Laid Up Horse? Here's How to Make the Most of It #72

#debono moves #horsehumanconnection #horsemind #horsemovement May 08, 2024
Horse sidelined with an injury? Don't despair!

Join Mary Debono, your equine expert, as she unveils the silver lining within stall rest. In this episode, you'll discover how to transform recovery time into relationship-building gold.

Master the art of mindful movement: Discover the magic of hand-walking in sync with your horse, fostering a deeper understanding of your hore's movement.

Unlock the power of Connected Breathing, where you and your horse find harmony through observing each other's rhythm.

Challenge those routines: Learn the benefits of leading your horse from the "wrong" side, and keeping your horse's nervous system engaged in a positive way.

Become a master detective of your horse's body language: Sharpen your observation skills to decode your horse's smallest cues and subtle signs of tension.

Discover how by being truly present with your horse during recovery, you can not only strengthen your bond but also elevate your horsemanship skills to a whole new level.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to turn a setback into a breakthrough for you and your horse!


Free rider masterclass:

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All information is for general educational purposes ONLY and doesn't constitute medical or veterinary advice.  


Have you ever had to deal with a horse who's laid up? Maybe you're dealing with it right now, and you're wondering, how can I keep my horse entertained, enriched, and what can I do with my horse that's going to just be an enjoyable process. So in case we're meeting for the first time, my name is Mary Debono and this is the Easier Movement,

happier Horses podcast. So that's what I'd like to talk about today, is to give you some ideas on how you could make the most of your horse's healing time. Because despite, you know, all the wonderful treatments there are a lot of times healing just simply takes time. You know, so, and your horse may be on really curtailed activity, so whether it's actually stall rest or it can be in a small paddock,

or just separated from their friends or just no riding, you know, it's very common in the horse world that, you know, this happens, that horses are laid up for a period of time. And I found when it's happened with my own horses that it was just an interesting time. I actually, and I remember this from gosh, quite a,

a number of years ago, thinking, okay, all right, my horse can't do much right now until this injury heals. But what could we do together? And it's really such a, such a rich opportunity to get to know your horse on a very deep level. And it goes beyond like just spiritual or something like that. I'm talking about even just from a movement point of view.

And you think, wait a minute, but the movement is curtailed. Well, can your horse walk? Now, most horses, when they're laid up, there's some form of hand walking that's involved. Sometimes tack walking too, that you can actually, you know, get on your horse. Like that would be appropriate. But even if it's just hand walking,

there is so much you can learn about your horse and you can help yourself and your horse. So to give you a little example, just we're gonna assume your horse can be hand walked. And instead of just mindlessly hand walking your horse around, can you think about matching your horse's rhythm? That really paying attention to, okay, my horse picks up this leg,

then this. Now of course the horse has four legs and you only have two. But still, can you match either the front legs or the hind legs and just kind of fall into a rhythm with your horse And notice that, and notice every time you stop, does the horse stop the same? Like, are, are the other leg square is one hind leg trailing out?

Is one front leg always in front of the other? You know, start To really notice your horse. And then when your horse walks again, how do they take off which front leg Moves first? Is it always the same for some horses? It will be, is it always the same for you when you're standing there? Do you always lead with the same leg?

You know, maybe you do. So start to pay attention to that. And then once you fall into a rhythm with your horse, so let your horse set the pace in the beginning if that's safe for your horse. I mean, if your horse is going way too fast or something, obviously not. But just at a, at a regular relaxed walk.

And then see if you can change very, very gradually has to be really gradually your rhythm a little bit and see if your horse continues to match you then. So it's like you a way of kind of getting in rapport with your horse. So you, you match the, the steps for a while. And this may take a little bit, right?

You might do it the first day, maybe not. And then you gradually, it has to be really small increments that you just change. You, you just delay, for example, the way you're moving your leg. So you're just off a little bit and see if your horse catches up with you, you know, matches you again, maybe they do,

maybe they don't. But I found that's a really fun way of, you know, again, getting in literally in step with my horse. And then you can also influence your horse's movement that way, you know, if they continue to match you, but, but you, you have to be patient about it. It's not something that you suddenly can move differently and,

and you know, and it's a big change and they just follow, not usually we're talking about subtleties here. So that's something that you might have fun with. Now just say for example, you can ride your horse. Okay, so you're tack walking, so you're in the tack. Have you really paid attention to the movement under you when you're riding?

And a lot of times when all you can do is walk right, you have this opportunity to just really pay attention to how your horse walks. Can you feel the barrel swing from side to side? Can you feel each hind leg come under? Do you feel each shoulder advancing? What does your horse's head and neck do as she walks? You know,

really pay attention and pay attention to how you can respond to that movement with your own body. You know, notice how your seat bone is kind of picked up and moved a little bit as your horse advances a hind leg, right? Feel the the the changes in you. Okay? And actually the next episode will focus on what to do if you get injured,

okay? And how you can make the most of your time and improve Your horsemanship even when if you're injured. But for now, let's focus on your horse. But think about like, oh, am I really balanced in the saddle? Like, use this as an opportunity to go deeper, to do slower, smaller things so you can feel more. That's a key tenant of the Feldenkrais method,

which is the method that I use by the way, is this idea that if we go slower and smaller with our movements, we can feel more. And we learn by noticing differences. So you will learn more, you'll improve more. And so can your horse when you slow down and do smaller things. So if your horse happens to be laid up,

which is unfortunate, but you can make the most of that time. And again, just say for example, you're not riding your horse. So there is no tack, tack riding, walking on the ground. You can notice these things. Notice the swing of the horse's barrel. Notice how each hind leg advances the swing of the shoulder blades, the movement of the head and neck.

