You Don’t Have To Be Afraid To Be Operating From Your Fight Flight Nervous System

I had a really interesting conversation a little while back that sparked some thoughts I want to share with you. The challenge came from a showjumper who was having trouble calculating distances to jumps. It was a situation of “it’s going well, and then, suddenly, it wasn’t”.

A problem they described as getting worse and worse.

They asked if I could help them and, having an idea of what was going on, I suggested that they join my membership. They responded that they weren’t a good fit, that they didn’t have a problem with fear; that their job had put them in many life-threatening situations, and they were usually the one picked to ride the most dangerous horse.

The problem wasn’t fear.

It was just this one thing with distance that was needing to be fixed.

I completely appreciate why they thought this- and it could be that you agree. But what it highlights are some common misconceptions about our nervous system, our relationship to fear and how it effects our experiences that I thought we could chatter about now.

Before we’re able to do that, however, there are some principles we need to cover first…


  1. Your parasympathetic and sympathetic (or fight flight) nervous system is what we are referring to when we talk about the autonomic nervous system.The autonomic nervous system is under the umbrella of the motor control system.

    What that means is your body moves and holds itself differently depending on what nervous system state you’re in.

    The brain makes this decision based on its perceived level of threat to the environment.

    If it assesses you are safe, it sends out a parasympathetic response. If not, it activates one of the sympathetic reflex patterns. This expresses in your posture and in your movement.


  1. The sympathetic (fight-flight nervous system) is a system of reflex. If we consider the different sympathetic states (fight, flight, freeze and collapse), each of those different states has its own postural template that the body assumes, something that is common to all mammals.That means that you, me, and everyone else reading this—when we go into a sympathetic nervous system response, our bodies arrange themselves in the same way. It’s a part of our defense mechanism when we are under physical threat.

    We do this to maximise our powers of force and acceleration, to better defend ourselves, to flee faster or go into shut down mode.


  1. Consequently, all our movements originate in either the parasympathetic or fight flight nervous system.

All movements have a dominant system that the brain chooses for that movement.

For instance, my walking style could be sympathetically or parasympathetically dominant. All that means is that the way that my body leverages (creates) the movement is either rooted in the sympathetic (in the case of being sympathetically dominant) or parasympathetic (in the case of being parasympathetically dominant) system.

It’s possible to change your dominant pattern by influencing the body’s sensory system.

  1. If we continue to use the example of the walk, I may have a walk that is sympathetically dominant as its movement pattern. This doesn’t mean that as I walk around all day, I’m feeling afraid. The emotion of fear is actually entirely subjective (I’ll post more about that shortly).

But it does have consequences on the body including:

– Increased wear and tear on the joints

– Leveraging of the lumbar and cervical vertebrae

– Narrowed sensory input (this part is particularly important in relation to the initial question)

I’ll add a side note here and say that us modern humans have got into quite the funky town place when it comes to movement generally. We have lost the nervous system adaptability of our hunter gatherer forebears who would never have had to tackle such situations or think of addressing thing such as their movement; their lifestyle took care of it for them.

For us, in our sedentary, non-natural environments, where we think our way rather than feel our way through the world, we have got ourselves stuck.

Instead of flipping back out of fight flight mode when it’s not required, we find ourselves using it as our primary operating channel. Which is where things start to get messy….

When we look at the initial question of striding to a jump, what this optimally requires is a wide field of sensory input, so our brain can make assessments that occur faster than conscious thought.

This is where we transition to riding artfully; where it’s our feeling body that is making adjustments rather than our thinking body.

If we are riding  and the pattern our brain chooses for us is sympathetically dominant, our sensory awareness is limited or turned right down (depending on where we are sitting on the spectrum). In circumstances where this lack sensory adaptability is especially obvious or even dangerous (calculating distances for example) this is somewhat problematic.

Of course, we can think our way through certain situations and get away with it for so long- but the conscious brain can only hold so much and has limited bandwidth. At some point, this strategy becomes problematic and, in some situations, where we’ve relied on it, we’re left with no strategy at all. Especially when there is increasingly more pressure, or the “problems” we have to solve (or jumps we have to jump) become increasingly complex.

If you remember back to the beginning of our conversation, it was mentioned that fear was not an issue. And I’m not suggesting it’s even relevant now. But what I do want to reiterate is that you don’t have to be experiencing fear for the survival nervous system to be the dominant program you’re using.

And when what you’re seeking is harmony, awareness, nuance, and adjustability, this is not the system you want to be riding from.

The work I’m interested in looks at movement and sensory awareness as the foundation for nervous system health and adaptability; so that we can ride and be with our horses in a way that promotes harmony, wellness, and optimal performance, whatever that looks like for you.

It doesn’t sit separately to practice, experience, skill, and partnership. But it does sit solidly alongside it. And for me, understanding my nervous system’s relationship to movement was the piece that I’d been missing.


❤️ Jane

On Horses, Commitment, & Being Anchored To The Seasons

When it was obvious I couldn’t hold winter back with the force of my intention alone, I moved Merc and Ada to the back paddock. On the northern side, there are a strip of Gums that have bequeathed this patch of earth its title, the Bent Wood. The weather patterns, with all their wanton fierceness, have shaped the growing trunks with their hands and formed them into abstract sculptures. They weave like stiff strands of hair into the sky, the younger limbs belly dancing in the breeze, providing a landscape of both shelter and of interest for the young and curious minds that I’ve placed in their care.

Before Ada, this paddock belonged to Bear. Our log is here, where we would commune and chat. Or perhaps I would chat, and Bear would listen. I like to think it worked both ways. Bear passed away before he had seen a full stretch of seasons. Ada is now approaching her first full summer. I’m filled with gratitude for both; the one who stands with me and the one in the realm of my horse ancestors. Both extend care to me in ways that are felt and tangible.

At feed time, I place two buckets in the paddock. Ada takes her time. Snuffling her bucket, glancing up at the scenery. Occasionally she’ll walk off, do a brief lap around nothing in particular and return to her bucket looking happy and content.

Some metres away, I hold Merc. Part of the reason I had avoided the paddock switch for as long as possible. Now, without the luxury of yards attached, the job of feeding involves more manual labour, and ultimately time. To Merc’s eyes, Ada’s bucket is a Michelin star smorgasbord compared to his dry bread sandwich. So, I take my halter, and together we wait until Ada has finished her dinner and normal programming can resume.

Earlier, when I was considering the mealtime tetris and how to balance it, I thought of The Waiting as somewhat of a chore. When I actually did The Waiting, I recognized it as anything but. Things in life often go like that.

Each day, at roughly the same time, I stand in the same spot with my horse, and I observe. I think of the great nature writers whose words fall on me like incantations; my favourites are not those who necessarily travelled widely, but who travelled deeply. Whose closeness to the area of earth they came to know intensified rather than limited their vision.

I look at the same patch of gums each day and each day they are different and the same. I play with looking directly at them, and then looking at the spaces around them. I want to see them better somehow, I want to see everything better, even though I don’t know exactly what that means.

I stroke and murmur to my horse in between.

The sound of the Tuis, a native New Zealand bird, punctuates the background. Their song starts and then, a gap before the notes pick back up. I learned recently that there actually is no gap. That the notes just reach a pitch that the human ear is unable to hear; that the song is actually continuous.

I marvel at this. I wonder what else I am missing, without even knowing it. All this time, the Tuis have been singing their secrets around me. To hear them, I resolve, I need to listen with my full body. To catch the notes my ears aren’t designed to hold.

Many times, I hear from non-horsey folk, what a lot of work it must be to own horses. What a ball and chain they must be, or can be, especially during the moments when you want to go out, or holiday or take a break.

I understand these thoughts. They are surface level obvious for those for whom freedom involves an anchorless existence. Perhaps, at one point, I have also thought the same.

But for me, the truth runs deeper and wider. Horses anchor me to the seasons. They call me into the element’s morning and night when the comfort of the inside seems greater. They let me go deeper, and further. They require that I move my body in the way and amounts its designed for when modern life would have me do the opposite. They give me gifts like The Waiting, which I never would have conjured or taken for myself without them. They ask me to notice deeply and to wonder what I am missing.

So, while there are many things to be grateful for, perhaps one of the biggest is the one we lament the most; the commitment, the time, the energy.

I happily give it to them, and then some.


❤️ Jane



On Losing The Capacity For Self-Preservation

I recently was in a rather blokey conversation with a rather blokey man. We were talking about motorbikes and things that go fast and things that you can shoot. In other words, things that I have absolutely no authority to speak on. I feel I did a somewhat magical job just keeping up.

At one point, the conversation turned to horses, and I felt myself pull out of the slow lane and step excitedly on the accelerator. After spending a not insignificant amount of time talking about all manner of relatively dangerous things that this person happily does daily, he turned to me with an ashen look on his face and said quietly, you know, I really am kinda afraid of horses.

I faltered for a moment and then said, that makes sense. A healthy respect for the size and stature of such a glorious creature seems to me to be a very normal response.

I thought back to the clinics and lessons I have taught over the last few years. It’s not uncommon to have someone enter the arena with their horse completely on top of them.

It’s ok, the owner lovingly croons, stroking their neck. There’s nothing for you to be worried about.

From my position, the opposite is true. There is, indeed, a lot to be worried about.

As I examine the small print of my insurance policy, I watch near misses of flying trotters being swung over the arena, big, muscular shoulders maneuvering their owners around, and a series of reactive movements putting them both in a position that I would classify as fundamentally dangerous.

So, what’s up with this? Why is it that an otherwise rational human can be oblivious to a situation where there is potential- even likelihood- of physical harm?

What is it that makes us unable to create a healthy boundary between ourselves and our horses for the simple reason of keeping both of us safe?

There are a few main reasons why I understand this to be the case.

The first and most striking one is that a system in collapse loses its capacity for self-preservation. We have literally and metaphorically lost the necessary oomph to be able to assert ourselves, and beyond that, the sensory information coming into the brain is turned down to the point where we have little awareness of ourselves in relationship to our environment. In other words, our capacity to accurately determine our safety is so compromised, it’s as good as non-existent.

You see this reflected in people’s relationship with their horses, and within human-to-human relationships; where one person is treating the other badly and it feels like all indicators of potential harm on the receiver’s end have been snuffed out.

The second ties into the first and that is a lack of physical agency. The ability of my body to both draw things in and push things away requires adaptability of structure, posture, and the capacity for my internal world to hold different tensions. In collapse, I am essentially porous; I allow everything in without an appropriate filter, and I lack the strength to be able to push things away.

