Mindset Shift: Unlock Equestrian Potential at Any Age #80

#humanmind #mindset equestrians feldenkrais method Jul 04, 2024

In this episode, Mary Debono shares a transformative shift in her approach to helping riders achieve their best.

Moving beyond the traditional focus on balance in the saddle, Mary introduces the concept of "biological optimism," highlighting the potential for improvement at any age or fitness level.

Through her extensive experience with the Feldenkrais Method, Mary offers insights into how this approach can enhance movement, well-being, and the rider-horse connection. 

She provides practical tips for developing body awareness and reducing tension, empowering listeners to trust their inner authority and embrace freedom in their riding journey. 

Tune in to discover how you can cultivate self-awareness, improve your riding, and deepen your bond with your horse. 

 Want to learn more? Join the Move with Your Horse waitlist! https://www.marydebono.com/joinhorse 🐴

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


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

[email protected]

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


For years, whenever I was asked, what's the one thing you would do to help riders? You know, if I had to limit it to one thing, what would it be? I used to say, I want to help riders be more balanced in the saddle, because that impacts so many things, both for themselves and their horses. But today, I want to tell you why I changed my mind about that.

Yeah, I did. I changed my mind, and I can't wait to share something that's even more important with you. In case we're meeting for the first time. My name is Mary de Bono, and this is the easier movement, Happier Horses podcast. So, yes, I still want you and your horses to be happy and healthy. But there's something that I find that's even more important than being balanced on your horse, and that is having a sense of biological optimism.

So it's not the same as just, oh, I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic. In general, we're talking about understanding that at any age, at any stage, at any level of fitness, you can improve and gets even better. Your improvement can feel easy. It can feel effortless. It doesn't have to be this long, drawn out slog. And the way I help people do that is through the work of Doctor Moshe Feldenkrais.

I practice the Feldenkrais method I have for about more than 30 years, and it is a way of really getting in touch with how you move and how you can improve your movement, improve your well being, improve your balance on your horse, so that you don't sit crooked, that you do sit in balance on your horse. But I find, again, if I could only, if I was limited to give you one thing, it would be that knowledge that you have the ability to improve your life at any of any stage, and that things can really look up.

A lot of times people will tell me that they feel old, or it's kind of like my past, my prime type of thing, and they feel like it's all downhill from here. And what's really funny about this is that I felt that way when I was in my late twenties. I had so many aches and pains, I had so many issues, and yet I'm a lot chronologically, let's put it that way, many years have passed since then, and I feel younger than I did back then, and I also feel more optimistic.

So if I do get an ache or a pain, if I do have something, I know that I can figure out how to remedy that. And it's because I do the Feldenkrais method, and it's something you can do as well. And I have lots of programs and things. There's lots of, there's lots of resources for you on that, but you can just start with even simple body awareness.

Okay? And by the way, I do have my three video writer masterclass that's totally free that you can sign up for to give you a taste of some of it. Of course, in my move with your horse program, we go into a much deeper dive. We do a lot of Feldenkrais movement lessons where you're lying on the floor again, they're much deeper dive, but you can get a taste of it.

And you can start to improve yourself just by signing up for those three videos. They're short. They're only about 15 minutes each or so. And you can do them, of course, in the comfort of your home. And they're done in sitting. You're sitting in a chair and you can find [email protected]. writer you can get them there. Now, if you're not in a place to write that down, don't worry, it'll be in the show notes.

So wherever you're in, the description of wherever you're listening or watching this episode, you'll find it. But I thought today, today is July 4. It's Independence Day in the US. So, you know, if you're in the US and celebrating 4 July, yay. But I thought it was a perfect day to talk about this idea of being empowered, to know that you can improve at any stage. It's very freeing.

I mean, freedom, to me, is one of my highest values. I love the idea of having autonomy in my life, and you probably do, too. And I really feel like the Feldenkrais method helps you get there. It helps you recognize that you're your own best authority, that you know what works for you and what doesn't. And the Feldenkrais method actually helps you develop that because it'll help you tune in more to yourself.

I was mentioning earlier about just starting with simple body awareness. Now, I say simple body awareness, but that's actually a skill that, that the Feldenkrais method helps you develop. But even just simply, wherever you are now, if you're driving your car, if you're washing your dishes, if you're just hanging out on the sofa or you're doing barn chores, you know, notice your. Notice your physical sensations. Start to get in touch, and then do, like, a body scan.

You could start at the top, work your way down. Think about how you can let go of any unnecessary tension. And that includes tension in your mind as well. Tension. You know, you're. Maybe you have some stress, some anxiety. Maybe you're thinking about things that, you know, it's not really relevant right now. It was something that happened in the past or something you're worried about happening in the future.

But now let that go and just tune in to what you feel right now. Maybe you feel some tension in your shoulders that you can let go or around your mouth, your tongue, your jaws, your eyes. Maybe your neck can be softer. Maybe your belly can be freer or your back not so tense. A lot of people, you know, clench their fingers and toes habitually. They don't realize it.

So just start getting in touch with how you can let go of unnecessary tension, and that will actually allow you to feel more, to sense more, to be more in tune with yourself. And by letting go of unnecessary tension, you start to move in a healthier way. So you stop fighting with yourself, so you allow more parts of you to participate in movement that are appropriate to support that movement.

