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Is Your Horse REALLY Relaxed? Are You?

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Mary Debono
Is Your Horse REALLY Relaxed? Are You?
15:49
 

You want your horse to be relaxed and responsive. But do you know if your horse TRULY is relaxed? Some horses appear relaxed, but they’re NOT.

You’ll learn why “relaxed readiness” is so important for your horse’s athletic ability – and your own. You’ll learn why relaxed muscles have more potential strength than muscles that are chronically tight.     

And you’ll find out that there are some easy things you can do with your horse that will help you BOTH get into a state of “relaxed readiness.”

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Easier Movement, Happier Horses. I'm Mary Debono. And I'm so glad you're here today. I'm going to share with you how you can use a sense of relaxation to improve not only your horses performance, but also your horses overall health, and very importantly to deepen the connection between you two, between you and your horse.

Okay. So let me give you an example to start with. I was teaching a workshop some time ago and this woman wanted to bring her horse for myself or the students to work with because she loved this horse. He was a wonderful horse. He had really severe lameness issues. Okay. And his front feet, he was diagnosed with severe navicular and all kinds of things.

And he was a great big quarter horse. I mean, he was just a big guy and he came in and he just was as sweet as pie. You know, she had trailered him in, he was super calm. He was just totally chill. And you might think, oh no, that's a relaxed horse. He's standing in the barn aisle.

There's all these strangers around new, new place, new horses, totally chill guy. He was far from being a relaxed. Okay. He just had so much tension, so much holding in his muscles that his nervous system was saying, there's a problem here. His nervous system was inundated with what I call the noise of the tension and the soreness in his body.

Okay. So he was not relaxed, even though his out outward demeanor would appear that he was relaxed. He was not. So my students actually worked with him and did a wonderful, wonderful job. You know, I just guided them through this process of helping this lovely horse. His name is Eagles soften, you know, start to relax these muscles and relax his overall state.

In other words, it wasn't just about isolating individual muscles to relax, but to give him a different sense of himself and that he could just have a quiet, our nervous system. Okay. And it was really, really amazing. So they did it through a series of, and this is what I teach in my work, different ways of lifting and supporting the muscles in very specific ways,

as well as combining that with very, very slow and gentle rocking. And it just was amazing for him and helped him right away. And his owner was actually in tears at the end because she said, I have never seen him walk so freely before, because after the session we walked him up and down and he just had this much bigger stride. He just was so much freer in his body and in his mind.

Okay. So again, he was a great example that you would think he was a relaxed horse if you just saw him, but he was anything, but right until my students worked with him and it was really, really satisfying to see the difference with him. So giving a, another example, a very different type of horse. This is a warm blood and he's a grand Prix dressage horse.

And, you know, he has a lot of obviously very well-developed muscles to do grand Prix dressage. He's competitive, very competitive. And I taught his person, his person, you know, luckily was very involved in his hands-on care. And she knew how important this worked because this work helped her so much. She had a terrible back problem. When she found me,

actually it was a trainer who, who like dragged her to my office and said, you have to see this person. And I helped her overcome her back problem. She had a very debilitating back problem, and now she wanted to make sure her horses always got the same level of care that they always felt good. And one of the things I taught her was how to do a very simple muscle lift on the neck in such a way that it just really helps the horses just relax.

And her horse in particular was very, very impressed by this. I'll put it that way. And he would go into almost like a trance when she did it. And so what she discovered was if at any point he was a little bit nervous, a little bit anxious, maybe they were at a show or something she could just from the ground, do this little thing.

And he would immediately change his state. Okay. He would get very relaxed. Now she also even used it when he had to have certain medical procedures that he needed to be, to make sure he was going to be relaxed for right. She would do this. And the vet was always just like amazed at how quickly the horse responded, because that became kind of like an anchor to the horse.

Like he, he recognized, oh, the minute she put her hand on his neck, he knew the good thing was coming and he would calm down. So very cool. And I've actually had a number of students that love that move so much. They feel like how much it helps the horses that it also, and this is pretty cool, calms them down because they start doing it.

They know they're good at it. They know what's going to benefit the horse. And so that you get the synergistic effect, you get the, the relaxation in the human as well as the horse. So it goes back to that. What I call the H squared system, the horse human system, right? When you're with your horse, you're not just an individual human individual horse.

You're working in concert, right? It's a system, a unit, if you will, I call it H squared, right. Horse human, and something like that. When you, when you find something that helps you and your horse at the same time, it's really, really powerful. And it just helps you both enter into a nice relaxed state and also deepens that connection between you.

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💥Want to help your horse - and yourself - have more flexible, balanced and confident movement?

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Okay. Another horse. She also was a, a dressage horse. In this case, she was an Arabian dressage horse who also did a lot of trail, which is always great to have that, you know, variation in your work. Right. I love when people take their horses out on trail, even if they're competitive, dressage horses or jumpers,

or what have you. And what this gal learned to do from working with me as her horse did get anxious. Sometimes in the arena, she would simply get off, do a few of the moves. I taught her, have that state of relaxation. Again, it was helping her as much as our horse get back on. And the movement was always so much better and their quality of their relationship improved.

