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Getting the Best Ride: Who's Responsible for What? Part III

There are three areas of focus that help us to get the "best ride", with our horses as well as in our life:
  • The rider's balance
  • The horse's balance
  • The rider's confidence and leadership
Each of these areas of focus involve contributors from the physical, mental and emotional state of both bodies, the horse and the rider. If one area is out of balance, it will surely effect another area either subtlety or more dramatically. We often don't pay attention until the challenge is more dramatic, but if we were to have greater awareness and address an out of balance situation BEFORE it got dramatic, we'd be ahead of the game each and every time.
 
Last May 2016 in Part 1, I started the three part series focusing on rider balance, and expanded the information shared to include:
 
Rider balance~Part 1
  • Expansion vs compression
  • Rider weight and body awareness
  • Tension and release
  • Mental state and self-talk
If you'd like to read or reread Part 1, click here
 
Last month, we focused on the Horse's balance:
 
Horse Balance~Part 2 
  • Where are his feet?
  • How does he compensate?
  • His mental state when he's physically out of balance
  • Helping him re-balance
If you'd like to read or reread Part 2, click here 
 
Now let's focus on:
 
Rider's Confidence and Leadership-July 2016
 
-What you're really communicating to your horse
-Fun factor for motivation 
-Things aren't fun when you lose your passion
-The uncertainty of doing the "right" thing for your horse. 
 
What you're really communicating to your horse
Last month, we talked a lot about how the tension, brace and stress of the rider effects the horse's ability to move freely. As we all know, lack of confidence, fear or lack of leadership will all contribute to our own emotional tension and brace, which the horse will pick up on no matter how we try to hide it.
 
Our emotions and what state of mind we arrive at the barn with will greatly influence your experience on any given day. One thing I love to share with clients is the art of imagery, or visualization. You can do imagery anywhere, anytime, and it can be a powerful tool to take to the barn despite how your day has gone previously. It's important to practice imagery when you're NOT at the barn, because this is where you'll fully be able to immerse yourself in the experience without any hesitation; I call it working in your "Learning Zone". When we get to the barn, and we're already anxious about how things will go, we're already out of learning and become more reactive...this is the time where you tend to push past thresholds, don't honor your gut feeling, and begin or continue to lose trust in your own judgment.
 
Imagery can be very simple, and by practicing it routinely before you go to the barn, you'll already have "muscle memory" or really "memory muscle" to fall back on if you do start to feel more anxious at the barn. The most important thing with imagery is to use all of your 5 senses fully; sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. Developing these senses will allow your brain to fully find the positive imagery that you practice away from the barn, so that you can recall what you DO want to have happen much easier and in more detail.
 
I'll share one of many imagery practices that I share with students, it's called "Internal and External Practice". Sit in a chair, breathe out and close your eyes. Take a few deep and calming belly breaths to fully engage your mind and release tension from your body. Then move forward with the visualization. When you are done with the visualization, open your eyes and take a few more breaths, this is one "round". Do 1-3 rounds per session per day, the more frequently you do this, the better you'll get at whatever it is you're practicing for.
 
    • Internal-rider experiences the event, sees it through their own eyes, and feels the movement as if they are actually performing the skill; it's like being the actor on stage.
    • External-rider experiences the skill from outside of their body, seeing and hearing the image as if they were watching themselves on screen.
    • Internal imagery perspective provides them with a greater kinesthetic feel than is possible with external imagery. Start with internal then go to external
    • External imagery is well suited to evaluating and refining form. Riders are able to see their entire body and the position of various body parts in relation to one another.
Did you know that sports professionals and Olympic Athletes use imagery practice all the time? Their physical bodies can't practice as much as they need to, and imagery, when done properly, will engage the same neurological pathways as real physical practice does. So be an Olympian and practice your imagery!
 
Fun factor for motivation 
Anything that we're motivated to do involves a strong sense of purpose. If we don't understand WHY we're doing something, then the chance of us sticking with it and being motivated to tackle it in the first place is slim to none.
 
Motivation is always internal; no one can motivate you, it can only come from your own desire. When your leadership or confidence is lacking, it's easy for your motivation to go the wayside, unless you have purpose.
 
Find your purpose by asking yourself "what's my why?". In other words, why did you embark on this equine journey in the first place? Was it a childhood dream? Maybe it had to do with the thrill of competition, or maybe it's just that you love horses and wish to be with them.
 
Make sure that your "why" is yours; what I mean by that is don't do something for others just because you think that's what you should be doing. Nothing good comes from "shoulding".  Instead, harness your leadership skills and go for it based on what drives you, what YOU want to do. If that means your horse time doesn't involve riding, then that's fine. The bottom line is, that you do with your horse what's fun for you both, and what makes you happy. Isn't that one of the reasons why we have horses anyway?
 
Things aren't fun when you lose your passion
Without purpose and motivation, it's almost impossible to sustain passion, especially when things get hard or difficult. It's hard to move past obstacles when you don't have a passion to drive you. All the leadership and confidence in the world won't matter if what you're doing has no meaning.
 
