On Grief.

A few days ago, I wrote how I lost my precious yearling Bear. Since that time, I have adventured through the depths of my own grief to see if I might find a jewell at the bottom of what can seem like a very dark well.

For a while now, it’s been obvious to me how little we discuss death and dying in my culture. How “bad” we are at it.

And so in some small way, I wanted to share my thoughts in an attempt to swim against that tide. And in the hope that in doing so, I could more easily touch on the beauty wrapped up in the loss.

The following are recordings of two live videos I recorded on Facebook; the first the day after my horse passed away, and the second a couple of days after that.

It is my hope that in some small way, they will help someone going through the own grief and allow us to, as individuals, start to include death in the conversation that is life.

Much love,

❤️ Jane

Video One: Some Imperfect Thoughts On Grief

{You can also find this video on Facebook– the comments may help you feel less alone on this journey}

Video Two: 

Let’s start with…

  1. Thank you
  2. What’s the invitation?
  3. Restoring vitality as an act of everyday activism

{Link to video on Facebook if reading the comments are of interest}

Tending To Your Own Vitality With Fierce Dedication Is A Form Of Everyday Activism

The word vitality stems from beautiful origins. It’s born from the latin word “vitalis”, which translates to “of or manifesting life” or “belonging to life”.

As part of our birthright, all of us hold the vibration of a vital essence. If we described someone as full of vitality, what is it we see?

We see the visible flow of life moving through them, making itself known as energy, passion, a vibrancy of spirit, both physically, mentally, and spiritually.

We see evidence of their heart smiling on the surface of their skin.

They seem… alive. Which, by default means when we lack vitality, we lack aliveness.

When we are vital, as the origin of the word suggest, we recognize we are of life, and creating life all at the same time. We recognize our connection.

We understand ourselves to be both created- of the world and connected to it- and creative- having the capacity to birth ideas and to grow and nurture them.

A system with vitality is a system that is adaptable. It has energy to expend because doing so does not lead to depletion. The resources are there to be used.

Which is why, tending to your strong and gentle self- physically, mentally, and emotionally- and following the things that you love…. These things need to be your highest priority.

Without a sense of your own vitality, you cannot be present in situations that require more of you.

You cannot be part of bigger global conversations.

And you cannot be a part of conversations with people or things you love who require strength and support.

Which is why tending to your own vitality is an action of everyday activism.

Tending to your own vitality gifts you with the capacity to be present in the midst of discomfort.

It allows to be able to turn towards it, instead of away from it.

It allows you to tend to what you love in order that you see and experience more of it.

If you haven’t been taking your own wellbeing seriously, now is the time to start.


♥️ Jane




We Have Many Allies In The World Beyond The Human

What if, whenever we felt lonely, what we were actually experiencing was a state of mis-attention.

Where our mind had pulled us inward and convinced us that we are alone in this experience.

Alone in this grief.

Alone in this conversation we are having.

Alone in this challenge that we are attempting to navigate our way through.

And what if loneliness was indeed a state of missing, but the not the kind of missing we might think.

The kind of missing we first think of is the missing out kind…

The missing of company.

The missing of friendships.

The missing of intimacy.

The missing out of being included.

I’ve been taught to understand loneliness as an invitation to pay fierce attention to my natural allies in the world.

And to seek them out.

They are

My horses in the paddock

The leaves on the trees

The ground beneath my feet

The sky above my head

The birds I hear in the distance

And paying attention to those things, takes me the 1/3 of the step, the ½ a step beyond my current self

To have a better idea about what the next ½ step might look like.

Anne Lamott said: “I see my mind as a dangerous neighbourhood. I never want to go there alone”

Not going there alone, as David Whyte says, means going in with perspective.

And the perspective I want to offer here, through the understandings he has taught me, is that we have many allies in the natural world beyond what we might think.

At all times, and in all circumstances.

Waiting to befriend us

if only we allow them too.


❤️ Jane

End notes: I’ve had many conversations over the last year with people feeling lonely.

I offer the above not as a substitute for human company or connection, but as the start point to acknowledge that wherever you are, you already have “natural allies and friends”, again, in the words of David Whyte.

And as with everything, we must start where we are.






I’ll See You Up The Mountain.

Where do you go, I was asked, when you need to unwind, or recharge?

Where do you go to reconnect with the world?

Ahh, I told them. I have a place. First, I make my way up a stony path. It starts at my house and winds its way through the manuka trees until I reach the top of the hill. The path changes then. It’s full of ferns and gums, and there are springs that run little rivers under my feet, causing the ground to splash up around me.

There’s a gate at the bottom, with a trough to one side. I push it open and walk in. And in there, along with my glorious paint horse, I find my little Irish pony Bear. He’s only one year old. He sees me. And every time, he comes, and he asks for his beautiful head to be held in my arms, and I take it.

I stroke his eyes and tell him how much I love him, how grateful I am for him.

Of every horse I’ve ever owned, Bear loves hugs. He loves hugs in a way that causes you to lose sight of what’s your body and what’s his.

Where you lose your face in his fur, and where his kind eyes like pools of melted chocolate make you feel like all is right with the world.

In that same paddock, I tell them, with my paint horse and my Irish pony, there is a big log. It’s so big that if you sit behind it, no one can see that you are there.

And I go to sit, and my little big Irish pony sits with me, and we put the world to rights.

And I’m reminded that when the world created kindness, they poured it into Bear. I feel his emanations going through me, bouncing off me.

Yesterday, I lost Bear.

For 24 hours, he was very ill. And in the same time, I held his head and I told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him.

I reminded him of our log. And I hoped that in even a tiny way, I could give him a glimmer of the comfort and love he had poured into me over his short but mighty life.

I tried to love him to life, even when I could see him slipping away.

I told him, Bear. I want to adventure through the mountains and rivers with you. I want for you to be here so I can love on you.

But it can be in this life or the next. And if you choose the next one, I will meet you there.

Bear chose the next one.

I want to say I lost a piece of my heart yesterday. That’s how it feels. But I think in reality, it grew bigger. That now my little place with Bear behind the log is not a place without, but a place within.

I won’t be the same for loving you. But I guess I’m not meant to be.

I do love you, my little Irish pony. I miss you so hard.

You were all things good in the world.

I’ll see you up the mountain.


Your Body Is A Portal For Your Intuition

It’s 2004. I’m in Sri Lanka, two weeks after a devastating Tsunami swept through. I’m here as an aid worker. The hotel I’m staying in is right on the beach. I watch the waves out of my window. Lightening doesn’t strike twice, I say to myself, a mantra that feels hollow when chanted over a pile of rubble.