You can observe in movement the same mechanism of action that is reflected emotionally and in boundary setting. They all exist together as a co-dependent whole.

The third relates to our survival patterns. Sometimes, the owner can see what’s happening but doesn’t want to be the one to have “that” conversation with their horse.

You do it, they say, handing the lead rope over.

The need to be “liked” or non-confrontational trumps the reality of what they know needs to happen; a firm conversation for the benefit of all concerned (which to my mind, ironically, is the most loving thing to do).

Nervous system adaptability and the ability to respond appropriately to your environment is fundamental to not only keeping you safe but keeping your horse safe also. With some time and energy, it’s all figureoutable. If you’re interested in exploring with me further, you can check out my membership- I’ll post the link below.


❤️ Jane

On Returning Home + New Beginnings

I returned home on Thursday after a 4-week trip away. I’ve travelled a lot this year but this one was a little different. For the first time, my two boys came with me, and I bookended work and clinic dates at either side of our time together.

Coming home is always a slightly strange experience. Everything is the same and different all at once.

Your brain does its best to click back into the familiar pattern. You know this, it tells you. All these things are familiar.

You agree, to the extent where a faint hint of a voice inside your head wonders if you ever actually left in the first place.

It’s your senses that remind you that change has happened. That there has been an absence. That you, in fact, have been absent.

I ran my hands through Merc’s mane and noticed the short strands that got rubbed last year near his wither had grown another inch, blending into the thick waves that extended up his neck.

My thumb and forefinger finger some newly created dreadlocks, gently pulling at the individual strands in an attempt to unravel them without causing the hair to break, a visual reminder that winter has lived here while I did not. The wind has had its way with my horse while my brush and comb sat waiting on the shelf.

Walking back, I notice the previously naked trees now have blossoms.

As I eat my dinner, I look at the clock. 6:30 pm. It’s still light, I marvel. We are marching towards spring.

My senses prod my brain again. See, they tell it. Things have changed while you’ve been gone. I scramble to catch up.

As I left the US, there was a distinct “back to school” vibe. Shopkeepers would comment “Are you looking forward to going back to school, boys?” and we would nod and smile, avoiding the inevitable questioning that would follow if we ventured to say we home schooled, even more so in our antipodean accents.

As a resident of the southern hemisphere, September has never held such transitions aside from the movement out of winter. But I muse, as someone who homeschools their children and runs their own business that the usual markers of rest, change and new beginnings of new terms, holiday breaks and even long weekends are not socially dictated to me. They are something I must find for myself.

Returning home from travel is not dissimilar to going back to school after a summer break. On the one hand, you are grateful for the routine and there are inevitably things that you have missed. But on the other, you must find a way to hold onto the newness of the person you’ve become, molded by the learnings and experiences you’ve had, and to weave it into the familiar, the regular and the mundane.

From a nervous system perspective, travel scrambles our brain maps in the best possible way. It forces us to be new as we are required to find ways to place ourselves literally and metaphorically in our new environment, challenging our old patterns and shedding old skins. This can be uncomfortable, liberating or both. Often at the same time.

The art of adulthood, I believe, is carrying forward the knowledge we have, with enough routine to keep us grounded, with a perpetual sense of newness and curiosity. For many of us, this is not a mindset or experience that is built into our day to day. It’s something we have to find.

With our horses, the emphasis is the same. How can we lightly hold what we know to be true about our partnership and our experiences together whilst simultaneously letting ourselves be new? What would change in our actions and observations if we allowed this to be the case?

How can we return to working with our horses, or meeting our day with blending the new and the familiar like the return to a new school year, or a coming home from travel?

It’s a matter of a perspective shift.

Some questions I’m playing with currently are:

Where is the opportunity for something new?

What can I let go of that’s not serving me?

How can I hold the things that I find heavy a little more lightly?

To new beginnings, both required and created.


❤️ Jane

The Weekly Feels #2

I always have the best of intentions of sharing my adventures in real time when I’m on the road. The truth of it is, however, by the end of each day of teaching I neither have the words nor thoughts to share anything of value (neuroscientists describe this condition as “better just go to sleep because what you write will probably be drivel”). I also get so excitable in the moment that all thoughts of posting elude me. BUT what that has created is lots of space for us to steam towards yet another Weekly Feels blog, which is exactly what I have for you now.

Over the last 10 days, I have taught a three-day camp with Kate Sandel, a two-day clinic with Rupert Isaacson and a weekend retreat with Kathy Price and Tania Kindersley. At the time of writing this, I am in Germany (my bag, incidentally, is not and still lurks somewhere between here and Scotland having a lovely time on its own, which could be the sixth feel of this blog- slightly sad with a whiff of frustration). Because there are JUST. SO. MANY. feels to share from this time, I’m going to shave off the retreat from this week’s adventures and add it to next week’s escapades. Let’s do this.


The Camp of The South that I co-taught with Kate Sandel has been many months in the making. We were so fortunate to be able to host it at Ayton PRE stud, home of the fabulous Nicola and Tom, who went out of their way to make sure everything had what they needed, but beyond that, that they felt as comfortable and taken care of as possible. If every person venturing out with their horse landed in the arms of such generosity at the other end, we’d all be fighting our way to clinics on the daily.

If I thought I was spoiled having such a gorgeous space to teach in, the gratitude was increased exponentially through teaching with the incredible Kate Sandel and the wonderful horse and rider combinations we were lucky enough to work with. Kate and I pinged back and forth depending on what we felt the main emphasis needed to be, and what best served the combination in that moment. Although this is always the aim, in practice it can be a tricky dish to serve; as riders, we often arrive to clinics with a list of things we want to accomplish and work on, and to be willing to let that go in favor of what shows up in that moment is often easier said than done.

The riders were full of courage, grace, good humour, and curiosity, and together we played with a variety of different techniques, swinging between horse focus and rider focus, that created such a rich ground for learning and possibility. Those auditing were also supportive, invested and involved, and I consider myself very lucky to be a part of it.

Thank you so much to everyone that came. The pleasure was mine.


In March, the fabulous Rupert Isaacson and I taught a clinic together in Ireland, and Joanna Smith had flown over from England to audit. She asked if we would consider running a clinic at her yard in Leicestershire, which is how we ended up with another group of glorious peeps, and a handsome crew of horses.

The clinic was a combination of theory and practice, exploring the nervous system and movement from my end and classical dressage, both in hand and in the saddle from Rupert’s.

As per above, it’s always wonderful to work with such a supportive and interested group of people- something I never take for granted (especially when you are introducing thought processes which can be new and not necessarily mainstream) and working with Ru is always a pleasure.

Thank you for being such a glorious group of people who tolerate my often-bad jokes and are willing to dance when Ru begins singing funky town tunes.


I love these women. I don’t need to write much other than to say, I can only hope that everyone gets to experience the type of love and friendship they give me on the daily. Naturally resting on the foundation of much inappropriate humour and collective frivolity. Two photos for the one feels!


A little while back, Tania Kindersley told me the story of the oak forest that grows a few minutes’ walk from her house. In the 1930’s a 25-year-old woman called Pamela had stood in that forest and said no to the men who wanted to cut it down. The story moved me so much that I’ve thought about Pamela every day since. I even feel like, within the colorful depths of my imagination, that we’ve become friends.

I often think of what it took, as a woman of that time with little power, autonomy, or voice, to say no to those men in grey suits. To say yes to those beautiful trees. I’m filled with admiration and wonder at her feist, her determination and her strength. I’m filled with awe at the stately oaks. I’ve thought about the concept of legacy and creating one. What could be more beautiful, if nothing else was left to whisper your name, than to have the spirit of a hundred oaks stand for you.

As I stood in that forest I looked up and said thank you to Pamela. You will never know me but my heart thanks you, and in 2023, someone you will never know carries a little piece of you with them.

I saw your oaks, and I understand. Thank you.


I mean, check this puppy. As part of my Scottish adventures, Tania took Kathy, myself, and the lovely Emma from Horseback UK to the Fyffe Hotel for lunch. Having rather outdone myself at breakfast, I wasn’t feeling that hungry, so I choose the sausage off the starter menu.

The thing to point out at this stage was ordering the sausage was an experience in itself. I was so transfixed by my kilted waiter’s accent that I couldn’t look him directly in the eye, choosing instead to angle my shoulder in towards him like a somewhat dissociated horse you are working on the circle and look out the window instead.

When said sausage was delivered, we shared a bonding moment in the form of a snigger and a giggle snort. When they said sausage, they really delivered. It was literally a sausage on a plate.

Now I’m no chef, but if I was, I wouldn’t let that order leave my kitchen without some sort of garnish. Something to add a splash of colour. Break up the hard lines. But then I thought NO.

This sausage is, in fact, a metaphor for owning your own worth. Clearly this was a bloody good sausage*. And when you are bloody good, you can own your space on the plate without any need for anything else. Except perhaps a bit of mustard.

So, I told everyone us their meals looked cluttered, which told me a lot about the self-esteem of the food on their plate, and I ate my sausage.

*It was a great sausage.

Much love to your feeling self,

❤️ Jane

The Weekly Feels #1

This week has been a whirl of last minute getting ready-ness, goodbyes, long haul flights, hellos, new people, and horses. I was thinking about the best way to share my adventures with you and have decided to share a visual diary of sorts that I am naming the Weekly Feels; a little collection of stories, wonderings and musings and the feelings they evoked in me.

So from the wildflower meadows of Devon, England, here are the first of my Five Weekly Feels.


Granted by this stage, I’d been waiting for my plane for over 12 hours in a combination of domestic airports and flown the first international leg of the trip for 11 more, but it always blows my mind how I can step off the lush, wintery soil of New Zealand and land in the humid, orchid filled halls of Singapore only a few hours later.

With it being such a normal part of modern life, it’s so easy to become complacent about air travel and forget that you are being propelled through the sky in a little metal tube to end up in a place completely different than the one you started in. With that in mind, I took a moment to admire the lights and drink my coffee in the short moments I had between transit gates.

When Your Heart Smiles All Over Your Face

Horses. But more importantly, Des. When Kate asked if I wanted to ride Des, I tried to act casual and allow a normal number of seconds to pass before saying yes in a couple-of- decibels-too-high voice. After all, when someone lets you ride their horse, one needs to look as responsible and measured as possible; leaping around with your arms doing excitable hula-hoops might lead them, understandably, to change their mind about your suitability for such an honour.