If things feel this way for you now, then look into areas in your life where you do have passion. What drives that passion? How did you get passionate in the first place? Who can support you in your passion?
 
Sometimes, being able to teach or share what you know makes becoming a leader an easy task. If you can share your passion with others, surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded people, then the "work" in horse work becomes fun again, and your passion grows because you're sharing the joy with like minded others.
 
The uncertainty of doing the "right" thing for your horse. 
Follow your gut. You will find the right thing for you and your horse if you trust yourself enough to say "no" to things that just don't feel right.

Many clients will ask my permission if it's okay not to want to show, ride on trails or whatever they're contemplating typically from other people's ideas of what horsemanship means.  My answer is"absolutely!".  Again, if you're not having fun, no one is.  It's important to tap into what drives you and then pursue that passion.  If you don't like to ride trails, or if your idea of showing is a good grooming, then give yourself permission to follow that lead.

Your horse will also have his own ideas as to what he likes to do best.  Cow work, jumping, dressage, endurance, trails and more.  Find out what gets your horse engaged and then put that discipline into your time together.  I just discovered (to my joy) that Guinness likes jumping!  There's not much leadership needed to point him over some poles, he gravitates towards them!  But dressage, well, that's okay but not his preference.  

Give both you and your horse a variety of things to experience, and then focus on the things you both like best.  One client recently shared that her horse LOVES moving the cows from the barn to the pasture, and then bring them back to the barn at night.  She had some reservations about riding out, but once she found her horses passion for moving cows, her attention was on how much fun the duo were having and her reservations have disappeared! 

If you listen, with an open heart and mind, devoid of ego (as much as possible!) you'll know where your leadership and confidence can use a little tweak.  Enjoying your experience with your horse, be it in the pasture, trail, arena or show ground, is the most important thing.  For all other opinions and thoughts that might get thrown your way, choose which ones support your passion and your horses greater good...you can't go wrong with that.

Enjoy the ride!  

Getting the Best Ride: Who's Responsible for What? Part II

There are three areas of focus that help us to get the "best ride", with our horses as well as in our life:
  • The rider's balance
  • The horse's balance
  • The rider's confidence and leadership
Each of these areas of focus involves contributors from the physical, mental and emotional state of both bodies, the horse and the rider. If one area is out of balance, it will surely effect another area either subtlety or more dramatically. We often don't pay attention until the challenge is more dramatic, but if we were to have greater awareness and address an out of balance situation BEFORE it got dramatic, we'd be ahead of the game each and every time.
 
Last month in Part 1, I started the three part series focusing on rider balance, and expanded the information shared to include:
 
Rider balance~Part 1
  • Expansion vs compression
  • Rider weight and body awareness
  • Tension and release
  • Mental state and self-talk
If you'd like to read or reread Part 1, click here
 
Now let's focus on:
 
Horse Balance~Part 2 
*Author's note: I'll use male gender for ease of writing

  • Where are his feet?
  • How does he compensate?
  • His mental state when he's physically out of balance
  • Helping him rebalance

Where are his Feet?
It might seem silly to think that your horse may not know where his feet are, but all too often it seems as if horses have lost their sense of balance from the ground up, which often shows up by them tripping, stumbling and a loss of confidence. What's really happening is that your horse has lost his dynamic ability to balance and rebalance throughout his body, which seems like it's showing up in his feet because of the symptoms he exhibits. 
 
Understanding the importance of weight bearing posture and preparing the person to be in correct body carriage, or neutral posture, is vital to helping your horse find his dynamic balance throughout his body. Whenever we touch our horse, be it with a halter, lead line, saddle or otherwise, we're influencing his body either positively or negatively. We strive to be inviting, reassuring and guiding which can only be accomplished when our own bodies are free from tension or holding patterns. If there is stress, tension or blocked movement in horse or human, the horse cannot achieve his potential of movement, hence, imbalance occurs.
 
How does he Compensate?
Ease and comfort of horse movement comes from horses being able to stretch through their spine and truly bend their bodies left and right, while maintaining independent leg movement. The goal is to achieve as much symmetry as possible. All horses and humans are asymmetrical to some degree. When riders begin to brace, that brace becomes an instant catalyst to magnify asymmetry of both the horse and rider. The tighter muscles get tighter, and the weaker muscles get weaker in both bodies. It's important to note that when you start making changes to both you and your horses body, you give those weak muscles time to develop as you take away the tightness or holding of the tighter muscles. Horses naturally live on the forehand and when riders and handlers are tense, out of neutral, or bracing while they ride, the horse loses his own ability to rebalance.
 
If the horse has developed evasion techniques, it's important to remember to ask ourselves "is the horse in balance or out of balance"? When the focus is on rebalancing the horse through the rider, the evasions often subside.
 
