Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beyond 'pressure and release'?

Some fledgling thoughts...

'Pressure and release'

We all have been learning about that. And how the release teaches the 'yes' and gives meaning to whatever action the horse chose before getting a release.

'Feel and release'

That is what Leslie Desmond is calling her alternative to getting into the pressure stuff at all. She is much better at describing what she is doing than I am, but she keeps catching my attention with her approach to horses. Ideas from her and Bill Dorrance's book, True Horsemanship Through Feel, have stuck with me over the years. Ideas like, it's hard enough for the horse to cope with being in our human world. Why would anyone want to add more pressure to the situation? Just to release the pressure later? Not good enough. We can work with horses without first introducing more pressure before a meaningful release. (All my paraphrase and interpretation. Please read Leslie's website and her book with Bill and listen to her audio book!).

'Presence and direction'

I got thinking of how I release a horse, and how it seems to create an energetic disconnect from the shared intermingling presence all horses (all animals?) experience. So I got thinking about 'presence and release' but there I was with the 'release' dilemma again. I don't want to release a horse, I want to connect and direct. So I thought of 'presence and direct' as my latest concept to replace pressure and release.

I'm sure others have figured out how to release a horse and stay connected. Because I haven't, I'm coming at this from another angle. I have a strong need for words to reflect my experience. And those do the best right now.

Presence and direction.

When I choose to release a horse, it is when I'm no longer wanting to direct that horse, like setting it free from paying attention to and interacting specifically with me.

My horses seem to understand, and seem to appreciate that I'm not disconnecting every few nanoseconds in my attempts to offer something that makes sense ...

It's a work in progress, that's for sure. And the best thing about this sort of winter activity -- pure experimentation, no pressure from within me to complete anything beyond my safely delivering hay several times a day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New use for personal power

I teach a group of students each week. Our lessons are about ourselves and about horses. At the end of the lesson, I ask each student to share his or her 'highlight' for that day -- what was brought to awareness that struck a chord.

Recently a student sent me this note which I have edited to preserve anonymity after getting permission to do so.

Do you remember the last thing I said when we were talking about highlights? I was trying to figure out a way to use my wobbly new power for good (like getting my husband to vacuum).

He walked in the door that night, said hi, and then plugged in the vacuum and took care of the kitchen and dining room. When we were talking during dinner, I told him a little about what we were doing with the horses. We had a really good laugh about "the force" when he said he couldn't explain why he felt compelled to do vacuum. He's never done it before (probably never will again...)

What were we doing in the lesson that elicited these thoughts?

I asked the group to, one by one, stand some where and visualize one of the horses approaching them as they stood there focused on feeling calm and centered in their lower belly. This one particular student experienced her favorite horse coming right over to her 'even though' he had been enjoying rubbing on a post when she started this experiment.

I urged her to renew her self image to include her successes with these more subtle communications.