I'd like to talk about Well-being and how we can approach our horsemanship with both of our Well being as a priority.
As a trainer who does Yoga, I very much bring the Yogic mind to my work, teaching and training. This is not only in the physical sense of a flexible strong posture, but also the mind-body connection.
In pursuit of the best relationship and training program possible with my horse. I must focus first on the Connection and Friendship, Then I must stay mindful of who my horse is, where they are in there physical state, and what is most fun, healthy and beneficial to them.
Combining a Natural Approach to Classical Dressage with Yoga and Physical Therapy Principles allows me to bring my horses along in a way that is supportive to not just their bodies but their minds as well. I see myself as a sort Yoga instructor/Physical therapist for my horses. Part of my daily work is to come up with gentle supportive Liberty-Line-Mounted progressions that are not only beneficial but fun for both of us. In Yoga, you never push the body beyond what it can comfortably do and still stay breathing and relaxed. You listen to the body very carefully and do just enough to have a benefit.
An important mind set to have when working with a horse is that you are a Physical therapist or Yoga instructor. I call it staying in the PTYI (Physical Therapist/Yoga Instructor) mind. When we stay in this mind, we wont push a horse harder then is beneficial for their Well being. When you introduce an exercise, Imagine it is your horses' first Yoga or PT session ever. Then imagine yourself having to go to your first Yoga/Pilates class. You would like an instructor who would not ask you for anything harder then you could do. If you were sore and even injured after the first session, you most certainly wouldn't want to go back for another session.
Classical Dressage is in fact Yoga/Pilates/Physical Therapy for horses. It belongs in every program regardless of discipline as the training foundation. Thoughtfully and conscientiously applied, it can improve your connection further with your horse on the ground and mounted. It can help your horses mind-body connection and can rehabilitate some horses that have extreme Symmetry issues.
It can become a form of meditation together if you avoid the Left brain, perfection, hamster wheel trap so many people fall into. Each day you can meet together and do your "Yoga" session at Liberty, In Hand and Mounted. It doesn't matter whether you ride Western or English. It's all good.
I will be adding new exercises and patterns to the FDHorsemanship Virtual Clinic so be sure to check it out! In the mean time, Enjoy this video which to me, shows all facets of what I look for in my program with my horses. Joy, Fun, Connection, Technical play, fitness and suppleness play, and horse Yoga and Physical Therapy!