My Organs Tell My Structure Where It Needs To Be: Conversations On Posture

When it comes to our organs, we appreciate them in the context of life functioning systems (and rightly so), but we rarely consider their role in movement and postural support. If we want to think about them in relation to the latter (movement and posture), we must invite another glorious player to the conversation, our fascial system, or specifically the deep front line.

Fascia forms in many different configurations. Fascial trains are part of the movement system of the body; the deep front line is one of these fascial trains. As the name suggest, the deep front line lies within the deepest parts of the body’s universe, winding its way through the very core of our beings.

When we consider fascia and function, we automatically consider tone. The tone of fascia is based on pressure relationships; in essence, fascia requires a certain amount of pressure to maintain tone, responding with equal and opposite pressure.

In the parasympathetic system (and I highlight this because how we move is different between the fight flight and parasympathetic nervous system states), the organs originate our movement. Part of this function is through the pressure applied to the deep front line so it’s able to move, shift and slide.

The lungs are an excellent example of this. When they sit high, in the parasympathetic system, they are part of the stabilizing function of the neck. The top lobe presses on the deep front line, helping to maintain the length of the cervical spine and preventing it being vulnerable and loose (spoiler alert: the neck is supposed to hold a degree of positive tension. It’s not supposed to be soft and loose, which is counterproductive for support).

Posture is the domain, kingdom, and queendom of the nervous system. If we are looking to the muscles, in my opinion, we are starting from the wrong direction. What we are observing is the end result of my brain and my nervous system and consequently, my organs telling my structure where it needs to be, and my body arranging itself as a result.


❤️ Jane

  • Here is a video of a (partial) deep front line dissection. From our horse’s point of view, the tongue tendon is part of the deep front line (the same is true for us) and connects all the way to the hind legs, which is why freedom of the jaw and tongue (nosebands, cough cough) is so important not just to happiness, but posture and movement.

  • Organ and nervous system consideration is part of the work we play with in JoyRide, considering biomechanics through a nervous system lens. If you want to join us, you can check it out here– we’d love to have you be a part of it!


The Best Way To Avoid Things You Don’t Want To Happen Is To Do Your Best Not To Let Them Happen In The First Place

So much of the success we experience in training is about creating environments that support the outcomes we are trying to teach. This is different to control; it’s intentional curation that changes from context to context that increases the clarity of what we’re asking, our accuracy in asking it, and consequently, the capacity of our horse to understand.

This is Ada. She’s an Irish Draught who turned one just before Christmas. Her natural propensity is to move the world round with her shoulders, an unsurprising biproduct of the natural strengths of her breed. I watch her in the paddock, and I giggle; the way she maneuvers the other horses, her first thought being not to go around but through.

In our handling though, this means I have to be particular. I am cautious not to yield my ground, not to allow for passages of movement where my space is not considered. This is true of every horse I interact with, but in these early stages, where learning is amplified, and the energetics of engagement are being newly established the air around these asks moves faster, the consequences clearer and more acute.

Any sessions we do together are short and sweet. I want her basic handling established, for her to lead happily, move her hindquarters and her shoulders, load up into the trailer to create both a harmonious living situation together, to set the stage for the future, but beyond that for emergency. It seems that the latter does not discern whether your handling is ready for them or not.

Ada has been quick to learn and delights in our interactions, as do I. Consistent with what I’ve described above, she finds the backup challenging. She’s a little sticky, not as light as with my other requests. If she gets flustered, things can unravel quickly, so I’m careful to only ask in situations that can support her; along fence lines, in the yard, when she’s emotionally focused and in her body.

If we walk around the farm, I do my best to give other alternatives to backing up to make sure I don’t create a situation where she thinks the best option is to go through me. Is this ideal? No. But we are in the very early stages of learning and we’re working where we’re at. You could argue it’s not time to wander out at all, but I find the real world the best for practicing things that are important and having it make sense to your lovely horse.

The best way to avoid things you don’t want to happen is to do your best not to let them happen in the first place. This means being smart, thinking ahead. It means creating situations where the horse can answer yes, where you set them up to win. And then expanding the context of how and when you ask gradually from there.


❤️ Jane

A Normalized Bar On A Dysfunctional State Of Being Does Not Equal Wellness

A couple of decades back when I was studying health science, my class group was told a story about peanuts. Peanuts are prone to a black growth called aflatoxin, which you can also see on occasion on the inside of a capsicum or bell pepper.

The government had a percentage that the peanuts had to pass- an aflatoxin test if you will- to deem the peanuts fit for human consumption. That year, most of the peanuts failed the test. Faced with the option (not to mention the opposition) of disposing of a huge number of peanuts (and the economic flow on effects), they instead lowered the percentage requirement and kept those peanuts sailing through.

You might be thinking, well, what has this story got to do with anything you might teach or share here? But I feel like it’s a metaphor for so many things, especially when it comes to our wellness and our health.

So many humans and horses are dealing with dysfunction that the dysfunction itself has become normalized. Like the effected peanuts passing the test, the bar has dropped on what we consider to be ok and then we come to consider that state of being as the norm.

But a normalized bar on a dysfunctional state of being does not equal wellness.

I could go on all day to the factors that contribute to this being the case, much of which you already know, and many of which are not necessarily our fault. But even if it’s not our individual fault that we landed here, it’s our individual responsibility to somehow find our way out. To look beyond the plight of ‘most’ and ‘many’, to refuse to accept it as the end goal.

And beyond that, we need to recognize that if we or our horse have spent any number of years in a state we recognize as un-ideal, then it’s going to take some time to ease our way out of them.

Most practices dedicated to well-being are not quick fixes, and don’t pretend to be such. At their essence, they are a way of life that do not prioritize temporary comfort over the reality of the work and time it takes to truly help a horse or human find vitality.

A moment of ‘feeling better’ is easy to create, and these moments have their place. But changing the way that a body is functioning at a deeper more foundational level is much longer and more intensive work. Work that is not necessarily instantly gratifying or fast rewarding, simply because we don’t get to consciously decide how long it takes. The body does, a process that is unconsciously and intuitively driven.

As a coach and someone dedicated to the latter, that’s a hard package to sell. It’s a process that only proves itself over time, which means time must be actively given.


❤️ Jane


A Normal Amount Of Discomfort

This week, I’ve been reading lots of articles about women in the wild. Adventurers, hikers, campers, who set out to the mountains and forests in solitude, setting up their camp at night and sleeping where they land.

In my mind, these women are intrepid and fearless. Their bodies, expanded and spent by the fullness of activity in their day, is fed at twilight and then they fall quietly asleep, their camp a peaceful pocket of rest as the busyness of nature surrounds them.

Except, this is not what happens at all.

The more common experience is that camping, sleeping alone at night away from lights, electricity and other people is anything but relaxing. It’s not even just ok. For many, it’s nights of wakefulness, of fear and of a mind that’s playing tricks.

Of tiny noises played to human ears at 100 x magnification. Of perhaps the ultimate concern (especially for a woman)- that what you hear is another human. Of your mind’s eye seeing your face on the front page of the newspaper, gone for 100 days.

We all know what it’s like for our mind to run away in the darkness of the night. And outside, alone, without the usual comforts or distractions, we are left only with ourselves.

The whole point, and simultaneously, what so many of us spend our days running away from.

Curiously, I found this reading, these other women’s stories, to be a fascination and a comfort. I crave solitude, love being alone in the wild, and yet when I do, for anything beyond and hour’s walk, it’s not a state that is relaxing. Quite the opposite: I am more switched on, more alert, the spikes and lows of adrenalin peaking and troughing with frequent regularity.

If we think of animals- not the domesticated kind, but those that are free- they are in a constant state of awareness. For the birds in my garden, I am the local dealer, half a dozen nectar feeders hanging in the tree. I watch them as I write. They land, sip on the feeders, but the spaces of feeding last only a second, never more. Their eyes are darting, looking round.

They feed, and notice, feed, and notice. They aren’t tuned out. They are tuned in.

Growing up, I had a pony that never missed a beat. My mother used to say, if we had to go bush, Minnie is the one we want to take with us. What she meant was she pays attention. And paying attention is the number one rule of survival. Of making it out the other side.

I wonder, at what point we decided that we had to remove all feeling that we labeled as discomfort in order to understand ourselves as being ok?

That as humans, we are entitled to a life of ease and comfort that sits separately to what the rest of the animal world experiences?

I wonder, if there’s a normal level of doubt, of anxiety, of even fear that as humans- as a human who is vital, connected, and alive- we are supposed to experience?

And in our domesticated lives, we have convinced ourselves of this idea of being able to find neutral, or that much of our state of being should be one of relaxation and rest?

That’s certainly not the case for any other creature on the planet.

I am finding, that to accept that things may be difficult, that it’s normal to feel the peaks of fear in this situation or that, is an act of compassion and kindness to myself.

That to expect the opposite is delusional at best.

The positive thinking movement has its benefits for sure, but I sometimes wonder if it’s created more of a deficit in our ability to meet reality, less ease in accepting the natural, normal level of hardship that is part of being in life.

In my membership program, JoyRide, so much of the work that we do there is about renegotiating our experience of what feeling and emotion feel like in the body. So much of it is not about removing discomfort, but more so, learning not to freak out about it and act within it.

Which on first reading, might not sound appealing, but the truth is, it’s a liberation.

Naturally, help is advisable and available when we find ourselves managing an emotional life that is non-functional and removes us from the ability to act. But beyond that, entertain there is a level of discomfort, of hardship that just… is.

I think back to my women camper friends, the one who explore out in the wild. I am comforted by the thought of their minds who are as busy in the dark as mine is.

That we all have the spikes of anxiety, the doubt, and the concern.

That this is not necessarily something to escape from. It’s confirmation of humanity.

Universal reminders of the animal skin of which we’re in.


❤️ Jane


On The Search For Better Ways, The Process Of Remembering, & To Horses, Who One & All Are Saints

These last few days, as life sometimes demands of you, I’ve spent many more moments than planned away from my computer and from work.

For the most part, I restrict my playtime on social media. I have a chrome extension on my computer that blocks my Facebook news feed, only allowing access to pages and groups I intentionally visit.

I no longer have social media apps on my phone.

But occasionally, after extended absences away, I reinstall the app and spend some minutes seeing what’s been happening.

I stumble across a post from my very brilliant friend Kate Sandel at Soft and Sound, go down the rabbit hole of investigating the dressage test to which she is referring.

Yet again, a horse in the not so delicate hands of a human. A Grand Prix dressage test. A well performed warmblood, a much-lauded rider, receiving commendation for a questionable performance.

I pray to the universe that if I’m to come back to this world a horse, let me be one without athletic vigor. It appears us humans struggle to do little more than extort this for our own benefit.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m operating in a parallel universe. I know a handful of people there that join me.

I really don’t get it. I struggle to understand. I don’t fully grasp why this is something we have to explain or argue for.