It's also a great opportunity to do non habitual things as long as it doesn't excite your horse, doesn't upset your horse. Can you teach your horse to lead from the other side? 'cause that's really helpful to do non habitual things 'cause that gets the attention of the nervous system in a good way. And your horse then is in a better learning state. And so are you,

by the way. 'cause it'll be different for you as well. So if your horse can, can do that safely, you can teach your horse to, to be led from the other side. So that's a great opportunity to play with that. And how is it different when you're standing on that side? What's different about it? You know? And so you can really,

again, you know, take time when your horse is laid up to do things, to notice things. Maybe you just hang out with your horse in, in a, in the stall or the small paddock or wherever your horse needs to be. Most of the time just hang out and notice how your horse breathes. Notice like look at the rib cage,

notice the movement of the breath. Notice where else you see a response in your horse to the breath. You know, check each side. Is it the same? So really start to pay attention. And then I do something, there's something I teach in my programs called connected breathing. And I'm, I'm gonna give you just like the really simple explanation.

There's a lot more nuance to it. But you can start the process by just simply resting your hands on your horse's rib cage and feeling the rise and fall of the horse's ribs. And just allow your hands to be moved slightly by the breath, your horse's breath. And make sure you are breathing comfortably as you do this. And then get curious about it.

Remember, curiosity is One of your best friends. It's a great tool, right? So be curious. Notice. Hmm, does it feel the same on both sides? And put your hands on different spots on the rib cage, you know, as long as it's okay with your horse. And notice, do my hands move more or less when they're here or here and start to really hone in on your horse's breath.

Again, if this is something that your horse is okay with and it's safe to do, you can put, you can even stand sideways to your horse and have your ribs be against your horse's ribs. And that's a lovely feeling. That's a, it's a very connected feeling. I love it. But you can see how much can I feel through my own ribs?

You know, how much can I notice my horses breathing with my rib cage? And start to really hone in. You'll, you'll, you'll develop your feel more, you'll develop your eye more, and you'll develop what we call informed intuition, where you're, you're training your brain basically to notice small and important details, right? They're, they may be small,

but they're important details about your horse that then you'll start doing unconsciously, okay? And when you do it unconsciously, that's when you get those intuitive hits, those gut feelings. That's why we call it informed intuition. It's not like intuition that just came outta nowhere. You're actually, you know, it's based on knowledge. And that knowledge comes from paying attention to things.

Okay? So pay attention to things that may seem inconsequential to you about your horse, but they're not. 'cause remember, small things become big things. So play with this start. And, and by the way, I wanna say you don't have to wait till your horse is laid up to do any of this, okay? This could be done with any horse at any time.

So start to play with these things. Start to notice small important details about your horse. I mentioned earlier about noticing how your horse, head and neck maybe swing as she walks. Well, is it the same on each side? In other words, does she swing her head the same to the right as she does to the left? Did you ever notice that before?

Does each front leg advance the same? Does each hind leg advance the same? So again, start to pay attention to this. Notice if you feel areas of tension or soreness in your horse. I don't advocate for pressing and poking in a horse to create, like to see if they're sore. You can actually tell by the quality of the muscle. And the other thing you'll just notice,

does my horse change if I run my hands over my horse's body? Are there places where he gets a little nervous? Maybe the, there's Some wrinkling in the facial muscles, or maybe the tail switches, or maybe he just Moves away a little bit or, or holds his breath for a moment or breathe a little fast or a little more shallow. So these are things you can really pay attention to.

So like a, what I call a scan and where you're just basically using your hands to touch gently, slowly, all over your horse and notice what you feel and notice your horse's response to that. And again, slow is best. So it's a slow, soft thing. And don't touch any place where your horse doesn't want you to. But you know,

note that, note that. And again, there's so much richness just, just by hanging out with your horse, you can learn so much. So if your horse happens to be laid up, take that time, make the most of this healing time. And what I think will happen too is that when you connect on that level, when you're really paying attention to your horse,

your horse starts really paying attention to you and you know, you both come into a a state of wellbeing, right? That feeling of connection, which is gonna speed healing, by the way, okay? It certainly can't hurt. So make the most of it. And again, if your horse isn't laid up, this is an excellent thing to do as well.

So let me know what you are struggling with, by the way. So maybe it's something about a laid up horse, maybe not. I'd love to hear about it because I might do a podcast episode. Just how people have asked me about what they can do, like something quote unquote productive they can do while their horse is laid up. Maybe I could do a podcast episode for you as well.

So thank you so much for joining me here on the Easier Movement Happier Horse Podcast, and I look forward to talking to you again soon. Bye for now.