I love a horse who knows their own worth. One where you don’t even have to close your eyes to imagine them proudly leading their band across the plains. Des is one of those horses; his beauty reminds you what an everyday miracle it is to ride a horse at all.

Kate gave me a lesson on Des and my heart smiled all over my face. I rode my first half pass, flew down the long side in extended trot and felt nothing more than sheer joy for all the minutes and seconds I was up there.

Thank you, Des. All the cells of my body bow down in your honour. Exactly as it should be.


I mean, what is this sorcery?! Golden feathers. My eyeballs could barely behold such a delight. When Kate led Des over to the mounting block for me, I looked down and for the first time was met with the visual feast of unicorn legs in summer.

I was forced to squeak ‘LOOK AT THOSE!’ whilst immediately taking a photo.

I understand if you feel instantly compelled to make this your screen saver. You’re only human after all.


As I type this, it’s 4 am in the morning (hello teensy bit of jet lag) and it is the first day of the Camp Of The South I am teaching with Kate. Yesterday, we went to the glorious arena of Nicola and Tom at Ayton PRE and I was filled with gratitude for the beautiful space we get to share with an incredible group of people and their lovely horses, and for the work that everyone had done (here’s looking at you Ginny!) in setting it all up.

Beyond that, I am also so grateful for Kate. Kate and I have become close friends but have never met in person until now (a fact that is still quite wild to me). The mark of a good friendship is when you hit the ground running and it’s like you hang out every day. If you look up “person of super radness” in the dictionary, you will see Kate there- a fact that is nothing but appropriate, simply because it reflects reality.

And while we’re on the gratitude train, I’m also very grateful for my husband, who in the midst of winter in New Zealand, holds the fort (and horses) while I trek off to the other side of the world. It is never unnoticed or unappreciated, and thank you never feels sufficient.

A Slight Carboard-ey Feeling

This is a public service announcement. On the domestic flight between Dunedin and Auckland, I was offered the choice between the cookie and the beetroot crackers. Before you say anything (please don’t talk over me) I wanted to give the crackers a chance. I thought, everyone judges the cracker, but has anyone actually tried them?

Well, now I have.

Highly do not recommend.

To your lovely feeling self,

❤️ Jane

If I Run Out Of Brave…

​My littlest boy Tommy was off playing in the snow today. My husband, Giles, just sent me a message that he went on the ski lift for the first time, and sent a video of them high above the slopes.

How did he find it? I asked.

He replied, he was nervous to go but looked over and said to him, if I run out of brave, will you hold my hand?

And off he went.

That’s all we need sometimes, isn’t it?

Someone to hold our hand when we run out of brave.


❤️ Jane

Freedom To Suck {You Know You Want It}

When I first started to teach Merc shoulder in, it was a massive suck fest. There were literally stops and starts, overshooting the lines of travel, too much bends and too little bends. Such was the comedy of the situation that I could almost see the thought bubble floating above us, the cartoon cut out of Merc’s brain, saying out loud, what the hell is she asking? Do legs actually move like that?

My husband, who was standing at the side of the arena asked me kindly, do you want me to record this? To which I hurriedly replied, no! These most definitely weren’t the moments I wanted captured on film.

In hindsight, I regret my no’s. I wish that my husband HAD filmed the process because it seemed as if by magic not-that-long after that limbs were coordinating to the point where the beginning of shoulder in results in an explosion of yawns on Merc’s part.

I regret saying no when he asked the same thing in the early days when it felt like I was trotting faster than Merc in an attempt to encourage forward, even though I was the one in the saddle.

I regret saying no when all he wanted for 4 months was to take the left lead, and our canter felt like the opposite of the dictionary definition if you looked up the word “pleasurable”.

I regret it because I wish I had more of the suck to show.

Because when you get to the other side of it, it’s cool to look back and celebrate the process that allowed you to move out of that place.

Freedom to suck is a necessary part of learning. In fact, one could argue, that when it comes to sucking, there really is no such thing.

If you pulled your brain out (alert: do not recommend) and asked it, what do you think about sucking? It would look quizzically back at you and reply, I’m sorry (brains are quite polite like that), I don’t understand the question?

The reason for this is that what you and I consider the suck is nothing but experimentation. Your brain, if given a clear directive, understands the intention and then observes the results of our action to see how far the outcome strayed from it.

When it does this, it doesn’t say to itself, wow! Jane, you really suck! Wot a loser! You should quit now!

No. Our REAL brain, the one that sits underneath the often present Itty Bitty Shitty Committee (the little negative voices inside your head) actually says, great! Useful to know! Let’s do that again and see if we can shoot the ball closer next time.

A question I ask myself now if I find myself getting all wound up about nothing (nothing meaning sucking at something) is, should I throw this in the swimming pool? The idea for throwing it in the swimming pool comes from this quote by singer songwriter, Joan Baez, who incidentally in this interview was talking about her drawing.

“If I really don’t like what’s happening, I drop the drawing in the swimming pool. If I’ve gotten too precise about it, the imperfection brings it to life. One of my friends said, “Tell me just one thing that will last. Make as many mistakes as you can.” When you’re trying to make it perfect, trying to make it exactly what you want it to be, then it’s time to drop it into the pool.”

In the privileged position I am to hear the stories of literally hundreds of riders on the daily, let me tell you, I could count on one hand the amount of times I hear people hung up on ideas of perfectionism. That is, if my one hand had a trillion fingers. Which is to say, almost everyone.

To throw another creative genius at you, I not only want you to throw your ideas of perfect in the pool, but now I also want you to listen to two radios at the same time. I present you now with Tom Waits:

“I like turning on two radios at the same time and listening to them. I like hearing things incorrectly. I think that’s how I get a lot of ideas is by mishearing something.”

Thank you Tom.

Not only is Freedom to Suck necessary to get to the place of Not Sucking Quite So Much, but it can also create situations where you discover things about you and your horse that you wouldn’t know without it. Sucking is actually creative. It’s inspired. And it’s necessary.

A point of clarification: Freedom to Suck is not the same as Freedom to Be A Bit Of An Arse or Freedom to Make Unfair Requests of Your Horse (or yourself).

It’s Freedom to Learn. Because learning, my very lovely friend, always, always, always, involves sucking.


❤️ Jane

Photo is of Tommy and Merc on the inlet thinking strongly about how they don’t suck, and are actually rather lovely.


Waiting For The Last Line To Come: Confessions Of A Non-Goal Setter

Yesterday, a familiar topic got presented in my membership group: goal setting. I don’t really set goals, I mused. I don’t find goals to be supportive of the way I like to work. In fact, I find the opposite. They serve as a distraction.

The fact that I don’t set goals can come as surprise to people. In my line of work, there’s often an unconsciously harbored hidden expectation that I’m a voracious goal setter. That I chomp at the bit at the thought of a good goal and rub my hands together in the face of carefully reverse engineered plan. A few years ago, you might have been right. Goal setting has most certainly been a part of my history. But it’s not a part of my present and, dare I say, unlikely to be part of my future.

I was asked then to explain, how I plan my days and get things done as the goal-less heathen that I am. Sharing my thought process around this saw me venture far away from horses and arenas and into the creative, bounding waters of poetry and the arts.

As you may or may not know, I love to write. Poetry in particular. When I sit down to write a poem, I only have the idea that I want to write about. A point of inspiration. From there, I am at the mercy of the experience of writing. It is THROUGH the experience of writing the poem, that the words and lines and the shape of the poem itself known.

It’s often a surprise to me what comes out. That’s part of the delight. I have no idea what imaginings swirl beneath the surface of my skin until the moment my pen hits the page. I might start with the feeling of sharing what I know, but something much more magical occurs. It’s the experience of writing that allows me to know myself, and to unknow the parts of myself that are holding me back.

When your write, you must allow room for the mystical and magical. For the words to reveal themselves, a process that cannot be forced. If your writing is only conscious, it is dead. The conscious can only ever contain the things that we know. It is the unconscious that is an infinitely vaster and more interesting world, and it is that which makes every good piece of art a process of curiosity, experimentation, and patience.

What I definitely don’t know when I start to write is what the last line of the poem will be. Even as the writer, the conduit of the poem, the last line only ever reveals itself once the process of the poem has been worked through. Up until that point, it remains unknowable entity. It requires the constellation of words and universes of thought to combine and then it presents itself as something entirely new. Your own, uniquely created starburst.

When you create art, you begin to recognize that your experience with the formless- of the energy, of thoughts, of inspiration, of observing the seen and unseen- are vital to the tangible, final result. In the act of the writing experience, the formless takes shape and makes itself known. But there are countless scribbled pages, mashed up words and failed sentences that come before the words that you have been seeking find their way to the tip of your pen.

You can’t decide your way to a great last line. You can’t force it to be revealed. And it can only reveal itself once the conditions have been created that allow it to be so.

To me, my horses and working together with them is much like writing a poem. In the purest sense, it is a creative process. It is art. I have a general idea of where I want to take things. I understand the possibility available, and like every good artist, I do everything I can to be better at my craft. I study, I observe, I learn, and I upskill.

But ultimately, the process that we follow is not one that has clear definitions and solid outlines. It is the process that allows for the knowing; it is the process that teaches me what I need to know, which is something I could never have defined before starting.

Not setting goals does not mean wandering around in a directionless fog, or that you lack ambition. Instead, it’s a process of surrender to the bigger forces that be that will allow the path to unravel before you, if only you let go of any fixed ideas of what it needs to look like. A letting go of control.

In the place that I stood ten years ago, I could never have imagined the place that I stand now. The path in between, with horses, with work, with life has been one of following what I love and my curiosities and saying yes (or no) to the things in front of me with no clear idea of where that would lead or where that might take me.

I’ve never known what the last line is going to be, and I don’t want to. Letting the last line find me is the magical part. Even if the middle part has been somewhat of a necessary mess.

So, in parting, if you are a happy goal setter, good for you. You’ll hear nothing from me except the melodic chant of “power to the people, you do you!” as I support you on your merry way.

But if you’re not, welcome to the club. We can join hands at the table excitedly, maybe anxiously and definitely messily waiting for the last line to come. And we’ll do our best to have a good time while we’re doing it.


❤️ Jane

What Does It Take To Feel At Home?