That horses are sentient.

That they have an elaborate and complex emotional life.

That it’s an everyday miracle they let us get close to them, let alone ride on their back.

That we need to take more care. The most care.

I think back to the last Black Friday sale. I click on a link, get taken to a page selling bridles.

I can’t find a single one without a crank noseband. My eyes, now used to the vision of noseband-less horses finds the cascade of thumbnails and strapped tight mouths confronting.

I forget this is the norm.

I make an enquiry. If I want one- one without a noseband- I am told, it will be a special order. To modify the bridle to remove it. It will cost extra NOT to have the noseband.

I sink into my seat.

Just now, I decide to change my cover photo on my Facebook page. I choose one with my young horse, of no more than five or six rides, being ridden in a halter.

I wonder to myself if this is the right image. Maybe it might pigeonhole me I think, place me in a stereotype.

I counter myself moments later. If that is the case, I think to myself, let the halter going rider be the box in which I’m placed. I would claw my way out of most of the others.

Yesterday, I’m told a pocket of land close by to me that might be for sale soon. I feel bereft. I often wander the tracks there, am friends with the Fuchsias, the Manukas and the Ferns. I talk out loud to them with the expectation of hearing back.

I talk to trees too’, my friend said recently, ‘but I don’t tell anyone else, in case it’s weird.

I think it’s weirder not to’, I say back. ‘To assume the landscape we’re a part of exists without the capacity for reply.

I worry about the next custodian of the land, that they might take it upon themselves to clear this ancient stretch of bush that’s so alive.

I understand the people that lay in front of diggers and tie themselves to trunks. I think I might be one of them.

My son rang me yesterday, he’s at the top of the South Island camping. A wilderness that’s pristine. He took his fishing rod, planned to sit on the docks and see what happened.

Did you catch anything, I ask him?

‘No mum’, he replies. ‘There are no fish in the water this close to the shore, you have to go out in the boat.’

Those waters should be teaming.

‘That’s sad’, I say to him, and he agrees.

We are not sad that no fish are caught.

We are sad the waters are empty of fish to catch.

The trawlers are out early. Evidence of unsustainable quotas leaving spaces in the sea.

To my mind, these aren’t a series of divided stories without connection. The dressage test and the bridles and the trees and the fish and all the things.

They all interrelate.

And perhaps it’s not the norm to ask,

do you know what the phase of the moon is currently

or how many wild foods can you identify in your area that are safe to eat

or where is due north

or can you point out different star constellations and outline them in the sky

or do you know what the clouds are telling you about the weather

or what the grasses are in the paddocks where your horses eat

If we are looking for the cause of our apathy and our entitlement, this is it.

So many of us do not know the answers to these questions.

We have lost our wider sense of connection, forgotten the intended context of a human on this land.

But the clay of our body remembers, and it’s her whispers that we hear that creates the quiet and unyielding discontent.

The insistent and persistent voice that tells us to stay with the search for better ways.

So with that in mind, to the search for better ways, the process of remembering, and to horses, who one and all are Saints.


❤️ Jane


Your Body May Be Expressing Things Your Mind Is Choosing To Be Blind To

Sometimes, our body is expressing things that our mind is choosing to be blind to, a constant tap-tap-tapping at the door of our consciousness of situations or circumstances in our external reality that need to change.

If we’re unable to sit with these problems and address them, then it’s unlikely we’ll experience changes beyond small, fluctuating shifts on a physical level also.

My work with the nervous system focuses on adaptability, the aim being to get our body and brain to a place where it’s responding appropriately to the situation it finds itself in.

What is appropriate? Appropriate could also be translated as accurate responsiveness, a state of being where I’m able to meet the situation I am in- the horse I’m working with, the conversation I’m a part of, the person I’m engaged with- and stay true to what that moment requires of me without defaulting to a pre-patterned mode of operation.

This means there is no good, bad, right, or wrong, just the response that is appropriate for that moment. If it’s appropriate to be in fight flight, or my sympathetic nervous system, then I absolutely want that. And equally so, I want to be able to transition out of it when the circumstances causing the threat has changed and I no longer need to be there.

Our bodies are the ultimate truth tellers. Sometimes the hardest work is not about addressing a set of physical symptoms or circumstances but getting you to the place where mind is able to accept the truth of what’s going on, rather than the story that’s getting in the way of seeing it. And beyond that, is willing to act of these understandings and make changes.

If what you’re experiencing in your body is reflecting reality, then the only thing that’s going to help at a foundational level is making shifts to your life and circumstance, leaving your body free to express something different.

Flee patterns are great examples of this. If we are in a relationship or job that we loathe or is compromising us, our body will express that unhappiness often before the mind is willing to accept it. The structure of our body will be set in the flee pattern, ready to leave the building, even if the mind insists everything is ok. And it’s not until the problems are addressed or we have changed our circumstances altogether that we will truly return to physical wellness.

The same is true for our horses. You can have the best of intentions, use all the supplements, even train with a focus on wellbeing, but if their true needs are not accounted for and met, forage, freedom, and friends (and I would argue so much more), their bodies will always reflect the truth of how they feel.

I can see now, over the years I’ve been practicing this work, how many stories I’ve been holding on to and let go of. I really feel this is the hardest part. Our body is constantly and always making movements towards vitality. It’s our beliefs, the stories we cling to, the should’s and the have to’s, the defense of our old ways that prevent things changing as fast as we are able.


❤️ Jane

Everything You Do With Your Horse Means Something

I shared a video of my baby horse Saffy’s first ride in my membership group, and one of the comments there was “so much fun to watch-everything had meaning”.
I loved this because it was absolutely true. In the process of starting a young horse- and especially when it comes to the first rides- there is such a high degree of intentionality to your action that there is (hopefully) no movement or aid given that is superfluous or unnecessary.
The ride I shared only lasted a few minutes but everything within that time had purpose; a clear set of questions and a clear set of answers.
We operate with a clarity crispness for the simple reason that we are in the very early stages of the learning process and being clear is important for both understanding and safety- the latter perhaps being the main reason we are so tuned in and on the ball.
But of course, everything we do with our horses regardless of their age or experience has meaning; it’s just sometimes, we get stuck in our complacencies, a little mechanized, a little more susceptible falling into the pitfalls of routine. And consequently, it’s important constantly check in and make sure that just because you only have “x” amount of time to work with your horse, or you do this every day, or you have a lot going on that you don’t give yourself a wild card pass for sloppy handling and communication that lacks clarity and consistency for your horse.
Case and point: I noticed that Merc recently had become a little fussy to put the bridle on. This was a new thing, something that has supposedly arisen, ‘out of the blue’. I super sleuthed my way through why this might be happening and realized it stemmed back to how I was undoing the halter in the paddock.
At the time, he was with my yearling Ada, and because of very different diets and eating times, I was feeding Ada when I took Merc out to work. When I went to put him back in his paddock, he was quite keen to go and check out her bucket. I was busy, had a lot going on and a few horses I wanted to play with, and had become less particular than normal about how I released the halter.
At the end, I realized he was very slightly flicking his nose up and away from me as I took the halter off to get over to the remnants of her food, and at this point, there was the release. It seems like nothing, but, again, everything has meaning- whether we notice this or not is a different thing.
That little habit fed through to our bridling- the little head flick and the turn away. My fault completely. Just one of those things where I hadn’t paid enough attention and that little something become a little something else that we then had to have a new conversation around.
Everything has meaning. What you ask for and what you don’t. How you hold your rope and your reins. How you approach and how you retreat.
And you know what? This is something to delight in. It means we are in a position of continually refining our conversation, of increasing the possibility of gaining more and more closeness with these amazing beings who so graciously allow us to play with them.
❤️ Jane
Saffy has quite a lot of white in one eye and it makes me laugh- in quite a few of the photos we took on this ride she is looking directly at the camera 😍😆

You Don’t Need More Information, You Need More Experiences

One of my mentors once said to me, Jane, people don’t need more information, they need more experiences.

She was referring to the movement work I teach; how the benefit, the transformation is in the doing of the work, not the knowing of the work.

This is a challenge that I’m presented with frequently; providing enough information to satisfy hungry and curious minds balanced with enough encouragement to dive in and do the work.

I believe this to be true of horsemanship in all its manifestations also. That we have to take care not to become theory heavy and experience poor, and beyond that, use ‘the need to know more’ as a way to avoid taking action.

The ‘need to know’ pattern is the favourite of those of us who love to intellectualize our way through situations. It can prevent us from committing to a decision or practice before we feel like we ‘know everything we need to know’ and be used as a procrastination technique to get started on something that perhaps takes us out of our comfort zone.

I’m not suggesting that information isn’t useful or needed- quite the contrary. But what I am saying is that information needs to be paired with action and experience- quickly and close together- the combination of the two creating an alchemy that we understand to be skill.

The reality is both your body, and your horse don’t care about correct terminology or scientific names. What they respond to is how that information lives in your cells and expresses in your action. At some point you have to recognize the learning process as inherently messy. You will get it wrong. You will get confused and frustrated. That’s all part of it.

So, if you recognize yourself in this pattern, don’t let yourself get too far into your head before you put what you are learning into practice. Do it imperfectly. Stay observant. Repair your mistakes. But keep going.

Learning what I now teach was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, for the simple reason is I couldn’t use the techniques I had in the past to “smart” my way through. I’m a good student and a great swot. I can get my head down, bum up in a book and burn my way through those words in a weekend. But for the first time, this movement work didn’t let me do that. It didn’t really matter how much I knew if I hadn’t practiced.

And the true knowledge- the stuff that sinks down to the level of the marrow- only comes with the doing. I didn’t get to ‘decide’ how long that took because it wasn’t a cognitive process. Knowledge as a combination of lived, felt experience as well as intellectual understanding.

You don’t get to skip the doing part for that to happen.

❤️ Jane


But What If That’s Just The Way You Are? Conversations On Energetic Adjustability

But what if this is just the way you are?

Energetic adjustability is a big conversation amongst riders, and an essential skill in being able to meet your horse’s needs and be a clear and effective partner. We can think of our usual mode of operation- whether than be quiet, loud or anything in between- as our energetic comfort zone, our most practiced vibrational frequency that we feel most at home acting within.

When we meet a horse whose needs match our most practiced frequency, the result is harmonious. We are essentially the puzzle piece that meets its oppositional half, the combination of the two together forming a unified whole. This feels good to us and feels good to the horse.

Often, however, we are required to move beyond the energetic range most familiar to us and it’s in this space that things become challenging. It’s important to remember that a vital body has many different energetic presentations which adjust to meet what is required in the moment. In this way, there is no one way of being, no one ‘mode’ that is the ‘best way’. There is only, ‘what needs to happen to best meet the reality of this situation?’