Many times, a day I hear the shriek of villagers yelling Tsunami! Tsunami! This village, full of generations of fisherman and people of the sea, are now afraid of the waters that for so long have sustained them.

They are sure a second wave is coming.

I nod at their warnings, but the truth is, I’ve stopped caring. I’m exhausted.

At 1am, I hear a bashing on my door.

Madam! Madam! Tsunami! Tsunami!

It is my friend and compadre in Sri Lankan adventure, Aruna. He has left his family, come down from his home in the dense jungle trees to get me.

I’m grateful but again, exhausted. I wonder for a moment what it would be like to swept up in the wave. Maybe then I could sleep? I think.

I snap myself out of it. I climb in next to Aruna.

It’s been a long haul of short nights and long days. I’ve been working with a group of children. I’ve been trying to work out what they need, beyond the expected and the practical.

I buy packets of coloured pencils and paper and offer them to them. In return, they hand me back drawing of black waves with angry faces and floating bodies. I thank them, not sure what to say.

This is so big, I think to myself.

Aruna takes me to the jungle, and they offer me their bedroom. I refuse but they insist. Aruna’s wife gives me a nightie that buttons right up to my chin, its thick cotton hanging all the way down to my feet.

It’s stifling. I wonder how this Victorian dress came to adorn a body that had no use for it.

A couple of hours later, I can’t take the heat. There’s no breeze. I’m drowning in the warmth of my own breath. I bust through the mosquito net and sit on a plastic chair, under the trees, in the middle of the Sri Lanka jungle.

The insects feast on me. I let them. I’m a different kind of tired now.

There are some states of being that invite your intuitive self forward. They are the states when you are at your most raw. When death, and life seem very finely separated. Like you can taste the difference between them.

In these states, when you lose your social niceties, you realise that you are not equal with the trees, the water, the earth, but perhaps ranked slightly below them. That you are most in touch with and most trusting of your inner voice, your internal guidance system and you follow it in these places, where the stakes are high.

Because to think too long has consequences. You just don’t linger.

I look back on the version of me that in between work trekked alone through the middle east, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and I recognize I’ve used more than the nine lives owed to me. But the irony is, when I was out there, dancing on the edge of the volcano, I had the biggest sense of self-trust. My instincts were intact.

In the cocoon of our comfortable lives, it’s often our horses that give us the biggest sense of connection to a sensory base that is our birthright and yet often feels very far away. We ask ourselves, how do we develop our intuition?

As though we aren’t intuitive beings to begin with. So far removed we have become.

When I first started studying anatomy, physiology and the nervous system, it felt so reductive. It felt as though the mystery and magic of being human had been reduced to bones and muscles and fascia and a pile of red blood cells.

But the more I learned, the more I understood. Our body and our nervous system are a portal to access our intuition. In a world where we no longer run as hunter gatherers, but instead our bodies have been units of production in a capitalized, colonized world, we need tools to find our way back.

I understand now that my body, your body, is the way back.

I get asked often, how do I trust myself? How do I develop my intuition?

And the answer is, you start where you are.

You start with the knowledge that to be intuitive is who you are. You don’t need to earn it. You just accept it.

And then, the practice- or my practice- is one of the body. Of noticing, observing, of activating my sensory system so I can feel my way through the world, not think my way through.

If there are three things that get in the way of being able to hear the sound of our own intuitive voice, it is:

  • Perfectionism
  • Judging the outcome
  • Attempting to control

Instead, we simply decide. We take an action. We see how that action lined up with our intention- with no judgement. And then we repeat.

You are intuitive. That’s never been in question. What you need to look at is everything that caused you to think that wasn’t the case.


❤️ Jane

If Your World Is Rapidly Expanding Sideways, Keep Focused On The Up & Down

There’s a moment when you get off the plane in New Zealand and start to make your way through the airport that a waiata plays across the speakers. It could be kitch but for some reason to me, the song lands straight in my heart.

You walk a few more steps and now, the sound of bird song. At this point, I close my eyes. My feet keep moving and I pull what is probably far too many bags along with me, imagining myself lying flush against the earth, within a mossy greenness that only Aotearoa can provide, staring up at the sky, slowly, gratefully getting swallowed by nature.

I was born in Australia and left in my late teens. I am more kiwi than Australian, despite the red dust and the smell of eucalypt being imprinted on my heart, but at my core, am yet to find the place where I feel my feet have permanently landed. I feel a strange mix of an eternal, restless nomad, and a staunch homebody, two opposing energies which for a long time caused me to feel ungrounded in the world I was a part.

Conventional life is something I always struggled with. And so, my quest has been to find a steadiness within that could anchor me to an everchanging scenery without, with varying degrees of success.

This last two weeks I’ve been part of something beautiful and big. After an extended period- years- of working alone, of study and of teaching, the universe plucked me out by my shirt tag and placed me in a vortex of learning, conversation, and inspiration whose seductive, collective energy you never want to end.

But of course, it does.

And so, then the adventure becomes, how do you take the energy of what has been and reconfigure? How DO you shapeshift?

Those of you at the summit with me will understand what I’m talking about. But this is not some secret club, or exclusive membership to which others are not privy. All of us have had this experience, be it at a clinic, a holiday, a learning experience of some kind, or even a loss where your cells get shaken up and when they settle, the pattern was different to what it was before.

It’s destabilizing because it should be. A life well lived is a life of curve balls and disruptive energies. Experiences that cause you to question and think and wonder and ultimately, change. To evolve.

But it’s these qualities that are also the hardest to hold. They call things into question, and to change, and you can be left with a feeling of discontent. They can make you feel a little crazy if your bodily container is yet to figure out how to embrace them.

I had some words spoken to me just yesterday by a very dear friend and mentor that I wanted to share with you now. She said, your container is expanding fast, Jane. With every conversation and interaction, it’s getting bigger and bigger.

As she spoke to, she held her hands in front of me and began to move them out to the side, as though holding a beach ball within them that was expanding every second.

Your work then, she said, is to focus on this energy. She took her hand and traced from her head, down the centre of her body to the ground.

The expansion is occurring. Your work is to stay connected and grounded within it.

The purpose of this writing is ultimately to share what staying grounded and connected looks like to me in the midst of rapid change. Or perhaps moreso, what it doesn’t look like.

It doesn’t look like comfort.

It doesn’t look like calm.

It doesn’t look like clarity, even.

What it does look like is openness.

It looks like gratitude.

And it looks like waiting for the spinning ideas and possibilities to land in a way that informs my next right step.