This evening, I leant on the wooden fence next to Ada as she ate, and watched my other horses organize themselves in their post feed routine. Elvis was still involved in snaffling up any possible left-over remnants that may have been discarded in various feed buckets, determined that even if they now resembled compost, to remove every visual trace.

Tango stood by the gate looking cross, giving Ada the evil eye through the space in the railings. He wanted her to know that should he have the opportunity, that delicious feed would be his, and the fact that it wasn’t was nothing more than luck with a good splash of favoritism on her part.

Merc was view-finding. He stood, surveying the distance, until one of the other two got restless and started herding his good-natured feet around. At one point, he started rolling in the dusty patch under the trees and I tried not to be offended, the part of myself in love with a clean horse silently weeping in the corner.

Ada and her different dietary needs have proved to be a blessing in disguise. Every night, we greet each other, have a conversation and a smooch, and then she waits patiently while I put her halter on and weave our way through the obstacle course to the yards. First there is a hot tape gate to get through; she has to lead, turn and wait for me to hook up the slightly awkward handle on the post, a good exercise in baby agility and patience.

Then we go through the big metal gate into the yards, where the piles of yet-to-be spread gravel wait for her to explore, and she once again is forced to stand momentarily to have her halter off and for me to get her feed. This little productive and purposeful routine has allowed me to teach her the basics of leading, and we end our feed time with picking out all four feet, a routine exam she passes with flying colours, the reward being one of general adoration from the gallery (that’s me).

Tonight, I looked at her and wondered how she was feeling. As far as horsey landing pads go, hers is a good one. She has a big pasture with lots of friends, and all her basic needs are attended to. But a question that has always fascinated me is how long does it truly take for a horse to feel at home? The question gets wider and deeper the more I think about it.

When I think of it from a nervous system perspective, our fundamental aim is to be adaptive to our environment. We are all originally born of hunter gather stock, traversing the landscapes, working, and moving with them in a reciprocal relationship of exchange. In this way, everyone- and everything- profits.

I wonder, if during these times that our definition of home might be different to what we traditionally consider it now. What does it take to feel at home? What even IS home? Is it a place, a feeling, people, a relationship? Is it all of those things?

Can our feelings of home shape-shift with our situation? When we say we are homesick, what exactly is that for?

When it comes to considering how long it takes for something or someone to feel at home, I guess that depends on how we define home in the first place.

If I consider the times I have felt homesick in the past, it’s often been for people, or horses or landscapes, but equally so it’s been for comfort and safety; the feeling of knowing somewhere, of how you fit into the ecosystem of a place and your role within the community and relationships you are a part of.

Homesickness can just as much be for a sense of certainty, safety, and predictability as much as anything else. And perhaps when we have those things fulfilled sooner, we feel at home sooner as well.

I know there have been numerous horses I’ve been blessed to join my family who appeared relatively settled on arrival only for me to realise a year or so later (sometimes more) how many behavioral “issues” or quirks had resolved once they’d settled in. And equally so, how many had arrived “highly strung” only, again, for me to realise their base nature was anything but that once they felt “at home”.

It’s often a source of befuddlement to me reading stories of people with newly purchased horses with complaints about this, that and the other, when to my mind, the much lamented horse has have barely had a chance to get their feet on the ground. Us humans, we are definitely doing better, but I think we vastly underestimate the emotional world of the horse and just how upsetting and unsettling it can be to be moved from one living situation to another.

It’s a lot.

I might never have a firm answer about how Ada is feeling or what she has had to process in her move. But like any good friend, I’ll keep showing up, keep doing what I can to make her feel safe and loved and hopefully, eventually to feel at home.

❤️ Jane

The Body As A Self-Supporting Structure: Pressure, Fascia & Tensegrity

I talked last week on my blog about developmental movement patterns, and how, in JoyRide, we’d been working on both the head push and the mouthing pattern. Together, these patterns:

  • Facilitate the movement of the hard palette off C1
  • Facilitates the rocking of the head on the jaw
  • Are the beginning of hip extension

For those of you interested in catching up on that, you can read the blog here.

The purpose of playing with these patterns beyond those just mentioned, however, is to further encourage the body to become a self-supporting mechanism.

What exactly does that mean?

In a healthy system, where the fascial trains are hydrated and mobile, our body moves and operates in a way where distribution of weight and pressure is evenly dispersed throughout our entire structure.

For example: Say I am standing on both feet, and I lift my right foot off the ground. Now I’m balancing on my left foot alone. Technically speaking, there should be no more pressure down through my left foot than there was with two feet down, but for most of us, this is definitely not the case.

And what’s more, an equal number of us having trouble believing this is even a possibility.

So how can it be that shifting from standing on two feet to one doesn’t result in an increase load down on the supporting foot?

Well, that’s all down to our magical fascia. Again, when our fascia is hydrated and mobile, it redistributes force and pressure and helps “suspend” our boney structures against gravity, so they don’t all collapse down on each other. If I’m living in a body where this is the case, force and pressure are re-distributed evenly and equally.

If we are living in a body where our system has been operating more often in fight flight than not, however, our fascia will be dehydrated and lack tone. Then, when we do start to shift around then, it lacks the ability to suspend the bones in ways where space in maintained, and we experience an increase in force pressure down because of positioning and gravity.

Back to the movement patterns. There are a few conditions required for fascia to begin to hydrate and increase tone again (namely being out of fight flight), and one of those is pressure stimulation. When I apply pressure to the outside of the body, my fascia (ideally) would respond with an equal and opposing pressure, allowing my body to support itself from the inside out.

As adults, we rarely apply pressure to the body in unique and novel ways, and the top part of the body rarely gets stimulated. Applying pressure to the head and encouraging extension and flexion through the head and tail push (read: in ways that encourages openness in the vertebral bodies) stimulates all the fascial trains and promotes structural patterns where the head is no longer creating a compressive down onto the shoulder girdle and beyond.

And when it comes to our riding, the effect of this is magical. Take the trot for instance. If I’m posting or rising to the trot, the force I apply down through my stirrups need not change no matter whether I’m sitting or rising. But of course, in practice, this is rarely the case.

If we CAN get to the place where that is actionable, the amount of force we apply down through our horse’s shoulder girdle is greatly reduced, which directly affects not only their movement and performance, but more importantly, their comfort and well-being.

It’s a cycle of ever-increasing benefit.


❤️ Jane

If you want to join me and explore this work more, consider joining my membership! The recordings of the mentioned sessions are available already on the membership platform, ready for you to adventure through!





Microcosms of Change: Finding Good Community (and a love letter to JoyRide)

Two things I know. I have a good program. I’m passionate about what I’ve learned and the work I do. I’m lucky to see its impacts reverberate around me on a daily basis.

What I also know that its success is not down to me alone, nor is it the singular product of the information I share. What ultimately shapes it; what injects the magic and the heart; what is the meat in the middle of the sandwich so to speak, is the community of people who are a part of it.

In every context that matters, community is what binds us. As someone who lives in a place of relative isolation, the online communities that I’m a part literally breathe life into my soul.

They inspire me with new ideas and challenge old ones. The lift the top off my head to let the winds move through, making sure that what I lack the ability to access locally or to tangibly hold in my hands I can find through the many constellations of cyberspace, and the various hearts that meet me on the other side of my screen.

My computer and what it allows me to access, is a wild and untamed space. And like all spaces where the boundaries are limited and the rules ambiguous or non-existent, I must navigate what nourishes me and notice what doesn’t; I must become my own gate keeper in an area where the natural checks and balances don’t often exist.

When finding your way through group landscapes, we can be artful in our approaches also. There are ways to intentionally use the container of an online community as the means to challenge your own patterns; to meet the parts of yourself that you would perhaps like to mold and change; to address the things that both socially and otherwise the wider expanse of the world makes difficult.

The dynamics of what we might consider “good communities” have this inherently built in. They are microcosms that change us. When we are placed within a community that feels safe and where expression is encouraged, we sooner rather than later find ourselves amid an alchemical emotional experience, the effects of which manifest often before it hits our conscious awareness.

Good communities allow for this.

Safety is an interesting word to use also and is inherently subjective. I’ve learned that it’s unwise to automatically describe an area as a safe space, no matter how true that may feel personally. Safety is a descriptor that is earned; what feels safe to one person may not to another, a feeling that is informed by familiarity, perceptions, and previous experiences, to name a few.

“Good” groups, programs, teachers, and coaches will always survive and invite robust questioning. If you want to learn about the nature of something or someone you are looking to be involved with, observe how they respond to questions. If it all holds true, and if the desire truly is for learning and adventure in collaboration (after all, any relationship be in teacher, student or otherwise is ultimately a collaboration) those involved will always lean into, rather than away from, genuine enquiry.

If you feel you lack community, are interested in cultivating community for yourself, or being a more active part of those you currently reside in, it is important to consider:

  • What the community can offer you
  • What you can offer the community

If you have just joined an online space, sometimes this isn’t immediate apparent how everything is playing out. If that’s the case, it can pay to be an active observer for a while.

Notice, what is the tone here? How are questions generally received, both by other members and those who are “running” the space?

Good online communities give us the opportunity to use our voice and share our challenges and vulnerabilities in ways in might not be possible “on the outside”. When you can share things you find difficult or even shameful and be met with kindness; when you learn to receive feedback and understand it not as a personal blight or criticism but as an act of love, you can’t help but be changed.

When we are loved well, even in online spaces, we feel both loving and lovable.

Communities really do have that power.

A member of JoyRide posted this in the group after our weekly Q&A session:

“Thank you Jane and team JoyRide for the magic that’s is Stable Hours. A truly safe space to air the weird, wonderful and mundane musings of one’s mind in full confidence of being heard and offered considered response – with interested and supportive witnesses. It struck me as I listened today how very rare that is and how powerful and beautiful.”

One of the comments that followed was:

“I was thinking the same as I listened to Stable Hours today! The community here really is worth just as much as the actual work.”

I couldn’t agree more, and I love the phrase “supportive witnesses”. Having the information is the first step, but bringing it to life occurs in relationship, and having a supportive community in which to share and practice really is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

As a coach and human interested in developing online spaces as portals of connection, friendship and learning, the online space I am a custodian of has helped me expand professionally and personally also. When you manage a group over a sustained period, you get to observe many patterns and behaviours playing out, which we can also assume make similar appearances in their day to day life also.

These observations have given me the opportunity to consider how I can best serve someone with my reply, and in some cases, a lack of reply can be as considered a decision as any.