What we are seeking is contrast; the skill of being able to maintain enough energy to communicate effectively, whilst simultaneously doing as little as possible. When we see riding partnerships of beauty, there is most definitely a quietude and a peace, but there is also an infusion of energy and strength that is palpably obvious. We want heart with backbone, not of the forceful or violent kind, but of the kind that you want to hold onto when you are looking for a strong and steady hand to hold in the middle of a storm.

Energy that is reliable, trustworthy, fair, and compassionate. An embodied gentle strength.

Some of us are blessed with the ability to chop and change, to bring the energy up and lower it depending on what the situation requires. For many of us, however, we’ve been trained into a singular mode of operation, a narrow window of operating that we’ve come to identify as ‘our way’.

Just like anything else, energetic adaptability is a skill, and something that can be learned.

Here are some common reasons I see in my work that cause people to struggle with adjusting their energy.

  1. Your nervous system state

Our parasympathetic nervous system is a system of great adaptability; it adjusts to meet the needs of the moment. Once we hit fight flight, things begin to change.

In the active stages of fight flight (fight, flight, and freeze) we might be tetchy, reactive, unrelaxed. Come collapse or conservation of energy mode, and energetic body becomes flaccid; we lack motivation, feel like any degree of active output is a stretch or beyond our range.

Energetic capacity goes hand in hand with your nervous system state. It’s the brain directly communicating to the body how to behave, the Philosopher’s Stone of the energetic conversation.

  1. Lack of novel movement experiences

If I took a sample of 100 adults, bets on most of that group could tell me with a high degree of accuracy what their movement experiences look like over the course of a week. For some that may include going to the gym, or running; it may be riding, or very little movement at all.

The point I’m making is that come adulthood, the range of novel activity that we engage in becomes less and less, and for some of us, there isn’t a single thing we do outside of a surprise or an emergency that’s different from the norm in any way.

We don’t PRACTICE expanding our energetic range in the day to day, and then get surprised when these beautiful beings we are doing our best to partner with take us out of our energetic bubble.

I have a belief that on an unconscious level, this is part of what we are attracted to with our horses; the freedom, the expansiveness, the wild magic that horses possess. We crave that too, recognize ourselves within it, put ourselves in the path of it to remember it back to us.

But I digress. To increase energetic capacity, you have to practice turning the dial up and down in the everyday- not just around your horses.

Trust me when I say your horsing life is not the only area of your life where you are challenged in this way. But you already know that.

It’s just the horses that are the honest reflection of what’s what.

  1. Being more attached to the story, less observant of reality

This is in part expanding on what we’ve already discussed which is: If you self-identify as a particular ‘type’ type of person (quiet, loud, anything in between), then what you’ve identified is your comfort zone, and perhaps your dominant mode of functioning.

It’s very easy to argue against ourselves and our own effectiveness by using these labels to excuse ourselves from behaving or acting differently, which proves nothing beyond a more committed attachment to the story of who we want to be than the reality.

Every one of us is going to be challenged to operate outside of our most practiced zone. That’s just a given. But like anything, our zone expands the more we step out of it and commit to showing up in for our horses and the actual situation in front of us. Energetic adaptability is a skill and like any skill takes practice.

  1. Thinking there is one mode of presentation that is the ‘right way.’

There is no right or wrong way to be, just the way that is required to meet the needs of your horse (and of yourself).

This is a constant dance of subtle change and nuance that again requires practice, consistency and observation and adaptation.

Much like the flow of life really.

This photo is of me and my yearling Ada. Her energetic comfort zone is huge, requiring more energetic range from me than I typically choose to use. To meet her needs, I have to raise my life, not as a means to be forceful, but simply to be interesting enough for her to consider dancing together with me.

We’re all trotting through the same playground together.


❤️ Jane


Starting Saffy Under Saddle: Lessons In How Fast To Take Things

This is Saffy. Some of you will have seen her pop up every now and then on my page, but for the most part, she’s been quietly busying away in the background doing what she does best- telling the other ponies of their rightful position in the paddock, eating grass and taking her position of Chief Manager Of The Feed Buckets at night extremely seriously.

Up until this point- namely the last three days- Saffy thought that maybe this whole riding palava was for the “other horses”. One of my funniest memories of her is as a two-year-old, grazing the paddock near my arena. She looked over to see me riding (I’m not sure she’d ever seen a human atop a horse) and proceeded to prance up and down the perimeter of the arena with a look of utter shock. Three years have since passed and now it’s her turn to strut her fancy trotters under saddle. We had our first rides yesterday and today was the first time I was going in alone, albeit with my husband watching from the wings, and adding some ground aids to clarify our go button. All in all, she’s had less than ten minutes under saddle.

Saffy is such an interesting horse and I feel fortunate to have enough horses with different personalities, degrees of motivation and type that I’m constantly required to adjust my energy, change my presentation and work faster, or slower, depending on who’s in front of me. It sounds logical in theory, but for those of us who don’t ride professionally and have only a couple of our horses that we work with, perhaps for many years, it’s easy to get into a singular mode of presentation that’s rarely challenged or updated. Getting to play with and observe as many different horses as you can is such a gift, and one we should seek out wherever possible.

I mentioned in a previous post that the fabulous Ben Longwell has been staying with us this past three days, and a big part of my desire to work together was to get to work with Saffy (who is now 5) and Ada (who is a yearling).

I cannot emphasize enough the value of mentorship; I consider Ben to be one of mine and am so fortunate to have had his help and expertise over the last little while. What we identified is that Saffy is very confident and clever, and consequently is easily bored. She needs short, efficient sessions where questions are asked then answered, and from that point, we move on.

Truth be known, had Ben not been here, I’m not sure I would be riding yet, for the simple reason as I like to take my time, and tend to check something is working, then improve it, check, and check again. In part, this is because of the desire for self-preservation; I mostly work and ride alone without help and I want to be as sure as possible that I’ve ticked all the boxes.

Ben, having started hundreds of horses over the years and also knowing me, thought it would be a good idea to move a little faster, and I agreed. There’s a big difference between rushing and moving at a pace that keeps things fresh and interesting; having things good enough to move on to the next thing in the knowledge that everything is in a constant process of refinement. Sometimes you need help from the outside to identify which is which.

With my other horses- Dee and Nadia spring to mind, both sensitive and naturally very forward- the slow and steady worked a treat. For Saffy, it is death, a fast route to disinterest and becoming less and less engaged.

Another lesson in adaptability and meeting each horse where they’re at.

Today, with Ben having left and back to the normal routine, I got on once again. I knew Saffy would be tired from a big few days but it was important for me to get on alone and to carry forward what we’d been practicing. The mental importance of continuing momentum and normalizing what will be normal moving forward.

So here is me and Saffy, number two times in the saddle.

And now, we ride.


❤️ Jane

Exploring Movement Arcs {Video}

Movement arcs are patterns of movement that the body follows when its moving in the parasympathetic nervous system.

They are based on the understanding that HOW the body moves is different between the fight flight and parasympathetic nervous system states. Differences that are observable. Differences that allow us to create new pathways of movement that assist in repatterning those that aren’t serving us, on both a physical and emotional level.

How do they help us?

Movement arcs are part of the foundational structure of what I teach when considering biomechanics from a nervous system perspective.

They allow us to:

  1. Work with Intention Maps- movement visualization processes that give the body clarity of the desired movement from Point A to Point B
  2. Work with the centreline, the organizing principle of the body that everything else orients itself around. The centreline is a literal line that runs up the centre of the body, formed by both the superficial front line and deep front line fascial trains.

When I understand the patterns of movement that the centreline takes, I can look to match and mirror the arcs of movement in my own body that are initiated by my horse in order for us to find harmony OR I can positively influence my horse’s movement patterns through how I, myself am moving.

In the trot, the horse’s centreline moves in a spiral pattern, similar to an infinity sign. Getting clarity on this movement pathway then allows me to create that movement within my own body in a way that allows us to sync together within the movement experience.

  1. Refine our understanding of movement as far as what is under our conscious control to work and act on, taking us out of patterns of micromanaging and over-control
  2. Movement Arcs also give us functional points of focus when we feel mental or emotional concern in the saddle. They allow us to pay attention to something tangible and actionable- the movement pathways- that is a big and useful part of being able to step out of ground hog day loops.

In JoyRide, we explore this movement work both on and off the horse, working with a variety of functional movement patterns that allow us to create harmonious experiences with our horses, both in and out of the saddle.

I’m more than happy to chatter about it, so if you have questions, please post them below!

You can learn more or come play with us in JoyRide here:

❤️ Jane

On Letting Yourself Have The Experience

Do you want to do some filming this afternoon? My husband calls out kindly to me.

Yes, I reply, a note of resignation in my voice. I love my pony; I love chattering about my work but I really do not like The Filming. Especially the type of filming that means I’m riding my lovely horse. To me, that’s traversing sacred ground. Poking noses all up in your riding business with The Lenses. I’d really rather not.

I’ve become familiar, very practiced with the talking to The Camera behind The Computer. Once, if not multiple times a day, I see my own face pop up on the screen, have to deal with my antipodean tones booming back into my ear balls.

It used to be that The Speaking To The Camera brought me out in hot sweats. For someone who always had a lot to say, suddenly I had none. The Speaking To The Camera will do that to you. Make your words crystalize over as they start to leave your mouth.

Sometimes, the Word Fairies like to mess with you. I do not find them funny. They catch your words and rearrange them, making sensible and rational thoughts turn into unsensible and irrational sentences. They’re really pesky beasts.

When I first started my business, all those years ago I had neither the camera nor the money. I also didn’t have a blank wall to film against (our quite small house sports the cluttered look). Instead, if you were to drill a hole in my door and poke your eyeball through, you’d see me sat in my mother in laws living room, perched upon a desk, hovering somewhere between the heat pump and the floor, my laptop a meter or so away piled atop a pile of books.

The background wall was peach.

If you think starting out is glamour, I can assure you, it is not.

Why am I telling you this?

Because all of those hot sweats over all those many years have got me to a place where I can comfortably sit in front of the camera and press go. Which means when it comes to new experiences- like filming more with my horse rather than me resting on a chair- I recognize the feelings as similar to what I’ve felt before. And from here, I tell myself, the only way is through.

In the process of learning anything, you have to let yourself have the experience. If you can tick the box that tells you that you’re safe, the next biggest impediment to progress is the ability to let yourself learn.

The ability to let yourself feel uncomfortable and do the thing anyway. The ability to let it be frustrating and to know that you’ll get better over time. The ability to release the need to be perfect and to let the word fairies mess with what you have to say. To continue on in spite of.

At the start of my ride today, as my husband hit record, my brain told me I’d forgotten how to ride. I almost say the words out loud- I’ve forgotten how to ride!- but then I stop myself before the thoughts take form.

I will not give that thought a voice because it isn’t true. Just because I feel different, doesn’t mean that somethings wrong.

It just means there’s a person in the arena with a camera, when normally there isn’t. And all I have to do is practice what I know.

The only way is through.


