What’s the difference between a horse that dances when you are on him and one that doesn’t? This is the question that this week’s guest, Visconte Simon Cocozza answers in his fabulous book, Core Conditioning for Horses, and the launching point for our conversation around how to mobilise and optimise the core when working together with our horses.
Simon himself is a performance coach, an examiner for FFE (La Fédération Française d’Equitation) and one of Europe’s leading biodynamics researchers. His methodology is based on yoga principles for humans applied to a ridden system for the horse that conditions their core and allows for optimal mental and physical harmony.
In this episode, we discuss:
⭐️ The design of the horse and how this impacts and informs the approach and design of an effective training program
⭐️ Common issues that arise from a weak core
⭐️ Understanding the relationship between form and function,
⭐️ The importance of the warmup and key exercises to incorporate
⭐️ How to assess your horse’s “core score” and the importance of a strong core for the health and happiness of our horses
You can tune your listening ears in here:
If you want to find out more about Simon, or purchase his book ‘ Core Conditioning For Horses’, here are the places to do so:
A lot of the pressure and strain we feel in training comes from approaching things from a linear perspective as opposed to a cyclic one. Theoretically speaking, we jump on at the start of a session with our horse, move through a basic warmup and then really “get to work”. The level of intensity builds progressively as if to follow a straight, upward line on a graph, reaching a crescendo before we call it a day.
The problem with this way of going about things is that it assumes that a relaxed start point and an ever-increasing build of intensity and energy is the best way to progress and make the most out of the time we are training. In reality, though, it’s almost impossible to produce quality work within this dynamic, simply because quality action requires equal periods of quality inaction, and it’s the inaction or the downtime that we often don’t allow for.
In a culture that values pushing, overcoming and constant activity, it’s a real mindset shift to allow yourself intentional moments of rest and reset, both independently and in training. Ironically, it’s something that you have to consciously allow and make time for. Nature itself does not move forward, forward, forward. It expands and contracts. It’s outward and inward. It’s both energized and reflective, recognizing that each state allows for and promotes the other.
These days, my training spans out in front of me in a cyclic fashion. I see the warmup. I see the peaks of intensity that come as I intentionally engage in things that are new to us or that we find challenging. I see flatter moments of sustained progress of things that we know. And in between, I allow for spaciousness. A contraction, a return to neutral. A chance to reconnect, re-embody, reset. And from this place, energy can again begin to build.