In the midst of new ideas, conversation and possibility, you don’t have to force what comes next. Your only job is to be with it. To be open to it.

And then within that, to stay present in your life. To keep moving. Literally and metaphorically.

To get your toes in the earth, whenever you can.

To be with your horses if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do so.

And to be ready. For whatever the greater world has planned for you next.

If your world is rapidly expanding sideways, keep focused on the up and down.


❤️ Jane

On News Of Death: When The Body Holds Your Hand

When I first started working with the nervous system, my interest was around how I could use these understandings to be more engaged in life. To be vital and robust. To allow myself to be an active participant in what was happening in my own experience.

When one of my mentors mentioned to me that in essence, the purpose of the nervous system is actually to lead us towards death, I found that realization quite jarring.

My first instinct was to reject it. Or at the very least not think about it. Which is, unfortunately how most people in the culture that I’m a part of treat death and dying.

We are aware of our own mortality and the mortality of others, and yet, when confronted with thoughts or conversations about death, we find ourselves commenting, gosh that’s a bit heavy isn’t it, and turning our attentions elsewhere.

A book I was reading recently mentioned that the fear of death and the denial of our animal nature- the fact that we return back to the earth in the same manner as the bugs, and plants and animals- lies at the basis of most of our striving. Striving to set ourselves apart so we can continue to live as though we are immortal.

My studies of the nervous system have afforded me a great deal of love and respect for my body, and for all body’s. That might seem like a weird thing to say, but it’s the truth.

Growing up, I experience a strong rejection of my physical self. This was too big and that was too small. I denied and punished my body through food restrictions and compulsive exercise. My mind had been conditioned to overlook its inherent beauty.

Now, I stand in reverence of the body. Of the magnificent lungs that move and wrap around the heart. Of my fascia and how it expands and contracts in response to my perceived level of safety. How my vision changes to protect me between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. I could go on. But where I’ve landed is on the soft cushion of understanding that whispers in my ear:

Your body is always working in your best interest.

And that’s a fact.

To consider this, then. To consider that in life, my nervous system is the container that holds me and guides me through. It makes sense that it would also seek to protect me as I make my transition out of the world that I know now and into the next. Whatever next may be.

When we have the good fortune to be in health, and our time has come to pass, our nervous system takes our hand and leads us towards death. I have never had the honour of working with someone in their late stages of life, but I have colleagues who have. People who know the body of the person they are working with well. They know their motor patterns and their mind.

And they all share the same story.

About 6 weeks away from death, they say, the motor patterns of the body start to change. The mind begins to change also. It’s the walk away from life as they know it now.

It’s not scary though. It’s beautiful. Our nervous system is protective of us. We begin to withdraw, but not in a negative way. We just become more contained. We require more rest. The body gradually moves further and further down the sympathetic chain, our sensory input from the outside become less and less until finally our breath leaves our body.

When we have what is now the luxury of passing away without pathology or illness (and even then), the body takes care of us. Even in death, it’s working in our best interest.

I find this to be a beautiful thought.

Regardless of your personal thoughts around the monarchy, the Queen gave us a rare public example of natural death. We witnessed the gradual withdrawal and until the announcement came that she was no longer with us in the same way.

What fascinates me is the press still ask for the cause of death.

The Queen was 96. Even when the cause of death is just the end of life, we still have trouble accepting it to be. There must be a reason.

We need that reason, perhaps, so we can believe it may not happen to us too.

When I’m greeted with news of death. When I’m greeted with thoughts of death, I do my best to sit with it. I don’t try to understand it or to have answers to it.

I allow myself to accept that there are some parts of the universe that my mind cannot know in its current state of being and my role is not to control that but to accept it.

But to think that my body- and yours- is always working in our best interest. That our nervous system is a support not only in life but in death is a thought I find very beautiful.

We are taken care of, even if we don’t realise it.


❤️ Jane


Beginning With Brilliance

Yesterday, I slipped out into the afternoon sun, grabbed a halter and walked up the farm to get Saffy out of the paddock. I had planned for working longer, but the still warm day seduced me, and it seemed that there was no better time to be spent than outside with a horse.

With their rugs off in the first day of the spring sun, Saffy stood in her rich redness and I sidled up to have a conversation. For the best part of a year, we have done little together by way of formal work. Much of what we might have considered to be “challenges” together have self-resolved; or rather resolved without intervention on my part.

Her fellow horsey friends have taught her about order and manners and our daily interactions of rugs on, rugs off, may I check your feet, may I brush your mane, can I give you a snuggle, have afforded us a level of trust that makes our dealings together smoother when more is asked or required.

Saffy is a red mare. She’s smart, focused, and athletic. She likes to be asked to do something in a manner that understands the queen that she is. She can take care of herself and does not suffer fools.

If she’s in the paddock, she’s the first to march ahead if something new or unusual is introduced. She’s brave. A horse you could see would stand in front of her people and look out for them.

I love that about her.

Given her limited experience in the world of training for Wot-humans-want, she is brilliant. Quick to learn, quick to understand and quick to apply.

As I send her out on the line, I love that the platform we begin from is in reverence of that.

You are so smart, Saffy, I tell her. You are brilliant.

I’m overwhelmed with the intelligence of horses. How they figure things out and decipher the human game of charades that we present them with.

I wonder how much better our experiences would be if we all started from that place.

If the first thing we did when we looked at our horses is thought, you are brilliant.

How smart you are.

I wanted to share that with you today.

❤️ Jane




Movement Of The Shoulder Girdle Dictates The Movement Of The Head

In parasympathetic movement patterns, the shoulder girdle- and specifically the AC joint- is what dictates the movement of the head. If you look at Image 1, this is the trapezius muscle. It attaches to the lower thoracic spine, the shoulder blades and behind the head.

If you were to look at a front image of it, you would see that it also loops over and attaches to the outer part of the collar bone.

One of the analogies we use a lot to show healthy movement patterns is that of a stingray, and if you look at the shape of the trapezius, it is very much of this shape. In movement, as the outer edges come forward, it allows the body to come into a curl.

As they come back, it facilitates the arch. In this way, the spine, head and shoulder girdle are all co-ordinating and working together to ensure no one part is compressed.

What you see commonly, however, is independent movement of the head separate to the shoulder girdle. Image 2 is an example of the shoulder girdle being rounded forward in a collapsed posture, and the head being forced upright. You can see how much pressure is then placed on the neck musculature and how it forces the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) forward.

In Image 3, the head is looking down, but the shoulder girdle is fixed, again, placing a lot of pressure not only on the neck but also the spinal cord, another fight/flight motor pattern.