When human tension is involved, the horse loses suspension, freedom of movement, and the ability to move equally to the left and to the right. And because horses are often not worked with dynamic movement, or neutral posture, they become more one sided. The training then tends to focus on one-sidedness, not the real root cause to the issue. The importance and use of the seat is often discussed but not put the language of functional posture. Neutral posture supports the rider to override bracing and tension patterns in their body and their horse while creating truly freer movement, hence the ability to rebalance dynamically!
 
Things that are pretty amazing happen when the rider is in neutral pelvis. What the rider's hands and body provide is a supportive invitation to move freely while carrying the rider's weight. When a horse is compressed by a rider not in neutral pelvis, or the rider is bracing, and ridged, the horse is forced onto the forehand, lacks freedom to rebalance, and cannot enjoy a dynamic rebalancing of his body while being ridden. His movement becomes forced, not allowed, and stiff - the opposite of flowing and suspension. Often it's believed that more training is needed, however, reducing the tension and brace will help create freedom and flow, which will produce wonderful results that may be unexpected if one does not understand the correlation between brace and inability to move freely.
 
His Mental State when he's Physically out of Balance
Just like us, when we feel forced, out of balance, or otherwise restricted we tend to evade in some form. We can become agitated, nervous, and reactive or shut down based on our constitution; our horses are no different. Many times an undesirable behavioral issue becomes a non-issue once the physical issues are resolved.
 
Before we look into behavior modification, a good question to ask would be "what is his physical state and support like?" Ensure that the rider or handler understands a non-bracing posture that invites freedom of movement is essential, and that the horse can be supported by this human to invite the horse's physical body to do the same. Inviting flow and freedom is essential to creating a healthy, happy mind and outlook; the same softness we look for in the physical horse has to be present in the mental state of the horse.
 
Helping him Rebalance

Connected Groundwork and Riding teaches the rider to understand the dynamics of proper horse movement instead of trying to fix the horses evasions. The rider changes their posture and body use and the horse immediately shifts. A horse should be able to shift weight from front to back, from side to side, down to up, and diagonally with every stride.
 
When the horse is on the forehand this cannot happen, then, when the rider gets on, the lack of free movement, as improper as it is, causes an immediate tension in the rider to counteract how the horse is moving. Rebalancing, freedom of movement must begin with the rider. In order to ride in neutral posture, the rider must be focused on making the change in their own body - this is of major importance not only when riding but throughout daily life.
 
The rider's daily tension pattern also influences the horse, and the rider may wonder why the horse won't listen. A 60 pound rider holding tension, or not in neutral, can make a horse rigid. Just think of what a 150 pound rider with tension can do?
 
Often the language that is used is compressive and invites rider's to squeeze, push and hold. What really needs to be taught is the powerful effect of elasticity and freedom in the rider's body begets twice as much from the horse, in a much faster way along with a lot of eradication of stress on both horse and rider.
 
In conclusion, it's obvious that to help the horse rebalance, it has to start with the rider; in the rider's body, their lifestyle, what they bring to the barn as well as the language and self-talk that's outwardly or inwardly spoken. Once we focus our attention on these things, our horse's issues seem to become easier, or dissipate altogether!

Getting the Best Ride: Who's Responsible for What? Part I

It can be very confusing to understand what will be the best path to follow to help you achieve what you wish with your horse. Whether you are at the show chasing ribbons, on the trail doing geocaching or obstacles, or enjoying your horse on the ground, our time with our horses is OUR time together and it is precious. Many times, the emotional ties that we have with our horses lead us to question what we wouldn't necessarily question if the emotional component wasn't there (ever notice how easy it is to pass along advice for someone's else's horse challenge?). Now we are well into our spring heading toward a full summer season, many of us may be looking at what we wish to accomplish, and then how to get there.
 
Overall, I can share that the long road is always the shortest one, because when we take the long road we have a certain level of commitment to the process, and therefore, build a more solid and full foundation in whatever it is that we pursue. We are determined and obstacles no longer hold us back. We are open to trying a process that may be new to us and is proven by others. For instance, we break down our bigger goal into smaller chunks. At first it may look and feel like it's taking longer, but very soon we discover that what we've been trying to accomplish for months or years is now only taking weeks! If we take the longer road, we also tend to build a more mindful and solid foundation in whatever we pursue, which in the long term, allows us to do the things that are a bit more fun at times, sooner!
 
There are three areas of focus that help us to get the "best ride", with our horses as well as in our life:
  • The rider's balance
  • The horse's balance
  • The rider's confidence and leadership
Each of these areas of focus involves contributors from the physical, mental and emotional state of both bodies, the horse and the rider. If one area is out of balance, it will surely effect another area either subtlety or more dramatically. We often do not pay attention until the challenge is more dramatic, but if we were to have greater awareness and address an out of balance situation BEFORE it got dramatic, we would be ahead of the game each and every time.
 