And again, we go into a much deeper dive with this, in the move, with your horse program. But just to give you a little taste of it and do make sure you sign up for those videos. If you've done them in the past, sign up again and get them again because they're certainly worth doing more than once. But that's what I'd like to leave you with is this idea that you are empowered.

You have this inner authority, you know, what feels right for you, and you start to develop more and more of that ability to structure your life and your movement, your well being around what works for you and what works for your horses. It's so different than what I see a lot. I see a lot of people handing over complete control to other people, maybe a trainer or some other outside authority, and they don't.

And maybe they feel like, oh, they know more. And it's very possible that your trainer knows more about certain things and that you could learn from your trainer. Absolutely. But don't shut off what you know to be true. So really, I encourage you anyway, this is what I do. Is it really take the time to ask yourself how whatever you're learning, whatever your, whatever information you're getting from that other person, right, or that other source of information, does it resonate with you?

And then how does it resonate? And are there some things that don't resonate with you? And really think about that and again, develop this capacity to be your own authority that you internally are the authority does not mean you don't learn from other people and take direction from them if they suggest something. But you also learn to question, is this right for me? Is it right for my horse?

And, and have a dialogue with that person, especially if that person is your trainer. That's hopefully someone you can talk to honestly and say, this doesn't feel right to me. You know, I see this a lot. Like people will go to clinics and it doesn't even have to be a clinic. It could be your regular trainer, but happens a lot in clinics because people will often pay a lot of money to be a participant in a clinic.

And, you know, they're excited and they've heard a lot about this clinician and they're super excited. And then the clinician has them doing something that they're not so sure about, but they tend to squash those feelings because, hey, that person is the authority and I've paid all this money and, you know, even if they're just thinking that unconsciously, right, they don't want to speak up, maybe embarrassing to speak up.

I've seen it happen over and over again. And I'll give one example of many. Sometimes a clinician will have a person just constantly circle their horse. So small circles, constantly. And oftentimes when I've talked to those people later, they knew it was wrong. They knew this could, they did not have the wherewithal to say something, and again, for many different reasons. But I loved once, I'll give you a counter example to that.

A woman I knew, she was a client of mine, she had gone to a clinic with a very big name person who's in the Olympics and all that, you know, so very big name. And she didn't like what he was telling her to do with her horse. And so she pushed back, and finally he got very annoyed and told her to. So he said, well, if you don't do it, then you have to leave.

And she's like, well, then I'm leaving. And she walked out. And later on, his person he was associated with said to her, nobody ever talks to him like that. And she's like, well, maybe they should start. And I give her credit, she had a lot of gumption to do that, especially in public, but she felt it wasn't right for her horse. So, you know, and again, go with your gut.

Go with your gut. Start to give yourself, start to train your nervous system that like to be on the lookout for things. So start to ask yourself these questions about does it feel right to me? Does it resonate with my values? Does it align with my values? And then in what way? Because that encourages you then to really look at something because you might think, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, it does, it does, it does.

But then, you know, take a step further and say, well, in what ways does it resonate? And in what ways does it not? And I think that gives you a clearer picture. I know that works for me anyway, and works for many people I've shared that with. So. But again, remember, you know, this is something that attracted me to the Feldenkrais method in the first place, is this whole idea about Doctor Feldenkrais was very much about you being your own authority and not just accepting things from people, including him.

And I feel the same way with the people I work with, my students and clients. I like questions. It gives me an opportunity to clarify things. It gives us a chance to have a discussion about it. It gives me a chance to learn more. Right. And, you know, so. But one thing he said was, because, you know, he's known for the method, the Feldenkrais mouth, that helps people with things like flexibility, balance, coordination, just easier, more healthier movement, you know, more vitality, all those amazing things.

So helps you ride much better, helps you just do your barn chores more better, and your groundwork better. But that wasn't his big thing. His idea was actually was through improving your movement, through getting more in touch with yourself, developing self awareness that you would have not only a more flexible body, but a more flexible brain. So that meant that you would react, you would respond to life differently, you would question things more.

You know, you would question yourself instead of just thinking and doing things habitually, that you would even unconsciously wonder if there wasn't a different way that would serve you better. So, again, what he did was he used the vehicle of movement to improve your mental well being as well as your physical well being, which is something that I really respect, and that's also a huge part of my work.

A new student told me that recently, too. She's fairly new to me. It's been a few months she's been working with me. She went through the move with your horse program, and she's now in the membership. And she was talking about how much more creative she's been since she started this work. And I discovered that as well. And many people have told me that because it opens up so much, it's like the floodgates open, open because you, again, you develop this self awareness and it frees you from so much habitual baggage that we've been carrying around.

So again, on this 4 July in the US, it's our independence day. We're celebrating. And so no matter where you live in the world, think about that. Think about having your own liberation, if you will, your self liberation. You can embrace this idea of freedom and autonomy and being your own authority and really choosing the life that you want. Really thinking about that. So again, that's my number one thing.

Now, if I had to just pick one thing to help you with instead of, oh, yes, you can sit balance on your horse. Yeah, that's really good, really nice and very helpful to you and your horse. But even more powerful, even more helpful is getting there through the avenue of self awareness and freedom. So happy 4 July. For those of you celebrating. Happy day to everyone. Thank you so much for joining me.

I love sharing this work and I so appreciate you listening, subscribing, and reviewing the podcast. If you have something you're dealing with, please feel free to reach out to me. [email protected] maybe I'll do a podcast episode for you. So thanks again. I look forward to talking to you soon. Bye for now.