me and following it to watch the water swirl, it makes him take off because of the energy it produces when I move in the water...

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:45 pm 
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Ah, I love the water images! :applause: Thanks, Barbara! I think they might work for me as well...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:07 pm 
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I too use some imagery, but not intentionally...it is more like sending a feeling (or feel) to the horse and feeling inside the patience to wait for the answer. I mentally turn inward...a little like looking into my own mind, my own heart or core and taking note of what I feel and how I move when I ask Tam to do something. I see him with my eyes but I'm not really looking at him. I do the same with my hands when riding.

I sure isn't easy to explain, but it is rather like a split focus where most of the focus is on myself and only enough on the horse to hear/see/feel his part of the conversation.

I like Barbara's water ideas. It is a flow...sometimes gentle but sometimes sloshing if I'm not focusing on myself enough. It's a lovely image to still that water....

We often ride to music. I try mostly to choose soothing music that is pretty or profound. Music that stirs something in me without being overly conscious of it. Tomorrow, for the first time, I'm going to use a little ipod-like device and ride with earphones on. I have loaded Tibetan chants, mantra and meditation music, etc. One of my favorites is the Great Bell Chant. It never fails to stir my soul :f: . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1ZwaEzMtJw

Tomorrow I plan a very meditative ride and am interested to see if I can ride with an empty mind :-). I might end up just sitting in the dirt in the middle of the arena with my eyes closed. :funny: Tam would like that. I'm sure he would join me. :love:

I found a lovely quote the other day, and rewrote it (the original quote was about drinking tea). This is how I am approaching my ride tomorrow. Being in every moment. With reverence.

"Ride reverently, every step your horse takes, as if each step is the axis on which the earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward a goal."
- Karen the Plagiarist ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:35 pm 
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wow it sounds great Karen the way you ride Tam, I always find it difficult to stay with Beau when I go inside, I tend to go to deep and forget everything around (and under) me. I have been thinking about riding to music, but I worry I might even drift off even more...

But how you write about it sounds wonderful!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 11:30 pm 
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well, my experiment was good and not so good. Riding with the earphones, they periodically fell off, so that was distracting. Also there were several people riding so there was some interaction necessary and some attention needed so I didn't just barge into the path of another horse. :funny:

So I will have to choose quieter times to ride more meditatively.

I'm also going to make something so that the earphones will attach to the straps on my helmet.

For the few moments it DID work, I was much more mindful of the feel of the reins, my legs, my seat. I was able to focus more on that, then let it go (recognize, then let it go). So that was very, very nice. I will do this more, but maybe not with so many in the arena. :yes:

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"Ride reverently, as if each step is the axis on which the earth revolves"


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