The Surprising Benefits of Movement Improvement #75

#equinemind #equinemovement #horsehumanconnection #humanmind #humanmovement debono moves feldenkrais method May 29, 2024

Beyond better performance, learn how improved movement can boost confidence, reduce anxiety, and create a deeper connection between you and your horse.

Discover ways to make saddling up a positive experience and explore a holistic approach to movement that unlocks a happier you and a happier horse. 

Beyond Performance:

  • Boost Confidence: Discover how improved suppleness can boost your horse's confidence and sense of well-being. Just like us, restrictions can breed anxiety.
  • Feel the Shift: Improved movement isn't just about physical ease; it elevates your emotional state. Learn how positive changes in your body can spark optimism and a sense of possibility.
  • Build Trust, Not Tension: Ditch the forceful methods! Mary explains how gentle, Feldenkrais-inspired techniques foster trust and a harmonious relationship with your horse.

A Happier You, a Happier Horse:

  • Reduced Stress & Anxiety: Improved movement isn't just about coordination and strength; it's about nervous system regulation. Experience calm and refine your feel at the same time.  
  • Deeper Connection: As your movement awareness grows, so does your ability to connect with your horse. Imagine a state of "shared awareness" where both of you are in sync.
  • Rediscover Joy: Saddling up shouldn't be a battle! Mary offers solutions that make tacking up a pleasurable experience for your horse, setting the stage for a happier, more harmonious ride.

Movement for More Than Mechanics:

Movement improvement goes beyond improving your dressage score or cantering down that trail. It's about a holistic approach that unlocks a deeper connection, bringing more joy and harmony to your relationship with your horse.

Ready to embark on this transformative journey? Tune in to the full episode and join the waitlist for Mary's Move with Your Horse program. 🐴

Remember, you and your horse deserve to feel great. Together!


Join the Move with Your Horse waitlist! 🐴

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



Let's talk about why improving your horse's movement and your movement is so vital. And I'm not just gonna talk about performance. I mean, we all know that if you improve how your horse Moves, right, they're going to perform better. They'll be able to do all the things you're asking of them in a healthier, more efficient way. They'll have less problems,

you know, less wear and tear, things like that. And the same is true for you. When you improve your movement, you can be more balanced in the saddle, you can feel better, I mean, all kinds of good things. But let's go beyond that and talk about some other things that improving your movement really helps. So, for your horse,

for example, have you ever thought that improving your horse's movement, helping your horse be more agile, being able to turn their, their head and neck, easily round the back easily, that that is not only for their performance, for their athletic ability, but it can help improve their confidence. So think about it. If your horse had stiff neck,

and many, many horses have, to some degree, some tension in the knack, for example, and if that's restricting their movement, that can make them feel more vulnerable. Same thing with, you know, stiffness or restriction anywhere in their body, right? If they can get away, for example, quickly, if they just know that instinctively that they're compromised,

that can help them be, can, can make them more fearful, more anxious, and things like, especially like the neck, the head and neck, if you think about the, the senses are located right? They can smell, they can see, they can hear, right? That's located in the head, right? The ears, the eyes,

the nose, et cetera. Being able to turn the head around easily and up and down all kinds of ways is so important for confidence, okay? For feel, for the feeling of wellbeing. And you know, the same is true with humans. When you can move more easily, you feel better, you feel, generally speaking, you feel safer.

Now, we're not talking here about clinical mental health issues or something like that. You know, obviously you would talk to your doctor about that. But I'm talking about, you know, that stress, that anxiety that many, many of us feel. So when you improve your movement, instinctively, your body knows it can, it's more alert to its surroundings.

You're more aware, you have sensory awareness to a greater degree, you're able to to pick things up. So that's one reason why improving movement is so important for you and your horse. Okay? It can change Your emotional state. And another way it changes your emotional state is when you realize that you can improve your movement. Now I'm talking about you as the human.

You realize you can improve your movement. Things really start to look up. Okay? So my, you know, I've worked with many, many clients over the years. Many, you know, of all different ages, but definitely quite a number that are maturing. We'll just say. So there's often this idea that, oh, things are just getting from bad,

going from bad to worse. And I'm talking about like, even when I was in my late twenties, I thought things have to start hurting because I'm getting older. Which now I laugh when I think about that. 'cause if I look at someone in their twenties, it's like, oh, you're just a baby. I've had people in, in their thirties definitely also say that to me.

