Why You and Your Horse Don't Need Fixing #76

#debono moves #horsehumanconnection #horsemind #horsemovement #humanmind #humanmovement feldenkrais feldenkrais method Jun 06, 2024

Are there things about yourself or your horse that you'd like to fix?

In this episode, I challenge the notion that you or your horse needs fixing.

Instead, we embrace a holistic approach. Drawing on my 30 years of experience as a Feldenkrais teacher specializing in horses and riders, I explain how our nervous systems develop habits and how, by working in harmony with these natural processes, we can foster better movement options and deeper connections with our horses.

Discover the Move With Your Horse program's core framework, Possibilities in Motion, which uses gentle methods to relieve tension and open up new movement possibilities.

πŸ’₯For more details on this framework, please grab your free PDF at marydebono.com/framework πŸ’₯

Ready to embark on this transformative journey?
Join the 
Move with Your Horse waitlist! https://www.marydebono.com/joinhorse πŸ΄ 

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


Free rider masterclass: https://www.marydebono.com/rider

[email protected]

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


Is there something you want to fix about yourself or your horse? Maybe there is, maybe you feel stiff sometimes. Maybe you feel like your posture isn't the best. Maybe your right leg creeps up, or you sit crooked in the saddle, or you have anxiety about riding or other things. Maybe there's something about your horse. Maybe you feel like your horse is stiff to one side or resistant,

or doesn't pick up the left lead or some other thing, and you think, yeah, it would be, I just need that fixed. Well, I'm here to tell you that you and your horse don't need fixing. Okay? You don't need to be fixed. And instead, I'm going to share a very different approach, an approach that works in harmony with your nervous system,

an approach that works in harmony with your bodily intelligence. And the same is true for your horse. So this approach applies to you and to your horse. And in case we're meeting for the first time, my name is Mary Debono, and this is the Easier Movement, happier Horses Podcast. And just ask a little bit background. I am a longtime Feldenkrais teacher.

I've been teaching Feldenkrais for over 30 years. I specialize in working with horses and riders. I also work with dogs, cats, and, and other animals. And there's some very com, you know, common qualities that we share with our horses and, and other animals. And that is that our nervous system is tasked with keeping us safe. Okay?

So our nervous system, you can think of it, I'm saying this in simple terms, but you can think of it as making decisions for the, for the rest of yourself, okay? And so certain things that you do, like the way you hold your shoulders, the way you, you position your weight on your seat bones, okay? The way that one leg draws up,

that started as a solution to a problem you were having. You may not have known about it consciously, but your nervous system was sorting things out and decided, Hmm, maybe I need to hike up this hip, you know, the side of my pelvis and, you know, contract these ribs. And maybe because you were, you were getting fatigued,

maybe you were overusing one side of yourself for a while. This could have started very early in life. It often does. Then it becomes a habit, and your horse has habits too. Now, if I were to say to you, sit up straight, you know, pull that shoulder in place, you know, stretch those ribs out, what would that do?

That may give you a temporary feeling of, oh, I'm more even, or you look more, even your trainer tells you, you are more even. But internally, what is happening internally, your nervous system is thinking, well, that doesn't feel right. That doesn't feel right because you know, okay, Now I have to do something else. I have to curl these toes.

I have to tighten here, I have to pull this a certain way, because you didn't take away the root cause of the issue. You didn't address it. You didn't let your own nervous system discover the better option. You were listening to an outside authority, right? Maybe you're, you're a trainer, maybe some other kind of person you were working with a,

you know, a body worker or something that was trying to mold you into to be a certain way. And that's so very different than the work that we do here. So, very different. And I'll, so I'll tell you why. So the, again, my work is as a Feldenkrais method teacher and a Deb Moves teacher, which is, again,

strongly influenced by the Feldenkrais method, but it's a applied to animals. And what we do though, in both of those approaches, both the Feldenkrais method and Debono Moves, we are respecting the individual's experience. So when I say individual here, you can either picture yourself or you could picture your horse. It's going to apply to either one of you. Okay?

So we, we respect that you've had a, a, you know, you may have had injuries, you may have had certain experiences that caused your nervous system to respond in a particular way, and to create movement and behavior habits for particular reasons. I may not know those reasons. You may not know those reasons, but your nervous system felt that that was a good option.