In functional movement, the distance between the ear hole and the AC joint will always stay the same; often, however, you see the distance getting shorter and longer as the two points move separately.

In rotation, we only have independent rotation at C1 and 2; this allows for the head to rotate at about 45 degrees (Image 4) before the shoulder girdle must go with it.

Image 5, however, shows common movement patterns where the head has moved beyond the 45-degree range, but the shoulder girdle remains fixed. This then requires each independent vertebrae in my neck to move and creates wear and tear on the spinal cord as a result.


Mobility of the fascial trains, understanding functional movement and motor repatterning not only allows the body to move in a way that’s sustainable but also avoids us firing off our fight flight nervous system through the repetition of sympathetic movement patterns.

As you ride, notice how often your head moves independent of the rest of your body. Notice when your gaze/ head turns beyond the 45-degree range. Does your ear and AC joint coordinate? Or are they working independently?

All valuable things to take note of, that have ramifications physically, but also mentally and emotionally- not to mention dramatically influence the ability for you to harmonise with your horse.


❤️ Jane

Social Media & Blogs Are Just A Taste Test…

Over the course of a month, I write a number of blog posts and share frequent snippets of my work on social media. I know that I am far from alone in that I’m interested in producing content of value, and that I hope is of interest to people, but at the same time there are limitations to how far you can go and how deep you can dive when the medium you are sharing on is one that whose currency is clickbait and where you’re encouraged to compete for scattered attention.

I know I’m also not alone in saying that what I write and offer via social media platforms is superficial compared to the actual work I do. It’s usually a snapshot that touches on subject matters that I’ve spent many years studying and have many conversations and practices around teaching.

I mention this because there is an expectation at times from some people that the whole answer to a challenge they are currently facing can be found within the confines of a blog or social media post. And that beyond that, that we are entitled to the time and knowledge of the person writing it if only we use enough capital letters or question marks to highlight the urgency of our requests.

I appreciate social media and for the most part have interactions that (I hope!) are mutually enjoyable and beneficial. But I’m sure I speak for more than myself- for my colleagues in various aspects and arenas of the horse world- when I say that social media can be a portal to finding people, work and ways that will assist you and your horse in finding answers to the challenges you face or to more information on areas that light you up or are passionate about. I love it for that also.

But it is not The Work.

Often times, when people email or message me, I can’t provide the answers they expect in the same format. And directing them to paid options like my membership, is not an attempt to fob them off or get them to sign up for my stuff. It’s a recognition that if their question is truly to be given the consideration and attention it deserves- and if they really want the answers they seek- then we need to invest a little further.

We need a bigger container, a bigger conversation, a longer time frame and more room to play, get curious and explore than a Facebook comment, a DM on instagram or an email will allow for.

Social media is a taste test, but it’s far from the whole meal.


❤️ Jane


Embracing Your Finite Time

Time- or perhaps more specifically, the feeling that I don’t have enough of it- is something that I have wrestled with my whole life. In the day to day, it manifests as not being able to do All The Things, when All The Things is, indeed, what I want to do.

From this mundane musing on daily activities, my conversation with time has, in certain moments, morphed itself into a somewhat of an existential crisis. It was my birthday last week, my son’s birthday next week, and I find myself doing sums in my head of days, weeks, years, decades and how it is I would like to fill them.

Beyond that though, the most brutal aspect of my time conundrum is the fact that I often allow myself to feel endlessly busy. The feeling of busy-ness, can if we allow it to, shapeshift to a feeling of burden, and from that place it’s easy to martyr ourselves to the system and convince ourselves that we no longer have choice.

And so, it’s based on all of this that I have grabbed myself by the shoulders, pushed myself back and taken myself on a magical mystery tour of what it means to be human. I thought I would share it with you here given there is a most excellent chance that you are human also.

Because I can’t have a conversation of any sort without weaving in the nervous system in some way, let’s start there. From a nervous system perspective, if your nervous system is adaptable and responsive, it means that you are meeting the reality of the moment and responding appropriately.

What does it mean to respond appropriately? It means that if you aren’t under physical threat, your brain makes an entirely new response to meet the moment. One that you haven’t experienced before.

This is different to how we respond with our sympathetic brain. From that place, we are reflexive, meaning that how we are responding to the situation now is through a pre-programmed response. This is where so many of us get in a twist; a sympathetic response is not necessary but because our nervous system has got to a place where it lacks adaptability, we are stuck on the same channel, regardless of what presents.

How does this relate to time? It relates directly. An adaptable nervous system recognizes the inherent nature of change. It recognizes that the moment I am in now will be different from the moment I am in in five minutes, two hours, three days, and it seeks to make choices for action in this moment.

The sympathetic mindset**, however, is the one we are stuck in when we feel busy, overwhelmed, martyred, or running on the hamster wheel. And this feeds back to two main principles that occur from this place:

  1. We aren’t responding to reality
  2. We are being indecisive (the enemy of all learning processes).

Let’s look at those two things separately.

When it comes to time, responding to the reality of time is important. And the reality is, there is a limited amount of it and that YOU are also limited in what you can do. Shocking right?!

We are fed the idea that you can do it all- that you SHOULD- do it all, and if only you were more organized, efficient, etc etc, you would manage to Do All The Things.

But this is a truckload of BS. You CAN’T do all the things. And accepting that is not depressing. Quite the opposite actually. It’s a liberation.

Instead of lamenting your to do list, the things that you meant to do but didn’t get around to, you can realise that this is NOT a personal failing. This is just the reality. And instead of feeling guilty, you should have that cup of tea or read that book, or rest or whatever you want. Because you can’t do it all. End of.

Which leads us to the second point. Indecisiveness. Meeting the reality of your day- the reality of the fact that you actually can’t do it all- means now you have to be decisive about what it is that you DO do.

This is challenging for us on a couple of levels:

  1. Our brains are subject to something called loss aversion. It means we don’t like to let go of things or experiencing the pain of losing things- even if we don’t have those things in the first place. If I make a decision, then, I am “losing” the thing that I don’t choose, and this can freeze frame into the place where we never actually make a decision.
  2. Many of us have trained ourselves out of taking action, or even recognizing that we have the choice to act in some way. And if we don’t feel like we have choice, we certainly aren’t going to be decisive.

For me, renegotiating my relationship with time involves:

  1. Facing reality. It IS limited, and so am I. What a relief
  2. Being decisive in what I do with my day- and letting the rest go. This means I might disappoint someone, “miss out” on something, so on and so forth, but it also means I’m not deluding myself with the idea that I could have done it all in the first place
  3. Finding liberation in limitations. Whoever convinced us we could do it all was not doing us any favours

Attempting to do everything is evading responsibility to do the things we actually can do.


