Easier Movement, Happier Horses

The First Key to Unlock Your Horse's Superpowers

September 29, 2022 Mary Debono Episode 31
Easier Movement, Happier Horses
The First Key to Unlock Your Horse's Superpowers
Show Notes Transcript

There are 7 key things to enhance your horse’s body and mind. I call thisimprovementUnlocking Your Horse’s Superpowers. This episode will explore the first key.

You’ll learn the essential first step in helping you and your horse move easier and feel better while deepening and enriching your connection.

The first key, which we’ll explore in this episode, sets the foundation for the other six keys.

These 7 keys can truly transform you and your horse, so I'm excited to share them with you. I’ll discuss the remaining keys in future episodes.

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FREE resources:

Easily improve your movement and position in our FREE rider masterclass.Feldenkrais® for Riders videos: https://www.marydebono.com/rider

Podcast show notes for this episode: https://www.marydebono.com/blog/h31

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Hello and welcome to Easier Movement, Happier Horses. Today, I'm so excited to start sharing with you the seven keys to unlock your horse's superpowers. And kind of spoiler alert, you'll find that you're going to unlock your superpowers at the same time, kind of like a little extra bonus, Okay? It's like a little side effect of it, a very good side effect I might add.

 So we'll go through the seven keys. We won't do them all today. As a matter of fact, today's key is so important that it gets its own episode, okay? If future episodes will have more than one key, so it won't take us seven weeks to go through them, but I really want to take a deep dive into this one, although there won't, this won't be a long episode. 

And that number one key is the, it's sort of the foundation for everything, is to feel gratitude. Now, before you say, Mary, I've heard this a million times. Everybody talks about a gratitude journal and being grateful, yada, yada. Please hear me out. Okay? 

I want to explain why it's really beneficial that when, when you're with your horse, you take some time and focus on this, even if it's just like, a minute or two, Okay? First of all, horses are very sensitive to the energy of appreciation. They sense it and they respond to it, Okay? So that's very, very important. And if you think about it, gratitude, like it replaces worry. Okay?

You can't be worried and grateful at the same time. You can't be anxious and grateful at the same time, right? It puts you in a completely different state, and so much of the time we're with our horse, we're worried about maybe something in the future or something in the past, you know, that happened or something that might happen.

 You know, we tend to not be so much in the moment just as humans. We just tend not to be. And when you have a gratitude practice, again, it doesn't have to take a lot of time, but it, it grounds you in the present moment. And horses love when we're in that state, okay? They really, really respond to that.

 And the other thing is, you know, whatever time you have with your horse, you know, maybe you work full time, you have other obligations, and you feel sometimes like you don't have enough time with your horse. When you start your encounter, your interaction with your horse, and you come from this place of gratitude.

It's like you just feel grateful for the short amount of time you might have with your horse that day. But it's, it allows that time to feel abundant, to feel luxurious. And you, it's amazing how rich that interaction can be. Cause remember, horses, you know, everything we do, the way we move, the way we think, the way we breathe, they feel that, and it affects our interaction with them, okay? 

They process that and it affects it. So when you start from this place of gratitude, super, super powerful, Okay? And the other thing is, you know, there have been some studies about gratitude and how it affects you neurologically, things like that. What we do know is that having a gratitude practice can improve your resilience to trauma.

Both trauma that's already happened, and potentially, God forbid, but some traumatic ha instance happens in the future, right? It can help you deal with that. And it could be small traumas, which doesn't mean something bad, but in other words, you become more resilient as a human being, which is a good thing, right? It also can benefit your social relationships.

 So let's think about this in the context of your horse. So we can consider your horse a social relationship, right? It's another being. And you know, we tend to be more fond to be fonder of the ones that we are grateful for. So this is actually a, a strategy that people use in their human relationships that maybe they'll have a fight with their spouse or with a child or something like that.

And they'll be feeling kind of negative towards that person. But if they, if they take a moment, maybe count to 10, and then think about a few things they're grateful for, for that individual, it totally changes the dynamic. Okay? So with our horses, now, you may say, Well, I'm not upset at my horse.

