I wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2016 with blessings of health, happiness and prosperity including lots of time to enjoy your horses, develop your horsemanship and do whatever it is that makes you happy. As we move forward into a new cycle and New Year, I think it is always good to reflect on the past year to help put things in perspective and prepare ourselves, clear our thoughts and open ourselves up in readiness for the possibilities the New Year brings.
In reflecting on my horsemanship and teaching in 2015, a few big things stand out in my mind. Firstly would be the experimentation and with very good results I might add, of incorporating Positive Reinforcement and Marker Training into my teaching. Positive Reinforcement is something that I have been exploring with my own horsemanship for a while and I believe when properly combined with all that I was already teaching it can take horsemanship to a new level. You can read more about Positive Reinforcement and Marker Training here in this article if you would like to know more. I would also highly recommend reading the book Reaching the Animal Mind – by Karen Pryor, it is an incredible book about a lady who really developed the concept of Positive Reinforcement working with all sorts of animals but in particular dolphins and dogs.
Another huge element that comes to mind for me in 2015 is the gaining of more clarity in explaining how to use energy both on the ground and riding through giving people clearer visual images and being better able to explain how using energy might feel in their body. I also was able to gain more clarity to be able to explain in more detail, how the rider can use their body to help the horses use their bodies better and thereby improve their posture, balance and hindquarter engagement. It is one thing to be able to do something yourself, especially when it comes to very subtle and intricate ways of moving your body which is what is needed at advanced levels of riding, but it is another to begin to get more conscious of what you are actually doing and then be able to find words to explain that to someone else and make it simple …. That is tricky!!!!! The proof was the amazing results that many people were achieving in relatively short amounts of time with ordinary horses starting to look and move extraordinarily.
2016 has already been off to a busy beginning with starting horses under saddle. Starting horses is always what I call a “truth test” for me – testing and challenging all of the philosophies and principles I teach and live by. All of the horses in the group have their individual challenges. Some are older horses, one about eleven or twelve, a couple have extreme fear and confidence issues and another has deep anxiety and other emotional issues. Working with these horses has really reiterated the importance of working with each horse individually at their own pace and helping them through the emotions that block them from moving forward in the process. This seems to be best done through a combination of energetic clearing work and moving or yielding their bodies in ways that release the tight areas in their bodies that are holding on to these emotions. We can diminish old patterns of tension and reprogram their muscle memories and nervous systems with positive movements and behaviour patterns. Positive reinforcement and marker training has been very useful in this process.
It is mentally challenging at times trying to figure each horse out but at the same time it is fascinating to use psychology and work with the mind, body and emotions in this way. It interests me to think about people and how we are so similar in that we hold onto memories, thought patterns and emotions in our minds and our bodies and how that limits us and stop us from progressing forward. And then, just like with the horses, how movement, exercise and reprogramming the body’s muscle memory and nervous system could help people when combined with mind and body awareness and mental processing. It’s another reason to pay attention to and develop the quality of our own movement and posture, because not only does it affect us physically but also mentally and emotionally – an interesting subject to ponder.
I look forward to and invite in the evolutions and advancements that the new year brings as horsemanship continues to evolve to the next level of consciousness. Exciting times ahead I think for horses and humans.
We have loads of courses scheduled and listed below in the newsletter are some of the ones fastest approaching on the calendar as well as the longer accelerated learning opportunities at Alchemy Place.
Wishing you all the best and hoping to see you at a course where we can continue our learning together.