Movement Monday: Why Move More?

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Peppy helping a participant work on her balance at a clinic here a few years ago.

You might wonder why I keep going on about getting ourselves moving on a page dedicated to the idea of dancing Tango with horses? You’ve all heard the old saying, ‘it takes two to Tango’, right? We spend so much time attending to our horse’s every need. We make sure they get the best we can possibly provide. We make sure they get exercised regularly because we know how important movement is to our horse’s well being.

Guess what?

Movement is just as important for our well being. Humans are designed to be moving just as much as horses are, and we don’t get nearly enough in our domesticated lives. What movement we do get is most often couched in a daily ‘exercise’ routine. We tend to take ourselves through a particular range of motions in whatever our chosen form of exercise – motion that becomes repetitive.

I had no idea how limited my range of movements was until I started doing Parkour. At that point it became quite clear how my entire body has adapted to the activities I’ve done throughout my life. I have done a lot of skiing (down hill and cross country), riding horses, lifting hay bales and muck tubs to about waist height. Most of my ‘exercise’ routine has consisted of mat work designed to free up all the tight spots. Because I spend time squatting to work on lower legs of horses I have a decent full squat. But ask me to hang from a bar and swing or crawl on my hands and feet, or pull myself up on top of something (other than a horse), and I’m in trouble. It was truly shocking to discover the number of muscles and movement possibilities I have never explored!

When I talk to students about doing therapeutic work with their horses I quite often get a list of the things they either cannot do, or do not enjoy doing because of their own body issues. I get it, over the years my feet have started to hurt more. I have issues with my neck and shoulders. I’ve injured both rotator cuffs more than once and my knees were killing me. My right foot developed plantar fasciitis last year. It’s easy to think it’s just a normal side effect of aging. We say the same thing about our horses. Fusing hocks and arthritic joints are just a normal part of aging. What if it’s not normal to get crippled up as we age? What if it’s a side effect of a life that is ultimately too sedentary?

Think about it, how much time do you estimate you spend in motion every day, actively moving? How about your horse? How many hours a day do you estimate you spend sitting in some kind of chair? How often do you or your horse move on varied terrain? Since I moved to Grand Junction I can tell you that I live on pretty flat ground most of the time. So do my horses. We control the footing our horses walk in and make sure that arena is flat. We put their feet and ours in protective gear. All this stuff we do to manage the environment limits the feedback to our bodies. Limits our movement.

Since we started Parkour my knees stopped hurting. Going up and down hills and climbing the ladder to tie down my hay tarp were becoming out of reach. Now they are easy. My right foot that I’ve been protecting to ease the pain of the plantar fascia I now walk around barefoot on my hardwood floors, and even walked barefoot on the river rocks outside my house the other day. My chronically tight and painful neck and shoulders still hurt but now they hurt because I am actually using my entire body effectively and they are unraveling the adaptations of more than 50 years of life. Who knew that the pattern in my feet from wearing heeled shoes (yes, even low heels count) all my life was a major contributor to the tension in my neck and shoulders? My hands used to ache all the time, the joints in my fingers seizing up from trimming feet. No more.

What if it isn’t aging that slowly cripples us? What if it’s repetitive, limited movement that cripples us? And what if it’s reversible? Based on my personal experience I think it is. For horse and human. The trick is to incorporate more movement into our daily lives. Increase the variety of movements we subject our bodies to. Think hunter-gatherer cultures and how they had to move through the environment to survive? Digging roots, grinding, squatting, crawling, climbing, swinging – we are designed to use our whole body to move through our environment. If the hunger-gatherer analogy doesn’t work, think monkey!

Horses are also designed to be in motion. They move and graze. They reach up to browse from trees, reach across to browse on brush, walk up and down hills, climb over rocks, move on widely varied terrain. Their ability to stand and stabilize themselves while they browse on a steep hillside picking between rocks is astonishing. I love to go watch the mustangs in our desert canyon range here. It’s amazing the kind of terrain they can move through. On my flat ground at home I have to get creative about the kinds of movement the horses and I explore to even come close to stimulating a similar range of movement.