Okay? So we respect that. We respect the bodily intelligence of the system, okay? And we, we respect that whatever you now think of as a problem, it actually started as a solution to a different problem, okay? And now, it may have become maladaptive may have become like, quote unquote bad habit, but it started as a solution.

So your nervous system tends to want to hold onto that until you give it a better option, okay? And that's what we're going to discuss very different than imposing change from the outside. When you think of fixing someone, right? That's imposing change from the outside, either physically with your hands, like doing some types of manipulation that want to change the structure,

the muscles or the, the way the joints are aligned, or something like that. Or it's even verbal to a, to another human right? You can say, pull your shoulders down, sit up straight, et cetera. Okay? So it could either be verbal or it could be, you know, hands on, right? Could be manual. But instead we have a more holistic perspective,

okay? So we always wanna think about that. We're integrating the body and the mind. We're considering the emotions, right? We're considering the experiences that you or your horse may have had. So what we do here is we start where movement is easy, where movement is pleasurable, and we work with that. So in my move with your horse online group coaching program,

we, we take a deep dive into all of this for you and for your horse. But that's a very, a very basic concept is that we start when movement is easy and pleasurable. And we allow that to generalize throughout the system. So with this idea that you are looking to connect more deeply with yourself, looking to connect more deeply with your horse,

again, we, we, one way we do that is to, again, find where movement is easy and pleasurable and build on that. So that allows that, that feeling of ease and pleasure to generalize throughout the system. And this means that you often have improvements in parts of the body that you didn't expect. Like maybe you are focusing on working with your horses,

you know, gentle movements of the rib cage, for example. And then when you walk your horse, you realize, wow, my horse stifle in hawks are bending so much better, right? My horse seems so much more flexible in these other parts. Or maybe you see that the shoulder is sliding more easily. Or maybe you feel that with yourself when you do a Feldenkrais lesson.

And we didn't focus on those parts maybe in the lesson, but you notice now, oh wow, my shoulders are so much freer, or my ankles can bend easily. Maybe we didn't even move those parts in the lesson. But again, the work is designed to help those feelings of ease and pleasure generalized throughout your system. 'cause again, we're communicating with the nervous system.

Okay? This is a big distinction. Really, really big distinction, very important one. The other thing we have to remember is when you don't start from this place of connection and allowing the, the improvements to be self-generated, but instead, if you think of like fixing the horse, okay? That you're correcting what the horse or yourself is doing, a lot of times unwanted compensations can crop up.

So going back to the example of the rider and the, the trainer, for example, might tell them to pull their shoulders back, okay? And back and down, right? And so for, they might look a little bit better on the horse, okay? And they're maybe not as slouchy or something, but now suddenly unknown to the trainer, maybe even unknown to the rider,

all this tension around the jaw and the tongue has developed, well, that's going to affect everything in a negative way, okay? Because, and also it's going to, to diminish their feel, because now they're trying to focus on pulling the shoulders back and down, right? And so they're losing the ability to really be aware of what they're doing in other parts of themselves,

okay? So they lose that a degree of feel, okay? That's really not good for you as a writer especially, or any kind of horsemanship you're doing. So we have to remember that when we are imposing change on someone, whether it's ourselves or others, like, like your horse, you really run a very real risk of creating an environment where unwanted compensations,

unwanted side effects might occur. And you may not even realize them at first. Okay? So that's really, really important. So in the work that we do here, in the work that we, that I teach, in move with Your Horse, we really emphasize learning over correction. Okay? So again, we're not correcting, we're not fixing, we're allowing you the opportunity to learn and discover and allowing your horse that same opportunity to learn and discover.

Okay? So again, this allows the change, the improvement to be self-directed. The individual's nervous system creates the change. Okay? And this is such a, such an important thing. What I'm about to say next is we give you, and we give your horse the experience of feeling differently. So your nervous system recognizes whether, whether for you consciously or not,

but recognize that it's possible to feel differently, to feel better. And to give you a horse example with this, you know, so many horses have difficulties in their back, for example, or stiff necks or things like that. And that's just become part of life. It's like that constant background noise for them. And, and also this is true for humans as well,

right? And instead, we're giving, you know, we're using our hands to help the horse relieve that sense of effort, effort to find more pleasurable pleasure in just being okay. And they realize, again, this isn't necessarily an intellectual thing, but the nervous system realizes it can feel differently. The back can be freer, the neck can be nice and,

and freer. And then when, when the, the spine is more flexible And the horse can turn from side to side more easily, right? They feel less vulnerable. So now maybe the horse isn't as spooky, or you feel safer in your own body as well. Maybe you notice that your anxiety isn't as high, that you don't feel as stressed because all these things affect how your nervous system functions,

okay? So it also gives you this sense of what we call biological optimism. You know, that things can get better and you start to have the tools to help yourself and your horse feel better in body mind. Okay? Just the other day I was doing a private Feldenkrais session over Zoom with someone, and it was just so great what she said in the middle of the session.

