10. Feldenkrais – What Does it Have to Do With Horses??? ….everything….

Feldenkrais… what is it?  I will direct you to the Feldenkrais Institute page which gives a brief outline.  To put it simply, it is about the brain relearning how to move the body in an easier way – thus avoiding stress on bones and muscles.  That is probably very simplistic – but refer to the link.

I personally ‘discovered’ Feldenkrais last year after a bad injury – it helped soooo much!!! and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Each day during the course, we were lucky to have Michaela’s Feldenkrais teacher  – Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe take us through an Awareness Through Movement exercise.  We did these in the heat of the day while the horses rested, and it was so refreshing to lie there and focus on our own bodies.  Read about Nathalie by following the link above.    To see her move is jaw dropping!!!

Michaela superbly translated the lesson  from Italian to English  – quite a job.  She had taken us through movements specifically to help the rider – and I’m sure most of us could feel some changes at the end of the session.

Well – that’s fine for humans …. but what about horses????

I will direct you back to Equiosity Podcast – Episode 22.  Listen to the discussion and you will hear Alex and Michaela talking about this.  Alex refers to the Italy course as a ‘connect the dots’ course.

Here are my thoughts – this course took the movements/gymnastics we were seeing at Anja’s workshop , in the classical dressage sense to help the horse – and showed how it can be applied via clicker training.  Clicker training was used to help the horse become aware of its own body and to find the easiest, most fluid movement.  It becomes a Feldenkrais session for horses.  And the sessions for humans helped the human to become more aware of their own body – which in turn enabled them to help their horse.

To an outsider it may not have looked like much was going on – but there was a lot going on!

As Alex said, it is done WITH the horse rather than TO the horse.  Helping horses ‘find’ their bodies and move with ease and balance is the ‘backbone’ of Alex’s work (backbone…. good word to use here!).  Using clicker training and becoming proficient in areas such as rope handling, microshaping, mat work and becoming a great ‘thin slicer’ and  observer are some of the keys.

I came home and started back at the basics.  My main aim has been to get Danny to find his hind legs by standing square –  – he has become more aware of his body and is moving his hind legs into position… before he wasn’t aware that he even had hind legs!  He had a nasty injury to both hind legs before he came to me – so there is quite a bit he needs to process.

What I have found in doing this very simple move is that he has become more confident – and our relationship is better.  Less really is more!!

danny standsquare

This is a start….

I feel I will soon become like my horse Magnum – who paws at his mat in impatience….  I will be pawing at the mat – hounding Alex and Michaela … I want to know more about fluid movements – how do I know when I have ‘the feel’, how do I know where to start – how do I do it all on the ground.!!!!

After spending those two weeks in Germany and Italy – I have changed.  I want balance, fluid movement, quiet, gentle, effortless movements.  I’m happy – like Anja said ‘ to study the walk forever’!!!  I look now at some of my videos and think……Ohhh …….. now I’ve seen something better.

Oh dear – I’ve become whingey and whiney!  I’ve gone off track a bit… back to the Italy Course!!

To sum up regarding Feldenkrais – as Alex put it, it’s a series of asking questions eg. Where does the movement begin and stop? How does it stop? How does it begin again? What changes with repetition? What changes under my hands?? etc.  This is what is going on.

There is a lot more to say about the course, but that’s enough for one post.  I will leave you with some more photos!




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