In the next three newsletters (May, June, July) I will expand on each of these areas of focus and bring everything into connection in conclusion. So now, let's set the foundation this month with rider balance!
 
Rider balance
  • Expansion vs compression
  • Rider weight and body awareness
  • Tension and release
  • Mental state and self-talk

Expansion vs Compression
Let's imagine your body is a spring; if you have space between your coils, then you'll have maximum amount of spring. If your coils are compressed, there will be no room for to spring and you'll be compressed. When you're compressed in your body, you're not moving, and your horse will feel a heavier weight overall. This heaviness also impedes our balance since we can't follow the horse's movement as well as when our own bodies are moving. A stiff body on a moving body will create drag, or what we often feel as being behind or in front of the motion, as well as an overall instability. We can open our coils and create maximum room for spring by finding neutral in our pelvis, which in turn will allow for freedom of movement in all four limbs (both arms, both legs). Try this simple exercise: when you are sitting on the edge of a chair, or just sitting, just THINK about standing. What do you feel? What happens to your upper torso? Do you feel an overall elongation of your upper body? Do you feel lighter? This is just one of many ways to find elongation where compression may exist!
 
Rider Weight and Body Awareness
Many riders share with me that they are concerned that the weight that they carry in their own bodies will impede their horse's ability to move or even hurt their horse. Understand that the topic of body weight is a very sensitive topic, and I'm not here to discuss this topic in detail and judge any right or wrong. However, if YOU feel that your body weight will impede or injure your horse, then you will physically carry your body differently, and mentally you will ride and approach your horsemanship differently. You may be guarded in the saddle and on the ground, which will translate into tension and tightness. This tension will be perceived as compression and immobility by your horse, which will challenge the breadth and depth with which you'll be able to progress. Your horse may even perceive your tightness as a reason to worry or a lack of leadership on your part. More on that when we cover Mental State below! From a health perspective, being at YOUR optimal weight (not determined by a chart) will help you physically for sure, and it will also contribute to a kinder mental self judgement that you may have for yourself. We are our toughest critics and when we are self-critical mentally, it's very difficult to be kind physically, hence an ever present physical tension. Try this: "simply notice" when you are sharing negative self-talk with yourself. When you do, shift that self-talk from negative to something positive. By simply noticing, you're already consciously moving forward and looking to make a change, and that in and of itself is positive! Remember, when you "simply notice" it takes effort but not strain, so if you're one who tries really hard, be gentle and allow yourself to just be conscious of the effort, and not TRY to make it happen!
 
Tension and Release
There's no better way to learn about release than comparing and contrasting with tension! The great news is, that we all have a pretty good grasp of what tension feels like, so we won't need to spend too much time here. J Release happens when we let go of the tension that we're holding, and it's usually done in varying degrees. Sometimes, we don't even realize how much tension we're holding on to. You can be directed to "relax your back" which you then do, and once you're reminded to breathe, you realize that you were still holding on to a significant amount of tension even though you thought you released it! This is why I like to think of many things in the way of layers or levels. Each time we release tension (mentally), we release a layer of tension (physically). Once we feel this process over and over, we start to expect this "release in layers" and become more accepting of where we are in our journey. This, in turn, releases yet another level of tension that we can tend to hold, which is mental tension. You can try this: put both palms together and squeeze them together as hard as you can. Where do you feel tension? Really be aware of ALL the areas where tension now exists. Now, release your first level of tension between your palms; check in to the other places in your body where you noticed tension before. Are they all releasing tension to the same degree or are they different? Are there areas in your body that are easier to release than others? Are there some areas that are just down right hard to release all together? Have fun with this when you ride, and as you start to release your layers of tension, take note on what your best teacher, your horse, is telling you. Is your horse moving more freely when you release? Is he releasing by blowing out, licking and chewing or other signs of release? I invite you to keep playing with release. Here's a tip: by using your breath to "breathe into" the very places that are tight, you are releasing that area as well as creating a better, more steady rhythm for your breath.
 
Mental State and Self Talk
Our mental energy that we bring to the barn each day can make or break our time with our horse. Have you ever come to the barn and had your horse turn away (especially if he usually comes running!)? Have you associated your current mental state with his actions? It's so common to get exactly what you project to your horse from your horse! By being able to do a mental check in with yourself before you get to the gate you can alter you and your horses experience for that day. Give this a try: come to the barn with a plan, but ensure that the plan is dynamic and can be changed. When you make your plan, start to visualize your experience using all 5 senses; sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. Use this imagery to "see" and experience exactly what you DO want. Too often, we are easily able to see what we don't want (like how easily we can relate to tension!), and we lose the ability to see what we DO want. You can be assured that you are already VERY skilled at imagery; you may just have been focusing on the negative as opposed to the positive image.
 