Like, she just started moving so much more freely. And she said she realized in that moment that anything was possible, and it was so cool. She said, I just realized that, and this goes beyond movement. It goes beyond the physical, you know, ability to move more easily. It, it, it generalizes. So a lot of times people will tell me that they become more creative after having a,

you know, going through a Feldenkrais lesson with me, that they just feel so much better, they have more vitality. And the same is true with the horses. Like you learn how to learn. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the creator of the Feldenkrais method, used to talk about that a lot. It's like you're learning how to learn by having these different experiences where someone helps you to discover new options,

but they're not imposing the change on you. You are learning yourself or your horse is learning, okay? And this then can translate, it can generalize to other things where other things are easier to learn. I've seen this a lot also in my dog work, because I do work a lot with dogs. And you know, people will tell me later,

it's like, suddenly training got a lot easier, okay? Because again, they built on that the dog was able to take what we did together, and that feeling of self-discovery, if you will. And then they're in a, in a better state to be able to connect with their person as far as like a training situation, so they could learn things more easily.

And it also changes the relationship, because when you're thinking about fixing your horse or fixing your dog, or fixing yourself, it's almost like a combative relationship, right? It's like, you are wrong. This is how you should be. And again, this, you could be saying this to yourself, right? And instead it's like, oh, this is why you're doing that.

It's like such a process of discovery for both of you, right? If you're doing this with your horse, it's very cool. It's like, oh, you understand each other more. And, and if it's just for yourself, right? If you're doing Feldenkrais for yourself, you real, you, you can understand yourself more fully, right? And you're kinder to yourself,

and you have that, what I call connecting more deeply with yourself. It's that process of self-awareness. And again, the horses can also have more awareness of themselves, and this will improve their, their body awareness, their coordination, their proprioception. And of course, it'll improve those things for you as well. The other thing I really like about the thinking about the difference between correcting and connection,

okay? Is that it, it really is empowering. It, it, it, it helps with autonomy. In other words, you have more choice. It's, it's such a different place to be, to feel like, oh, I'm doing this because it feels better to me. Not that I have to model someone else, I have to follow some,

you know, outside authority. But instead, it allows you to develop your inner authority, right? You, your nervous system. You recognize that you have that bodily intelligence. And for me, I like to think I, I want to empower horses as well. You know, I think horses have been subjugated so much in our culture, and they're just kind of forced to do things for us.

And giving them that experience that they can discover something new, discover something more pleasurable. I mean, how great is that? What a gift is that, and by the way, if you're listening to this podcast, my guess is that you want that for your horse as well. You, you don't want a slave, you want a partner, right?

You love your horse and you want a partner. This, to me, is true partnership. When you enter into the relationship with the idea that connecting is the priority. Not fixing, not correcting, but connecting. Okay? So again, it, it, it's just a very empowering, and when you think about it, if you are friends with somebody who just does whatever you want,

you know, or you're partners with them, maybe romantic partners or business partners or whatever kind of partner, you know, if that person is always just does whatever you want, okay? Whatever you want, whatever you want, whatever you want, and they have no opinion whatsoever, I don't know about you, but that's not necessarily the best partner, right?

Maybe it makes you feel good for a little while, or you get to do all the things. You get to pick all the, the places you go and what you do. But isn't it a much more satisfying connection when you listen to each other, when you actually pay attention to each other and make choices together? And that may sound strange for some of you in,

in regards to your horse, but that is something I have always done with my horses since I was a, a young kid. I have always considered what does my horse want to do? And I did my best to listen and to see, can I tell? And it doesn't mean that, you know, 'cause your horse might, you might say,

well, my horse will just say, I wanna eat grass all day and never do anything else. And that might be true, but you, I think you understand where I'm coming from in the fact that you start to listen more closely to your horse and start to do activities that you both find more pleasurable. And the beauty of it is, as you do this work,

as you learn more about how you can help your horse and yourself move in a healthier way, things like riding and, you know, groundwork and liberty play that you might be doing will feel better to your horse. Your horse will want to do them right? Because they feel good, they feel good moving, right? And I've done this with horses at,

at every age, including very senior horses that were really stiff to start out with, but we were able to give them a little bit more flexibility, a little more joy in movement. And, and I, I have to talk about my boy breeze for a minute. Many of you, if you've listened to the podcast, know that he passed away about a year ago,