Varied movement places different loads on the joints and muscles recruited for the activity. The wider the array of loads we place on our bodies the healthier those parts remain. As one of my Parkour friends once quipped – ‘motion is lotion’. My feet are a great example. I had no idea how many tiny joints and muscles live in my feet and how under-stimulated they have been my entire life. Being encased in shoes does that to feet… As I work to stimulate all those joints and muscles my feet get stronger and healthier. As I move all those little joints my ankles are stimulated and moved in a wider range of motion. They are strengthening. And my left hip is getting stronger and doesn’t hurt anymore. And my neck and shoulders are unwinding. It’s a whole body affair!

There is no gym membership required. Everything you need to move more and improve your health is all around you. A friend of mine recently told me that she tries to eat the rainbow every day as a gauge for keeping her diet healthy and varied. I love that analogy. I think we can apply the same concept to moving. If you need inspiration, check out Katy Bowman’s work on nutritiousmovement.com. I’ve been sharing her daily movement advent to my business page on FB if you’d like to join us.

Working with horses is an athletic pursuit. The healthier and stronger we are the more capable we can be of providing this kind of varied movement for our horses. I don’t have to avoid groundwork because my feet hurt too much. In-hand work because it bothers my shoulder. Trimming feet because I can’t bend over. Riding because I can’t swing my leg over the saddle. Riding because my knees can’t take it. I can be a strong, balanced, solid mover my horse can easily follow. It’s my horse’s who push me to keep moving. They follow movement instinctively and when I don’t move well it’s confusing. I don’t want them to have to guess and compensate for my weaknesses. Who knew getting stronger could be so easy!

It takes two to Tango, two vibrant, healthy, mobile partners. Let’s bust the myth of aging and dance!

 

 

 

 

Movement Mondays: Movement is for horses too. Even when it’s cold outside!

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Photo by Susan White

It can be a challenge to move enough when winter kicks into full swing. We got our first snow here today and it sure feels cold and damp out there! I am often asked by students, ‘what can I do with my horse when it’s too cold to do my normal training program?’ Personally, I don’t like to ask my horses to work too hard in the cold. I don’t want them to get too sweaty before the sun goes down because they live outside. And I’m not so sure it’s great for their lungs to breathe hard in particularly cold air.

The good news is, a lot can be accomplished in the walk.

I know, I know, how boring!

As far as I’m concerned, both in Tango and horsemanship the walk is the foundation of everything. We always go back to refining our connection and ability to walk together when we dance. And I do the same when I interact with my horses. I spend gobs of time building this connection with my horses so that when they finally commit to dancing with me we can walk anywhere at any pace side by side. Comes in handy in so many situations! I’ve already started using this winter as my time to review and refine this part of my relationship with my horses. We walk all over the place!

So, how do I make walking interesting – both for me and my horses?

I like to set challenges. I might decide, as I did a number of years ago, that I will not pull on their head, drive them from behind or bribe them with food to get them to walk with me. I made a commitment to allowing my horse to choose to follow me. What came out of that challenge became the foundation I now build with every horse I take on. It’s a great thing to play with when it’s cold and nasty because you can leave them in their stall or paddock, leave their blanket on and just play with picking up a soft feel and seeing what your horse does with that. My horses processed through enormous amounts of stress and old trauma from how they’d been handled in the past. When they finally decided to follow me it was with their whole heart. Time really well spent and so much movement happens in these seemingly quiet places.

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With the horses who have committed to dancing with me we do a lot of transitions within the walk.  Transitions are where balance control and communication happen with the greatest intensity. Speed up, slow down, halt and stand – then go, halt for a moment – then go, halt and shift the center of gravity back – then go, add in bits of lateral work, circles, arcs and squares. The more varied the movement patterns the wider the variety of loads placed on joints and bones, the greater the variety of muscle groups recruited to coordinate the movement.