As I walk the same path, I get to meet my alter egos of wanting to be liked, and of people pleasing. I have to ask myself, what best serves this person, even if it’s not the response they ultimately want to hear?

Group spaces open your work up to questioning, critique and investigation, creating opportunities for deeper understanding, reflection and consolidation of what is useful and what isn’t, what to keep and what to discard.

I credit much of this to healthy group spaces and the transformation they allow.

This blog started as a love letter to the community of JoyRide, but it evolved into a different thoughts around what it means to allow yourself to be changed and how we can best show up in the online spaces that we love.

A loving and gentle challenge to further consider how we can support each other, and allow ourselves to be supported in return.


❤️ Jane

If you want to join our community and JoyRide, we welcome you with open arms! You can do so here.

Going Fast, Because You Want To.

Cantering on Merc is one of my favourite things to do. It hasn’t always been this way. His body has only just started unravelling, at times feeling like a randomly knotted ball of wool where you just hit your stride, the line seemingly to untangling effortlessly, only to abruptly hit another knot that you need to massage and stare at for a while and figure out which direction would be best to approach it from.

I already look at Ada, my small but wot will be massive Irish baby and imagine us cantering across the inlet. In the merry land of my mind, I am always Arwen from the Lord of The Rings, but with a jousting stick. The jousting part is most peculiar I admit, but I can’t deny the strange attraction. This is juxtaposed against the understanding that cantering with a large tree such as that looks awkward and misplaced, and I neither like hurting people or getting hurt myself, a prerequisite I imagine I will need to overcome should I actually end up being Arwen with a pole.

Stick or no stick, the thing about flying trotters and going fast and in this case cantering (but for some it could be a few gaits less or a few gaits beyond) is that you have to really want it. The forward, the moving up a gear, the activation of the jet engines, starts in the mind first.

As horse people, I’m sure we all agree that the moments of covering the ground at great speed can constitute the best and the worst of our riding adventures; it all depends on context.

I speak of cantering today, and the feeling of most definitely wanting it, but there have been times when I most definitely haven’t. In fact, one of my earliest memories is a visual of flying mane, and wind whipping past my face in time lapse style fashion that I’m sure I have dramatized in my mind over the course of thirty years.

But then again, maybe not.

Both my parents were professional runners, my mother in particular owning a form of competitive spirit that sees her race other people on the treadmill at the gym, regardless of whether they realise they’re racing or not. A tiny, unnecessary fact that she seems to overlook.

In my early pony years, I used to go gymkhanas, and one of the races they had there was the walk, trot, and lead.

The rules were this: You started at one line and walked to the next one. Once there, you turned around and trotted as fast as you could back to the start line. Then, you would get off and lead your pony like a bat out of hell to the other line again, the first person over being the winner.

In cases like mine, where it was deemed you were too little and too young (read: too vulnerable) to dismount and run with your pony, a designated handler was allowed to run back with you back to the start. Up steps my mother to the plate.

Everything passes for safe and normal until the third leg, where my mother activates her turbo charge. Not looking back, she streaks towards the finish line, in her mind sprinting the Olympic qualifier, my pony breaking into canter (my first ever time) in a sturdy effort to keep up with her.

And me screaming all the way.

At the end she looks thrilled, and me slightly rabid. And for the record, yes, we won the race. Or at least, my mother did.

The thing about going fast is that we only want it when a few things are in place. Control is one of them, the ability to change gears up and down on request.

Relaxation is another. Adding power to tension just breeds more tension, and there’s no fun or joy in that.

We want power and forward in conversation; not with one or the other in control and the other stuck on mute.

There have been many times over the course of my horsing career where I’ve beat myself up and berated myself for my lack of wanting to go forward, and each and every time this was the case, I recognize that it was my intuition talking; that my horse and I neither had the conversation, balance nor relaxation required to press the power button from the position we were in.

There have also been times when my body has communicated concern to my brain that was not real, where I’ve realized I’ve been waiting until my horse is half dead before I’m happy to get on or turn it up a notch. Where I have been holding the hand brake, and in doing so, causing many a problem that I was looking to avoid.

Making friends with forward is a process of paying attention and consistent curiosity. It’s picking apart, where is the primary problem here right now, and how can we address it?

In our horses it might be balance issue, a misunderstanding of the aids, a communication of pain, or a tightness in the body where they neither have the strength nor capacity to do what you’re asking of them in that moment.

For us, it could be that our body lacks the ability to harmonise with our horse’s movement; that we have some stuck fight flight patterns that need to shift; that we have developed a dominant way of operating around the idea of forward that needs to be gently pulled apart and shaped in a different direction.

There’s something magical about moving at speed with your horse. It’s not the be all and end all, but it warrants a superlative that expresses a connection to something bigger.

I believe at our essence, both our horses and ourselves crave the freedom of forward. The looseness of body and mind that allows for it. So if there’s something in the way of that currently, it’s worth looking at. It’s worth spending the time asking, what’s getting in the way here, and who can we call on to help with it?

To your imaginary jousting,

❤️ Jane

If you want help making friends with forward, I have a three part workshop in my membership that deals with exactly that. Click here to check out the membership!

The Days Of Nothing In Particular But Everything That Matters

Ada, it turns out, thinks wheelbarrows are quite magical, and most definitely mysterious. It was one of those very still, almost-winter-but-not-quite autumn days today, and looking into her paddock, I decided that it was time for some pooh picking.

The thing about picking up pooh, as many a horse owner will attest, is that in the right mood, it’s an activity that lets you slip between the cracks of time. It’s satisfying in the first instance. I see a tangible, measurable and obvious improvement from my efforts that is often absent in the much more intangible, somewhat less measurable, and often only vaguely obvious changes I see happen in my day-to-day work life.

Sometimes, I imagine what it must feel like to be a craftsman or something that creates things with their hands; the satisfaction of getting to mold and shape and hold something that you can share with others at the end of the day. For the moment, my little patch of ground and picking up the deposits that pepper it allow me to be the artisan of my own imagination. A weird tangent I’ll admit, but one that I find infinitely pleasurable.

Ada marches up to me, her solid body belying a lightness of step where her trotters seem to barely touch the earth. I stand and admire her, reaching out her neck to sniff the strange object that’s being wheeled around; the smells of the other horses wafting up her nose creating files of understanding that she will store and use for later.

I move and she moves too. There’s something about baby animals that is captivating. Without the haze of tiredness that often accompanies the exploits of baby humans, I can delight in what she delights in. I get to see the ordinary and the mundane in a whole new light.

It’s weird isn’t it, I tell her, this thing I’m pushing around. I walk away with my strange inanimate but at the same time mobile machine, and she gets braver, following us, at times convincing herself that she might have the power to make this thing move herself.

The smiles fall out of me. I decided that if I was ever to lose my smile, this would be the place to check. If I’ve still lost my smile when I’m here, something is most absolutely wrong.

I decide to venture further, grab the halter and lead from where it lies at the bottom of the gate, mutter at the ground to see how firm it is under foot and see what she thinks.

When there is no base of understanding on which to have a conversation, any interaction between you- every touch, every application of pressure, release of pressure, every scratch, every choice not to scratch- gets to mean something.

What to do you think, I ask her, if you put your nose in here. I gesture with the halter in a specific way.

If I pick up on the lead, do you understand what this means? And if not, what is the gentlest and clearest way I can tell you?

If I touch your chest, do you move back, or do you lean in?

The most basic of ABC’s being learned out in the paddock.

The usual coming and going of horses, being fed, being worked, no longer follows the same, predictable routine. Now with a baby in our midst, the childcare centre is open. We can no longer put the feeds out in the paddock with the understanding that the same size bellies with the same sized needs that eat at roughly the same pace will sort themselves out.

Now, one of those buckets is a pot of gold, a high octane, high protein, high deliciousness blend of beckoning goodness manned by the smallest and most vulnerable member of the herd. It’s game on.

Until the pesky humans get involved.

Feed time now is a shuffleboard assortment of multiple needs. It’s that horse there, you behind that tape, please do not pull that face at me, Ada please come here, no not you! The usual scrummage that accompanies the first few weeks of the routine being broken, making way for something new.

And with newness comes renewed appreciation. The time to sit still and let the whiskery, snuffly nose make its way around your feet, without needing to do or be anywhere or do anything else.

It’s leading your older horses and being grateful for what they know. That you come through the gate, lead them down the path, put the saddle on, up you hop and go without a second thought. I slip my hand under the cascading mass of Merc’s mane, whispering I’m grateful for him too.

These are the best days. The days of nothing in particular but everything that matters. The days you take photos of in your mind. The days when you look out and say thank you to no one in particular but to whoever it is that’s responsible for putting all of this together.

Whoever you are, when you made the horse, you did a very, very good job.

❤️ Jane

Is This A Process Of Opening & Closing?

Does pain, discomfort, or “unsoundness” always indicate that something is wrong?

When I started to learn more about the nervous system and its relationship to biomechanics, my previous relationship with pain, discomfort, or “unsoundness” (if we use a common label we attach to our horses) got turned on its head.

Previously, I’d not given it too much thought beyond the fact that if something hurt or was uncomfortable to the point where your function in that moment was compromised, then you needed to “do something about it”. And that “something” usually involved a fix that rested on the premise that whatever was going on in the body was not what we wanted to be happening. In other words, it was a movement in a negative direction.

I’ve learned, however, that this is not necessarily the reality.

I said something in a Q&A session we had in my membership recently which was: your body is a verb, it’s not a noun

What I meant by that is that the body is always in a process of doing, changing, and responding; it is not fixed, and it is never static. At any one moment in time, it’s in the process of either opening or closing.

Your bones, organs, fascia, everything are either in the process of moving towards the midline of your body as a process of contraction (as seen in the sympathetic response) or moving away from midline in a process of expansion (as seen in the parasympathetic response).

Let’s say, for the sake of example, that either you or your horse have been living for a prolonged period dominantly in a sympathetic state; a state of contraction. If you begin a practice which increases your sensory feedback, where your movement patterns are challenged so you start to move in ways that are novel and unique compared to your norm, what happens is that you are starting to pull and parse apart everything that has been held tightly together for what can be significant periods of time.

And what this creates is discomfort. Sometimes pain. Sometimes a way of moving or a movement pattern that’s kind of funky until the brain becomes more efficient and capable at moving in the new way.

This period of un-ease does not indicate that something is wrong; quite the opposite. It’s the intermediary zone where the body is actually moving towards more optimal ways of functioning.