 But so much of the time, just, just as human beings, we're kind of hardwired to look for what's wrong, you, and there, there was an evolutionary advantage to that, right? The ones who noticed, you know, the dangers, right? They were able to survive and pass on their genes, right? 

So there is an evolutionary advantage to looking for what's wrong, and noticing what's wrong, but this can cause us problems, a lot of problems in our modern day because we have so much input all the time. We're involved in so many things. And if we're always biased towards looking for what's wrong, our life isn't going to be as joyful. It won't be as much fun. We'll always be searching for what's wrong rather than noticing what's good, what's right, and what's right now in front of you. 

So with your horse, when you take the moment, a few moments maybe to feel grateful, to think of a few simple things even that you're grateful for with your horse, maybe even just the smell of your horse, right? You know, and your horse being there for you to interact with.

 It doesn't have to be some, some big thing like, Oh, you won the championships or something like that could be the simplest things. Maybe you appreciate the sound of your horse chewing hay, you know, it could be anything or you appreciate seeing your horse play with the other horses. But that really helps us train our brains to focus on what's good.

 So if you think about it, we have so much input, sensory input coming into our brains constantly, constantly. So we have to come up with a way to filter out most of it and just allow what we need to come through. And there's something in our brain called a reticular activating system, or RAs, some people just call it ra.

 And that you can think of in simple terms as a filtering system. So we can decide what comes in, what, what we want our Raz to focus on. So when we're thinking about, you know, when we have a gratitude practice that when we're with our horse, we're grateful, just again, take a minute or two, think about a few things you're grateful for what's going to help train your brain to look for more of what's working, rather than just focusing on what isn't working with your horse. 

Okay? Complete game changer. Really, really important. I've, I've helped so many people with this, and they've totally changed their relationship with their horses over it. Now another huge benefit is when you're in this state of gratitude, you actually improve your heart rate variability. You may have seen this as a metric that a lot of people are using now to judge their health, okay? 

To assess their health. And it's not heart rate, it's heart rate variability, which is measuring the variations between the beats. And actually the more variation there is, the more optimal the heart rate variability is, which is interesting. And I think that has a lot to do with, by the way, resilience. So the variability is good, and the higher variability is good. 

And when you have this more optimal state, it's not only that your heart health can improve, which they've done studies on, but the way your brain and heart communicate improves, okay? It also puts you in a better physical and mental state. So it's like you have more physical ability and more thinking ability basically, too, which is really, really good. 

So that's a much better state to be in, a more optimal state to be in when you're with your horse. I think you'd agree with that, right? That you physically and mentally are more agile. You could think of it that way. You know, more resilient, more agile. So a good state to be in. And again, that communication between the brain and the heart is improved, which is huge.

The other thing is, that we found that when you're in this state of gratitude, it immediately puts you in a calmer, more relaxed, and more focused state. Okay? Now your horse is going to pick up on that, right? Your breathing tends to get deeper, and slower. These are all good signals to your horse. Your horse is like, Oh, you know, things are calm here. I don't need to be worried. I don't need to be anxious.

I don't need to be tense, whatever, you know, I want to be with this person. So it's really a good state to be in. Horses love it. Okay? And it's contagious. So you may find that your horse starts, you know, getting calmer, more relaxed, and again, you know, more focused with you, okay? Again, you can't be anxious and grateful at the same time. So maybe you find when you're riding, cuz I often ask people what their number one challenge is.

 And for a lot of people, for a lot of equestrians, it's anxiety. They want more confidence, they feel stressed or anxious a lot of the time. So revisiting this, you know, gratitude, just taking even a short moment and thinking about, okay, what am I grateful for right now in this moment? 

You know, maybe it's how you feel when you're sitting on your horse or, you know, it could be anything. Okay? But we really want to tie this into you being able to help your horse more and more. Okay? So let me share a little story with you. More than 20 years ago. So I've been doing this work for more than 30 years, and this happened more than 20 years ago. 

I was in my office and it was an office where I saw humans and dogs, okay? The horses, you know, I'd go to the stables for the dogs would come to me and the humans would come to me. So this gentleman, Bob brought his dog Rocky to me. Rocky was 11 years old. He was a beautiful Australian shepherd, an Aussie, and he was basically dragging his hind legs, right? 