I remember this one woman, she was a physician, and she said, well, I'm almost 39, so of course I have to expect this. And it was about, you know, different things in her body not working as well. I did a number of Feldenkrais sessions with her and all her problems went away. So she didn't get any younger chronologically,

but she got younger physically, and her state changed. In other words, she realized, oh, life, you know, doesn't have to just be all downhill, right? Like, there, there is hope. You know, it's something we call biological optimism, is this idea that your, your body, you know, your, and when I say body,

it's like mind and body. It's all the same, right? It seeks health and wholeness. And when you give it evidence that you can improve, well it runs with that. It's like, that's what the brain uses then to make decisions in the future. So the more evidence you give it, right? The more you can kind of train your brain to realize that you have better options.

So that's a big one. I see. That's a big one. It's a very hopeful thing when you improve your movement, when you take the time to develop your, your awareness, right? How you move And the Feldenkrais method is fantastic for this. And I've adapted the Feldenkrais method and added some other things as well to create Debono, Moves for animals.

So horses, dogs, cats, et cetera. But the idea is we are giving your nervous system, your horse's nervous system. This idea that things can improve. Okay? So, and again, that's really, really important for you because we make up all kinds of stories in our heads. The horses are not as complicated, luckily, but we do that.

So this is a great way when you improve your movement to give your nervous system evidence, right? Evidence that you can improve, things can get better. Okay? So the other, the other thing, and I mentioned this in the very beginning, is yes, we also know that improved movement will help your horse's performance and your performance. Okay? As a horse person,

and this is true, even if you don't ride your horse, so maybe you enjoy playing on the ground. I did a lot of that with my horse Brie. It was actually with all my horses since I was a kid. I did a lot of playing on the ground, taught them all kinds of fun things. I call it liberty play, right?

As opposed to liberty work. 'cause to me it was just all play and creativity and something that my horses and I just both really, really have enjoyed. And so even if you're not getting in the saddle, right, your ability to use yourself, your awareness of your body, your coordination, right? Your mechanics are so important. And so that will help definitely.

If you are riding as well, that's gonna be really powerful, right? To have freedom in your hips, to have your seat balanced, you know, to be able to relax your shoulders and turn your head without moving everything. You know, independent use of your, of your parts as it were, right? Having relaxed, comfortable knees and ankles.

I mean all the things. And obviously for your horse, for your horse to be able to carry you, they have to be able to have that freedom in the ribs, in the sternum, right? In the thoracic spine as well as the other parts of the spine to be able to carry you in a healthy way so that the work you're asking your horse to do,

the activities you're asking of them are comfortable for them and they're healthy for them and potentially pleasurable. I always want to do things with horses that we both find pleasurable, right? I imagine you're the same way. So when the horse feels better in their body, right then that those activities, those different movements you're doing, whether it's cantering down the trail or going over course of jumps or doing dressage or some other activity,

working equitation, whatever it is that it feels pleasurable to you and your horse, right? And that you feel balanced and confident, all that good stuff. So that comes from, to a large degree improving movement, okay? Improving movement can help so much. The other thing that I just really, really appreciate about when you improve your movement and your horse's movement is that you are better able to tune into each other.

You become really sensitive to each other in a very positive way. And especially if you, if you learn the hands-on work that I teach my Debono Moves that I teach in Move with your Horse program, you know, you learn to really listen to the horse's responses to what you're doing, and then you adjust. So the horse starts to realize that there's a dialogue they're being listened to.

That is huge. And also it's like you are building up this trust fund, I like to call it, right? It's like, yeah, you didn't know you had a trust fund, your horse has a trust fund. Well, you can create one right? By doing things that allow your horse to realize that they're being listened to. And that is huge.