It’s in the process of opening.

In my work, we learn about black and white structural indicators; parts of the body that are observable, and whose position we can read as either parasympathetic or sympathetic. When we can understand and read these, we aren’t left with our subjective interpretations of what’s happening, but an objective awareness of whether the body is opening or closing in that moment.

Obviously, I think about this a lot in relationship to humans (and a huge part of my work involves starting to decouple negative perceptions to discomfort and bodily feedback that is actually about the body moving towards vitality more than anything else). But I think about it in relation to our horses as well.

If we challenge their movement patterns; work with their feet in a way where the angles are changing; introduce changes to their environment, there may be times where they go through periods of “unsoundness” or “soreness”, but where the experience doesn’t indicate something is “wrong”. Just like us, their body needs time to de-contract, their muscles need to adjust to support their structure while they mobilise in different ways, the fascia needs to increase its length.

We may not have the skill or the eye necessarily to discern in the first instance what is what, but that’s something I’m keen on developing.

As a culture, we are discomfort resistant; we can’t stand it in ourselves, and we are also intolerant in allowing it in others. But it’s something I always hold front of mind now:

Is this a process of opening or closing?


❤️ Jane


The Head Push: Patterns For Reducing Downward Pressure

Developmental movement patterns are patterns that are begin in utero, and progress through the birthing process and into early infancy. These patterns are not only vital from a movement perspective but are also essential for endocrine and brain development, something that continues to be strengthened even as we practice them as adults.

This week in JoyRide, we’ve been working with the mouthing pattern and head push, two patterns that begin early in the chain as the means to establish the rocking of the head and hard palette on the jaw, and to move the same parts of the body off C1 so there’s extension and not compression of the spine.

The head push is the beginning movement that allows for hip extension. As I learn to push with my head, my hips can become fully open, which allows for the hip joint, the knee joint and the ankle joint to open also without compressing or shearing the bones.

This also allows my spinal vertebrae space as they get pulled apart from one another from C1 all the way down the length of the spine.

For many of us as adults, this pattern has been lost, which occurs for a few different reasons, including the loss of internal pressure and fascial integrity and developing sympathetic patterns of movement as a result of being dominantly in our sympathetic or fight flight nervous system.

Then what occurs, as we stand up, rise or post to the trot for example, we push with the feet, but our head does not move further away, so as our joints start to straighten, there’s not enough space for them to do so and we create more compressive force down.

I see this in my observation of riders all the time; a lot of force pressure being applied through the feet and knees, a lot of thrust that comes from the centre of the body, a consequent stabilization and rigidity through the shoulder blades and a head and top end that is challenged to support itself in space.

Part of the reason for this is as adults, we no longer apply pressure to the top end of the body in a way that stimulates the fascial trains and creates healthy pressure. If you observe children, they are constantly rolling, inverting, moving from side to side in a way that you rarely see “grown-ups” move.

Reestablishing this pattern is not only essentially for maintaining openness of structure, but in ensuring, as riders, we are a self-supporting system that is neither overloading nor unbalancing the horses that so graciously carry us.


❤️ Jane

How Much Do We Allow For The Messy Middle?

When I first learned that you could read the nervous system state you were in at any one time by understanding structural patterns of the body, one of the first things I thought was “I wonder what my body says about me currently?”

This personal, slightly morbid fascination with wanting to know whether your body is more fightey, more flightey, more freezey or more collapsey is not just mine; most of everyone I work with is keen to know about theirs too.

The more experienced I got, the more I came to understand, the more I realized that any sympathetic patterns that were showing up in the body as structural patterns were nothing more than the sum of our past experiences. It lets you say, “your body is showing ‘x’ pattern, which tells us nothing more than how it’s dominantly reacted to things in your life previously.”

So, while it can be interesting, yes, what matters much more is what is happening right now, and how we approach and are in life moving forward. To spend too much time on anything else is to do nothing more than keep facing in the wrong direction: backwards.

I was thinking about this recently in relation to the amount of material we are presented with online to do with horse wellness and welfare. It’s truly fabulous. We know so much more detail than we ever knew previously. About what lines in the horse’s muscular tell us about their tension patterns.

What it means to work with our horses in a way that promotes soundness and wellness (and what it doesn’t).

We can peer at their feet and have a better understanding of structure and shape.

We see riders and know more about what they can correct to find greater harmony for the sake of both them and their horse.

There are still massive strides to be made (understatement), but there is a large pool of us who really care, and who are doing our best to cause not only as little harm as possible, but as much good as possible.

With all the sharing on social media, however, what it seems to have allowed less for is tolerance, patience, and compassion for the journey from A to B. We still are not that great about allowing for the messy middle whilst we all do our best to promote, make and create the changes.

We click on the photo, pinch it with our fingers, and zoom in for the analysis. And we let people know about it.

We look at a horse, a rider now and we compare them to the ideal of everything I have mentioned above. But we often know little about the start point. Sharing on social media can be a scary landscape for sharing progress, for sharing the messy middle. In other words, for sharing the reality. Because the playing ground we meet, however well intentioned, can be a brutal one.

My big chestnut mare, for instance, I have been working to get her feet “right” for many, many years. She has lines on her body from old tension patterns and a susceptibility to allergies that can create some fullness in the parotid glands around the jaw at certain times of year. I’m acutely aware of this.

I saw a photo of us the other day and I found myself scrutinizing it for everything that was wrong, that I would like to improve, that still wasn’t quite right. If this sounds over the top, it’s very much not. Those of you who are in the public eye for your work (and for many of us this is not our natural state), get pretty hot off the press feedback from the gallery. And beyond that, my horse’s welfare is my top priority.

But when I found myself doing this, I stopped. I said to myself, this horse has changed beyond recognition. Sure, there are still things that don’t fit within the ideal, but she is a healthy, happy horse enjoying her work.

And I wondered, I’m sure there are others out there doing the same; perhaps not showing the middle ground, the progress because of what we see that we are aiming to change that still show up in the body in the body as snapshots of the past.

Are we accountable and responsible for ourselves and our horses? Absolutely.

Is it important to learn more about them and ourselves on every level so we can do better? Absolutely.

Is there a way to do that with more kindness and grace, to allow for the imperfections, and the time it takes to make those changes and to support people as they do so? I think so.


❤️ Jane

Back Pain, Movement & Your Nervous System {and how they’re all related}

Back pain has been a feature of my life for as long as I can remember. As a teen, I was poked, prodded, and evaluated as a point of curiosity for enquiring minds over various modalities.

Maybe she has rheumatoid arthritis, they said at one point.

Hmm, yes, we think probably some of malformation of the cervical vertebrae, said another.

None of this proved to be true. And yet, I wandered around as though carrying a cloak of rocks, my young muscles burning and aching, making me wish I could peel them off me like a bed sheet.

I came to an arrangement with my body that I would ignore it as best as possible and get on with things. My extensive studies into yoga were motivated, in part, in an effort to control the pain. The therapeutic modalities I studied helped. But if I had a day off, or somehow didn’t do my practice, the same inescapable discomfort returned.

One day I admitted that as much as I identified with being a yoga practitioner, my practice only ever provided temporary relief. I still wasn’t getting to the core of the issue. This was hard for me to look at because I had built a life around much of what I was doing.

It wasn’t until I dived into studies of the nervous system that the lights really came on for me. In all the years of investigation and talking to experts- decades- this fundamental understanding had never been brought up. And once I got a handle on it, everything changed for me.

In our sympathetic or fight flight nervous system, we use our lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck) to create movement in the legs and shoulder girdle respectively. If we consider the outer tube of our body (everything that we can run our hands over), the lumbar and cervical spine pump forward and back in the tube as part of a movement process to maximise our powers of force and acceleration.

This is designed as a short-term deal, when we are under physiological threat. But as many of us know, we’re in a living situation now where many of us are living more often than not in our fight flight system and it’s creating wear and tear on the body as a result.

If we talk about lower back or neck pain, there’s barely an adult you talk to that doesn’t have a complaint. It’s epidemic. So much so that’s it’s almost an expected or normal part of adulting, which speaks to how much we have got used to living with nervous system dysfunction.

In the parasympathetic system, we create movement completely differently. The first thing that happens is I create an intention for the movement and my brain swings in that direction in my skull. My deep front line fascial train and my organ bag of fascia then swing in the direction of the movement, causing a movement of the fascial trains generally and my joints to mobilise.

When we move in this way, no one part of the spine is compromised. It essentially rides the movement in coordination with our superficial front line fascial train, our centre line.

For me, paying attention to my movement patterns and repatterning them from being dominantly fight flight to parasympathetic has literally changed my life. It’s not quick fix work, nor is it effortless. But I’m not sure there’s much I’ve done that has been more worth it.

My posture has changed, and I no longer have back pain. Like, at all.

Looking back, I can see how my nervous system was all over the shop growing up. And my body was functioning, moving, and living from that place.

I find the relationship of movement to the nervous system more than a passion and fascination, although it is both of those things. These understandings let me ride, move and be in life without feeling like I need to escape my own body. And there are benefits that extend well beyond that also.

This principle forms is part of the root of what I teach in JoyRide, my membership program. If you’re interested in learning more, you can read more about it here.


❤️ Jane

Conditions Required For Starting To Occur

On Sunday, I sat down to write. Not the kind of writing intended for the world (although maybe one should not look to separate them out) but the I’m going to lie back on my pillow like Audrey Hepburn, grab my journal and produce something beautiful kind of writing, just because I want to kind of writing.

Clearly my mind on a Sunday had a rather large opinion of herself.

The thing is, as I grabbed my coffee (there was also coffee) and told my children yes, they could watch cartoons on the iPad (there was also small children and screens to tend to), I also grabbed my phone. I can see you nodding knowingly now and saying to yourself “She shouldn’t have grabbed her phone” and you would be correct.

And to add to the horror, I mindlessly clicked open my email to read a couple of messages that were not of the Audrey Hepburn tootle with your poetry variety.

In fact, they were more of the little stones of hard reality falling into your stomach variety, which landed with a soft clunk in the spot in my stomach I had seemingly reserved for “good writing”.

Now what’s interesting about this (you don’t think I would share this with you unless there was something vaguely interesting about it do you?) … what’s interesting about this is not that I fancied myself as Audrey Hepburn or that I even entertained the possibility of writing anything good, but the fact that a little seed of my mind that I was unaware of had decided that for me to write, the conditions for needed to be, well… writerly ones.