And he would, they would sometimes work a little bit, but he would knuckle over and trip over them. And mostly he was just kind of dragging them behind. So Bob had of course gone to the vets, they did what they could, but they said, you know, it's an age-related thing. We can't really help him, you know the anti-inflammatory meds and things like that weren't doing anything. 

And, of course, that's always important to check out all the veterinary avenues first. So anyway, he, several people told him to bring Rocky to me. So he did. And yeah, this dog was just amazing. just amazing. I count him as one of my greatest teachers. So he comes in, I see what's going on, you know, with his, obviously, his movement was very difficult. 

He had to be assisted from the car into my office, and, which was just a short distance. He lies down on the mat, the dog bed I had for him. And he, you know, I just, I start working with him very gently and I just had this overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

 It was just, I was just so grateful that this dog literally put himself in my hands. It was just such a beautiful feeling I had, and it was just, I was kind of overcome with this feeling of gratitude. And as soon as I thought that, as soon as I got into that state of gratitude, I had this unbelievable feeling of warmth in my chest, like in my heart area. 

It was something that I never had before, never ever, ever to, to that degree. It was amazing and really a blissful feeling. And I, I felt that, and it was like really a wow moment. And as I was feeling that I could start to very clearly feel when my hands-on work was really making a significant improvement for Rocky.

 And when it was just like, okay, and there didn't look to be any outward difference in Rocky. Like, in other words, it wasn't like his breathing deepened or his eyes soften, you know, anything like that that you could put your finger on. It was, it was something I felt internally, it was like this amazing feeling in my chest.

 So I knew when I was really on the right track with him, it's like that, that heart warmth, I'm gonna call it that heart warmth would grow, it would like to get a little more intense when I would do certain things and maybe cool a little bit when I did other things. And I realized, wow, this is like a, like a way for me to track how I'm working and how I could help Rocky.

 So of course I'm not saying any of this to Bob, okay? He's sitting there. He's doesn't know what's going on that we're having this big crazy connection here. You know, Rocky and I, I did a whole session with him and I mean, it was technically a very good session. I used rollers, I used what we call artificial floor with him.

 I did all this stuff. He, you know, he obviously was very relaxed, he was loving it. But again, I was like guided by this internal sensation. It allowed me to kind of, you know, base my session on that to know when I was on the right track and when I wasn't on the right track. And what I, so anyway, so long story short is, so I ask Rocky, you know, I help him stand up and we notice right away he's standing on all four legs, right? 

All four feet are on the ground and he starts to walk around the office. At first, I had my hands on his pelvis, like by his hips and stuff. And then he just started to walk on his own. It was really, really amazing. Really amazing. And that's why I count him as one of my greatest teachers because there was something in that whole connection, that whole experience that, you know, he brought a lot to the table.

I'll put it that way. So anyway, so that was a, a crazy great experience. And at first, I thought it only had to do with Rocky. Like, in other words, it didn't even occur to me at first that I could replicate that with anyone else, with the horses I work with, with the other dogs, with the humans I work with, with the cats, whoever. 

But then I thought about it and I thought, well what, Let me see if I can intentionally, cuz I remembered how clearly I was feeling that sensation of gratitude when this started.


And I'm always grateful. I wanna say this, I'm always grateful for my work, and I'll tell you why I think I'm particularly grateful. And that's because I didn't always have this career. I didn't always have this profession, this mission if you will. I don't even like to call it a career or anything that sounds too cold. This was always my passion since I was a little kid. 

But after school, I went into the, into the field of, of it, information technology, you know, computer stuff, programming, designing, computer systems, that kind of stuff. I did a lot of work in New York, I worked in the brokerage, Wall Street brokerage firms, all that kind of stuff.

 And I was good at it, you know, but it wasn't my passion. So more than 30 years ago, I made a courageous decision, which if anyone's interested in how I did that, you know, hit me up, email me at mary@marydebono.com. I'd love to talk to you if you're in that situation yourself. But I followed my passion and I went to Feldenkrais school for four years to learn how to become a Feldenkrais practitioner.