❤️ Jane

** When our nervous system is functioning in the way it is designed, a sympathetic response is as healthy and valid as a parasympathetic response. What we are discussing here is the mindset that arises when we are stuck in a mode of sympathetic functioning when it is not appropriate for the situation we find ourselves in; when we are out of sync with reality.



Look Up! Gaze & Gadgets: Looking At The Eye Socket / Eye Ball Relationship

This story has two parts. The first part involves something that popped up on my timeline (that created the inspiration for this post in the first place) and the second involves a merry wandering through the workings of our incredible body to hopefully share a different perspective and understanding- one that you may not have considered before.

Let’s start at the beginning. I’m sitting and scrolling through my feed when a post comes up advertising some glasses for riders. The glasses are designed to assist those of us who struggle with constantly looking down- they have a slit in the middle and the rest you can’t see through- and who are equally constantly being told to “look where you’re going!”. A statement that I’m sure more than a few of us can relate to.

Here’s where the story gets interesting (assuming you have the same level of nerdy interest that I do). The glasses get good reviews and on the face of it, they serve their purpose. If you are looking down, wearing the glasses will make you look up. It’s true. It’s that or run blind when wearing them, and so naturally they show some effectiveness.

But they are also a good example of where we have an end goal- to look up- and we consider that in isolation to how the rest of the body functions. On to our merry wanderings around our incredible body.

The precursor to this discussion is adjusting a belief that many people hold that much of our structure is fixed. This is an especially tightly held belief when it comes to the skull. What is, in fact, true however is the bones of the skull have the capacity for a lot of movement, and when operating in a parasympathetic state (when we aren’t under physical threat) coordinate with the rest of the body in movement.

The eye sockets are no exception.

If we isolate our discussion to the eye sockets and eyeballs, their position and function change between the parasympathetic and fight/flight nervous system. In the parasympathetic, the eye sockets are part of our front diagonal lines (so positioned more like that of a horse), with the eyeball itself maintaining a stable relationship to the upper, outer corner of the socket, and the top of the head (so the distance between the top of the eyeball and the top of the head stays the same).

In parasympathetic movement, it’s the eye socket the moves, and the eyeball stays stable. This allows for stability of the optic nerve into the brain and minimizes friction and wear and tear.

If you didn’t consider your eye sockets to be mobile, now you do. The eyeball position in the socket also relates to the position of the femoral and humeral heads in their socket. Your entire body interrelates. So as one shifts and moves, so do the others.

In the sympathetic or fight/ flight nervous system, however, things start to shift. Our aim is to limit sensory input and hone our attention in on the object of threat; consequently, our eye sockets rotate in and down, which naturally alters our gaze in the same direction.

It’s not only the sockets that do this; the entire structure of our body, including the shoulder girdle and pelvis have coordinated patterns that sit within the fight flight reflex.

Zooming out, the majority of people are in a state where they are operating more from their sympathetic nervous system than not. In that state, the brain is making the choice to focus their visual field this way. It’s way if you are told to “look up”, you might manage it for a minute but as soon as your conscious attention is elsewhere, the “habit” creeps back.

If we use a prop or gadget to correct this, a couple of things happen (or don’t happen):

  • We are ignoring the underlying neurological template that causes the body to be positioned like this in the first place
  • We drive the body further into sympathetic but overriding the choice of the brain to position the structure of the body in the way that it has
  • We create more stress and compression on both the cervical and lumbar spine; whilst we might be now “looking up”, the structure remains in the fight/ flight reflex. Now I have to push the cervical spine further into the neck tube to lift the head, creating flow on consequences for the entire system

I’m always interested in asking:

  • Why has the brain chosen that position for the body?


  • How do I influence that choice to be something different, without transferring the “negative” effects elsewhere?

Every position of your body, from the way your foot lands on the ground to your gaze has been chosen by your brain for a purpose. And understanding that is the key to working in a way that supports the system rather than attempting to override it.

The body truly is the most remarkable thing.


❤️ Jane

There’s No Such Thing As Being Behind.

I’ve been a little absent from social media of late. My family got visited by everyone’s favourite spicy flu (as my friend Rachael would call it) and I decided to keep everything simple while we navigated our way through that.

As always, when your usual schedule goes a little wonky, things, well… came up. There are always logistical things to take care of ranging from the practical (work, feeding animals, taking care of other people who are feeling poorly when you aren’t feeling that flash yourself) to the slightly more “meta” observations of how attached you are to things running a certain way.

Historically, for me, one of the biggest frustrations (and even anxieties) that I experienced was when my tightly designed schedule blew up in my face. My circumstance is not unusual in that I have many balls in the air at the same time- my own business, two young children, five horses to work and handle- which I share not for sympathy (I chose and continue to choose all of them) but because in order to keep things rolling in the way that I like, I’ve always had a pretty solid idea of what was happening when.

That is, until the last couple of years where things started to change. You may have heard me talk before about the essence of my work with the nervous system being about creating adaptability and accurate responsiveness. What that means is that there is no one nervous system state that is good or bad; it’s just, it is appropriate for the moment?

What we are looking for is our nervous system to sense into what is going on around us and to respond in a way that matches the experience. For many of us- those who perhaps feel they are stuck in a ground hog day loop, or who have trouble moving on from a particular moment in time- that adaptability and responsiveness is no longer there.

My need to have things roll out in a particular way- for everything around me to follow my ideas about what should happen when- is an example of a control pattern. When my experience matches my control pattern, I “feel” good. When they don’t, however, I don’t. And let’s face it, how often is life following the plan that we’ve laid out.

Consequently, I left myself open to an ever-fluctuating experience of struggle from attempting to control the uncontrollable; time and my experience of it.

I’ve also come to realise how prevalent this is for many people out there, and it feeds into our ideas of time not only following a straight line, but progress following a straight line also.

Here’s another example for you:

Recently, I started an add-on option in my membership called the Jumpstart. Basically, you tell me what’s up and I make a program for you of the movement practices and things to practice over the course of the month. A bit more intensive support. As I read through people’s forms, what comes up time and time again is this idea of “falling off the bandwagon” and having to start again; the perpetual feeling of not being able to “keep up” and of being “behind”.

I use quotation marks around these words for specific reason, and that is, the feeling that motivates them is one that we have completely made up. It’s not real.