Our self-talk is also very powerful in creating this imagery. Remember when I mentioned that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to body image? Well, this also speaks true for our self-talk. The great news is that again, we are already very skilled with negative self-talk, so when we draw attention and focus to positive self-talk we're using well developed skills! Try this. Remember that positive imagery that I shared a few sentences ago? Now add positive self-talk. Share with yourself what your positive beliefs around your specific action are. Then look at what the positive results will be once you achieve your focused goal. If things don't work out exactly as you tried, what can you learn from the adversity that you just experienced? For example, your goal is to get out on the trail with your horse. Your positive self-talk is to share what you've already accomplished towards this goal, such as working well in an outdoor arena with and without other horses. Now add the imagery of you and your horse out on the trail enjoying the smell of the evergreens and hearing the rhythm of your horse's hoof beats. You see the birds flying and you're enjoying the light conversation with your trail buddies. You taste the residual of your morning coffee and you're feeling the light contact of your horse's mouth on the reins. Your belief is that you know that you've already prepared well for this moment and that you are excited, but not anxious to go on this trail ride with your buddies. You are also open to giving yourself permission to do whatever you feel you and your need on this trail ride and you've prepared well by making sure that your trail riding buddies will support you with your needs. If there is something that happens (like a spook, or a refusal to go through water) you know that you'll be open to learn from the adversity and welcome the challenge to stretch! By having all this in place, your mental balance is set to move easily with whatever happens on your ride, which releases any mental tension that might start to find its way into your thinking.
 
Finding the rhythm to what will help your overall balance will continually make your horsemanship fun. Your balance will always be dynamic, always shifting, and always changing. And with a solid foundation to build on, you'll be relaxed knowing that the choices you are making are sound ones. This process will allow for the suppleness that you strive for when things start to feel light and effortless. None of this can happen without
balance first. So strive to start finding your balance in all three areas of focus. Balance will come and go, but the more you find it the easier it will be to find it when you lose it, and you'll stay balanced for longer periods of time.
 

Getting the Best Ride...Who is Responsible for What?

It can be very confusing to understand what will be the best path to follow to help you achieve what you wish with your horse. Whether you are at the show chasing ribbons, on the trail doing geo cashing or obstacles, or enjoying your horse on the ground, our time with our horses is OUR time together and it is precious. Many times, the emotional ties that we have with our horses lead us to question what we would not necessarily question if the emotional component was not there (ever notice how easy it is to pass along advice for someone else’s horse challenge?). Now we are well into summer and heading toward fall, many of us may be looking at what we have accomplished and may be left wanting in one way or another.

Overall, I can share that the long road is always the shortest one, because when we take the long road we have a certain level of commitment to the process and therefore build a more solid and full foundation in whatever it is that we pursue. We are determined and obstacles no longer hold us back. If we take the longer road, we also tend to build a more mindful and solid foundation in whatever we pursue, which in the long term allows us to do the stuff that is a bit more fun at times, sooner!

There are three areas of focus that help us to get the “best ride” with our horses as well as in our life:

  1. The rider’s balance
  2. The horse’s balance
  3. The rider’s confidence and leadership

Each of these areas of focus involve contributors from the physical, mental and emotional state of both bodies, the horse and the rider. If one area is out of balance, it will surely effect another area either in a subtle or more dramatic way. We often do not pay attention until the challenge is more dramatic, but if we were to have greater awareness and address an out of balance situation BEFORE it becomes dramatic, we would be ahead of the game each and every time.

In the this one and the next two newsletters, I will expand on each of these areas of focus and bring everything into connection. Let’s set the foundation this month with rider balance!

Rider Balance


  • Expansion versus compression
  • Rider weight and body awareness
  • Tension and release
  • Mental state and self-talk



 

Expansion versus Compression

Let us imagine your body is a spring. If you have space between your coils, then you’ll have maximum amount of spring. If your coils are compressed, there will be no room for to spring and you will be compressed. When you are compressed in your body, you are not moving, and your horse will feel a heavier weight overall. This heaviness also impedes our balance since we cannot follow the horse’s movement as well as when our own bodies are moving. A stiff body on a moving body will create drag, or what we often feel as being behind or in front of the motion, as well as an overall instability. When we “open our coils” and create maximum room for spring by finding neutral in our pelvis, we allow for freedom of movement in all four limbs (arms and legs).

Try this simple exercise. When you are sitting, just THINK about standing. What do you feel? What happens to your upper torso? Do you feel an overall elongation of your upper body? Do you feel lighter? This is just one of many ways to find elongation where compression may exist!

Rider Weight and Body Awareness

Many rider’s share with me that they are concerned that the weight that they carry in their own bodies will impede their horses ability to move, or even hurt their horse. Understand that the topic of body weight is a very sensitive topic and I am not here to discuss this topic in detail and judge any right or wrong. However, if YOU feel that your body weight will impede or injure your horse, then you will physically carry your body differently, and mentally you will ride and approach your horsemanship differently. You may be guarded in the saddle and on the ground, which will translate into tension and tightness. This tension will be perceived as compression and immobility by your horse, which will challenge the breadth and depth with which you will be able to progress. Your horse may even perceive your tightness as a reason to worry or a lack of leadership on your part. More on that when we cover Mental State below. From a health perspective, being at YOUR optimal weight (not determined by a chart) will help you physically and it may also contribute to a kinder mental self-judgment that you may have for yourself. We are our toughest critics and when we are self-critical mentally, it is very difficult to be kind physically, resulting in an ever-present physical tension.