My mind had written:


  • Be in a writerly good mood, where you entertain the possibility of your imaginary audience breaking into spontaneous applause at your words.
  • Be comfortable. LOUNGE WITH COFFEE.
  • Make sure ALL THE THINGS are taken care of.

Basically, a horrendous set of circumstances to conform to based on the reality that they NEVER HAPPEN.

{Please note: Capital letters do not mean I’m shouting, I’m just passionate and animated}.

And I thought to myself, isn’t it an interesting thing that you did not even realise you had been waiting for the circumstances to be right in order to begin.

What does this have to do with horses? Well, everything. Because it has to do with life. And life and horses are the same thing.

So, I’m sending this out there as a reminder that if your list for something you want to do, continue on with or complete looks like my total twaddle of a list above, you must discard it immediately.

And you must replace it with:


  • Absolutely nothing but the willingness to do so and moving half a step beyond that place.

From the hidden thoughts of my unconscious brain to yours,


❤️ Jane

On The Mystical & The Magical

Our life, our body, our experience, our emotions are an intimate co-mingling with the world around us.

Wonder is our innate state.

Our lineage is one of beauty finding.

At our core, we reject shallow experience. We recognize we’re designed for a life that is sensuous, full, imaginative, and expansive.

You teach a lot about the body and the nervous system, Jane, what are your thoughts on the shamanic and the mystical, and its role in healing and wellness?

Well, to start the body is not separate from the mystical and the magical. In fact, it’s the very expression of it.

But beyond that, we have been sold a story that says the essence of who we are, our psyches, the body that we can touch with our hands, is separate to the landscape, the creatures, the wider world around us.

When in fact, we all spill over into, through and around each other. We do not exist, live, or heal in isolation. We breath individually and the collective also breathes us.

To partition ourselves of from the potential of wider sources of energy, wellbeing and vitality is much more than an individual error. It denies an interconnection that’s woven into the smallest cells of our being.

We may not always understand it. But to deny it only speaks to how we are facing the conversation; it does not cancel out the reality of its existence itself.


❤️ Jane

View Finding

To get from the paddock where Merc lives to the arena involves a mini expedition. We wind our way up the track, keeping left; a trail of water trickles down the other side, making it slightly soft under hoof. We come up past the yards and turn right, and through a covering of Manukas, alongside a little paddock where the rams live until the time comes for them to frolic with the ladies.

It’s about this point that Merc always stops. His body is still soft. He’s not concerned or worried. He’s not trying to get away from anything or to something else. He’s simply looking for looking’s sake.

And these days, I look with him.

I didn’t always join him. Some days, I used to encourage him on, saying come on Merc, we have things to do. Attached to my destination and overlooking the importance of the journey in between.

His looking, and now by default mine, I now call view finding. He stops and I check in and I know: Merc’s ok, he’s just view finding.

His view finding lets me see details I have never noticed despite walking that same piece of track many times a day. At this time of year, I see mushrooms pop up, new ones every morning. I learned recently that there’s name in one of the native American languages for the energy it takes for fungi to push through the earth overnight, and I delight that someone’s noticing and care at one point extended to giving that a name.

Our view finding lets us consider such things.

We view find on rides too, just looking, letting go of the idea that we need to be somewhere else anytime soon. Merc understands his place as part of the gift economy with the landscape and has gifted me with remembering my place also.

May we always create enough room for view finding.


❤️ Jane

Is Improving Your Posture Just A Matter Of Relaxation?

“So if a person is permanently stuck in fight/flight mode how does one release this to return lungs to normal position therefore improving posture? Is it just a matter of relaxation?”

This question popped up in response to the blog I wrote a couple of days back (I’ll post the link to that one below), and I thought we could pluck it out and discuss it separately because it raises a lot of interesting points.

The first is, it’s impossible to be permanently stuck in fight flight mode. Your nervous system is always flipping and changing, and even though it might appear like you are always in fight flight, there will still be times throughout the day when you are functioning in the parasympathetic.

In my work, we consider instead what is the dominant mode of functioning (and the same applies for our horses). So if we are more than 50% of the time functioning in the sympathetic system, we say that is dominantly sympathetic. And the reverse is true for the parasympathetic system.

If you are dominantly sympathetic, or fight flight, chances are you also have a dominant mode that you are more likely to operate from (fight, flight, freeze or collapse), and this informs both the structural positioning of your body, and behavioural patterning also.

If we stick with our discussion on posture and consider the fight flight nervous system, it’s important to understand:

  • The fight flight system is a system of reflex
  • Each of the fight flight reflexes (fight, flight, freeze, collapse) have structural positions that the brain organises the body in to maximise the capacities of that survival reflex

This is something that we all share. For every single one of us, the structure of our body from the inside out arrange itself in an identifiable reflex pattern that corresponds with the different sympathetic states. Once you learn to read structure, you can understand where someone’s nervous system is sitting by their structural positioning.

The other thing to understand is that this positioning is always a choice of the unconscious brain. Your parasympathetic and sympathetic systems are part of your autonomic nervous system, meaning we can’t consciously decide our way into a fight flight reflex, and we can’t consciously decide our way out. We can only influence the brain to make a different decision by increasing the amount of sensory feedback it has available to it (a discussion for another day!). Organ positioning is, of course, a part of this also.

If we take the second part of this question:

“…how does one release this to return lungs to normal position therefore improving posture? Is it just a matter of relaxation?”

The position of lungs (and all organs) are immediately influenced by what nervous system state we are in. In the parasympathetic system, the top of the lungs sit high in the neck tube, pressing on the deep front line of fascia and supporting the cervical vertebrae.

In the sympathetic, the drop down into the torso and wrap around the heart as part of a protective mechanism.

Again, this is not something we can influence consciously. We can only seek to provide the unconscious brain with more sensory information so that it is able to accurately respond to the situation it finds itself in.

{Side note here: when we are “stuck” on a dominant sympathetic template, we lose nervous system adaptability and are no longer accurately responding to the reality of our moment. My interest is in re-establishing this adaptability and developing, again, accurate responsiveness).

Relaxation is an interesting concept because it’s a subjective one. Our idea of a relaxed body is very different to a vital body. For most of us, we “feel” relaxed when our body sensations are absent or neutral, and we feel in control of things. This is not the same as a body in optimal functioning.

I flag this up because our attachment and association with a defined experience of relaxation gets in our way. A vital body is one full of feeling, sensation and sensory feedback. And in my experience, acclimatising people to this reality is one of the most challenging things in creating the nervous system adaptability we just talked about.

So as with most interesting questions, the answer is kind of yes and kind of no. And maybe. One of the key ways you activate the sensory system is through novel movement. I also have specific practices I work with in JoyRide, and I discuss a lot of the relationship to movement on nervous system function in Season 2 of my podcast. I’ll post some links for you below!


❤️ Jane

Posture From The Inside Out

A few years back, I remember having a conversation with Warwick Schiller about relaxation. I had recently bought my big warmblood mare, Nadia, and I had quickly back peddled from the idea of leaping on and both of us riding happily into the sunset to taking all gear off and starting right at the beginning. Her level of anxiety showed me that sunsets were off the list at least for the foreseeable future.

It’s interesting, I told him, as we nerded out. I had a body worker out the other day and she asked what I had been doing with her. She couldn’t believe how much her shape had changed. And I replied, the only thing I’ve been doing is playing with ways I could get her to relax.

At the time, I was ignorant to the depths of the workings of the nervous system beyond understanding that in people, if you felt nervous or afraid, or perhaps were depressed, you carried yourself in a different way. That made sense to me and was obvious. We’ve all had an experience of it, both in ourselves and observationally. The way that we can intrinsically read mood from posture.

Whilst at the time, I thought what I was observing was a muscular change, from my many studies and meanderings with the body since, I now understand it to be so much more complex. I could go on about the observable changes from a musculoskeletal perspective, but what I see gets the least amount of airtime in conversations both human and horse is the effect of organ placement and internal pressure systems on posture.

Just like the rest of your body, your organs and your horse’s organs are not static entities. They are in a constant state of motion, and their position is dictated by your current nervous system state. For instance, each of the fight flight reactions (fight, flight, freeze and conservation of energy mode or collapse) have corresponding motor reflex patterns that the body arranges itself too to best fulfill the function of that response.

The body prioritizes force output in fight. In flee, its emphasis is on acceleration. When these responses are chosen by the brain, it fires off a message to the body and your entire system (and your horse’s entire system) arranges itself accordingly.

The organs, of course, are a part of this. If you think about the hugeness (that’s an official term) of some of your organ structures (heart, lungs, diaphragm, liver) where they sit within the tube of the body dramatically affects your shape. In the parasympathetic system, for instance, the top of your lungs sits high in the neck tube, pressing on the deep front line of fascia and stabilizing the neck.

In the fight flight system, they drop much lower in the torso; the bulge that we see in the torso (the “hunchback” look for want of a better term) relates more to lung placement that anything else.

In the parasympathetic system, each chamber of the body is pressurized. This, in combination with a tensile and active fascial system and organs that are spinning and vibrating means that the body is supported from the inside out; there’s a vitality to the skin, a fullness of posture, a pliability of muscle.

This is what I was observing in Nadia. It wasn’t just muscles “releasing”. It was her entire system changing from the inside out. And this wasn’t something that was forced. It was a decision of her nervous system to operate from a different template, which affects things all the way down the line; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

In my membership program, JoyRide, we are working to the same understandings. If our nervous system is “stuck” on a certain mode of operation, our movement, posture, emotions will reflect this. Your movement patterns address this at its most fundamental level. You can check it out here if you’re interested in learning more!


❤️ Jane



To Be A Witness, Not An Investor: The Messy Business Of Releasing Old Patterns

She’s little, maybe 5 or 6 years old. She outside, playing in the trees. She’s alone, but she doesn’t mind. She doesn’t feel alone. She’s talking to someone, but from the outside, no-one would know who. Maybe it’s the trees. Maybe she has an imaginary friend. Maybe it’s to herself. Maybe it’s all of them.

She has no shoes on for no other reason is that she doesn’t think to put any on. She has dirt under her toenails, and patches of dust all the way up her legs. Her dress is slightly torn, but it’s not something she’s noticed. Not because she’s careless. She just likes climbing and sometimes things get caught. No matter.

When she’s not talking to someone or something around her, her body hums her. Little vibrations of sound that make their way out of her cells and add their thoughts to the breeze.