❤️ Jane

I Dissent: A Letting Go Of Patterns

The first thing to emerge was my hand, reaching across the room to find my phone. 4:56 am. A little surge of success welled up inside me. Intercepting the alarm increases my ability to not wake the other sleeping people. As a 5 am riser, I’m the first in my household to awake, the movement from bed to desk a strategic mission of sorts.

Our house, a little brick bungalow built in the 1960’s, likes to talk as I walk through. There’s a particular snaking pattern I make along the floorboards; stay closer to the door of my bedroom, take it wide as I move past the boys. The pattern of maintaining silence.

Closing the door to the kitchen takes about 5 seconds; any faster and the door creaks; any slower and it catches in a way that’s loud enough to wake the smallest of sleeping ears and rouse them up.

I’ve spent many dollars on mugs, and yet the one I choose to drink from every morning is the cheapest one I’ve bought. A $2 mug from a discount shop that holds just the right amount of coffee and has the required size and feel. I’m selective about my mugs. The texture, the thickness of the rim, the roundness, and the shape. It all matters. It contributes to the experience and the taste.

I carry my mug, my notebook, and my book up the winding path to my office. To the human eye, I’m creeping. To the spider world, I’m an abomination. A whirlwind of destruction breaking the gentle threads of silk that have been woven overnight from plant to plant.

I sit on my chair and open my computer. Already, I feel like I’m behind. While everyone around me sleeps, I notice the descension of all the things. The writing wanting to be done, the sessions needing to be taught. The activities involved to mothering and being with the boys. The emails and the things, gathered in my stomach like a firm and solid rock.

But this morning, rebellion. I know this feeling. She and I have danced together many times. There’s a real and present tension between the life we are committed to and the patterns that present.

My pattern: Of overwork, of feeling like I can never do enough, like time is on the run.

The life I am committed to: Of noticing, of deep attention, of gratitude, of creativity. Of surrendering to the landscape around me and learning more about my place.

So, this morning, I dissent.

I take myself away from the computer and all the things. I throw a jacket over my pajamas and go outside. Through the long and thickening grass slightly wilting with the dew. Underneath the Manuka and Kanuka, their blossoming flowers appearing like sprinkled icing sugar on dark branches overnight. Through the gate and across the field to my horses, all standing in communion.

They wait together, doing nothing. View finding. They lick and chew. Peaceful. I stand and join them. And I remember to remember. These are the moments I live for. They dissolve the moments of angst and concern that are not real.

Soundbites of reconnection. Experiences of seeming nothingness that demonstrate the everything. Moments we must remember to take when it feels like have the least amount of time available to do so.

When the old patterns arise, I will dissent. When life convinces me, it is something to be endured rather than enjoyed, I will dissent.

And I will show up here, and I will write about it, as a reminder to those wanting to hold hands and do the same.


❤️ Jane

When Things Don’t Go To Plan: A Reminder To Let Yourself Be New

On Monday, riding Merc, we eased into trot. Walk had felt ok, but in trot, immediately somethings wrong.

His stride is slightly off. He feels contracted, uneven. I stop, call out to Liz who’s watching from the fence.

He’s lame, I tell her, my voice becoming a cloud trail. I dismount, stroke my pony down his smoothly muscled neck.

My intuition drops a message into my mental inbox.

A stone bruise. I know this to be the case. On the weekend, we had ridden down our gravel road on the way to the inlet. Our weather has been fickle to say the least. A combination of not quite summer and not quite winter.

A lot of rain and a lot of hot, making bodies hard to regulate and adding softening to normally rock hard and barefoot feet.

The stretch of road is short, but in this case, long enough.

My heart sank an extra octave more than normal.

Not only because I don’t like to see my beloved horse not 100%.

Not only because there’s a special something something that a horsewoman feels when one of their faves is out of action.

But also, because this weekend we were due to set off on an adventure. A station clinic where we were going to muster cows and ride for hours in the hills.

Months long anticipation in the making.

My vision within this dream were with my particular patchy pony at my side.

It was his mane that I felt threaded through my fingers as we made our way up the steep hills.

His ears that framed the photos.

His back on which I felt the most confident and the safest.

Him that I planned to whisper my stories, my reservations, my gratitude, and my love.

I missed the adventure we were due but now might not never have.

I understand, feel better, do better that I have done in the past. In the past, the upset has functioned like a toxic mist, pervading my whole day. It would colour my conversations, my responses, my reactions.

I would feel myself justified in allowing it to pervade my energetic undercurrent, a wild card pass for a wide berth to be taken and wanting to be left alone.

Now I can take these situations with more perspective, a more zoomed out kind of lens. And perhaps, on a day when I’m feeling particularly masterful, I may even allow my mind to entertain the opportunity that could be present within the shadows of the disappointment (as nauseating as that is to say).

I have been sad, down, and flat. Of that you can be sure. But I am also grateful for what I think is an injury that is relatively minor, despite its awful timing. An injury that is ultimately recoverable. And my patchy pony being happy in my paddock is where my primary focus lays.

The thing was, at this point, I still had a place on the team, an opening for the taking. I’m committed to going regardless. My Liz is taking her lovely pony on the proviso of my presence. Not going is not an option.

Which leaves then, my big red mare, my lovely Nadia. The powerhouse jet engine who in her previous life has never been outside the arena, much less seen a cow.

On our rides at home, she is unstoppable, untirable. She leaves my husband’s horse, Elvis, who himself is no slouch, in her wake. On our downward jaunts at home, she’s so active I get a stitch.

I knew that if my paint pony was not up to the task (and that’s still a floating question) it would be my red mare who would be loaded up and travelled north with.

My mind floated back to our previous clinic experiences together. Our start point was not easeful. Her anxiety was such that we spent a few months in the roundpen before it felt ok to ride her in the arena.

Her concern about the bit was so great that I flung it to the side for close to a year and began our riding work in a halter.

Our first clinic was not for the faint hearted. A series of unideal situations that was the best option available. Having someone come to help me at home, due to where I live, was a luxury I didn’t have to indulge.

But here’s the thing; Nadia is not that horse anymore. For the most part, she’s not the anxious, concerned warmblood. That thread is present, and probably always will be, but it’s not her dominant state.

We’ve had many years and times together since. I promised her that there was no pressure she needed to feel other than to be a happy horse. That to have a horse such as herself, with her gymnastic power, her grace and her generosity was an honour that I would always hold dear to my heart and to that end, was enough.

All this flying through my head as I stood with her in the arena.

Let’s practice with her on the trailer, I said to Liz.

We led her up the paddock where the trailer was already in place for loading practice. At first, she was reluctant but in a short while walked right on.

We played for half an hour; on and off, on and off. And I realized something in that moment, that I’d broken one of my own of my cardinal rules:

I hadn’t let my horse be new.

To let your horse be new- to let yourself be new- means allowing both of you to be who you are right now, not the versions of you or them you’ve known before.

The horse I had right now was willing. We had a partnership. She might not have had the experience of the situation we were entering into, but there was only one way to get it.

I trusted that she could handle it. I trusted that we both could. And if there was challenge in between, we’d work it out.

The vision I had in my head of the horse I would be taking with me was not the reality of the horse I had in front of me. That was the one I was prescribing her, which was not a reflection of the truth.

So, this week, we will pack, and on the weekend, we shall travel for the many hours northwards.

Of the mane that I have threaded, it will be red or black and white, and I’ll be grateful just the same.

It might be her ears or his, and still be a photo I will treasure.

On his back or hers, I will do my best to keep them safe.

And whatever ears are free to carry me, to them I will whisper my stories, my reservations, my gratitude, and my love.

The adventures might not be the one we first have planned but they’re adventures all the same. Perhaps it’s the deviations from what’s expected that makes them so.


❤️ Jane

Birds Coast When They Can

There’s a beautiful phrase I hold gently in my hands, that I’ve adopted as one of my mottos for living.

“Birds coast when they can”

Every time I say it out loud to myself, I’m met with the glorious vision of a bird in flight, that proves these words to be true.

Now, as you travel through your day, really pay attention to the birds you see as they move through the air. Even the tiniest bird, with the smallest of wings, will have moments of suspended rest. Moments not only of surrender, but of expectation; expectation that the currents around them, the landscape they are a part of will carry them for part of their journey.

Birds coast where they can is a reminder to let yourself be supported.

A reminder to look for opportunities for ease, and where you, yourself, may be complicating things in a way that isn’t necessary. Doing too much for what is required.

The experience of allowing yourself to be carried wherever it’s possible is what makes the experience of flight- of life- sustainable. It doesn’t prevent the moment forward; it’s an intrinsic part of it.

With our horses, in work, in life, in the experience of a minute and an hour, there is a time for effort and a time for coasting. And how much we allow for this, our relationship between the two will define both our longevity and wellness, but also our capacity to offer back; to be a part of a cyclic energy exchange that sees us move and work in relationship. Not as separate entities.

Birds coast when they can.

Where are the opportunities for you to coast?

How can you allow yourself to be carried?

And what are all the ways you argue against allowing this to be the case?

Be kind to your gentle selves,

xx Jane

Movement Pathways: The Keys To Narnia

Movement pathways are one of my favourite things to teach. I honestly feel like they’re the keys to Narnia, but most people don’t understand why because of a lack of knowledge around nervous system function and how it relates to movement. And then, of course, how both of these things relates to them.

It’s so worth taking the time to get your head around because the effects are transformative. So, if you’re interested in learning more, I’m going to chatter about it now, and really encourage you to ask questions if you find it confusing or a lot.

Consider this the start point of conversation moving forward!

Understanding and learning about movement pathways gifts us with two main things:

  1. The ability to find physical organization in the saddle with the least amount of force and effort.
  2. A productive, functional point of focus that gets us out of our head and into our body.

So, what is a movement pathway? And why is this useful information to know?

Let’s start with the first question.

A movement pathway is the path of travel that your brain (or your horse’s brain) chooses to get from A to B.

It involves the process of:

  1. Intention- Knowing where it is you want to go
  2. Initiation- The body mobilizing in support of the intention
  3. Action- The movement pathway being set in motion

We can be following this process unconsciously, in the case of automated movement and behavior, or consciously, if we are seeking to change patterns or interrupt a way of moving or being that isn’t serving us.

Having a more in depth understanding of movement pathways allows us to:

  1. Create movement patterns that optimize physical wellness, longevity, and function.
  2. Change the underlying nervous system template that we are operating from that is contributing to responses of fear, anxiety, or any other number of emotional or behavioral expressions that may be keeping us in their cyclic grip.

So how does it work?

First up, we need to recognize that how the body creates movement is different depending on the nervous system state we’re in.

Your brain decides HOW to move depending in your nervous system state.

Put simply, if I’m in a fight flight state, my body creates movement differently to if I’m in a parasympathetic state.

Why? Because my intention is different.