 

And the more opportunity we have to refine how we communicate. I like to maintain that challenge for myself. How do I communicate to my  horse to speed up, slow down or change direction without pulling on them? Can we do this in a halter, bridle, at liberty?

Worst case scenario, if the weather really sucks, we can stand in a shelter and work on connecting with each other, creating the potential for movement. We practice engaging our cores and taking one step at time in perfect balance with each other. Five minutes of shifting balance, lifting the core, feeling the shift to move together is a bit like crunches for horses. Just these tiny amounts of input keep the body and mind in tune.

And, of course, if I get out and get my horse moving I am also getting myself moving. Walking is just as good for us as it is for our horses!

Share your creative cold weather movement ideas with us!

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Tanya Pearce Photography

Want to learn more about my philosophy of Tango with Horses? Now’s your chance!

In January I’ll be running a free two-week introductory course on-line. Beyond Body Language and Tango with Horses. Check it out on Facebook here.

Movement Monday: How good movement improved my hoof trimming

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Helping my friend with her horse’s feet while she recovered from her broken arm. That’s her on the left with her sling.

For those of you following my blog, you know I’ve written a few about trimming feet. I don’t trim for a living, but it is a passion of mine and do as much with my own horses as I possibly can. Last summer a dear friend had an accident and she broke her arm so I’ve been driving to her place every three or four weeks to trim her horses feet. I take this as a great honor because she trims her own horses and doesn’t let too many people mess with her horses, let alone their feet! Did I mention she is 84? For those of you thinking you’re too old to move more than you already do?

First, let me just say, my 84 year old friend is the perfect example of the benefits of natural movement. She lives on a small acreage in a home that is more or less off the grid. She chops firewood, clears dead wood out of her pinon forest, takes care of her two horses every day, trims their feet, walks them, rides them and all the other things that need to be done on a small farm. I have seen few people heal like she did from a broken arm, let alone someone who is 84.  Seriously, it’s been 5 months since her accident and she called a few days ago to report that she trimmed both horses herself!

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This is Jean and I at a clinic at my place together in June. She had her accident and broke her arm just a few weeks later.

But I digress.

What I want to share is that I used to struggle with trimming. I never really had the physical strength for it and my hands are quite small so getting the nippers working for me on thick walls or especially hard feet was challenging, to say the least. I would line them up and move a hand down to the narrower end of the nipper handles, start the bite and work my way up the handles. Using two hands I desperately relied on my puny grip strength to get the nippers through the concrete hoof wall.

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Did I mention the big joint at the base of my thumbs was starting to bother me quite a lot and my fingers were often stiff and sore. I was constantly injuring my shoulders, on the edge of rotator cuff injuries. It’s easy to start thinking “I’m getting to old for this”. So imagine my surprise when I drove down and worked on my friend’s horses a few weeks ago and discovered I no longer needed to use my grip strength to make the nippers work. Nipping was easy! It took me so by surprise that I had to pause and analyze what was different.

Without making any conscious changes in how I nip I was, in fact, using my body in an entirely different way. I found my dexterity with the nippers improved, the ease of cutting through the hoof wall had improved and I was not needing to creep my hands down and work my way back up. What was different?

As I explored, I realized I was using my whole upper body, the strength in my arms and back and shoulders to close the nippers! I have never had any power to use my arms that way before so what changed?

You guessed it, movement. I had spent the week before that trimming session really focused on small things I could do each day to build my arm, trunk, and hand strength. When I say simple I mean it. I wasn’t doing planks or anything particularly taxing because my left rotator cuff was bothering me so much. Instead I did things like – a modified plank with my hands on the counter, the table top or a chair. I’d get down on all fours and focus on how my arms were supporting me. I’d reach up and grab a door frame and pull as though I was going to do a chin up – but just enough to work the gripper muscles in my hands and activate those muscles in the rest of my body that would allow me to hang or swing. I hung in door frames and did modified pull ups and push ups where I could. I carried my feed buckets without just letting my arms hang so the ligaments in my joints were carrying the load. Anything I could come up with to get my arms bearing loads in different ways to recruit different muscles.