Tension and Release

There is no better way to learn about release than comparing and contrasting with tension! The great news is that we all have a pretty good grasp of what tension feels like. Release happens when we let go of the tension that we are holding and it is usually done in varying degrees. Sometimes, we do not realize how much tension we are holding on to. You can be directed to “relax your back” which you then do, and once you are reminded to breathe, you realize that you were still holding on to a significant amount of tension even though you thought you released it! This is why I like to think of many things in the way of layers or levels. Each time we release tension (mental), we release a layer of tension (physical). Once we feel this process over and over, we start to expect this “release in layers” and become more accepting of where we are in our journey. This, in turn releases yet another level of tension that we tend to hold, which is mental tension.

You can try this. Put both palms together and squeeze them together as hard as you can. Where do you feel tension? Really be aware of ALL the areas where tension now exists. Now, release your first level of tension between your palms. Check in to the other places in your body where you noticed tension before. Are they all releasing tension to the same degree or are they different? Are there areas in your body that are easier to release than others? Are there some areas that are extremely difficult to release all together? Have fun with this when you ride and as you start to release your layers of tension. Take note on what your best teacher, your horse, is telling you. Is your horse moving more freely when you release? Is he releasing by blowing out, licking and chewing, or other signs of release? I invite you to keep playing with release. Here is a tip: by using your breath to “breathe into” the very places that are tight, you are releasing that area as well as creating a better steady rhythm for your breath.

Mental State and Self Talk

Our mental energy that we bring to the barn each day can make or break our time with our horse. Have you ever come to the barn and had your horse that usually comes to you turn away? Have you associated your current mental state with his actions? It is so common to get back what you project from your horse! By being able to mentally check in with yourself before you get to the gate, you can alter both your and your horse’s experience for that day. Give this a try. Come to the barn with a plan, but ensure that the plan is dynamic and can be changed. When you make your plan, start to visualize your experience using all 5 senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. Use this imagery to “see” and experience exactly what you DO want. Too often, we are easily able to see what we don’t want (like how easily we can relate to tension!), and we lose the ability to see what we DO want. You can be assured that you are already VERY skilled at imagery. You may just have been focusing on the negative as opposed to the positive image. Our self-talk is also very powerful in creating this imagery. Remember when I mentioned that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to body image? Well, this also speaks true for our self-talk. The great news is that again, we are already skilled with negative self-talk, so when we draw attention and focus to positive self-talk we are using well developed skills!

Try this. Recall the positive imagery that I shared in the last paragraph. Now add positive self-talk. Share with yourself what your positive beliefs around your specific action are. Then look at what the positive results will be once you achieve your focused goal. If things don’t work out exactly as you tried, what can you learn from the adversity that you just experienced? For example, your goal is to get out on the trail with your horse. Your positive self-talk is to share what you have already accomplished towards this goal, such as working well in an outdoor arena with and without other horses. Now add the imagery of you and your horse out on the trail enjoying the smell of the evergreens and hearing the rhythm of your horse’s hoof beats. You see the birds flying and you are enjoying the light conversation with your trail buddies. You taste the residual of your morning coffee and you are feeling the light contact of your horse’s mouth on the reins. Your belief is that you know that you have already prepared well for this moment, and you are excited, but not anxious, to go on this trail ride with your friends. You are also open to giving yourself permission to do whatever you feel you need on this trail ride and you have prepared well by making sure that your trail riding buddies will support you with your needs. If there is something that happens (perhaps a spook or a refusal to go through water) you know that you will be open to learn from the adversity and welcome the challenge to stretch! By having all this in place, your mental balance is set to easily move through whatever happens on your ride, which releases any mental tension that might start to find it’s way into your thinking.

Finding the rhythm to what will help your overall balance will continually make your horsemanship fun. Your balance will always be dynamic, always shifting, and always changing. With a solid foundation to build on, you will be relaxed knowing that the choices you are making are sound ones. This process will allow for the suppleness that you strive for when things start to feel light and effortless. None of this can happen without balance first. So strive to start finding your balance in all three areas of focus. Balance will come and go, but the more you practice balance, the easier it will be to find it when you lose it, and you will stay balanced for longer periods of time.


COMING UP SOON…

 

Horse’s Balance - September 2015

-Where are his feet?

-How does he compensate?

-What is his mental state when he’s physically out of balance?

-How can you help him rebalance?


 

 

Rider’s Confidence and Leadership - October 2015

-What you’re really communicating to your horse

-Fun factor for motivation

-Things aren’t fun when you lose your passion

-The uncertainty of doing the “right” thing for your horse.