You can only be behind if 1. You are following a linear path and 2. You have an expectation of where it is you’re supposed to be. And if this is the mindset you are operating from, you are always going to feel like you’re on the hamster loop.

What IS real is finding what’s possible in this moment and doing it. What IS real is not seeing time and a long road laid out behind you and before you but in the series of separate moments, each to be treated and experienced differently to the next.

So, what does this look like in practical terms?

Well, take two of my horses, Dee and Merc. Both of them I aim to ride 6 days a week. The past version of me would have felt anxious, cross, and upset when for some reason this wasn’t able to happen (like with the spicy flu). I would have been momentously grumpy about that and allowed it to colour everything else about my day.

I most definitely would have felt “behind”. I most definitely would have felt like I had “fallen off the bandwagon”.

I wasn’t adaptable. I was fixed.

In my latest experience, I recognized what was possible and what wasn’t in that moment. Instead of feeling behind, I picked the rope and the reins back up when I was able and, well, started working with the horse that I had. This was a different moment and different things were possible within it.

So what I offer you, fabulous human wot has almost read all the way to the bottom, is that if you are reading this and identify with what I have written, understand that feeling frustrated about things not going the way we planned trace back to our need to control.

And if we can reconcile that- if we can instead meet the moment and ask ourselves what’s possible now- we can begin to release our stranglehold on our ideas around time and our attachment to exactly how it’s supposed to be used. And we can see how much of our suffering is, in fact, self-created. Oof.

Adaptability. Meeting the moment. Taking action on what’s possible.


❤️ Jane

Making Friends with Forward: A Three Part Workshop

I’ve been musing over this post for a while now, the reason being that what I’m about to talk about is not black and white. And I think that’s the point. Working with horses is nuanced. There is no linear formula, and there is no set process that suits any one horse, beyond a set of common principles.

It’s our role then, as riders, to seek balance. The possibilities for our horses in movement exist only within the range that they are balanced. Our job as riders, then, is not only to facilitate that balance so they can carry us without compromise (physically, emotionally and spiritually), but also to ensure that we ourselves are not the reason that the seeking of balance is not possible- which is more often than not the case.

For many years now, I have been a student of horsemanship and have ventured down many rabbit holes in the quest for harmonious partnership. I am also fortunate to have many different types of horses in my horsey family, which allows me the luxury of working with horses of varying dispositions, gymnastic capability and personality. Over the years, I have come to realise some of the mistakes I have made and the challenges that I’ve had, and for the purposes of this conversation, it has to do with the relationship to the use of the reins and contact.

Many of the horsemanship circles that I’ve moved in all hold fast to the principle of riding on the buckle. That we need to let the head and neck “go” to allow for free and forward movement. That riding on a loose rein at walk, trot and canter is the foundation of everything that comes after.

This is where things get sticky. I don’t completely agree anymore.

Here are some things I add as a disclaimer that somewhat complicate the discussion:

  1. When we ride to control rather than harmonise

Many riders struggle with their own balance in the saddle to the point where contact with the reins becomes yet another form of control. If our own bodies resist the dynamic movement of the horse- physically or emotionally- then it’s impossible to have a discussion about contact and balance that’s useful.

In this case, I agree- let the reins go.

Conversations that involve contact must originate from the body of a rider who has enough organisation to adapt to what the horse is offering and respond accordingly. If not, then we begin with the rider, not the horse.

  1. We don’t have a clear understanding of what the bit means

If we were to ask a group of riders to explain what the function of the bit is, how many do you think would be able to clearly answer? And if the rider’s themselves don’t know, what hope do we have of communicating anything of value to our horses?

Confusion creates conflict. Clarity promotes understanding.

If we aren’t clear on the primary function of the bit creating relaxation of the jaw, then what are we using the bit for?


And if that’s the case, again, I agree. Let the reins go.

  1. Our horses aren’t taught a healthy relationship to contact. And nor are we.

If contact has been about control rather than a conversation about balance, then it’s always going to promote aversive feelings.

If it’s about balance, then we can allow our conversation with contact to create a better feeling in the body, a greater movement towards harmony. In this case, contact is responsive and adaptive. It’s fluid, not fixed. And it starts with us out of the saddle, not in it.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it provides a good start point.

This whole conversation came about when I realized how many riders I work with have an anxious relationship with “forward”. There is either a point where they shut the forward down, or where they prevent it from happening altogether.

Some people can identify specific moments when the “forward” becomes a worry for them. For instance, when the trot gets bigger or when canter enters the equation.

A conversation on making friends with forward, however, not only needs to include the biomechanics and mindset of the rider, but also the balance and mechanics of the horse. And in order to truly understand the balance of the horse, we have to further understand our relationship to contact and how it affects our horse’s balance and ability to find relaxation under saddle.

Making Friends With Forward is a 3 part series that I’m holding in my membership program, JoyRide, in which I explore the various aspects of forward and share some of the mistakes I have made with my own horses along the way that have impeded our quest for relaxation under saddle.

Part One is a Tale of Two Horses: Dee, a 17.1hh warmblood/ sport horse, and Merc, a 15.3hh paint crossbred. Two very different horses, physically, mentally and emotionally. In both instances, redefining our relationship with the contact and balancing the front end has been a total game changer- both for very different reasons but with equally powerful results.

In Part Two, the fabulous Kate Sandel from Soft and Sound is coming to talk with us about the finer aspects of balance as it relates to forward and relaxation under saddle. Kate teaches in line with the French classical school of Legerete and the Vaquero horsemanship traditions.

And in Part Three, I’ll be discussing our concerns and anxieties with forward from the perspective of the nervous system and giving practical tools to remedy the blocks and challenges you may have.

You’ll have access to all these live trainings and recordings as a JoyRide member.

If you want to join me for Making Friends With Forward, it’s part of a workshop series we are holding in my membership program, JoyRide. You can check it out or come join me here 💃

❤️ Jane


Are You Creating Your Own Fight Flight Reflex?

Last week, I wrote about my experience with frustration and how the whole “leave your emotions at the gate” is not mantra that I subscribe to. As you know, our emotional life can create some enormous highs, some fairly long plateaus of not-much-ness and some equally deep lows, and it can be confronting to consider how much we ourselves are responsible for those experiences.

The conversation of emotions is a big one, so for this one I want to zero in on our physical relationship with emotion and how our interpretations of what’s going on can pull us into a fight flight response.

The structure of our body is changing all the time. Between the parasympathetic and fight flight nervous system, our bones and organs all change their position. Even at rest, we are not static creatures; our system is humming, changing, moving pulsing.