And she was even able to do some of the work from the saddle. And she would even do this on trail. She would get off and start working with her horse a little bit. Anytime there was a little anxiety or, or anything would come up like, she'd be like, okay, we both can get into a better state here. So this is how you can really use,

you know, manage your own state as well as help your horse enter into that relaxed state as well. And I want to make a mention about, you know, we talk about relaxation. Like, what does that really mean? In the first example, that horse Eagles, the quarter horse who had the problems with his front feet and he had all that lameness,

you know, he had these tight muscles. I w if you looked at this horse, you would think this horse was really strong because he had all this muscle development and they were tight muscles. But when you think about it, a tight muscle, a muscle that stays chronically tight, even to, just to some degree is a weaker muscle. Okay?

Because a muscle gets its power from its ability to contract. So if there's a particular length, like a healthy, relaxed muscle is a certain length, okay? Depends on the muscle, et cetera, et cetera. And then when you want it to work, right, it needs to be able to contract powerfully. So it has to go from a long length to a short one.

If it's already partially contracted, like all the time, it has that level of tension in it. It can't contract fully. It can't contract as powerfully. You won't have the strength. So these horses and these humans that have this chronic tension, that's chronic muscular work. They're not as strong. Okay. You're literally weaker is there's also a level of energy.

That's being zapped. In other words, you're using energy. That's not helping you in, and you're fighting yourself because having those muscles chronically contracted means that the opposite muscles have to work even harder. Okay? So you or your horse are fighting yourself when you're in that situation. Also, there's a level of soreness, right? The muscles get tired, they get sore.

So soreness starts to happen. Then a vicious cycle can easily develop because now you or your horse needs to compensate for that soreness. So you may restrict movement in some ways, you know, all kinds of things like that can happen. So not a good situation. So we want to think about relaxation is actually equating to more power, more energy, more vitality,

greater flexibility, all those good things, all the things we want. Also a feeling of confidence. Hey, when, when you're able, even if it's just an unconscious level, you or your horse, your system, your brain, your nervous system knows that you can contract your muscles more readily and move quickly. Right. Very easily, right? You just generally feel more confident in life,

right? You have less anxiety. So we really, really want to be clear though about you don't want, just to have like just a loose muscles that you don't know what to do with, right. Again, this goes back to the episode last week, when we talked about coordination, you need to have the ability to harmoniously, harmoniously, coordinate the parts.

So you need to be able to do something with that real relaxation. Okay. Those relaxed muscles still need that sense of coordination, right? The body, the brain needs to be able to coordinate all the parts so you can use it. And I, I like to talk about like relaxed readiness or responsiveness, where like, you know, rather than just relaxation,

because you, you can help a horse relax just outwardly in many different ways, but to have this sense of clear organization of good coordination of those muscles, of power, of, you know, strength, speed, vitality, right. You need to have that sense of coordination through the body and mind. Okay. Very, very important. And that's a big difference.

Okay. So I hope this gives you some idea about why it's important that we talk about relaxation and how just looking at the outward signs. Cause another thing is you may have a horse who's again, outwardly very quiet, but they're actually shut down and they may have a lot of tension in their nervous system. They may have a lot of emotional tension if you will,

but they've learned to just, it just better to shut down, to protect themselves. That's to me is not a relaxed horse. That's a shutdown horse. Okay. So we want to make sure that we, we give our horses the sense of choice and that they have a sense that they can, they can move easily. And it's not about shutting them down,

but it's about letting them express themselves in very appropriate ways and very healthy ways with this idea of having freedom of movement and, you know, freedom through their, their body. And I, I like to think freedom of mentally as well, that they have a sense of they're choosing to be S to act a certain way rather than being forced to. Okay.

Very, very important. And again, that all ties in to this sense of relaxation. And I find the more that the human gets in touch with, with herself and is able to come from that same place of, of relaxation, of choice of, you know, they can give that to their horse. And they're confident. In other words, they have enough confidence in themselves and in what they're doing and enough basically joy that they're bringing to the table,

that they're happy to share that with their horse. They don't want to shut their horse down. They want their horse to be able to express him or herself. Okay. In healthy, safe ways, of course, but having this ability to coordinate movement and to really harmonize together. So very, very important. I always think about helping a horse in human approach,

physical and emotional harmony together. And just starting with this idea of relaxation, of you finding something that helps you relax, that you can, that also helps your horse relax. Like I spoke about some of these people do it with a particular move that they learned from me and it resonated with them because it resonated with their horse. So that helps both of them at the same time,

feel more relaxed, more in harmony and better able to move freely. Okay. So hope that was helpful. Hope it gives you another way of looking at your horse too, to make sure your horse truly is as relaxed as possible and has that, that readiness, that responsiveness, that comes from true relaxation and harmony. So thank you so much for being here.

I love sharing this work with you and I can't wait to share more. So have a wonderful week and bye for now.
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💥Want to help your horse - and yourself - have more flexible, balanced and confident movement?

Go to https://www.marydebono.com/wait-list-MWYH to join the waitlist for our online group coaching program, "Move With Your Horse."🐴💖

You'll be among the first to know when we open our doors again. And you'll get special bonuses! ✨

 

More FREE resources:

·        Feldenkrais® for Riders videos: marydebono.com/rider.

·        Join our free FB group, "Happy, Healthy Horsewomen."

·        💥 Go to https://www.marydebono.com/knees to get a short, effective Feldenkrais® video to help you coordinate your movement so that you have more FLEXIBLE KNEES!💥

 

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