A Perfect Food

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What if there were a food that contained protein, the major minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc), trace minerals (including iron and zinc), vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K, fiber, flavonoids, and an array of Alfalfaenzymes to help digest it all? What if it could be consumed in a number of different forms - tea, sprouts, tablets? What if it were shown to be beneficial for about a gazillion (that is a bit of an exaggeration, but not as much as you might think) different body problems, from bad breath to liver disorders, indigestion to infections, allergies to diabetes? What it if were really inexpensive to consume? Sound almost too good to be true? Fortunately, the key word there is "almost", because such a food really does exist.


Alfalfa, which means "father of all foods" in Arabic, has held a valued place in the ancient herbal traditions of India, China, Spain, and the Middle East.  What ancient healers learned through centuries of observation, and what we confirm today through science, is that alfalfa is a storehouse of nutrients.  Its tap root reaches down as deep as 20 feet, searching out nutrients and minerals from deposits in the soil, while its leaves gather large amounts of chlorophyll through the natural process of photosynthesis.  And all this is from a plant that stands only 2-3 feet high.  So kind of like an iceberg, the biggest and most significant part of it can't be seen.

 

We tend to have a pretty good sense of what the major minerals do, but alfalfa also contains a bunch of the trace minerals, which are increasingly difficult to get in our diet today.  Processed foods and foods grown on overworked soil yield little, if any, of these vital nutrients.  Trace minerals are needed (critically) by the body in amounts less than 1/10 of a gram per day.  Because its roots go so deep, alfalfa can collect these minerals from the soil that has not been overworked.  These minerals include iron and zinc, as mentioned above, as well as copper and iodine.  Daily amounts have been established for all four by the FDA.  But in addition, alfalfa contains chromium, molybdenum, selenium, manganese, tin, and nickel-all of which are also critically needed by the body for things like bone health, thyroid hormones, insulin production and utilization, enzyme production, red blood cell creation, and on and on.

 

Alfalfa is also very valuable for its vitamin content.  It contains about 8000 IU of Vitamin A for every 100 grams.  This compares favorable with apricots (7000) and beef liver (9000).  In addition, alfalfa is a good source of pyridoxine, one of the B vitamins and Vitamin E, whose great importance for the health of muscles and the heart is well known.  Alfalfa is regarded as the most reliable source of vitamin E for herbivorous animals.  In addition, it is extremely rich in vitamin K, ranking with spinach, kale, and carrot tops.  Vitamin K protects against hemorrhaging and helps the blood to clot properly.  Alfalfa contains from 20,000 to 40,000 units of vitamin K for every 100 grams.

 

But if you're wondering what alfalfa can really do for a person (if just being a great nutritional source isn't enough), you'll need a chunk of time to get through the list.  Here is just a partial compendium of what alfalfa and the nutrients it contains can do... 

 

Many arthritic and rheumatic and bursitis sufferers report that aches and pains and stiffnessof arms, shoulders, legs, and hands modify greatly or disappear, usually within weeks, when alfalfa is used regularly and freely.  Many stomach and digestive miseries disappear, including ulcers, gastritis, and constipation.  It's provided great relief to many who suffer from sinus issues, allergies and asthma.  It relieves fluid retention and balances water levels in the body, so it can be especially helpful for those with PMS or menopausal issues.  It's helpful for urinary tract or prostate problems, bad breath and body odor, gout, deteriorating eyesight, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, acne or other skin ailments (including eczema), fatigue, sore muscles, endometriosis, and deteriorating kidneys.  It helps with anemia and diabetes.  It improves lactation.  It helps with bleeding gums and athlete's foot.  It fights infection and inflammation.  It's good as a sleep aid, for alleviating coughs, promoting good energy levels, and balancing the body's pH.  As one lady remarked, "It appears that alfalfa is good for just about everything."

 

Here's a quick excerpt from The 4-Week Cholesterol Cure, by Dr. Bruce Miller:


  "This is an amazing little plant, extremely rich in micro-nutrients and unique fibers called saponins (sa-pho-nins).  These fibers tend to soak up cholesterol like a sponge, and alfalfa is the only plant to have them in abundance. "One study reported in the journal Atherosclerosis was really interesting.  Alfalfa supplements were added to the monkey's regular diet.  The supplements not only reduced the monkey's cholesterol, but it also reversed the plaque buildup in the monkey's arteries!  This is an exciting study, because it is one of the first large animal studies to show that plaque reversal is possible."

