Fall is in the air! My favorite time of year! Cooler temperatures and no bugs mean more time with the horses, and more time outside in general. This fall is particularly exciting. I feel all inspired after teaching three clinics this fall and delving into new material with my online class. For the last year or so Monday morning blogs have been devoted to body language: what our horses might be telling us with the things they do, and what we might be telling our horses. This fall teaching made me realize that the key to clear body language is movement infused with emotion and meaning.
Or, rather, our movement needs to be infused with emotion and meaning if we want to be interesting to our horses.
Unfortunately, for a multitude of reasons, most of us do not infuse our movement with much of anything. The nature of modern human existence leaves us shackled in bodies with limited range of movement. Most people I know, including myself, have body parts that are stuck, sticky, or downright painful. We, often unconsciously, limit how much we move, or the kinds of movement we employ, to protect these compromised areas.
Movement has always fascinated me. I love watching people and animals move. What the body is capable of is incredible. What we actually make use of in modern life is far less than what is actually possible. Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement calls the ills that plague modern humans: ‘diseases of captivity’. This really struck me. We horse people spend so much time thinking about ways to get our horses moving well and comparatively little about getting ourselves moving.
We humans are domesticated, in captivity, just as much as our horses! It is just as important for us to get moving as it is for our horses to get moving! If you truly want a partnership with your horse in which your horse follows your lead willingly, without force or coercion or bribery, the solution is movement.Your movement…
Before you start thinking: ‘I can’t possibly, because _______….’ If I can do it you can do it. I started dancing when I was about 44 years old. Prior to that my movement diet consisted primarily of walking, riding, and skiing. All activities where my body moves in similar planes. My husband and I went to the Grand Canyon a few years back. As I gazed longingly at the Bright Angel trail I realized that at 49 years old it was unattainable. I would never be able to do that if I continued on the path I was on. My feet and knees barely made a few miles on hills anymore, let alone miles into the Grand.
At the same time I was deeply inspired by the Kolb brothers who built a house on the edge of the canyon way back when it first became a tourist stop. Their adventurous spirit blew my mind. The things the human body is capable of that we just do not make use of in this modern, domesticated culture! So, at 49 years old I found Parkour. I am not jumping off of buildings or doing back flips! But, over the course of the last year, just once a week, I am now capable of doing things I could never do before. Parkour, at a core level, is about using all the range of movement options available to navigate your environment in creative ways. In other words, I do not need a gym to exercise, I can make feeding my horses a movement rich activity, always seeking opportunities to use my body in as many ways as possible as I engage in my daily life.
For the next while Monday’s blog is devoted to getting YOU moving. Each week I’ll share my own explorations into infusing movement into my daily activities. Not just any movement, but a wide variety of movement. How can we be creative in getting fit, confident and capable?
My most recent explorations are about balance. As our Parkour teachers always say, we always have to work on our balance, it just goes away so fast when you don’t use it. I find all sorts of ways to work on my balance every day. It was scary at first because I did not feel very safe but now I find things to balance on all the time, especially when I go for walks in the woods or the desert:
What can you find to balance on?
Here I am standing on one leg on my board. Those railroad ties in the background I walk on those almost every day on my way to and from feeding. And there I am walking on the rails instead of asking Kastani to walk over them. Of course we can do both!
Unshackle yourself. Start moving. Find freedom of self-expression through movement and then go interact with your horse. You’ll be far more interesting to follow if you move well!
Next Monday I’ll talk more about why balance is important to our horses and how to implement your newfound balance with your horse!
For more inspiration on infusing your life with movement please check out:
Nutritious Movement with Kay Bowman – huge resource for how to move more and move well
MovNat: Natural Movement Fitness. This is parkour at it’s most basic.