EMHH Episode 20: How to Know What's Best for Your HorseMar 25, 2022
Do you ever disagree with what your trainer wants you to do with your horse - but you don't say anything? Do you ever feel that some horse training methods are harsh, but you don't know any other way?
How do you separate what you need to learn from what you don't want to do?
In this episode, you'll learn how to tune into your physical and emotional sensations to guide you in making decisions to benefit you and your horse. And you'll learn why staying true to your unique values is essential to creating a joyful connection with your horse.
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- Feldenkrais® for Riders videos: marydebono.com/rider
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Welcome to Easier Movement, Happier Horses. I'm Mary Debono, your movement and mindset coach. If you'd like to have flexible, balanced movement or relaxed, confident mindset, and a joyful connection with your horse, you're in the right place. I can't wait to share what I've learned over the past 30 years of helping improve the performance and partnership of horses and their humans.
Thank you so much for being here. Now. Let's dive in Hello and welcome to easier movement, happier horses. I'm Mary DeBono, and I'm so glad you're here today. We're going to talk about how not being true to yourself. Not aligning with your values with your horses will basically disqualify you from creating that deep connection that you want. In other words,
when you don't really connect with yourself first and have that coherence, your experience with your horses will suffer. You won't have the ability to have that deep connection. I'm going to explain why, but let me start by saying that many of us just, we just accept so much in the horse world that, that we accepted, like this is the way things have to be done.
And we don't question it and we get bombarded, especially now, right? With all the online things. There's so many online programs. There's so many things that show up in your newsfeed without even asking for them, you know, targeted ads and all that. And you get all this information from all the sources, not to mention the often, you know,
peer pressure from other, other people at your barn or what your trainer is telling you or different clinicians you might go to, or what have you, books, videos, online programs, all of that tons of information, right? Claiming to be the right way, the way to do things. And what I find is that many of them, not all,
but many of them seek to have you rely on them as the external authority. And instead of helping you develop your own internal authority, your own internal compass to guide you in your life with horses, and you see this across a lot of things, it's not only in the horse world, of course, but in our everyday lives, you know, a lot of us have learned to tune out what we feel,
whether it's physical sensations, maybe we have a long history of pain, right. Or even pain that happened a long time ago, but our nervous system to, to help us to protect us, taught us to shut things off, right. To not feel as much, right. Maybe it's emotionally and often those go hand in hand, right? We learn to,
you know, just discredit to, to just ignore basically our emotional state. Like we're just not tuned into it. Our it's it's going through us, you know, on some level of course, but we've learned to shut off the sensations that tell us what's happening within ourselves. So again, whether it's body or mind, right, we've learned to tamp that down to tamp down those senses.
And I think that's really, really harming us. I see this all the time with people. So I, you know, I've been doing this work for more than 30 years and worked with a lot, a lot of horse people and their horses, and I've seen the results of this. So it really reduces your feel with your horse leads to a lot of problems.
So just to give you an example, a friend of mine, this was many years ago, she was taking a lesson with this clinician had come to her barn and you know, the clinician was having her just do these constant small circles with a horse. She was riding the horse and, you know, she was starting to think like, this is too much,
this is too much torque on the legs. This isn't good. But because it was this clinician was telling her to do it. She didn't feel empowered if you will to use an overused word, but she really didn't feel like she had the authority to stop and say like, why are we doing this? Like, I I'm a little worried about my horse here.
So she kept doing what the, this trainer told her to do. And sure enough, her horse was pretty badly injured from it. She ended up having significant strains in both front legs. You know, her, her tendons were injured and it required a lot of rehab, a lot of pain for the horse. I mean, it was just really unfortunate.
And she kept saying, I knew it was wrong and she's not an isolated case. I have seen that, that particular thing, different clinicians, different trainers, but different people, different students having that same experience, that they felt something was truly wrong in a lesson. And they didn't feel that they had the authority to say, why are we doing this?
Maybe we need to take a break. Maybe we need to do something different. And so I had this happen in my own life. Many, many years ago, I was riding my horse in a lesson and he suddenly went off. He was off in the front and the trainer and she very experienced, very knowledgeable trainer said, oh, just keep going.
And we'll see if he warms out of it. And I thought, heck no, I'm not going to see if he warms out of it. I said, no, no, no, I'm getting off. And I jumped off. And my first thought was, let me check his hooves, let me check his feet. And sure enough, there was a jagged stone stuck in a Huff,
but had I listened to her thinking, well, she's the, she's the trainer right on paying her a lot of money to tell me what to do. Right. I would have caused my horse, a lot of pain and potentially a much larger problem. Right. He could have gotten a stone bruiser or something like that. So that's a situation where a lot of people don't feel that they can get in touch with their inner authority.
So another example I have is that I was watching a clinic with a very like world famous clinician. And he was very kind and very patient, but he was asking a horse to do something that I could see the horse was not physically capable of doing, because I could see that there was a difference in the way the horse used his left hind as opposed to his right hind.