So I'll give you an example. That's the opposite of building a trust fund, okay? It's, it's like building a mistrust fund. It's, for example, if you know that your horse, you've experienced that your horse is stiff, say to the left, but someone told you or you read it somewhere or whatever, that, that means you have to work your horse much harder to the left to kind of like make them do it,

right? You just kind of drill more that way. Now think about what that says to your horse. If you do that, so here's your horse doing the best they can and you're trying to get, say, a bend to the left, it's not happening or it's not as good as to the right. So instead of being really curious about why that is,

you just decide to exert your will and try to force it. Maybe use a little spur, a little whip, you know, be a little harsher on the rain aids as well. And maybe you start being all wonky with your own balance. 'cause you're trying to make it happen. Now it's even harder for the horse and maybe it's really uncomfortable for the horse,

but instead you insist on that. So to me, that leads to a lot of mistrust, not trust. But instead, if you were to think, oh, that's so interesting, right? Okay, we bend really nicely to the right, but not so much to the left. Maybe it's me, maybe the way I'm throwing my weight, even though it seems like I'm even,

because I'm just so used to it, right? But maybe I'm causing my horse to have a problem. Okay? So maybe you need to get yourself to a Feldenkrais practitioner, you know, hint, I do that and, and see if you can get straightened out. Literally, that's one, one option. And maybe it isn't you, okay? Maybe it's not you at all,

but it's something with your horse. Well, maybe there's either just a really strong habit of how they do it. So that needs to be addressed with respect to how the nervous system changes things. Okay? Or maybe there's actual discomfort when they try to bend to the left. And by you just insisting on it, again, you're building mistrust, but instead again,

you're, you're interested, you're curious and you think, huh, what's happening when we bend to the right? And you do that a little bit more and you really break it down. I do this in, in the program, we actually do this with our hands, like off the horse. We really explore different ways of, say, for example,

helping the horse turn the head and what happens in the barrel, what happens in the pelvis, et cetera. And then you can kind of like build it back up on the left, but in a way that the horse's nervous system can make sense of. And it's not that you're contradicting the nervous system, because I always say this, we have to remember there was a good,

valid reason why you or your horse developed a pattern, a habit, a movement habit in the first place. It was to solve a problem. Maybe that problem is no longer, you know, the solution is no longer relevant, right? So it's a maladaptive habit now, but at one time it met a need. Okay? So we have to now convince the nervous system in a very gentle way that,

oh, look at that. You know how easy it is for you to do this on the right. It can be easy to do it on the left as well. And it has to feel better to the horse than what the horse is currently doing. It has to feel safer. Remember, the nervous system is tasked with keeping us and the horse,

the horse's nervous system safe, okay? That's the job of the nervous system. So if a solution had worked in the past, it wants to hold onto it. But instead, if you think, huh, how can I do this in a way that gets kind of like buy-in from the nervous system, that the nervous system will want to adopt this new solution and let go of that maladaptive habit,

that habit that's inefficient and not helping anymore. Okay? So there's ways, and again, it's too long to go into right now, but there are ways to do this in a, that I teach. And it's not confrontational to the nervous system. We're not saying you are wrong, you need to do it this way. But when you try to force your horse with stronger aids,

things like that, that's what you're trying to do. And that builds mistrust. Okay? We want to build trust between us and our horses. That's how you have a harmonious relationship. That's how you both feel. Dare I say, joy right together that you, that you both find it pleasurable. So let's, let's go back to this whole idea.

So what else does improving movement do for us and our horses? Well, if you're both having this harmonious relationship now, right? Once you learn how you can influence your horse's movement in a very positive, pleasurable way, you both become happier. You both become happier. And it stimulates neuroplasticity, it stimulates the, the creation of new neural connections. And a lot of the work too that we do,

that that's involved in improving movement can actually help the horse be more resilient to stress. And, and you, you as well. And so when you have now these, this idea that, oh, I don't have to be stuck in my old habits of moving, but I could move better. And again, this isn't intellectual. Like even you, you may not think that like intellectually,

but your nervous system is getting it and the horse's nervous system gets it. And it's like, okay, once you, you discover that, you realize that you have more choice, more possibilities, life just becomes sweeter. And again, you can, you realize you can come back from things. You have that biological optimism, which, you know, one definition of health,

it was a, a, a definition, if you will, that Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais held was that health was like the ability to recover. 'cause stuff happens in life, but it's that ability to recover. And when you've given your nervous system, I'm gonna say like an upgrade by improving movement, right? Then you, you do, you realize you can recover from things,

right? So again, your horse realizes this again on an unconscious level, but there's more optimism in the nervous system. I'll call that. Now, I'm not using these words very scientifically, please. So just remember that. But it's that idea that there's hope, there's optimism that things can get better because you've given the nervous system evidence of improvement. Okay?