In sympathetic, my priority is to maximise force, speed, and power, so my leverage patterns, my patterns of movement are created to support this.

In parasympathetic, harmony is the goal; creating ways of moving that minimize force and maximise longevity in all the physical systems.

If we consider the basic gaits of walk, trot, and canter, and keep our conversation limited to the movement of the rider my dominant movement pattern (the pattern my brain dominantly chooses) at walk, trot, and canter, will be either a fight flight (sympathetic) movement pattern or a parasympathetic movement pattern.

If my dominant patterns are sympathetic, I create movement that…

… increases my force output, both in my own body and through the body of my horse.

… is firing off my fight flight system every time I move, which has ramifications mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

…limits my ability to harmonise with movement. The sympathetic system is a system of reflex, which means it has fixed modes of presentation that may not (usually does not) match the needs of my horse.

The good news is movement pathways- the ones that we want, as well as the ones that we don’t- are predictable, observable, and learnable. We can use an understanding of movement pathways to not only allows ourselves to find balance and harmony as riders, but also to influence and assist our horses in moving in ways that maximise wellness.

And beyond that, if we’re feeling frazzly, having movement pathways as a focus is a point of consolidation and positive purpose for energy that is coursing around the body and short circuiting our brain.

If you want to learn more, I’m going to expand this conversation on my podcast later on today (keep an eye out for the new episode popping up!). We are exploring more about movement pathways in my membership this week (I’ll post the details of how to find out more about that below), and also have a free workshop running in February if you’re keen to find out more (again, I’ll link below).

xx Jane


What I Understand To Be True.

What I understand to be true is that it’s ok to begin the new year motivated, inspired, and ready to go. It’s ok to feel hopeful. It’s ok for the new year to begin as a blurry line between one day and the next. It’s ok to slide in gently, with soft edges and flowers in your hair. It’s ok to arrive confused and out of sorts, to have really no firm idea. It’s ok to feel afraid or trepidatious or perhaps somewhat uncertain. It’s ok to arrive in love, alone, or somewhere in between. Ok to arrive feeling slightly beige, or perhaps you are florescent. Ok to be angry, or sad, or falling apart. The day will arrive to greet us and hold us just the same.

What I understand to be true is that change is necessary, inevitable but it’s normal to feel pangs of hanging on. It’s ok to not want to let go at the same time as you want things to arrive. It’s ok to be new, and also to be not quite ready for the newness. Or not right now at least.

What I understand to be true is there are many metrics for success, some without signs that are outward facing. That the numbers being lower, the bank account less than plump, all the sums we’re doing adding up to slightly less, does not necessarily mean that the thing isn’t working, or that you’re not ok, or that something needs to fixed but instead might mean that you’ve taken time to nurture yourself, that priorities have shifted, that you’re busy with your family, or caring for something or someone or yourself, or simply have been outside more and inside less. Numbers cannot be, are not at all, the measure of a full and well lived life.

What I understand to be true is that life can be brutal and hard, and beautiful and tender all at once. That death and aliveness are intertwined and dependent on each other’s gain. That is seems like these ideas compete, but in fact there’s space for both. That sometimes all that we can do is bear witness, say I’m sorry, I know it’s hard. That it’s ok to take your tears to the trees, and the moss and the rivers and the ocean. Maybe the ocean is salty as the way to keep our tears a secret and connect us all the same?

What I understand to be true is that unused creativity becomes energy without productive purpose. That the forces of imagination are the elements of life speaking aloud, arriving in the tiny and the beautiful. That the gentle tapping of a call to do and follow something that you love is an exercise in courage, in thought expressed as color, or words, or hands in the soil, or reins in the hand, or however complicated or simple it may be. It’s worth it and seems important to say strongly and out loud, it’s worth it and so are you.

What I understand to be true is that I hear my heartbeat in hoofbeats. That I find the rhythm of my blood in the movement of four feet. That I have the capacity to fly and still be connected to the ground.

What I understand to be true is if you insist on living in a box that’s too small for you, sooner or later it’s either the box or the body that breaks. That if it’s the body that breaks the box, it can be painful for the mind to catch up. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves the time to breathe more gently, hold our edges more lightly and move out of the way of a process that’s already caught us in its flow.

What I understand to be true is that teaching is a process of exchange, a reciprocal conversation. A weaving of threads. A cycle of renewal and upliftment. That in the process of teaching and of learning, all and both are challenged but not diminished, supported but not suppressed, heard and open to hearing in equal amounts.

What I understand to be true is that wonder is a portal to care. That to share the experience of awe is to multiply it by a thousand. That to walk in delight is a form of activism, especially when expressed, encouraged, and exchanged.

What I understand to be true is that we are designed to sense and feel our way, not think our way, through life. That we aren’t supposed to control, constrict, and contort experience in attempts to keep us safe. That that form of safety is a falsity. That a feeling body is a vital one, that to have a thin skin is to be open to all the measures of beauty that are free to be experienced, the hardships free to be witnessed and transformed and that both are present to declare that we are all owed equal space on hallowed ground.

What I understand to be true is that size is not a sign of might. That the tiny Locust can devastate a land several states wide. That the smallest of Krill is required to sustain the vastness of the ocean. That the Mantis Shrimp, an underwater creature the size of your thumb has the best eyesight on any creature on the planet. That the Water Bear can hold its breath indefinitely, be boiled in water (and survive), is essentially indestructible, all the while quietly going about its business in a body you’ve probably never heard of.

What I understand to be true is that my heart breaks regularly in the battle between economics and the environment. That when we talk about it and say, yes, it always goes like this, that things will change, I understand. But I am sad for what gets lost in the meantime while we finally work it out.

What I understand to be true is that most people wildly, undoubtedly, enthusiastically underestimate their worth. That they tolerate what they shouldn’t, listen to what they needn’t, give energy to the things that keep them stuck.

What I understand to be true is that, sometimes, I want to take people by the shoulder, shake them, and say to them very loudly, do you know how wonderful you are? Please refuse to live in a skin too small that someone else requires you fit into.

What I understand to be true is that the arts are part of what has saved me. That poetry is a portal to another planet, that writing is a way to make sense of my experience and to express that in a tangible form. That to play with pencils and art and colour is not the domain reserved for the young but a practice as essential as breathing, as nourishing as food, as enlivening as cold wind on hot cheeks.

What I understand to be true is that friendship is the bloodline you choose, the seat you always place your bag on to keep free for the person that makes you laugh til you weep, giggle til you snort, ugly cry, except with them they do not see the ugly. The person with the shoulder the shape of the side of your head, the arms just wide enough to hold you in a full embrace as though they were made to measure just big enough to keep you in a swallow.

What I understand to be true is that dogs share a specific form of joy expressed as circular vibration, a show of waggling ripples all the way from top to tail. A whirling dervish of delight that requires only your presence and kind words.

What I understand to be true is that we don’t always get it right. That there really is no right. That sometimes, the best that we can do will be viewed by future versions of ourselves as not ok, but the practice of being kind really is the only end.

What I understand to be true is that sometimes, walking and talking is a softer cure for conversation than face to face speaking will allow. That flowers in the house are always worth the effort. That a kitchen table well used and full of paint and pencils and well-loved books is the right way to use a table, even if it looks slightly messy there at times.

What I understand to be true is that our ancestors whisper their thoughts inside us, and we are all at once the future ancestor of someone whose thoughts we’ll whisper into ears just the same, even long after it’s been forgotten that we ever had a name.

What I understand to be true is that planting trees is always a good idea. That the trees always talk back. Of course, they do.

What I understand to be true is that to have your heart broken and rebroken is normal and to expected. That it’s through the experience of many tiny deaths that we get to know that we’re alive, and we’re ok. That’s it’s a good idea to check in with people and see if they need a hug. That many people feel alone. And maybe we can play with being alone together, so we’re not alone at all.

What I understand to be true is that family is precious. That there’s a specific softness of skin between the hair and the cheeks that’s mine for kissing. That family is made, not born, that it creates its own form of compound interest with regular deposits and is a privilege that requires energy to maintain.

What I understand to be true is that individual freedom is dependent of the freedom of the collective. That there is no mine and not yours, no yours and not mine. That as creatures we are cooperative, that the universe is friendly and to experience anything that sits outside that as an ‘other’ is an aberration to this universal law.

May we all stay true to the essence of our own aliveness.

May we make a daily practice of wonder, of kindness and of care.

May we tread the earth lightly.

May we recognize our privilege and act in service of those who do not have the same.

May your new year be peaceful and happy.

What I understand to be true is that everyone deserves this.

With love,

xx Jane





Time Within Time: These are the Omen Days

There’s a gentle thread that connects the days after Christmas to the early part of the new year. I’ve heard them described as a hush; a time when the world half closes her eyes to the normal expectations of behavior and routine, where we’re allowed, give ourselves permission to renegotiate our experience of time if only for a brief period.

Despite not coming from a family steeped in holiday tradition, I’ve always felt this period to be a liminal space, even if I was unsure exactly why. Sure, it’s punctuated at the start with Christmas, but the days that followed always seemed to hold an energy of their own. Like the spaces between seconds lingered just a little longer.

All along, it turns out, my body was hearing the whispers of a mostly forgotten Celtic tradition that danced in my cells long before my conscious brain had words to describe them. These are the Omen Days, intercalary days that traverse the period from the 26th of December to the 6th of January. They are literally considered to be ‘in between time’ or a ‘time within time’ the space where the solar calendar seeks to catch up with the roman.

By tradition, each one of the 12 days gives itself over to a month of the year. The 26th of December is January; the 27th of December, February; the 28th of December, March; and so on for the remainder of the twelve-month cycle.

Those connected with the tradition give themselves over to the land at this time, considering it a time for deep observation, contemplation and meaning. They would look for signs and symbols in nature, taking them to be indicators and messages for the month they represent.

To observe this period is simply to bear witness. To be in nature, to notice, to observe and to wait.

I, for one, am ending this year both weary and grateful.

Grateful for the blessings I know to be true in my life.

Weary of the collective and individual weight that is felt by all that is happening in the world, so many dealing with unspeakable suffering that my words feel insufficient to speak to.

Throughout, I have taken my thoughts, my laughter, my joys, my confusions, my wonders, and my tears to the base of the big Macrocarpa tree at the bottom of the back paddock.

I have spoken to the Tui and the Bellbird that feed outside my window, who I watch now as I type.

I have woven my thoughts, my love, and my concerns in threads of mane of my beloved horses.

I have stood at the lips of the ocean, apologized to her, picked out rubbish from her hair, asked her for her guidance.

I have trodden many miles on land I am fortunate to travel on, with and through.

This is normal. To ask for the advice, the gifts of nature and to expect to hear her back.

To seek to offer something in return.

To want to lie down in the grass and slip between time.

What is not: the disconnection, the violence, the sense of ‘other’.

The colonized fragments of experience we are asked to dress up in and fit into.