I’d hold as long as I could, emphasizing proper technique (ie – correct positioning of my hands, arms and shoulders to activate the muscles that stabilize my shoulder joints). Focusing on proper technique with a smaller load takes the pressure off the joints and ligaments and puts the load on the muscles surrounding them instead. Who knew…  And who knew that doing such small things throughout the day could have such a profound impact!

Trimming my friend’s horses was a revelation. The increased strength in my arms and shoulders made the job a breeze. Only after trimming did I realize my hands are so much stronger. They are also have more dexterity and they don’t ache all the time. My shoulders feel strong and my left rotator cuff is healing up after years of giving me problems. I can use my arm strength to close the electric fence gate handles without having to use two hands and put some body weight behind it. My posture is improving in leaps and bounds. I feel better and stronger than I have in years.

And I didn’t ‘work out’ at all.

If you want to learn more about the things I’m doing to improve my own strength and mobility, check out Nutritious Movement

Get out there and get moving!

Giving Thanks

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Thank you Susan White for this fabulous image. And thank you for all the amazing things you contribute to my world!

My heart is full. Glowing with the light you all share with me each and every day. I feel blessed to have met old friends for the first time, made new friends, both two and four legged. Your openness, your willingness to embrace me and my new way of connecting and communicating with horses feeds me in ways I can’t quantify with words. I literally cannot do what I do without your support. I love our growing community and feel blessed by your presence in it each and every day.

You know how people talk about the family you’re born with and the family you choose. The family I chose has always been my animals, plants, trees, nature, the mountains, the desert. This is the family that sustains me through the endless joy and peace they offer. This family is my muse, fueling my passion for the work I do by asking me to go deeper every single day. I give thanks to my horse family in particular for helping me find myself with their compassionate guidance. There are no words to describe how much it means to me to feel their presence lighting my way long after the old guard leave this physical world. We are always connected. The teaching is ongoing.

The family I was born with – well, they are a blessing beyond words. My immediate family is small and close. I’m grateful for a brother and sister I can always count on. A Mother and Father who have always supported me in all the crazy ideas I’ve ever come up with. Your immediate family are the only people in the world you share a lifetime of experiences with. This bond of common experience endures whether you talk every day or not. No matter where you are in relation to one another, no matter if your relationship is rocky or smooth. Nothing can replace that.

In my small household family of two cats and a husband I am also blessed. Steve and I have spent half our lives together. He is my rock. Solid as the day is long. Whatever forces intervened to help us meet – thank you. I couldn’t do this life without him.

Thank you to all of you for being part of my extended family.

And have a blessed day of gratitude!

With love

Andrea and the herd at Restoration Ranch

Movement Monday! Make walking part of your daily sustenance

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This spontaneous late afternoon hike was all about moving my pent up energy and working hills.

Think less about getting in your one hour workout and more about creating opportunities to move throughout the day. Most of us, even those who exercise regularly, still lead a fairly sedentary life as compared to our ancestors who had to forage, hunt or grow their own food. Even when we exercise a lot we tend to engage in a limited set of activities. How can you find ways to put your body through a wider array of motions to make up for the deficit our modern culture cultivates?

For our short afternoon hike I chose something with a lot of variety. Steep uphills, on big rocks, slick rock scrambles, shallow grades on gravel and sand. Oh, and did I mention how beautiful it is here? Taking the time to lay flat out on the slick rock and breath is a movement too!

20181114_152130Our bodies are designed to be in motion: walking, climbing, hanging, swinging, jumping, squatting, on and on it goes. These varied movements keep us mobile and healthy. Think health on a deeper level than simply being fit or losing weight so we look good. These varied movements place loads on all of our bones, ligaments, tendons, joints, muscles and organs, stimulating circulation, oxygenation and waste removal.  Only the body parts that are in motion receive these benefits!

