I keep thinking I’m going to do more of these student spotlights and then get side tracked. there’s so many lovely stories coming over my desk.
We were working on Lucy and Harmony’s feet, which have never been easy.
The corker, though, was Harmony. She had decided over the previous days that she just didn’t want to pick up her right front foot. I was beginning to wonder if it was a pain thing.
I have been working with both of them for quite a while on shifting there weight front to back, side to side and onto any three feet that I chose. Neither Harmony or Lucy had learned how to balance themselves on three feet when you picked up the fourth. Many times when I would pick up one of Harmony’s front feet, she would have a back foot cocked and keep it cocked, so she never really had a very sold base of support. Also, if you brought one of her front feet forward, she would fall forward, because she didn’t know how to adjust her balance.
The lady who owned them previously would pinch the tendon at the back of the cannon bone when she picked up a foot so they couldn’t kick out. At first, I thought it was a great trick, because they really couldn’t kick and it kept you very safe. However, I came to believe that it never allowed them to learn to balance themselves, because it caused them to tense the muscles in their back and elsewhere in response, rather than learning to soften and give.
I also think it made them very claustrophobic because they couldn’t have gotten away if they needed to.
So when I was working with Harmony last week to pick up her right front foot, I was preparing her by shifting her weight onto her other three feet and then asking for the foot. I did the resistance thing that I had done with Lucy when she tried to take away her foot and it did not work for Harmony at all. She seemed a little bit panicked by it.
So instead, I would just release the foot when I started feeling the least amount of discomfort from her. We did it a couple of times, waiting for the Chew each time. After a few of those, we saw her go into that glazed, sleepy zone that Sky had gone into. The really cool thing to watch is that her weight started subtly shifting onto her different feet, where you could see these three feet supporting her, now these other three feet,…
Finally, she gave a *really* big yawn and Chew and she picked up the right front foot and rested it on it’s toe, inviting me to pick it up! It was so amazing!!! She was such a happy, contented horse at that point.
It looked exactly like what we talk about in Feldenkrais work of letting the nervous system figure it out. I have felt in many times where I observe something and can feel my nervous system exploring different ideas before settling into something that I never would have found if I had been trying to figure it out with my brain. I could actually *see* Harmony’s nervous system working it through. It was a really incredible experience!!!
This is such great work Jenny!!! You have really uncovered some remarkable ways of working and being with horses, that makes it so much more fun. The joy of riding for me was always about finding softness. It didn’t matter what I was doing with the horse, as long as we were finding deeper and deeper levels of softness.
At some point, I quit riding and it was because I could not feel that softness anymore. I am not sure what changed. Maybe I was trying to hard to do it someone else’s way and not trusting myself, or maybe I had gotten so numb in my life that I just couldn’t find it anymore.
Jenny: Another lovely story from my email inbox…
The program Kim is on is called Fast Track to Brilliant Riding. You can have a look at that here.