And this clinician kept trying to get him to do different things with the left hind that the horse just could not do. Now it could have been that the rider just was unaware of this. I mean, I'm trained in this. I know how to look at movement. Maybe she didn't know, she didn't realize it, but in any case, she never said anything.
So that, that wasn't picked up. And then I have another story of a friend of mine. Again, many years ago, she was at this clinic. She was a writer and it was this Olympian. The other one was an Olympian too, by the way. And so, so she was at this clinic with him and he was asking her to do something that our horse just,
she knew it was not right for her horse. And she questioned it. And he got really angry at her, this other guy. And she, you know, she was a strong woman and she just said, no, I'm not doing that. And she ended up walking out of the clinic and you know, later on, you know, people said to her like,
how could you do that? He's not used to people talking back to him. And she's like, you know, this is my horse. I need to do what's right for my horse and myself. So I gave her a lot of props for that because that's something that a lot of us don't do. And I want to encourage you that if it does not feel right to you to question it and,
and again, cause I've seen this so much in my decades of experience, working with writers and their horses, and remember this a good trainer, a really good trainer will want to empower you. They will want you to understand why you're doing something and to, to not just accept it blindly, but to understand because really you cannot be a good horse person.
You can't be a good rider if you don't understand why you're using the aides, the way you're using them. If someone is just telling you more inside leg, more inside, like, you know, more, you know, bring your left hand higher, you know, more, more, more contact with your reign. If you don't understand why you're doing that,
you won't ever be a good writer and you won't ever be able to ride on your own effectively. You'll always be dependent on them. And again, a good trainer will want you to keep advancing your skills and your understanding. So it really takes you understanding why you're doing things and they will welcome the questions. They will want to explain why they're asking you to do certain things.
Okay. And they'll, they'll welcome the dialogue. If they don't, maybe it's time to look for a different trainer. Just, just being honest. Okay. Really, it's important to ask yourself, are you always making decisions about your actions with your horse, which we're making decisions constantly. We don't even realize that most of the time, but what you do with your horse,
is it based on an external authority? Right? And we generally have many of these, like we talked about all the online sources, all the books, the videos, the programs, right? The trainers that clinicians are your actions based on an external authorities or an internal authority, which is you. Yes. You take in the information. We need good trainers.
We need this information, right? These programs are important. These books, these videos, all of that is important, but you can filter what aligns with your values and your understanding. Okay? So you're always seeking to improve, to learn more. But think about your values with your horse. I had a conversation just the other day with a gentleman and we were talking about the difference in how people train horses and how they train dogs.
And I'm a very big advocate by the way, with positive reinforcement training for, for all animals. Now I get that. It doesn't, it, it may not be something you want to do with your horse. You really have to be all in and really understand and, and follow it okay. With your horse, because otherwise you can develop problems like anything else.
You need to know how to do it. Well, but you know, we were talking about this cause he w he was using some methods that weren't, in my opinion, very kind, but they were just accepted in the horse world. And, you know, his horse was giving him some feedback. Let's just say that he didn't want to engage in that kind of interaction anymore.
So it was interesting to me that when I gently brought up, like, you know, how would that feel if you were doing that to your dog, right? Would you consider, would you stop someone if, if you saw them doing that with a dog and then it was like, wow, he goes, you you've given me a lot to think about.
I never thought they were other ways. So again, this is really, really important to question and to think about what your values are. Okay. So what are your values in life? What are your values specifically related to horses? Like for me, and this is just a few of them, like kindness is a big one, you know, compassion.
I, I, that's a big value for me. I'm learning. I love to learn. So, you know, so I want to feel like I'm growing, I'm expanding my knowledge, right? Connection is a huge value, importantly value for me, this idea of connection. And it starts with connecting with yourself. Believe it or not, you can not connect with someone else if you don't connect to your true nature.
So if you think about your values, when you're with your horse and you know, in your horse experience, are you ignoring your values and just doing things that go against that, because if you are right, then you're not showing up as your true self with your horse. You're showing up with some other version of you, a smaller version that doesn't represent you,
and that's not coherent. You're not aligned. And your horse will know that horses are better at knowing this and then humans are. And when you don't show up as your true, true self, you cannot connect in a really deep, meaningful way with your horse, because it won't be you that's there. Okay? When you do align with your true self,
your true nature, and you say, okay, this is what I feel. I feel this in my head, my heart, my gut, I'm taking in my, all these sensations and making decisions based on that, then that true you, that shows up Penn connect with your horse. Your horse feels that it notices the characteristics, the qualities that make you uniquely you,
right? You show up in all your Yunus, if you will. And that is lovely. That's a gift. It's a gift to yourself. And it's a gift to others because then you can truly connect it's then you're, you're connecting with your, your internal sensations, your, the, your physical sensations, your emotional sensations, and then you can feel your horse more.