One of the best and easiest ways to move more is to walk. Seriously, I find the best thing I can do when I get stiff and sore, anxious, or blue is go for a walk. Any walking will do, but it does more if you walk on varied terrain. Hard ground, soft ground, rocks, sand, grass, uphill, downhill, duck under, climb over, and find things to balance on, hang from and swing around. Park farther from the door at the grocery store, go to the local playground, walk around the house if outside is too cold (see last week’s blog for ideas on how to  create an indoor barefoot obstacle course!), take your horse for a trail hike instead of a trail ride.

When I was teaching in South Carolina I got to go on a trail ride in the woods.  We did about seven and a half miles. I bet walked at least half of that. My body loved the changes and my horse partner for the day loved having a break from carrying me too.

The possibilities are endless. By varying the length of your walk and the terrain you walk on, you recruit a wider array of body parts. In no time, you will have a good idea of what parts you maybe don’t use on a regular basis. I know since I moved to the desert I lost all those muscles that help me climb hills efficiently. Going up and down steps, ladders, or up and down hills really hurt my knees.  I thought it was just part of my personal aging process. Until I started Parkour and my knees stopped hurting. Last week I powered up a slick rock hill that included high steps carved into the rock (used to be terribly painful), and steep slick rock that I could practice scrambling up on all fours (hands and feet, not knees). My legs and feet felt fantastic but boy did I get out of breath fast! Hint, I need to do more movement that works those lungs!

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The view from the bottom of the hill.

Horses benefit just as much as we do from a varied movement program. I like to take  a horse with me when I have to do something like pull weeds or fix fences. They tag along behind while I do things which means they do a lot of stopping, starting, speeding up and slowing down over a variety of terrain. Take them on a trail ride where you hike part of the time and ride part of the time. Your horse will benefit from the change in loads on their body between having to balance a load while walking and not having to balance a load. And you can practice being a being a balanced load, by the way, rather than simply a passenger.

Go for a walk today and every day. It is simply one of the best things you can do for yourself AND your horse!

 

Movement Monday: Balance and your Feet

20727932_270340196799144_6827416665027523990_nMost of our ‘domesticated’ movement is habitual. It’s easy to get into movement ‘ruts’. It may feel as though we are great exercisers, we may even love exercise, and yet we still have areas of our body that are sticky, tight, or painful. No matter how much we exercise, if it’s always the same kinds of exercise, then we always move the same body parts through the same planes and loads. Anything we do repetitively tends to become fairly mindless. It’s easy to develop unconscious patterns of avoidance, or simply go through the motions. This kind of movement plan can lead to a false sense of security. We feel fit but then throw out our back bending over to pick something up off the floor, for example.

Culturally, we tend to spend very little time doing things that require us to work on our balance. The saying ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’ is doubly true of our balance control. We talk about this all the time in our Parkour class. Even Parkour athletes admit that balance is something they work on all the time. If they don’t, they lose it too. Maybe you do a lot of Yoga or something where you work on static balance or balance from one position to another. Great! But, every type of movement, and every surface we work on recruits different muscles and requires new proprioceptive pathways.

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I do a lot of in hand work with horses that have soundness problems. The only way I can stay out of their face and help them keep their balance is if I am solid in mine.

You may have great balance on a yoga mat and discover you have terrible balance while in motion, say, walking next to your horse. Balance in motion is different and requires a whole different skill set than static balance. Balance on a horse is different from the balance required to walk next them doing in hand work. It’s important to incorporate as much variety as possible into your daily movement. Rather than simply exercise for an hour I find it helpful to seek out things I can do while I feed the horses, while I’m watching TV, even while I work at my computer. The more often I move, and the more variety I inject into my moving life, the more capably I adapt to whatever the world throws at me.

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My 81-year-old Dad and I climbing ladders to tie down the hay tarp. Climbing ladders is something I used to dread. It hurt my knees and I was afraid of the height. This year it was easy as pie to climb all over that hay stack, up and down the ladders.

Why does balance matter in the context of interacting with my horses?