So there's so many reasons why improving movement can help you beyond just your physical abilities, but to help you feel more comfortable in your body. More relaxed, but but relaxed with a readiness, responsiveness that you can act very quickly if need to, and very powerfully, right? But you're not holding all that excess tension that allows your nervous system to feel more regulated,

to be more regulated, to have less anxiety, and in short, be happier and healthier. And I wanna say that the same is possible for your horse as well. That their nervous system can be a little more regulated, right? When you start working with them in this way, new things can open up for them as well. They don't have to be stuck in their habitual patterns of either movement or behavior.

One of the things that we do in this, in, in the work that I teach is we help the horse experience feeling differently in their body. And that is huge. So I'll, I'll give you an example. One thing I'm really like a zealot about, if you will, is this idea that tacking up saddling your horse and all the things that go along with that bridling.

You know, the whole nine yards should not only be tolerable, but pleasurable for your horse. It can change the whole outcome of your ride. Like it can change everything for you. And I see too many horses that just like put up with it. Some are very, it's very obvious that they don't like it. They pin their ears. They may threaten to kick or bite,

you know, do things like that. Others, it's more subtle, but they contract their abdominals. That's why people think they're holding their breath. It's actually they're contracting their abdominals. And then you, you know, you do up the growth slowly. Eventually, most of that muscular tension, that unnecessary tension dissipates. But usually not all of it, by the way.

So it's like you start your ride with this idea of a horse that feels that they have to defend against you, they have to brace against you. And that's not the way you wanna start your ride, is it? No. Or even have that kind of relationship. So we do a number of things in the move with your horse program. One of them involves my famous rib rope,

right? That, which again, I can't explain in the, in in a podcast, but it helps the horse have more flexibility in their rib cage and it generally feels really, really good. And it could help the horse with this idea of that girth thing up can actually be pleasurable and help improve their movement at the same time. But then we go into more detail about how you use the girth to work with the sternum and the ribs.

And you know, there's a whole protocol, I call it tension free tacking up. But it's this idea that, you know, again, tacking up can be pleasurable. And so think about the difference now. Now you get on a horse that is already like feeling better in their body and you've actually helped them feel, you know, have more awareness of how they can use their sternum and their ribs to soften the back.

And you've done all this just because you were tacking up. You know, you added just a few minutes, couple of minutes here and there once you get the hang of it. So these are the kind of things that improving movement can also improve. That you and your horse can be happier and healthier and goes without saying too improved movement. When I say healthier,

you know, you're, there's a greater likelihood of soundness, for example. You can reduce the likelihood of injury or wear and tear damage when you and your horse are moving in a more efficient way. Okay? It just feels so much better. So I hope this gives you a little glimpse into like the many wonders of improving movement. You know, it's like improving movement goes beyond just being able to run or,

you know, hike or, or swim better or play tennis or ride your horse better. All those things. And that's all important, but it goes beyond that. And the same is true for your horse. It's not just about, oh, I wanna be able to do a canna pirouette, so I'm gonna learn this hands-on work to help my horse,

you know, move better. But it's about so, so much more. And I'll tell you one of the things that is very, very dear to my heart is, as you help your horse improve their movement, I mentioned earlier how you get really tuned in, you can develop such an incredible connection with your horse that it's just you enter into that state that I called shared awareness when you're both interested in the same thing and that feels blissful.

Blissful. I've had people, students of mine, you know, they'll message me and they'll say, oh wow, now I get it. I get why you love doing this work because I'm just filled with bliss, so it's not just me, right? My students often feel that way as well. So it's just so fun. It's something, again,

it's a way to help yourself, help your horse and you know, have that really deep heart-centered connection that I think we're all looking for. It's really pretty cool. And probably the number one reason why improving movement is so important is this, because you and your horse deserve to feel great together. Thank you so much for joining me here. If you have any questions,

just email me, Mary at mary Debono dot com. I'd love to hear from you and I so appreciate you listening to the podcast. Look forward to talking to you soon. Bye for now.