June of 2023. And, and I still miss him so much. And one thing about him, he was a rescue. And before he became my horse, before we partnered together, he was always called belligerent, stubborn. I mean, people always had so many problems with him. They said he didn't wanna do this, he didn't wanna do that.

It was always, you know, no, no, no, no, no. But when he and I became partners, I started asking him, you know, what do you wanna do? Let's have fun together. And he became so incredibly enthusiastic that people went from calling him belligerent to people stopping me and saying, how did you get him to be so enthusiastic?

Whether they knew him before or not, it was just unusual for a horse to have that much enthusiasm about working together. But the key thing is, they would say, how did you get him to be enthusiastic? Well, the key was, I wasn't getting him to do anything, right? I was asking him, what do you wanna do? And he would respond,

and I would respond and, and we'd come to an agreement, right? So it was all about, you know, working, you know, and, and by the way, working, it's, I call it playing because to me, I wanted it to feel good and playful and fun for both of us. So anyway, that's my little tangent about breeze.

So, but that is the idea, is you really start to partner a lot more when you enter into the state of, let's see what we have here. Let's see how this can feel easier. Let's see how we can have more fun together. And again, I'm talking about even from a, just a movement perspective about having more flexibility in the spine or,

you know, in the joints of the legs or wherever, right? Having better balanced movement, you know, things like that. So, so again, what we're doing here in contrast to a corrective approach, the connective, the connection approach, the connecting approach, I guess I should say, is all about creating a learning environment for you and your horse.

Whenever I interact with a horse, I think I'm gonna learn something from this interaction. The horse always has something to teach me, always. And if I have that open mindset, if I have that intention to learn something, it's going to happen. Okay? Hasn't let me down yet. And it's also a very non-invasive, non-invasive approach, okay? It's gentle,

again, it's respecting the horse's autonomy, it's respecting your autonomy, your inner authority. That really is a game changer. And it, to me, it changes your whole relationship. You go from someone who, whether consciously or not, just thinks they have to dominate to, Hmm, let's explore this together. Let's see what we can come up with together.

So again, the work that we teach and move with your horse is very much about creating a co-creative interaction with your horse. And it's dependent a lot on how you present yourself, how you breathe, how you move, how you direct your attention. Because those things are all felt by your horse, and they all shape your interaction with your horse. Always have to remember your underlying sense of ease or effort has a direct effect on your horse and will definitely shape the interaction between you two.

Okay? So again, we're, what we're doing here is we're encouraging self-awareness, and we're encouraging self-regulation because the entire nervous system then gets into a healthier state, right? It can adjust, it can, it can respond to the environment in a healthier way. So there's a, a tagline that I use for my business a lot, and I say,

enhancing movement, enriching life, because that is what we're doing. Yes, we're working with this idea of improving movement, but it goes beyond improving movement for movement's sake. It's not all just about performance. Like, can that horse jump higher? Can that horse run faster? Can that horse do a more balanced can or pirouette or more balanced half pass in each direction?

It goes beyond that. It goes beyond that to that feeling, that blissful feeling of connecting with your horse, and both of you having fun in the moment. Both of you finding pleasure through movement, through shared awareness, is what I call it. And there's another thing I often say, and this is probably the number one reason why I encourage people to do this work.

It's because you and your horse deserve to feel great together. And that's how you can get there by listening to each other, by using your hands. And now what I'd like to do is just take another few minutes to give you a sense of the framework we use in the Move with your Horse program. I call it the possibilities in motion. And I actually have,

I have A-A-A-P-D-F. You can get that, actually, I have the, the written copy here with me, but I'll make sure you can get this as a PDF. So I'll link it in the show notes. So this is episode 76. So if you go to mary Debono dot com slash blog slash h as in horse 76, and that's a lowercase h by the way.