Our brain is making ongoing decisions about our safety in relationship to our environment and our structure is responding accordingly. We experience sensation when the structure of our body changes in response to sensory stimulus. In this way, we are designed to be getting messages from our body all day long.

For example, I can feel a tightness in my chest, even a shortness of breath when my diaphragm moves up in my torso, shifting my heart and lungs from lower down to higher up.

In reality, this is a movement towards the parasympathetic; in the sympathetic system, my diaphragm drops, and my heart and lungs follow suit. The reversal of this position indicates my system is returning to more “everyday operation” mode.

Where things start to go wonky is when I start to interpret physical sensation and meaning with a specific emotional label. If we continue to run with the example I’ve given above, many people interpret that experience in their body (tightness in the chest, shortness of breath) as anxiety.

When we habitually attach an emotional label to a physical sensation or experience, we “map” that experience into our brain, and tie the two together as a sympathetic reflex. What that means is that every time I then experience a fullness or tightness in the chest, I create the experience of “I am anxious”.

As every thought has its own motor pattern, the experience of anxiety expresses through me, regardless or not it matches the reality of the moment.

Just because I’ve attached the label of anxiety to the physical sensation, however, does not mean my interpretation is accurate. Instead, I have come to interpret a particular experience in my body as dangerous or negative when in fact, it was the body shifting OUT of fight flight mode.

Decoupling emotional labels from physical sensations and associations is a big part of my work- and one that can literally be life changing. We get ourselves in so much trouble with our subjective interpretations of what our body is communicating to us, and in doing so constantly pulls ourselves into the sympathetic.

We are meaning making machines, so we have a responsibility to ensure we aren’t making life more difficult than it needs to be.


❤️ Jane

If you are interested in doing this work together, check out JoyRide. This is a big part of what we do. You can check it out here! 


So you’re frustrated….

On Tuesday, I caught Merc and brought him into the yards with the plan of going down to the arena and working together. By the time we had made it from his paddock to the tie up space, I knew something was off. He was as high as a kite and somewhat fancied himself as the paint version of Spirit, Stallion of The Cimarron. His posture was high and tense. He was reactive and jumpy. All very un-Merc like things to be.

I knew instantly what it was all about. Over the last 24 hours, I’d grazed him on a short, relatively eaten out paddock while I got things ready to shift the horses around for their winter grazing, but there must have been enough of the rocket-fueled sweet green stuff for him to decide this was the beginning of his tap-dancing career. I abandoned my plans to ride and instead thought we would head down and do some in hand work instead.

The beginning of our session started predictably, and such is Merc’s heart and mind that even when he’s juiced up he does his best to figure out what I’m asking of him. Then our neighbour walked up the road with her horse and for a few moments, he forgot all about me, puffing himself up and out in all directions.

In that moment, I had an interesting experience. I felt myself become something which I would label as frustration, and I clearly witnessed the course it took through my body.

But instead of buying into it; instead of investing in the frustration, holding hands and taking off together, my mind said to me, it doesn’t matter that you’re frustrated. So be frustrated! But remember, being frustrated is not a get out of jail free card.

You can be frustrated and still pay attention to what’s in front of you.

You can be frustrated but you still need to make a decision based on what your horse is showing you and move from that place.

I find it hard to articulate what a powerful moment this was for me. The experience of an emotion is defined as a physiological event in the body, followed by a subjective interpretation. That’s it. What gets us into trouble is not, then, the experience of the emotion itself, but the meaning that we attach to it, and our habit of being unrelentingly focused on a fixed outcome that is mismatched to the experience we’re actually having.

We hear a lot about leaving our emotions at the gate or separating emotions from experience. All of which leave you trying to be something that you’re not. Great in theory (or is it?) but impossible in practice.

So, while we can’t leave our emotions at the gate, what we can leave is our labels and our stories about what they mean.  We can allow our bodies to have the physiological experience of the emotion without grabbing onto it and falling down the rabbit hole.

I’ll write tomorrow about how we can “map in” emotions and sensations, and how that leads us into a sympathetic spiral, but for the moment, it’s interesting to note:

My frustration coursed through my body in less than 60 seconds. It came, passed through, and left without leaving a residue or an imprint. It was fleeting. A blip.

Not defining. Not overpowering. Not immobilising.

Just a physiological experience that passed through, and on its travels, caught my attention.


❤️ Jane




Your Sit Bones & Your Nervous System

The sit bones get a lot of airtime when it comes to position and balance, and almost all of the instruction that I’ve heard involves positioning your weight directly on and evenly between your sit bones.

If we zoom out for a moment, the entire pelvic bowl changes its position from sympathetic to parasympathetic. In our sympathetic or fight/flight nervous system, both the crest of the pelvis and the underside rim fold in towards midline, changing the orientation of the structures that are a part of it. One of the first things to happen is that the pelvis starts to tuck; the musculature and soft tissue of the pelvic floor pulls in and up, the tail curls and the pelvic triangle (of which the sit bones are a part) shifts forward.

Most of our instruction around position and balance assume a tuck of the pelvis. They assume that to be sitting on top of the sit bones is the norm, and in some ways, it has become so. To be functioning dominantly from the sympathetic nervous system has become a hallmark of modern living- but that still doesn’t cancel out the fact that a whole different sense of possibility exists.

In “normal” or parasympathetic functioning, we are designed to be sitting on the long, flat ramus bones that lie between the sit bones at the back and the pubic tubercles on the front. All of these structures sit behind the legs, allowing for both the hamstrings and the adductor muscles to maintain their homeostatic length. In other words, it allows them to move and the fascia to slide without being crammed and jammed up as a consequence of the pelvic tilt.

If you look at the photo of the baby below, this is a beautiful example of parasympathetic posture (the drawing has the pelvis still in a slight tuck). A good marker to train your eye to is the top of the tail, which is where your butt crack starts. You can see how high the tail is here, allowing the sit bones to sit facing to the back diagonal (rather than underneath).

If you sit on the floor with your legs outstretched, notice how high your butt crack is off the ground. For the majority, it’s very close or underneath us. This gives us information of the nature of our own pelvic tuck and the resulting structures.

For the next couple of weeks in JoyRide, our focus in the pelvic triangle and the sit bones. If you want to come join us, you can check it out here.


❤️ Jane


Looking At The Need To Control

Survival patterns are patterns that we have learned and developed in childhood as a means to get our needs met. They can and do take many different forms.

For instance, perfectionism is a survival pattern.

The need to control is a survival pattern.

The need to be liked is a survival pattern.

These patterns shape our behaviour and the way we navigate our life as adults. They are the gnarly, murky parts of ourselves that are hard to look in the eye because they don’t represent the best of us.