 Even before that, I was training in other somatic fields. And I started actually using my own method, creating my own method, even before I got into the Feldenkrais method training. But I, but, but my work is very strongly influenced by the Feldenkrais method. So I'm always grateful. Like I realize, you know, I could be sitting in some office.  

You know, windowless office type of thing, you know, designing computer systems for something I wasn't that interested in, or I could be doing work. I really, really love that I feel is helping make a big difference in the world for humans and their animal companions. So, okay, back to Rocky. So I knew I was always, I always had the sensation of being grateful. 

Grateful to get up and do the work I love, but I also remembered that I was very intentional about being grateful to Rocky. And that's when this whole thing started. So I started doing that with everyone. So I would just take a moment, I didn't say anything out loud, but I would take a moment where they were a four-legged animal or a human.

 I would take a moment and, and really bring up that sin, that feeling of gratitude. Gratitude. So whether they were a brand new client or someone I had worked with for a long time already, I would be grateful and very intentionally and specifically grateful. And when I did that, I realized that it was definitely helping me with this. I never had judged.

Just to be clear, I never had that like fireworks in my heart, you know, a massive explosion that I had the first time with Rocky. But there was always this feeling of like warmth in my heart area, you know, just like a subtle warmth, sometimes more than others. But it was generally a warmth that comes when I'm grateful. 

And again, I think it has a lot to do with the physiological changes. Well, I don't know if the warmth has something to do with the physiological changes, but I know the heart does change physiologically when you're in that more coherent heart rate variability, which is driven a lot by gratitude. So anyway, back to Rocky and excuse me, back to this whole idea.

 So I found that the more intentional I was with my gratitude, the better my results were with the animals and the better I felt. And it seems that the more easily I could get into that deep connection, that sense of rapport with someone, again, whether it was a human or a legged animal, that I could get into that space.

 Okay? So this is why I think that this deserves a whole episode, okay? Even though it won't be a long one, is because I want to really, you know, emphasize how important it is for you and for your horse. Just take a few moments and get into that state of gratitude. Okay? And I think so.

So if you're wondering, how did that work? Like how did it help me like guiding the sessions and things like that? And this is why I think it's important for you because I'm going to be sharing a lot of things over the next several episodes so that you can help your own horses and yourself. Okay? So to set you up for success, it's important to do this gratitude practice.

 And one of the reasons why I think it works, I mean this is a theory, okay? It seems to, and I alluded to this earlier, to like let in more sensory information that it's like I'm not unconsciously blocking stuff that could actually inform my ability to help the individual I'm working with. Okay? So it seems to kind of open up that channel makes me in a way more focused as far as what's coming in that's important.

 At least that's a theory I have. Okay? So, you know, we are often unconscious, as we talk, I spoke earlier about this, RAs the particular activating system or ra it has to block out the great majority of sensory input, otherwise we, it's just too much, right? There's billions of, its of data second or something like that. 

So, but having this more focused channel, if you will, of sensory data, I'm talking about data, information through the physical senses. Okay? So anyway, so that's what I think helps, helps it. So a lot of stuff that we normally would kind of tune out, not pay attention to, you're allowing in and you're allowing it to inform your ability to help your horse,

 Okay? And that's what's important. So, so just in summary, feel gratitude. Take some time and feel gratitude for your horse. Okay? Remember, there's a reason I put this as the first key. This sets you and your horse up for success, okay? This will help you unlock your horse's superpowers, and end your own, okay? It's a win-win strategy.

 All my work is, is really designed to help you and your animals so that it's always this win-win situation. And you know, you'll feel better emotionally and physically and you will probably find that your horse will start to feel better too, and you'll be able to communicate in that deeper, more meaningful way, okay? That really makes a difference.

 And it's that two-way communication. And I find that that's just so much richer and more rewarding for both of you, okay? And again, you'll be better prepared, you'll be in a better state to help your horse transform. Okay? So thank you so much for being here. I so appreciate your attention. And you know, I can't wait to share the other keys with you, okay? 

We have six more to go and don't worry, it won't just be one episode. We'll be doubling up on some of them, of course. So please stay tuned for the rest of it. And if you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at  mary@marydebono.com. Thank you again. Can't wait to talk to you again.