You can find it the link there, but it's also in whatever description of where you're listening to the podcast, or if you're watching this on YouTube, it's in the description, okay? So you'll, you'll get the PDF and you know what, for the sake of simplicity, let's, let's call it this, mary Debono dot com slash framework, mary Debono dot com slash framework.

We'll take you to the, to the free PDF. And in the possibilities in motion framework, what I talk about are these, this little Venn diagram. So it starts with connect, we connect with ourselves, then we connect with our horse, and then the very next stage of it is relieve. And what we do is you learn how to relieve the sense of effort that your horse may have.

You know, again, there, there, there could be a lot of tension in different parts of the body that's so, so common. And you give them through your hands, through hand, gentle hands on methods. I teach you how to relieve that sense of effort. And what that does is that quiets the nervous system and puts it into a learning state,

okay? Allows the horse then to listen to your input and for you to listen to your horse. And then the very next stage in the Venn diagram in our framework is to remind the horse, remind the horse of what is possible, okay? To help them move in new novel ways that engage the attention of the nervous system in a safe way that's really important,

has to be done in a safe way. Your, your inc congruency with what the nervous system thinks is safe, okay? And by doing that, now, the horse can feel and experience these other options. It can start to create new neural connections. And this is where the discovery really takes place. We talked about self discovery, self-directed changes. That's where it happens.

Okay? And then the last stage in this, the Venn diagram goes back to connection. You start to now connect these improvements with something very functional in the horse's life, like maybe being tacked up so they can be tacked up in a, in a more pleasurable way. Maybe it's with walking, maybe it's with caning under saddle. But you learn then how to take that improvement,

those changes that those wonderful benefits of the interaction you did, and you connect them to something very functional in the horse's life. Okay? And again, so we, where I'm talking about this in relation to your horse, but you can think of this Venn diagram in relation to just you as well, okay? If you're thinking about how the Feldenkrais method can help you,

it helps you connect more deeply with yourself. And part of what we're doing in our Feldenkrais lessons is you're learning how to relieve effort, unnecessary tension. There's a difference between strain and effort. So you really learn to strain is the unnecessary effort, and healthy effort is healthy effort. So you learn to let go of what is not needed, okay? That is how you get that sense of relief.

It's like suddenly everything feels better, as, as my client said, it's like anything is possible now. Okay? So the Feldenkrais lessons give you that sense of relieving unnecessary effort, okay? It also in the lessons they're designs that remind you of new movement possibilities, how you can move in these incredible ways. And when you bi build up that bank of evidence of how you can move more freely,

your brain will want to run with that and do more of that. So again, that is this process of self-discovery. Here's this process of neuroplasticity where you're laying down new neural connections, and this can happen at any age. They found that this happens even with people that are in hospice in their nineties that are, you know, towards the very, very end of life,

they're creating new neural connections. So this can happen at any stage of life and any level of fitness. Okay? So again, you can get that sense of, we we're reminding your nervous system of what is possible, and then in the Feldenkrais lessons, we connect that back to something very functional in your life. Okay? So I, if you want this,

and this goes into much more detail, the, the PDFI have for you talks about exactly how we, you know, connect with ourselves and connect with our horses, and how we relieve effort and remind our horses, you know, all this good stuff. It gives you a lot of information, okay? So if you wanna sign up for that, go to,

it's totally free. Go to mary Debono dot com forward slash framework, okay? And that'll give you the lowdown on that. And again, in our move with your horse program, which by the way, the next cohort will be starting on August 12th, 2024. But we're gonna be opening the doors way before that, and there'll be benefits to, to joining early,

let's put it that way. And it'll be here before you know it, right? So I'm recording this in June of 2024. And yeah, so I wanna get you prepared for it because it's gonna be epic. And right now I'm in the middle of a incredible cohort in the Move with your Horse program. And people and their horses are having phenomenal improvements,

and they're discovering new things about themselves and their horses. And it's, it's just been a tremendous amount of fun and benefit for horses and humans. So anyway, go to mary Debono dot com slash framework to get your free PDF that goes more into depth of this. And remember, you and your horse don't need fixing. And if I can help you connect a little deeper,

a little fuller, and enjoy each other a little bit more, please do reach out and let me know how, you know how I can help. My email is [email protected]. So thank you so much for joining me on this episode of Easier Movement, happier Horses. I so appreciate and love sharing this work with you. And I'm, I'm really grateful for your support of the podcast.