 

But it's not just about the alfalfa plant.  There are lots of alfalfa supplements out there, but the Shaklee difference makes the Shaklee Alfalfa Complex the best on the market.  From the first planting to final bottling, Shaklee utilizes every safeguard to help protect the freshness and potency of the natural alfalfa plant.  For example, Shaklee alfalfa is grown without pesticides, herbicides, or inorganic fertilizers, and it contains no fungicides, bacteriocides, synthetic hormones, growth regulators, or chemicals (of course, since it's Shaklee).  It's harvested in the morning, before the heat of the day, so that the nutrients are still in the leaves instead of the roots.  This is very important, because as the day heats up, the fluids (and therefore a lot of the nutrients) retreat to the roots, so alfalfa harvested in the afternoon or evening has far less nutritional value.  Shaklee's processing also uses only the leaves, because that's where the nutrients are.  Most other alfalfa products include the stem, because it is difficult to separate the two.  But because Shaklee does, the nutritional concentration in its product is superior.  Numerous people have reported to us that they tried a different alfalfa product and got no positive results, but when they switched to Shaklee, the effects were profound.

 

At harvest, the alfalfa leaves are cured in the open air, the natural, old-fashioned way (so no high heat to destroy enzymes), rather than in a hot oven.  Once dried, the alfalfa is ready to be "milled."  The end product is a fine, green-colored alfalfa "flour" which must measure up to Shaklee's stringent laboratory standards, free of toxins and contaminants (remember all the testing that Shaklee does).  The flour goes through the tableting process, where each batch is checked to ensure uniformity of ingredients.  No artificial colors or preservatives are added, of course.


The tablets can be swallowed or dissolved into a tea, and at only about a nickel per tablet (!), it is one of the most economical sources of nutrition to be found anywhere.  


Shaklee's a Bargain!

 

 

A friend here in Virginia works with another company that sells a variety of products. They have one product, however, that is sort of their star product. She was wanting to impress us with this product and she gave us lots to read about it. In the material it stated that the product contains chlorophyll (which is excellent for you), enzymes, and small amounts of different vitamins and minerals, and even amino acids (protein). We couldn't help but think it sounded very familiar, so we pulled out various literature pieces about Shaklee Alfalfa and confirmed that these two products have a lot in common. One difference, though, is that the Alfalfa, in addition to having amino acids, enzymes, chlorophyll, and minerals, also contains all of the known vitamins and a lot of trace minerals.


We were struck by the high price of her product, but we noticed that their caplets are bigger than our alfalfa tablets, so we did a little math to be sure we were being fair as we did a comparison. We discovered that hteir product costs 51% more than alfalfa at their respective retail prices and 58% more at their member prices. This does not even take into account the qualiry issues, such as the fact that their product is processed using heat (it is in their literature if you look close enough). Of course their company has no published research proving the bioavailabilit of their products. The bottom line is, does it get absorbed and used by the body? Without the research, one just doesn't know!

Alfalfa and Kidney Stones

"I take 10 Shaklee Alfalfa every hour when I have kidney stones.  There are different types of stones, but 75-85% are calcium oxalate stones that form because the urine is too acid; and another major type is uric acid stones, which also result from the urine being too acid.  So I take 10 Alfalfa every hour (waking hours only), and it neutralizes the acidity of the urine, and the stones begin to dissolve.  I don't prescribe and can't guarantee that it will work for everyone, but I have been recommending this for years to many who were in the pain of a kidney stone attack.  I personally have not seen anyone who did not get quick and excellent results.  Sometimes the stone dissolves enough to pass into the bladder and out of the body.   Other times, it just disappears, and if it passed, the person never knew it.  Everyone that I've every worked with that actually did this was pain-free within 24 - 48 hours.  All I can do is relate to you the experience of the people I've worked with."  
 

 

 --Thanks! to Stan Pulleco   

(Note:  we've had great success with preventing them with Osteomatrix and VitalMag)

 

 Allergies - I Felt Like a New Woman

 

"Thirty-two years ago I had just completed two years of allergy shots, set lots of money, and still felt horrible. Test showed I was allergic to 47 things (dust, pollen, foods, mold, grass, etc) The doctor suggested more tests and shots, but we had already spent a small fortune to no avail. Then Jim's cousin, Dave, came onto the scene from California, with this Shaklee "stuff". To get him off my case I agreed to try Vita Lea, Instant Protein, Herb Lax, and Alfalfa, ONLY because he promised I would get my money back if it didn't make me feel better.

 

The rest is history.  In just a few weeks, instead of feeling exhausted, gasping, sneezing and blowing all the time, I felt like a new person!  When I ran out, I did what any sensible person would do.  I assumed that I could get the same results from the health food store.  After all, Alfalfa is Alfalfa, isn't it?  And everyone knows all multivitamins are alike.  Guess what?  When I took them I got sick again.  So I tried Shaklee ONE MORE TIME and felt great!  Since then I've learned many reasons Shaklee is different, but the most important lesson was from my own body.


 
Today I use all the supplements, but I still like to start everyone off with the Soy Protein, Vitalizer, Herb Lax, Fiber, and Alfalfa.  Who else give your money back if you use it and don't feel better in thirty days?  I love our "empty bottle" guarantee.  I hate to think what my health would be like today if I had kept that closed mind!"

                       

--Thanks! to Ann Westergaard, Greensboro, NC