You can sense more things about your horse physically and emotionally, right? That's how we get that beautiful horse human system. Right. I call it age squared, right? Horse human. And it's, it's, it's not only because it's the two ages, but it's more than the sum. It's more than horse plus human, right. It's exponential, right.
It there's a synergy that's created when you're with your horse. Like, I like to do a lot of things on the ground with my horse. I do something. I call Liberty play. I run around with my horse. We do kind of like dog agility, but it's with a horse. I hike, I run with my horse. I, I do all kinds of fun things.
I'm really big on having fun with my horse. It's good for both of us. It's really important. And when you do that, when you show up as your real, you, you, then it's like, again, this synergy is created. And I always, I call it like barring my horses, mojo, because when I'm running with my horse,
I could run faster and further than when I run by myself. So it's such a cool feeling. And it's, it's like this. It's like you, you tune in because you're really showing up as you, you feel, you know, you notice how you feel physically and emotionally that helps you feel your horse more. And then you allow you and your horse to co-create the experience together to co-create the moment you notice when your horse is enjoying something and when she's not right.
So it's really, really cool. It's it, it elevates the experience in a crazy exponential way. But again, it starts with you recognizing these sensations in yourself, physically, right? How you're moving, how you feel, how your joints feel, how your muscles feel, how you feel it with your vitality, and also emotionally, how you feel and being able to regulate those states.
And so this is something that my students in the move with your horse program, they know this really well because we work on this. We use something called the Feldon Christ method, which uses directed attention and very specific movements, right? Movement sequences, to improve how you move, how you physically feel, and also how you feel emotionally. It allows you to connect with yourself on a deep level to really get clear on who you are and how you want to show up in the world.
And then we have another part to the move with your horse program, because we also do this very gentle, but very powerful hands on work with the horses. That again, is based on the Feldenkrais Method. I call it Debono Moves because I've adapted it to the horses. And it's something also I was doing even pre my Feldenkrais training, before my Feldenkrais training many,
many decades ago. And, but again, it's that lovely idea of connecting and communicating with your horse on this more refined level, using our attention and our intention in very specific ways. So we work with ourselves, we work with our horses and we come together in this much clearer, much more coherent way, right? That's what we really want this feeling of coherence of connection.
And it elevates our, our experience like nothing else. And it's just so cool. So by the way, we are opening a new cohort of move with your horse. It starts in April, mid April, and you can get on my wait list cause we're not open quite yet. We're going to have all the details very, very soon to you.
So if you go to Mary debono.com forward slash join horse, it's just one word, all lowercase, MaryDebono.com/joinhorse. You'll get on my wait-list and you'll be the first to know about all the details, all the fun stuff, all the wonderful things we'll be doing. It's an eight week program. You get tons and tons of live support.
I'm in the program with you. I'm teaching you live, I'm showing up constantly in the Facebook group. I am giving you the option of having one-on-one sessions with me that, and in the group sessions too, you get my immediate feedback. And that totally sets us apart. That live interaction, that live feedback, that live coaching is really, really something that I don't see in the other programs.
Another thing real quick, that differentiates us is this idea that we work with you and with your horse. Okay? You need both. You need both Anne and my decades of experience working with thousands of horses from, from, you know, very laid back retired, or just pleasure horses to literally world cup competitors. Okay. Right. The Olympic level at the world cup levels,
those type of horses. I have seen that it takes working with both the human and the horse to elevate the experience, to give you the feeling that you're after, when you're with your horse, right. There is a feeling you want to have. That's why we spend our lives with horses and move with your horse program can help you get there. I want to help you get there.
So again, MaryDebono.com/joinhorse. One word, all lower case. We'll get you the details and feel free to email me. [email protected] I'll email you back. We'll talk, I'd love to know more about what you're struggling with, what you'd like to do better with your horse, but please, please, if you do nothing else,
start to question why you do what you do with your horse. Okay. We really dive into this because this, the non habitual nature of, you know, trying new things with your horse safely, of course, will really jumpstart your brain. It's what gets those new neural connections forming. So you can give up your old habits that keep you kind of stuck in a rut where they're physically,
emotionally or both, right. And for you and your horse. So it's really cool stuff. We'll talk more about this in the podcast too, because I think it's so, so important, but I'll, I will say, please do that. Please join the list. I gave you that, that URL, marydebono.com/joinhorse.
And then ask yourself, why am I doing this?
Whatever this is with my horse, can there be another way? And one of my favorite questions is how can this feel easier? How can this feel easier? So I so appreciate you being here, listening to the podcast. Thank you so very much because I love sharing this work. I love helping horses and their people just feel better and better at any age.
So thanks again. I look forward to talking to you real soon. Bye for now. Thank you for joining me for this episode of Easier Movement, Happier Horses. Remember to grab your free video masterclass for riders at marydebono.com/rider. You get three easy, effective exercises to improve your back, hips, position and posture. People love these videos. It's important for riders and non-riders alike.
I'm Mary Debono. Go have fun with your horses. Bye for now.