When I learn to control my balance on the ground, out of the saddle and away from my horse, my body accesses all the small muscle groups that help me hold myself up independently. Ever try dancing with someone who has not spent time developing their own balance? Steve will be the first to tell you, it is NO fun trying to move someone who leans on you! It’s way too easy to use our horses to help us balance if we have not worked on this skill independently.

 

I hope last week’s blog inspired you to get out and find things to balance on. I know I had fun finding more ways to explore developing my balance at home!

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What if you set up an obstacle course in the arena for you and your horse is your balance assistant?

One of the things my horses taught me when I started asking them to show me how to move and interact in ways that work better for them is that they LOVE following someone who has good balance. The more I have control over my own balance the more I can support my horse to carry themselves in relation to me. Horses communicate through body language as their primary language. By carrying myself well my horse automatically works to carry himself better. Horses follow our ‘body language lead’ whether we are aware of it or not. The more refined we become in our balance and movement, the more refined our horse becomes in relation to us.

This week I want to expand on the concept of balance by talking about our feet. Our feet that spend gobs of time encased in protective shoes or shoes that look pretty but don’t really help our biomechanics. Think about how much time and energy we put into the care of our horse’s feet and the footing we work them on. We all know how important balanced feet are to a horse’s movement and longevity. They won’t stay sound very long if we work them hard on bad footing or unbalanced feet. We ought to put as much energy into our own feet!

My feet have had some problems over the last few years. I’m not willing to say I am now an expert on feet, but I am becoming an expert on my own feet! Those who know me know that I like to find non-medical solutions to my issues whenever possible. When I developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot it sent me on a mission. What I am finally learning is that by encasing my feet in cushy, thick-soled, heavily protective footwear all the time, it’s the equivalent of putting my feet in casts. The skin on our feet is designed to be in contact with the ground, gathering information from the surfaces we walk on that help us adapt our body to the terrain. All of the joints in our feet and ankles are designed to move over varied terrain, our toes giving us ten little fingers that feel around and help us with balance and proprioception.

When I first started dancing I was taught that the high-heeled shoes help us dance better by keeping us on our toes more. What I did not know is how important it is to build strength in your feet independent of the shoes before you start wearing the heels. Man my feet and ankles suffered for that!

MY feet were pretty sticky and not very mobile. Working toward having more mobile, agile, functional feet is a process. The longer we have had our feet stuck in shoes the longer it takes for them to wake back up and become mobile again. I cannot say the process of strengthening and enlivening my feet has been a cake walk. My feet get really, really sore. But it’s the kind of stiff and sore any muscles get when they are being used in novel ways. And the joint pain and plantar fascia pain are all but gone. In fact, my plantar fasciitis pain resolved in just one day of addressing a few postural things for just a few minutes a few times during the day, while continuing to work on my balance.

Your feet are a key component to your ability to balance well. How are your feet?

Here’s a short video showing you how I’m working on my own feet, and by extension, my balance:

And here are some additional resources I’ve been exploring:

Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman

Extra stuff on feet and shoes on Katy Bowman’s website: nutritionmovement.com

 

Introducing Movement Mondays!

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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 kolb_brothers_grand_canyon_photography_6started 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?

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I just found an old 4×4 – a 2×4 also works. Here I’m closing my eyes and Susan is my spotter. Start as easy as you need to. If you don’t have a board handy just stand on one foot. If you don’t have a spotter handy use a counter top and stand on one foot while you cook dinner!

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!

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balance in the woods

As my confidence improves it’s great fun to balance on downed trees in the woods. This was fun because to get from one tree to another required going up or down. Some had branches I had to work around. Always think about the risk versus reward and make sure you aren’t going to hurt yourself if you can’t stay up!

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As my confidence continues to improve, jumping from one log to another!

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Hiking is a great place to find natural obstacles. This log was fun because it was high enough to feel like a challenge and it was fun to climb over and crawl under (varied movement is key!)

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!

me in the desert

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.