To seek to return to the many traditional practices, Omen Days being one, passed on but long forgotten, is not performative but radical and essential.

A slowing down.

A bearing witness.

A seeking of guidance from a place beyond what we might understand to be the rational and the sensible.

This is the place of return and of renewal.

An act of love.

For the next few days, I’m going to taking space for acts of noticing. An everyday surrender to the world and to each other.

An act of I’m here, I’m listening, I’m paying attention.

We all need each other.

Sending much love and hopefulness,

xx Jane

You Have Gaits, Use Them! On Power, Energy, & Forward

There’s a quote from Philippe Karl recounted to me a few years back that periodically spins through my head whenever I’m working with my horses:

You’ve got gaits! Use them!

He is, of course, referring to the need and necessity of the horse to be moving freely forward. And that in many instances, as riders, we block or inhibit the power and flow of the horse in an effort to keep things controlled, contained and safe, however misguided that may be.

I’ve written of this before: To humans, the energy of horses is glitter in the blood. Our relationship with them and the shared stories we’ve experienced over history informs our collective unconscious. We see a horse and we respond, their presence inspiring a feeling and a knowing, even if we are unsure from what or where it came.

What our modern mind forgets, the clay of our body remembers. Legs and hooves and fur against skin. Movement of a shared togetherness. Partnerships that words feel inadequate, or not enough or clunky to describe.

It’s my belief that horses, and what they represent to us, are a cellular remembering. Of vitality. Of connection. Of something beyond what present day living would have us reduced to. Of Aliveness.

If we were to reduce the experience of the horse to a collection of words, one of them would be power, in the best sense of the word. We love the big energy, its physical, emotional and spiritual manifestations. To us, it is freedom, however transient or momentary. And all in the same breath, this power is the thing we’re most afraid of.

I want to have this conversation from the perspective of the physical. If we want to harmonise with our horses in the experience of big energy, big movement, big power, our body needs to be able to receive that energy and allow it to flow through. In the ideal situation, we are energetic conductors, conduits of vibration and movement that travel through us and our horse in fluid, circular conversation.

For this to occur, my body needs to be able to have a degree of structural openness that matches the movement expression of my horse. Movement in the body is dictated by your nervous system state. In other words, if we use canter as an example, your “dominant canter pattern” (the movement pattern for canter your body dominantly chooses) will either express as a parasympathetic pattern or a fight flight pattern. Your nervous system expresses in movement; this is where the origin of every movement begins.

Very basically speaking, fight flight patterns have limited movement range. They are reflex patterns designed to maximise force and speed output. If the movement of your horse exceeds the ability of your structure to maintain the same degree of openness, then the reflexive experience of the rider will be to either shut the power down, or increase their lumbar leverage in an attempt to keep up- a movement pattern that causes pain, wear and tear for the rider and increased force output through the horse.

Being able to harmonise with big movement, power and energy, to the point where you are really flowing with it requires that (and there are many more things to note than are listed here):


  • The pelvic floor is released. In fight flight, it contracts along with the other fascial trains, pulling the two sides of the pelvis together. This then limits the movement range of the pelvis and our ability to synchronise with our horse.
  • That we are able to hold the experience of vitality and energetic sensation in the body without coupling it together with the thought that we’re unsafe. As adults, we have such limited movement experiences in our day to day that we rarely challenge the status quo; as such, anything that exceeds our “everyday energetic expression” can register as concern, which has flow on effects to our experiences with our horses.
  • The ability of my body to move in arcs. Sympathetic movement expresses in linear patterns. Parasympathetic movement travels in arcs. We can simplify this by saying: parasympathetic movement allows for a bigger movement range, liberated from the forward back patterns that are a hallmark of the sympathetic system.

All that said, we can summarise it as this:

Your ability- or inability- to harmonise with big movement and big energy is as much about your physical movement capacities as it is a mental and emotional conversation. If the structure of your body is unable to match the movement expression of your horse, it will naturally create a negative feedback loop that causes concern and further exacerbates the desire to control and rein things in.

Greater degrees of physical openness allows for greater levels of energetic experience.


❤️ Jane

Rebound Anxiety: A Conversation On Expansion & Contraction

Yesterday, I was riding Nadia in the arena when I felt the flicker of old patterns bubble their way to the surface. We’ve had some crazy bonkers weather here of late; hotter days followed by cold dips interlaced with frequent and persistent periods of rain. In response, the grass has turned a specific shade of luminous, the sweet sugars suckling their way to the surface ready to be greedily inhaled by my waiting, four legged beloveds.

I notice the grass affect all my horses in different ways. Nadia remains polite with a slight hint of desperation to get things right, as is her way. But when you added the certain pep of sugar, the threads of anxiety that used to dominate our conversation and are now little more than background trickles make ripples in the pond of what is mostly now still water.

The emotional component is most obvious. If I was to sing it out loud, it would go something like,

Lalalala, isn’t it a lovely day, lalala, OMG where are my friends!!! Lalalalala

Like Nina Simone for the main verses with a hard, heavy metal chorus, an experience that is somewhat jolting, leaving you fumbling with the knobs on the radio in an attempt to tune back into the previous song you were listening to.

But this is not a conversation on grass affectedness. It’s a conversation on something I refer to as ‘rebound anxiety’, a phenomenon I witness frequently in both horses and humans, and a regular experience of both who spend more of their time in a state of contraction than a state of openness. Nadia has been my greatest teacher when it comes to both understanding and navigating my way through this.

My definition of rebound anxiety is when the system, primarily the body, begins to relax and the tight binds that have physically, mentally, and emotionally held it in a firm little ball begin to unravel. Broadly speaking, the contracted state is one that is typical of fight flight (or a sympathetic nervous system state) ; a state of openness is synonymous with parasympathetic.

Our state of homeostasis is determined as the average point of wherever we spend the most time. So, if I spend most of my day in fight flight, my balance point, or point of homeostasis will sit between the average range of my fight flight experience.

Put simply, the experience of contraction becomes my normal, my comfort zone. It might not be ideally what I want, but it is ultimately what I know and am most familiar with. Which means anything outside of that- even if I understand that to be more beneficial, healthful, or desirable- challenges that experience within me.

Rebound anxiety is when the system starts to open and unfurl. As a result, the body feels different; the rebound anxiety response is a reflexive response of the mind to re-contract. The openness makes us feel vulnerable and unsafe, even if the reality is that we are more attuned to our environment and experience, making us effectively more able to discern what is needed with a greater degree of accuracy.

I witnessed this in Nadia yesterday. We trot around with the Nina Simone vibes. She starts to blow out, flow through, relax. And then all at once, the experience feels unnerving, and she binds back up. Our heavy metal chorus.

Like I mentioned before, this gentle navigation between expansion and contraction used to be the norm; now it is few and far between, exacerbated by external forces that add an extra something something to old patterns.

It’s an experience we are playing with in my membership all the time, the practice ground being the movement work where we are essentially only needing to look after ourselves. We get to play with new sensation in the body, create new stories and expand our capacity to hold increasing degrees of openness within the edges of our skin without feeling overwhelmed and creating unhelpful thought patterns as a result.

If contraction has been your norm, it takes a while to accept openness as a safe place to rest. It’s a gradual and continual conversation. Getting pulled back into old patterns- like Nadia- is not a sign of regression or devolution. It’s just…. life.

A process of negotiation, understanding and feeling that you gather more and more tools to work with.


❤️ Jane

What Does It Mean To Adjust Our Energy?

The topic of energy is a vast one and how it is we define energy means and our understanding of it is going to mean different things for different people. In the horse world, we also use the word “energy” freely in a variety of different contexts. We are often actively considering our energy when it comes to responding to our horses. We consider the use of energy to be an important part of making requests of our horses and the application of the aids. And we understand that the energy that we bring to each, and every interaction has implications on both what we experience and the outcomes that we create.

… and yet for many of us, exactly what that looks like when it comes to working with our horses remains ambiguous.

When we are asked what it means to both raise or lower energy, most people alter their posture and their outward presentation. But this is really very little to do with true energy flow and adaptation, and much more about our association we what we *think* it should mean. Another form of control dressed in costume.

An important start point when considering energy and its application to action is first to define what it is we’re talking about. We might not be able to reach out and physically catch it, but we can witness its physical manifestation. In my understanding, available energy is when the body, horse or human, is able to pulse, vibrate and pump. Where there is fascial vibration, body pulsation and neural innervation that allows information in its every manifestation to be transported and transformed.

Where we come unstuck is through thinking energy creation and manipulation is a conscious process. But it’s not. Energy is a function of the unconscious. It just, well, is. Responding with appropriate energy lies in coordination with our bodies ability to accurately respond to the environment and situation we are in. Which all traces back to nervous system adaptability.

What’s more, the cultivation of energy is a sensory process, not a cognitive one. If I am trying to control my energy consciously, I am using my frontal lobe to do so. It takes a lot of, errmm, energy for my frontal lobe to relate me to my environment, when this would normally be a function of my sensory motor cortex.

Why it’s confusing is, paradoxically, exactly because we aren’t supposed to be thinking about it.

When I consider energy and intention, the only thing I can control is my thought and the action that supports it. For my energy to match the needs of me / my horse / my life, I need to make sure that I have my nervous system in a good place, so it’s taking care of business for me.

Energy change happens faster than the speed of thought. Our senses can keep up but our thoughts can’t. And they’re not supposed to.

Practice gaining awareness, taking appropriate and consistent action, and developing the clarity of thought that supports them. Then take care of your sensory system, so the unconscious wisdom of your body has what it needs to take care of the energy for you (a bigger conversation we can have another day).

This is the sort of thing we explore directly in JoyRide. If you have questions, please feel free to shout out!

❤️ Jane

Training For Wellness: Movement As An Intrinsic Motivator & Self-Propulsive Force

What healthy movement creates in the body is the desire to move more. When moving feels good, it becomes a self-propulsive force where the experience of moving itself can become both a means and an end. This, to me, is the essence of training for wellness. Where we create spaces between our cells big enough for joy to find us.

The other day, I described a ride on the inlet with Merc where we were flowing through the tunnel of katabatic winds. What I didn’t tell you in that post was the story of a very simple thing that happened, but at the same time, to me, quite huge. As we were riding out, I put my leg on Merc to ask for trot. The application of the aid is equal parts question and equal parts request.

‘I wonder how he will respond?’, I ask myself. ‘I wonder how freely available the energy is today?’ I don’t ask these questions with my mind, but with my body.

Ideally the energetic response would be like squeezing a brand-new tube of toothpaste. A gentle ask and everything moves forward and out. It doesn’t take a lot. Up until recently, this hasn’t been the feeling. But on this day, a few days back, the energy had changed. We bounced forward and upward into trot and began to spring across the sand.

My smile grew as far as the inlet is wide.