She notices she’s hungry, so she skips inside to get something to eat. She opens the cupboard to grab a biscuit and a voice behind her says, don’t eat that. It will make you fat.

It’s not the first time she’s been told it, but it’s the first time she’s heard it.

She pauses, confused. Her head tries to make sense of what she’s heard.

She hadn’t thought of her body as a shape before, much less a good shape or a bad shape. This confuses her more.

And she hadn’t thought of her body being a good shape or a bad shape mattering to anyone else. This is confusing too.

And she hadn’t thought, until now, that both of those things should matter to her. She wonders what else she missed, in her talking and her humming.

It doesn’t feel good, this wondering about her body and what else she’s missed. She pulls a jumper over her dress and walks slowly back outside.

Today, I had a conversation with a beautiful person about remembering. That she’s been thinking a lot about her family’s focus on her being thin, and how the emotions that have surfaced have been difficult ones. One’s of sadness and even of despair.

It’s a common experience, in the work that I teach, that as we unravel our old physical patterns through movement, all the emotions and thoughts attached to them rise to the surface also. After all, we can’t release something we aren’t aware of.

It’s not a relief, she told me to feel these things. It’s the opposite.

For the body to release, it offers everything forward for you to see, I reply back. It can be hard.

The art of it is to be a witness, not an investor. To witness the feelings that you weren’t allowed to process at the time. To allow yourself the grief.

Imagine, I said, a little girl. The little girl I wrote about above.

Imagine that little girl being told the things you were. And how confusing that must have been.

For that little girl, what you are feeling right now is appropriate and valid. And in this glorious adult body we inhabit, we get to hold space for the experience to cycle through, and to make choices for how we would like things to be moving forward.

It doesn’t make the hard-ness go away. But understanding it from this perspective can soften the edges.

It’s not easy, this process of releasing patterns. But it’s worth it.


❤️ Jane


How long will it take for me to feel ok when I ride?

I classify the Island of Comfortable in the same geographical zone as the Island of Calm; not bad to visit, obviously useful to hang out on from time to time but if you’re aiming to live there, chances are you’re (ironically) going to have a rough time of it. Many people I work with show up in my programs wanting to feel both calm and comfortable when riding (and in life generally), and it can be a jarring thing to hear that holding tight to those aspirations is, in part, what’s getting in the way.

Let’s elaborate a little more on that.

If I’m attached to the Island of Comfortable and Calm, chances are I have a very defined idea about how things need to be for me to “feel ok”. This feeling ok business is where things get messy, because if you are involved in life in a way where you are learning new things, overcoming challenges, or just showing up generally you are going to feel stuff. You are going to feel a lot of stuff.

And what’s more, you’re meant to. A healthy, vital body is one that is in conversation with your brain all day long. For as long as something is novel- so outside the norm of your usual experience enough to capture your brains attention- you are going to feel sensation.

Sensation is how the body responds when it’s processing incoming information. The structure of your body literally moves around under the instruction of your nervous system.

Part of the problem lies with the fact that most of us have forgotten what a vital body feels like. We are scared of sensation, of feeling. So when our body starts chatting to our brain in this way, we interpret it as something that’s dangerous, and send ourselves on a loop that activates our fight flight response, even if that’s not appropriate or necessary for the reality of the moment.

So with that in mind, when I’m asked how long I think it will take for someone to feel comfortable or calm, my first thought is, well it depends on your tolerance of sensation. The work I teach is about creating adaptability in your nervous system, and that means establishing a communicative body. A body full of sensation and feeling.

It can take a while to be with that and not get alarmed or scared. To be able to take action in the midst of an alive body and nervous system, when we are used to one that’s shut down or switched off. So when we think of time scales, we need to allow ourselves this re-initiation; we need to reintroduce our conscious brain to the lively and wanted conversation of our body and understand that we are on the same team. That to feel is good. That it’s not dangerous.

The second thing that pops up is how attached you are to things looking a certain way. Back to the Islands of Calm & Comfortable. If we have very fixed ideas about what “success” should look like, we often miss the much smaller and yet significant markers of change that show up. To me, holding a bigger sense of possibility that something can be better or different is not the same as a fixed goal. It allows for more space for the unknown, more ways that it’s possible to tread a path from A to B.

The sympathetic brain searches for sameness; the parasympathetic brain seeks out difference. How open you are to accepting where you are right now in combination with a dedication to searching for difference, to be a sleuth in search of tiny changes, will allow you to experience progress in the most likely way that is shows up; in the tiny markers of this was slightly different from yesterday.

And the third thing is how easily and skilfully you can meet the needs of your horse. We are, after all, a partnership. If your horse is presenting something outside your skillset, or you are unable to meet their needs, then it’s not the end of the road, but it is instructive.

That you need help. Need a plan. Need to upskill. Need to find a start point that’s safe for both of you.

And again, maintain a sense of self-responsibility and agency within this is key.

So when I’m asked “how long will it take for me to feel ok” these are the things that I think of. Everything is figureoutable. But the time frame exists with the unique constructs of each individual and the horsey partnership they are a part of.


❤️ Jane

Eyes To The Horizon

There’s a track that I follow that winds through the paddocks to the trees at the back of our property. You first go through a gate and up a rise, and then as you start to make your way gently down, you enter a cluster of trees and the ground under your feet becomes less firm.

It shape shifts with the movement of the fallen leaves and your feet leave an imprint on the earth in a different way to what was possible only moments before, where the ground didn’t shape around you like clay.

I’ve broken my habit of looking down when I walk. Eyes to the horizon, I tell myself.

Eyes to the horizon.

It’s a simple act, the act of looking up. But it’s a life altering one. It changes not just my seeing, but my hearing and my feeling. The act of looking up changes my whole being.

I see the shape of the branches, of the leaves against the sky. I can hear the trees whispering.

She’s a little sad today, they might call to each other. Her footsteps don’t seem quite as light, they concur.

The wind carries the message on the air reaching the flower. It strains its stem further forward to meet me.

The horses catch the smell of the conversation and they pause, wondering what’s needed.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always witnessed.

There’s so much talk of attitude, of making sure yours is a good one. Of positive thinking and of controlling your thoughts.

But these days I see attitude as nothing more than the act of noticing; a decision of facing towards life or away from it, no matter how hard or bumpy or confusing the moment you are in might be.

It’s eyes to the horizon. Of making sure your present for all the things waiting to meet you.

That’s always enough.


❤️ Jane

You Doing The Work Is For Everyone

There are certain landscapes that I walk through where I know that I’m little more than a very brief visitor. You’re not meant to stay here, the hills and mosses tell me, and I respect them, making my footsteps lighter, my strides slightly quicker.

The landscape does not need me here, want me here, I know.

There are other places that I pass through, buildings that I see, stories that I hear, and I feel an instant kinship. A part of my body knows, recognizes, and calls out, I’m so glad to see you again, it’s been ages. I’ve missed you. Despite the fact we’ve never met before.

We hear a lot of talk about the stories we make up, the stories that define us, the stories that limit us, but we don’t often talk of the stories we arrived with.

I often wonder though, what stories are already held in the earth of our bodies. What stories breathed us into being. What stories looked out through our eyes before we really knew what we were seeing in an effort to be known in this form, in this life, in this time.

Stories looking to either find their ending or be continued on.

On the most recent retreat I was fortunate enough to co-host with Rupert Isaacson, I sat with an incredible group of people and shared stories. And because we do not exist indistinct from those who came before us and their experiences, I heard of the dreams, aspirations, and challenges of not only those present but of those whose families we’re born or arrived into.

It’s a challenging thing to look back objectively, without labelling someone or something good or bad, right, or wrong, an encumbrance or a letdown. Especially in situations where it’s family on whom we cast our lens.

To look back and see the limits of a situations, the lack of skills to deal with an emotional reality in the moment it was relevant, the loss of dreams, the stuckness of certain situations. The many wantings of people never in a position to have them fulfilled.

When we talk of our stories, we’re mostly always looking forward. To create a narrative that best serves us, that allows for more expansion, for more possibility. To create a healing in this moment in order that the future be brighter, less encumbered, more free.

I believe the same is true of the reverse.

That every time we shed a limiting belief, a limiting situation; that every time we take half a step beyond our current self to grab something that we want, or to move towards what we love; that every time we allow ourselves that fortune, the current of that experience lightening rods into the ground effecting not only everything moving forward, but everything moving back.

Healing occurs moving forward, but we also heal in reverse.

For familial lines, ancient lines we may never have seen or touched. But nonetheless exist within the clay of our bodies.

The work may be individual, but the effect is universal. A special kind of magic.

You doing the work is for everyone.


❤️ Jane


The Talus Bone: Our Moving Forward Structure

In our movement sessions this week in my membership, we are focusing on the talus bone, the part of the ankle joint that the tibia sits on and rides forwards and backwards in space. As riders and horse people, we typically notice our ankles a lot; for a few different reasons they’re an area that can hold a lot of tension and depending on our own body patterning assist or block us in harmonizing with the movement of our horse.

From a biomechanics perspective, it’s a common pattern to see riders creating force pressure down to achieve the upward movement in the rising trot, or to maintain balance in the canter. When the ankles are used as part of this leverage system (ankles, knees and tailbones fall into the “most likely suspects category” here) it creates a point of compression that reverberates through the rest of the body and is part of our fight flight movement patterning on the whole.

In the parasympathetic nervous system, the talus bone relates to the first three toes of the foot. When it’s in this position, the dome like structure can easily move forwards and backwards, allowing the shin to lever and movement to be fluid all the way up the leg.

The navicular bone is just below it, and in the fight flight system, it twists to face more towards the pinky toe, causing the talus bone to change its orientation and create more compression in the joint.

Because of the fascial train attachments- the deep front line at the back and the superficial front line at the front- opening the joint space around this area and re-establishing optimal movement creates big change; the deep front line has more tone and length generally, affecting the movement of the organ bag and structures all the way up to the head, not to mention mobilizing the centreline.

From an emotional perspective, the talus is one of the epicenters of guilt and shame in the body. When we feel “stuck” or unable to move forward because of leaving something behind, causing hurt feelings, not taking someone or something with you (amongst other things), this presents as a stuckness in the talus. It is literally our “moving forward” structure.

Who knew our little ankle bones could hold so many stories.


❤️ Jane

If you’re interested in learning more about the membership or joining us for the Talus movement sessions, you can do so here!