I’m standing next to a small mare, named Bet, and her owner Myriam in a muddy arena.
Myriam has tears in her eyes while she’s explaining:
“Karine, I’m struggling so much with my mare Bet. When leading her she often doesn’t want to come along, she stops a lot and doesn’t want to move anymore.
When I try to lunge her, she doesn’t want to leave on the circle and if she does, she pulls away from me. The other day she managed to pull loose and run back to the field.
My husband wants me to sell her, because I’m so stressed about this, but I don’t want to. My instructor told me I should be more firm with her, but if I do that it only gets worse. Can you help me?”
When Myriam was sharing her story I could see she had some tension in her body and this became even more clear when I asked her to lead her mare on the track. She walks with short and tensed strides. She clenches her jaw and the shoulder of her leading arm is pulled up slightly.
After only a minute or so Bet stops. She plants her hoofs in the mud and refuses to take another step forward. Myriam looks at me and says: “See?! And now I can do whatever I want, she will just stand there.”
I ask Myriam to show me how she handles this when she’s alone, and while Myriam is working with her horse I can see that she knows how to handle a horse. That’s not the problem. The problem is her tension.
So I ask Myriam to drop her pulled-up shoulder.
“Which shoulder?” she asks.
Now, if someone asks someone else which of his shoulders he is pulling up himself, then you can be sure that this person lacks body awareness…
So not only the tension was the problem, but also the lack of body and movement awareness.
I decide to work with that. We take Bet’s halter off and we practice some Mindful Moving exercises. Myriam becomes more aware of her shoulders and the tension she’s carrying there. She releases that tension and is able to move with relaxed and soft shoulders.
Then Myriam becomes aware of her clenched jaw and how important it is to relax your jaw if you want to move better. Her stride becomes more natural, more balanced. I can see a smile on Myriam’s face.
“Walking like this feels so much better” she says.
In the meantime Bet is watching us from a distance. We walk up to her and halter her. I ask Myriam to walk with awareness, and to implement what she just learned while leading her horse Bet.
Myriam walks and Bet follows. For 1 minute, 5 minutes. No stopping.
Myriam asks Bet to go on a circle and Bet walks and trots on a circle for a few minutes. No refusing, no pulling.
Bet is calm, relaxed, and willing.
Isn’t it amazing how expanding your body and movement awareness can have such a profound impact on your horse?
That’s because it all starts with YOU.
It all starts with the awareness of YOUR body and YOUR movements.
One way to develop and expand your body and movement awareness is practicing Mindful Moving.
And you can learn all about Mindful Moving by joining my upcoming Connection Circle!
A Connection Circle is an online workshop in which I cover a topic that is related to horsemanship and horses, and where we’ll do exercises together. First without your horse, and then also with your horse. During the workshop, you can ask me all the questions you have about the topic and the exercises we do.
So I’m inviting you to join me and the other students for the upcoming Connection Circle on Mindful Moving.
You can read all about it on the page below: