Doesn’t this just seem like yesterday???
“It’s that time of the year again, time to dust off the fans and pull out the fly wear. It seems a little early for that doesn’t it? Yet in some zones, like here in Indiana, we still have winter blankets on the blanket racks and fly masks right next to them! From one day to another the climate changes and flexibility is the name of the game! It is also a challenging time with the grass coming up. Those non-structured carbs can be debilitating to horses with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. As benign as it seems, the seemingly welcomed fresh green pasture is not always the horse’s friend. With temps fluctuating all over at this time of the year, be sure to watch your horse for any signs of these sugar disorders, or better still prevention is the key. Sugars in the grasses are lowest around 3-4 am, but who wants to get up and let their horse out for an hour of grazing half way through the night? Grazing management is the horse owners’ best friend at this time of the year.”
As we approach the time of harvest it seems that a moment ago we were just embracing the start of spring, which quickly blended in to summer, yet here we are. As we approach fall, the fluctuating temperatures once again provide grazing and sugar challenges for many horses and their people. For some of us horse people, the approach of fall is welcomed as the heat and flies subside, and the time for reflection and opportunity to observe and witness our gains and progress through the year is quickly approaching. For others who love the summer, this is a less favorite time of the year. For all of us though, the seasons change in all ways and whether we like them or not their arrival offers us an opportunity to be the observers of our life and a witness to how we accept those times that we favor and those times that we don’t.
I am definitely a fall and winter person. Maybe I am not a BIG fan of daylight savings when we are reduced to what seems like a few hours of day light, but the shorter days allow me to slow down a little and spend more time with my family, my books and my writing and research to support my constantly growing passion, mission and love of “horses”. I also recognize my incredible blessings; I having a lovely barn and indoor arena so I can ride and train all winter long and I certainly do not take that gift for granted and can understand how those that don’t have that luxury and only have a few hours of day light after their busy work day to ride, can feel rather cheated. I am blessed to live and work my passion and mission!
I know many of you do not get to ride as much in the winter, and for that reason I would love to offer some learning and growth opportunities for you on the days where you might like to ride but instead are watching the rain or snow fall on the blustery days. My team and I have been working very hard to produce learning materials that you have requested, both in the form or written literature in book form and new online courses, of which there will be 2 new courses available this fall and one New Year course beginning Jan 1st. A special surprise, in a format that will give you a different perspective of all you do with your horse will also be launched in time for the holiday season. Stay tuned for this one of a kind publication that I can guarantee will take your horsemanship and riding to the next level, no matter where you are on your equestrian journey.
As I reflect upon the year I am in deep gratitude for the lessons learned, the courses developed, the clinics and workshops taught and my ever growing student body. You may come to me for certain aspects of your learning, but I honestly believe we are not only students of the horse, but we are all students to each other, sometimes the teacher always the student, I learn from you all in many different ways so a big thank you.
There are so many highlights from this year but one of them is the launch and filming of my workshop ‘Rebalancing from Heel to Head’. For a long time, I have realized that when we are riding, our body cannot change from a simple instruction such as lengthen from you hip to your arm pit, or release your scapula. I have always been a hands on clinician allowing the student to feel a different sensation, yet I have also always known that a movement pattern is a motoric habit and must be reorganized at the level of the brain. That also requires a focus on the body, not on your ride or your horse, which is why most skilled athletes train their body away from their sport. Many riders do not consider themselves athletes, but the truth is, you are riding an athlete even if you don’t consider yourself to be one, therefore some part of you must rise to that level whether you are a bareback, back yard, trail or Olympic rider. When you consider for a moment all the requests you are asking of your body and nervous system when you get on a horse, it may become noticeable that in no other area of your life are you required to redistribute your balance while moving in rhythm with a living breathing animal, while supporting his posture as well as your own, while changing momentum and speed and requiring your proprioceptive system and equilibrium to adjust immediately to those changes and fluctuations in speed, both desired and sometimes not desired!
There is an great deal going on at all levels within your body when you ride and developing the changes of habitual patterning and preparing your proprioceptive system for the movement we experience on a horse, is the key to a balanced rider that can support the posture, form and function of their horse. Training the riders body off the horse has proved to be an incredibly successful way to reorganize the habitual patterns that riders try so hard to change while riding but generally cannot at least long term. It was so rewarding to observe my riders find the release in their feet, back and shoulders and weight distribution by activating local muscles that had been previously over shadowed by over developed global muscles. Then to witness the change in the horses and the ease and flow of the ride was equally rewarding. It was amazing to see riders find true balance and weight distribution in their seat, when days before they would have sworn they were equally distributed!
That was one of my years highlights and I am happy to announce that we will have another live class In Indiana next spring but you won’t have to wait that long as it will be available on our online university this fall, along with our other launches.
It takes time and precision to produce quality materials and for those of you that have been waiting patiently for new on line and written work you won’t be disappointed in this autumn and winters learning opportunities. In addition to the behind the scenes creating, writing and developing, I have had a wonderful training season with the horses that came to my facility for school! I was able to go beyond the owners desired intentions for their progress, based on the relationship building and postural work I did with them during their first month. Our training rides are joyful and rewarding and I continue to be convinced that when we train from the horses’ perspective, the communication between horse and rider happens with ease and effortlessness. I very much enjoy sharing that system with students who attend my yearly F.O.A.L clinic here at our headquarters in Indiana.
I just completed our annual F.O.A.L clinic and marveled at my students awe as they watched their horses who ranged from age 2 to 16, respond to the subtleties of the human movements as they learned the equine language and stimulated the embryonic gene that is the very first expression of faith between mare and foal.
Such a wonderful year so far and still 4 months left. In the next 4 months Ida Hammer and I will be offering 3 more of our Decoding the Horse and Hoof clinics. We have toured many states offering this unique opportunity this year and have 3 more states to go. Indiana in September, NJ in October and Tx in November. You do not want to miss these last opportunities for this clinic, where students observe and participate with hands on evaluations of the horses and the effects compensation has on the body and the hoof. The question is always where does the compensation start and that is the decoding secret that students learn during this 3 day opportunity. Check our website for further details.
It takes a moment of commitment for each of us to sit quietly and observe the progress that has been made in our life during the previous weeks, months and year. Measuring backward is a way to really recognize and honor that process. I hope as you approach the fall, there is time in your days to reflect and feel the gratitude of your journey with your horse this year. It may not have been exactly what you wanted, but if you can find the gratitude even in that then you are already ahead. There are still 3 plus months of this year, so are you going to make them the best months yet?
Happy fall horsing friends and may the ‘horse’ be with you!