When I was reading the comments on my blog from round the same time, discussing how there was no such thing as a lazy horse, a couple of people mentioned points that rightly deserved a place in the main discussion also. They highlighted that there must be some joy within the movement and that there must be a purpose if we are seeking to motivate the horse- two of my favourite things.

Where things really turned around for us- where I noticed the energy was there to be shaped and directed- coincided with Merc beginning to enjoy his own body. One could argue, well how is this something that you could possibly know? And I get it. But to me, the communication was tangible. I distinctly remembering the day we broke into a canter on the trail and the thought popped into my head:

Merc is really enjoying this. He’s enjoying the experience of freely moving. He’s enjoying being in his body.

His movement was singing a song available for all of us to hear.

Good and functional training produces this experience. You travel up the bell curve where you have to be creative, measured and consistent with what you’re doing and how you’re moving. It’s a delicate dance. Too much and the association with work becomes negative. Too little and you don’t get to a place where you create the opportunity for change. The same points apply for horses and humans.

You have to be clear on what the point is of the movement to your horse. Which starts with being clear on what the point is of the movement yourself.

You have to provide opportunities to move out in the world- not just in the confines of the sand pit.

And at some point, this beautiful thing happens where the experience of the movement; the way it frees up the body; how it creates fluidity in the muscle and fascia for the life force to move through; how the movement itself becomes possible without push or force; this experience makes the movement a delicious experience in and of itself.

And it’s at that point, movement as a medium holds intrinsic motivation. Where we finish in a better feeling place than where we started. Where movement becomes a communication of shared joy between the rider and the horse. Where you want to move together for no other reason than the movement itself feels good.

To me, the holy grail of training.


❤️ Jane

Thoughts As Instructions: Intention As The Energetic Application Of The Aids

Because I’m often blessed with the company of my lovely neighbor, Liz, when I’m playing my horses, I’m forced to also articulate things that would otherwise live their time out as wordless experiences. Because Liz is interested, she asks interested and interesting questions. And in response to those questions- in the process of being asked to formulate a reply- I sometimes realise I’m doing a thing that I had not thought to speak about or say out loud before.

Here is one such thing.

I was lunging my big chestnut mare, Nadia, and discussing her rhythm and balance. ‘What are you looking for?’, Liz asked me as we padded round the arena. Nadia made her way round the outside track, with me a meter or two in; Liz somewhere to the inside of me, and both of us somewhere between Nadia’s shoulder and her nose.

‘Well,’ I replied, ‘can you see her inside hind? See how it doesn’t quite track up? I’m seeing if I can get her balanced on all four feet, so that eventually the footfalls of each hoof would land in a regular and predictable place- which at the moment, they are not.’

‘How do you do that?’ she replied.

‘Well, rhythm is the most obvious place to start. If the horse is moving in rhythm, then we know that each ‘corner’ of the horse is sharing equally in the weight. We always want to do our best to control the rhythm. But beyond that, we also want to be curious as to why there might be restriction or stiffness in the places that catches our attention- and the “problem” isn’t always where you’re focusing. You have to be a super-sleuth and see what you can find.’

We moved around in silence a bit longer, my mind chewing over the question in the background. I realized there was something I’d left out.

‘You know the other thing I do,’ I said, ‘and this might sound a little crazy, but I tell the leg-or whatever it is we’re focusing on- what it is I want it to do. Or at least make the request. So, in this case, I’ll check in with my own body, send my intention to the limb and literally say out-loud-inside-my-head the directions for how I would like it to move. I bring awareness to that area of the body through the line of my intention.

I guess I see that as the energetic application of the aids. And despite what your sensible mind has to say about it, you’ll be surprised at how it works’.

My memory trailed back to my own experiences in movement which have grown more and more subtle as the years have progressed. I come from an athletic family that knows how to push through and kick on. I spent years using physical activity and over-exertion to plug an emotional whirlpool that never rested nor stood still. I’ve spent years ‘making’ things, forcing things to happen. And it’s only been in the recent few that I’ve really appreciated, sat back, and seen the magic of how the body truly works.

‘In your own body,’ I went on, ‘thoughts operate as instructions. If I have a thought about how I move, or don’t. How something functions or doesn’t, my thought literally cues that part of my body to behave in a particular way. We’re much more powerful than we realise’.

In the movement work I teach; we understand how the body moves to be under unconscious control. All I need to do from a conscious perspective is decided what I would like to happen (where I want to move from A to B), set the intention for it, and then act in support of both those things.

HOW the body coordinates that movement is not something I need to worry about. The greater wisdom of my body will take care of it.

What this requires is a letting go of control, and a dropping the reins on micromanaging.

It’s one thing to understand this conceptually; it’s another to experience. Clear intention (of the movement pathway and direction, both of individual parts and the being as a whole); the ability to sense into your body (not just to think about it); and a commitment to consistent action taking become your superpower.

Our bodies- just like our horses- respond to thought in the most subtle of ways. Which loops us back around to thoughts are instructions to the body. They both informative and performative; they tell it what to do (inform) and how they want it to behave (perform).

If we can cue into the level of intention and understand its potency in movement, all of the energy we previously use for pushing and forcing becomes liberated. We have a body in free flow.

“If ultimately, me and my horse are to become extensions of each other, then it stands to reason that the process is the same. That my thought becomes theirs. That their thoughts become mine. And even if I’m not at that place right yet, I can’t think of a better thing to practice”.

Thoughts are instructions.


❤️ Jane

There’s No Such Thing As Lazy

The idea that a horse is lazy is such a falsity. I was chattering with my sidekick Liz yesterday, who’d been with me while I worked three of my ponies; Nadia, who is a Hanoverian warmblood; Saffy, an Irish Sport Horse; and Merc, my patchy pony, of a somewhat heavier build, and who you might describe as a station bred type.

Of the three of them, Merc has had the most challenges finding a free and easy forward. In fact, in the beginning when we started playing in the arena, it felt like if I wanted to do anything but walk, it might be easier for me to pick him up and carry him.

In many ways, it would have been easy to label him as lazy, but the reality is, he’s anything but. As a riding partner and companion, he’s infinitely generous and always does his best to find the yes, even if he has no idea what that looks like or is confused about what we’re doing.

The lazy label is problematic because from the horse’s perspective, the idea of laziness really doesn’t exist. It’s a human metric we assign that has no meaning or value to the horse. I see clearly now that the moment we slap a label such a lazy on a horse, we enter a universe of our own making; a sliding doors instant where what we experience is defined by the lens we’re looking through. That our energy, the way we use pressure, how we might set out to motivate forward are all defined by the perception we have of the horse we’re in relationship with.

It’s for that reason, that when it comes to horse and human partnerships, the idea of lazy, I believe, is a dangerous one. People perceive laziness as a decision stemming from a “bad” attitude. No-one wants to be called lazy. It gives us righteous humans license to motivate movement in ways that are questionable, and which are ignorant of the underlying reasons as to why a horse might have trouble moving freely forward in the first place. Where we rest solidly on the foundation that we are right. That’s never a good place to start.

So, if there’s no such thing as lazy, what is it that we are dealing with then?

Here are some things I’ve consistently paid attention to with Merc.

** Please note all possible explanations relating to pain, saddle fit etc. were paid attention to, although I recognize this as a moving feast. The question then becomes, is this getting better or is this getting worse? A conversation for another day.


Most horses that we label as lazy are actually really tight. In Merc’s case his body did not have the strength or the length (I’ll get to this part in a moment) to support me in a weight bearing posture and easily travel forward at the same time.

The tightness is an inside out job; it extends beyond the muscular, down to the level of fascia and organs. The organ bag is like a big fascial sack holding all the organs inside. It’s like a balloon with an end at the top and at the bottom, starting at the tongue and extending all the way down to the anus.

As part of our fight flight response, the organ bag contracts and pulls the organs to the side, to both protect them and make the flow of blood more efficient in survival situations.

If you think of having a balloon on your inside that gets pulled tight, your ability to move your limbs is only ever going to be proportional to how far your balloon can extend from the inside out.

For the body to move freely, the fascia doesn’t need to stretch; it needs to grow.

For fascia to grow, it needs two things:

  1. The presence of ground substance, the sticky component of fascia which is only produced when we’re in the parasympathetic nervous system
  2. New movement patterns that trigger the brain that it’s a priority to grow new fascia (otherwise, why waste the energy).

So, when I’m thinking of tightness, I’m thinking of this. How do I get the nervous system to a place where the expansion is going to happen from the inside out?

How can I introduce purposeful, novel movement that allows new patterns to form and allows my horse to find a freedom in their body that is all framed through the experience of choice, not force?


Merc was really out of balance. His back to front balance was all wrong (he landed heavily on the front end, particularly on the right fore) and his ability to centre weight equally on all four feet was off. This also reflected in his rhythm.

If I had simply “pushed forward” from this place, the only result would have been screw-drivering into the ground, and we probably would have ended up digging holes to middle earth (and beyond that, making him unsound).

Shoulder Control

To work with the balance, we had to develop lift and control in the shoulders. I’ve mentioned before that in Merc’s particular case, our initial work began in the saddle. From this place, I was better positioned to assist him and develop shoulder control and a relationship with contact that assisted rather than hindered his balance when he was in the position of carrying a rider.

For other horses you might start things on the ground- it’s very individually dependent. There are many roads to Rome, but this was an essential point of focus for Merc.

Renegotiating The Use Of Pressure

The amount of pressure I added in attempts to motivate forward was proportionate to the amount of brace I got back. Instead, I had to create an energetic conversation with Merc to communicate what was wanted and to begin from that place.



Things don’t change overnight. In February, I will have had Merc for two years. Over that time, we’ve worked consistently together (save a couple of months rest over this winter), and I would say I’m only just starting to get the kind of forward under saddle that genuinely feels good, where front to back are connected and his whole body is moving in conversation. It takes time.

Let’s lose the label of lazy. It says more about us than it ever will about them.


❤️ Jane

On Loneliness

Before I started writing this, I was staring at my screen for a good few minutes, wondering how to begin. The thing is, I have a lot to say on the topic swirling round my head, but none of those words form what I understand to be an answer. Much less one I’ve managed to live my way into. As I’ve never been one to profess to have the answers anyway, I choose to write regardless.

With that in mind, we can consider the following an opening for discussion I don’t see spoken of enough, and yet I understand the experience to be rampant and the effects wide reaching.

That topic is loneliness.

Part of the reason I believe loneliness is so challenging to discuss is because it feeds into a wider, social conversation about ‘the way we live’ and the breakdown of traditional social networks and support that would naturally see us living within connected and interweaving communities. When you look at the challenges from this context, any form of solution feels overwhelming.

Regardless of its relevance, I’m not interested in discussing things from this perspective in this moment. I don’t want to talk to you from the level of theory, or academics, or big picture thinking. Right now, I want to kneel in the soil, hold hands and look an individual human in the face and tell them- and maybe this person is you- I know what it’s like to be lonely.

We acknowledge it as a thing to be worked out.

There are so many of us out there who understand.

We tend to see loneliness as an emotional state, but it also has a depleting and at times crushing effect on the body. It’s for that reason that it can feel inescapable and terminal- and like any state of being, it’s not.

It’s for this reason, the heaviness of the physical reality it creates, that it can be hard to rally the forces to take the actions to do the things that brings about connection and well-being.

There are, of course, many versions of loneliness, many nuances on the spectrum that are individually determined and assigned. I remember having a long phone conversation with my best friend Kathy and talking about something we’d both experienced from a very early age, a kind of existential loneliness. One that hangs in the background like an atmospheric energy, a lingering that sticks to your skin no matter who or what you’re with.

A loneliness you see constantly out the corner of your eye.

It’s the ‘there’s something missing’ loneliness; the one that you can’t quite put your finger on, and perhaps it’s more of the spiritual design. When I first learned the word “fernweh”- the motivating force for the creation of the Longing & Belonging retreats that I co-teach- “longing for a place you’ve never been”, I felt that to be the closest description of what it was I felt, that we were trying to pin down in conversation. A cellular yearning for the campfires and comradery that lives in the clay of our bodies and remains unactualized in our modern reality. Not only longing for a place you’ve never been but longing for a connection you know you’ve had on some level in the past and since lost.

There’s the loneliness born of trauma and unwellness, that does not necessarily have to be your own. I know for me, growing up in a household with the thread of mental health instability meant that interactions could become a delicate dance of preserving some sort of superficial peace at the expense of true connection and exchange. A necessary state of being for survival and yet not without its consequences. Hopefully the conversation opening up around mental health will see this happening less and less. I fear probably not fast enough.

And then there’s the rawness of loneliness that is alone-ness. Where you do lack the physical proximity of community. Where there’s a yearning for your people. Your crash on the couch and do nothing with people. Your mindless conversation while you cook together people. Your it’s been a kind of rough day can we just hang out people.

Many of us find ourselves inadvertently in this position as adults, even if the start point wasn’t here. I know for me, a lot of moving around in my early adult life meant I was in the position socially of constantly starting again. And now, in the area I live in, I started out as self-employed, my children are home schooled; I sit outside the social fabric of how many connections in adulthood are formed. I have friends- the best friends- it just happens that they live many flights away. There are more than many times over the course of a week when I wish it was a phone call and a ten-minute drive to see my people on the other side.

I think the conversation around loneliness also feeds into the challenges some of us face with our equine partners and companions; the difficulty in being able to separate out a simple misunderstanding on behalf of our horses, with the feeling of despair that they don’t love us or like us, or any manner of story we project. True human community creates context for our problems; the sharing creates perspective, dissolving the narrow focus and hard edges we can sometimes, inadvertently develop when we feel we are constantly dealing with the world alone.

Loneliness can blow things out of proportion and cause us to load things onto people and places and things not equipped or designed to carry the load, even if that was never our intention or desire.

Does that absolve us from personal responsibility? Of course not. But it can increase our empathy for the reasons why.

I mentioned at the start that this was not a writing with the answers. But it is an acknowledgement. It’s a seeing of the situation as ‘a thing’. It’s a letting you know that if you see yourself in this, there are many more of us that see you too. A getting down in the soil, the holding of hands and a moment to acknowledge that sometimes it can be tough.

And a reminder, that even if we don’t know right now, everything is figureoutable.


❤️ Jane

Regulation, Adaptability & Appropriate Responsiveness

How we define and understand ‘regulation’ has a profound effect of our experience, and our perception of our capacity and safety when engaging with our horses and the world.

I long ago replaced the idea of nervous system regulation with adaptability for this simple reason:

In many people’s minds, the idea of a regulated state defines a point of return. A place of calm and centredness that we endeavour to act from, or seek to return to, should we find ourselves in ‘dysregulated state’.

This regulated point that we understand as the ideal exists along with a very specific feeling that’s entirely subjective.

For most people, if I ask them to define what regulation feels like in the body, it’s a state of relative neutrality; where there’s an absence of sensation; where they feel they have some control over the feeling state inside them.

And herein lies the problem.

A body that is vital and engaged with the world is a body that full of energy and sensation. A sensing body is a safe body; it is one that is constantly feeling into the situation it’s in and using that information to interpret how it needs to respond.

If I seek to be truly responsive to my horse, my environment, the relationship I’m in, what I am seeking is not a point of return, or a fixed place, or feeling I carry with me, but a state of accurate responsiveness, where my brain and body respond appropriately to the situation I’m in.

Because my environment and the demands placed on me within it are constantly changing, my responses and how I meet the moment are constantly changing in a way that’s not predictable or pre-determined.

With that in mind, there is no one state to be, no one energy or way of being that is required of me, other than the one that most accurately meets the moment.

If we are attempting to cultivate an ideal state, or to maintain relaxed and calm, what we are experiencing is not regulation but patterns of control.

To be in flow with my experience requires the surrender to constant change. To be adaptable is to be present. It is allowing the moment to inform how I respond, and taking the next best step from there.


❤️ Jane

As a side note, when we get stuck in repeating patterns of behavior, find ourselves in repetitive loops of experience, or have fixed ideas about how we need to be and behave, we have identified some fight flight patterning, which can be a combination of both conscious and unconscious forces. Unpicking these patterns involves both the awareness of what is currently playing out and the reestablishing of nervous system adaptability, so, again, my brain and body responds appropriately to the situation it’s in.

Adaptability and responsiveness is a key focus of our work in JoyRide. If you want to learn more, you can check it out here.

Katabatic Winds: On Moving With The Flow Of Emotion, Not Against It

Yesterday, my glorious patchy pony and I went for a ride across the inlet. The top layer of earth was thin baked, the sky holding heat enough to dry out the narrow slice of saltwater lying atop the sand, sunbathing at low tide. I learned a new word yesterday for the air stream we were riding into: katabatic winds. A tumbling of winds that flow downwards, the forces of gravity pulling the higher density air downhill towards its lower density sister, and out towards the sea.

I smiled to think of this; the old volcano, Mopanui, behind me. The flats of the tidal estuary before me. Her hands catching the elements of the sky, hurling them across to her Pacific Ocean cousin.

Riding with the winds creates a curious silence. It instantly absorbs all sounds save the sound of its own voice. I speak out loud to Merc but the wind all but makes me muted. I surrender to her powers, happy to accept my smallness. My communications to my horse will have to come through body conversation alone.

It feels appropriate, right, and welcome to be caught up in the elements. I am bored of my own head, tired of my own internal world. I’ve had a week where my insides tremble quietly, for no other reason that some days, some months it feels a lot to be a human being making their way across this planet.

I feel so grateful for my horse, an island of respite. When I see him, my heart remembers:

I have chosen him, and he has chosen me, and we have agreed not to let each other go.

Whatever forces conspired to let that be, I pray to them with my eternal thanks.

As I ride, I think to myself how our emotions are like katabatic winds, ever tumbling down towards the sea. To ride against them is to feel the wind whip against our face; we struggle to stand up.

To ride with them is both to be silenced and be changed. The winds tell me that today, they aren’t interested in my story. They do not want to hear about the thought streams in my head. That if I surrender to the silence, they will pick me and move me, if I allow it to be so.

I squeeze my legs, urge Merc onwards to a canter. Sometimes, the wordless emotions that we feel require wordless experiences for the answer.

Sometimes, it not about showing up with perfection, or wrestling with our insides in another battle of control.

Sometimes, it’s simply showing up and allowing yourself to be changed.

It’s recognizing the forces that swirl around you, all ingredients for a necessary alchemy of which you are a part.

The wind, the water, the sky, the earth, and the four hooves that carry you.


❤️ Jane


Contact, Biomechanics & Their Relationship To The Nervous System

Contact, like posture, is not a fixed state, but a constant cycle of information exchange between the rider and the horse.  Bodies do not hold a set posture, and they do not hold a set contact. Instead, it’s a delicate interplay, a dance.

Contact, like posture,  responds to the ground it’s travelling over, the weight it’s carrying and the environment it’s a part of. In this way, it is inherently dynamic, and extends way beyond the idea of just “holding the reins”.

Aside from the deeper conversations on contact (and I do love me a deep conversation), from a physical standpoint, it’s interesting to observe how our nervous system state affects our ability to sustain a forward and fluid contact.

 Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Your joint space decreases in fight flight. This makes your arms literally shorter. In fact, your entire structure is more compressed.

Joint space and your nervous system state directly correlate. In fight flight, joint space decreases to bring the bony surfaces together. The purpose of this is to increase surface area contact so we have more space to power off, to increase our acceleration and our force.

But as your joint space decreases, you literally lose length and height.

That’s why as someone ages and they are what I would call sympathetically dominant (living more in their fight flight system than out of it), they get “shorter” due to spinal space compression and changes in joint articulation.

Contact wise though, this means our arms are literally shorter in fight flight. And conversely, when we establish nervous system adaptability, they “grow” in length. This is something I’ve experience personally and we have many giggles in my membership about it also.

Longer arms are a thing (but then, so are longer legs).


  1. Each fight flight state has a structural template. The shoulder blades, for instance, pull back during fight flight activation, again, preventing the amount we are able to offer our hands forward without compromising the rest of the body.

Let’s use the ‘fight’ mode as an example. For some background info, as we move through the different modes of fight and flight, our body assumes the different postures and structural patterns specific to each state.

If I have a dominant sympathetic pattern of fight, part of the structural template of that nervous system mode is that my shoulder blades draw together towards the spine. If you sit for a moment and actively retract your shoulder blades, it’s immediately observable what happens to your arm length.

Now if this was your dominant structural pattern, you are going to find it physically impossible to have forward hands, without compromising the rest of your position somehow.

  1. Shoulder blade position also affects the ribs, compromising the movement of the whole shoulder girdle.

If my shoulder blades are retracted, the entire movement range of my shoulder girdle is limited due (movement of the shoulder blades themselves get blocked by the ribs in this position.

Again, this means to have hands that are able to follow my horse, I have to move my entire body forward as a block, creating a lot of force and leverage through the lower back and neck (in both the human and the horse).

It’s important to understand:

  • I can’t consciously force my body to change its dominant structural pattern. This is a function and a choice of my autonomic nervous system, which is unconsciously controlled.
  • I can influence that change through a variety of sensory practices. Sensory information is what the brain requires to make structural change from the inside out.

I’m super passionate about teaching biomechanics through the lens of nervous system understanding and sensory awareness. For me, it’s completely revolutionised my riding, and my capacity to be open to the feeling and nuances of my horse.

I see so many people struggle with position and balance (not to mention the consequences to how we feel and think) without having any awareness or understanding of how their nervous system influences their posture and movement, and what’s more, what to do about it.


❤️ Jane

If you really want to dive in and explore this work with me, JoyRide is the place to do it. You can learn more or check it out here.