In our Q&A session this week, we had an interesting discussion around control. What if control, it was asked, has been our friend? What if it’s the way that we made our way through? How do we know if it’s the “good” type of control or the type of control that is getting in our way, stopping us moving forward and keeping us stuck in one spot?

My answer was this:

It’s important to differentiate between what control looks like and what consistent decision making and action taking looks like.

If I am looking to control something, what I’m essentially saying is:

“The decisions and actions I’m making now are motivated by the desire to control my reactions and experiences in the future”

In other words, I shape what I do now (or don’t do now) as a means to avoid something negative that I perceive may happen (or as a means to “force” something I want to happen). I’m not motivated by present moment reality but by future expectation.

I can, of course, make decisions and take actions that sit outside the paradigm of control.

In this way, we are saying:

“I’m observing something in my present experience (that I may wish to change) and I’m making a decision and taking an action towards something different based on that knowledge.”

Here, I hold a possibility of something more, but I’m not basing my actions on any attempts to control the future.

We seek to control because the truth of where we are or what we are being shown is not always easy. It’s not always roses and butterflies.

But there’s something beautiful about claiming where you currently stand, however messy that may feel. In that space, you can hold positive possibility for the future without seeking to control it. They are two different things.

It’s an exercise in self-trust. And at the end of the day, trusting that we can and will handle whatever comes our way is the only true control we really have.


❤️ Jane

We look at survival and behavioural patterns in Joyride- both understanding more about them and learning how to navigate through. You can learn more or come join us here!


Noticing Changes In Reverse: A Story From Out On The Trail With Dee

I got asked in a podcast interview once who was the horse that has influenced me the most, and the answer was Dee. The reason for this was this Dee is the first horse that I have really done everything myself with. He has taught me so much not only from a horsemanship perspective, but also about myself. I’ve often joked that I am competing in the “Longest Road to The Horse” (a play on the three day starting process demonstrated in the Road To The Horse competition), and when I had a couple of people approach me about starting their horse’s for them, I told them that was fine, if they were happy to pick them up in three years’ time. For me, the slow way is the fast way.

Despite not taking Dee out on the trail until his basics were well established, he toes would always twinkle, his eyes would be bright and wide, and his big, long neck stretched out like a honing beacon looking at everything around him. He has a quick spook and if he’s unsure about something, it reverberates through his entire being.

Consequently, for a good while there, taking Dee out was not my favourite thing. I understood it as an important part of his life and experiences, but I talked myself through the entire experience. I got off as much as I got on. I don’t see the point in putting yourself in a position that does neither you nor your horse a disservice.

Then, a thing happened. Dee has a couple of months off with an injury and I knew that in order to get him fit and strong again without straining his body, the best thing for him would be lots of hacking out. I made a program that involved warming up by riding round the farm before we schooled in the arena, an order of operating that I had never done before. The hacking always came after- after we had a conversation going and we had worked in together.

I noticed myself narrating my experience as I flung my leg over and got into the saddle. My husband had been fencing and there were tools lying either side of the track we were riding on. Dee grew an extra hand as we rode down the track, eyes googling at each thing on either side.

Huh, I said to myself, I don’t feel concerned at all. I talked to him, stroked his neck, gave him a moment, asked him to keep on going.

All the way round, things popped up. The neighbour’s dog bounded over. The chainsaws on the boundary fence tidying the trees. The crackling of the wind. Dee noticed it all, responded to it all. And I noticed him. But my body felt different.

Where I would have got off, I stayed on. I felt assured and confident we had what we needed to manage.

Where I perhaps would have turned around, I continued on.

And I attribute all this to the movement work I teach in JoyRide. I’m often having conversations with members saying you will notice that your nervous system has changed retrospectively. That you do something where in the past you would have had a predictable set of responses and you notice after you’ve done “the thing” that you were different. That something is different.

When you “clean house” of your fight flight patterns that are no longer serving you, this is the effect. Moving through challenges does not become so much of a conscious conversation, an effort of will. It’s a slow, background change that’s shifting the landscape you rest on until all of the sudden, something is different.

You are different.

My experience of riding out with Dee the last few months has been different. And I can truly say it’s become a joy instead of a job.


❤️ Jane

Click here if you want to learn more about JoyRide, or want to join! 


The Best Position Is The One The Harmonises With Your Horse: A Discussion On Rider Biomechanics

In my membership group yesterday, we began a discussion on biomechanics, and I was asked my opinion on some of the more well-known forms biomechanics training and teaching available to riders. Instead of launching into a critique, however, I thought it would be useful to highlight what I understand to be different about the form of biomechanics that I offer.

The subject of biomechanics is a vast and interesting one. In relation to the teachers mentioned in my group, I have dabbled in the respective fields that are mentioned, but not to the extent where I feel like I have any sort of authority to comment as the specifics of how those instructors or teachers present their work. I feel it would be like someone looking at what I teach briefly and then casting judgments based on those understandings. I would find that frustrating and perhaps a little insulting.

That said, many people plant their flag in the sand when it comes to this subject. If we have spent years honing our bodies in a particular direction, it’s a big deal to recognize that perhaps things can be done differently. The understandings of the body and brain are in such a process of evolution that one would expect some facets of our understanding around our body and position to be discarded and updated, but yet we hang on and are challenged to the point of defensiveness when other concepts are introduced- even before we perhaps understand them ourselves.

With that in mind, these are the underpinning principles of what I teach.


We understand that the autonomic nervous system, and specifically the reticular activating system oversees our motor responses, and consequently, the structure of our body at any one moment in time.

Where our structure reflects parasympathetic or unconscious processes is based on the answer to the question:

Are we safe?

The unconscious brain decides this based on sensory input.

When we have been living more in our sympathetic system than not, our sensory nervous system goes offline, and consequently, our structure and biomechanics are reflective of the sympathetic.

Our work here is about rehabituating the sensory nervous system so that we are more adaptable and responsive, and our body can exist in a structural mode that does not compromise one part of the system over another.

Many traditional biomechanics programs pay rudimentary attention to the nervous system but only to the extent of “if you are nervous, you grab with the reins/ close your front body/ round your shoulders”. In other words, they identify the fight/flight reactions, but the response is to remedy this by manipulating the tube of the body (ie. Conscious postural correction or otherwise), which leads me to the next point…


This is perhaps the most fundamental difference.

Instead, I understand the role of the conscious brain to be:

– Decision making (creating the intention map for the movement)

– Action taking (taking the action without controlling how the action is taken)

– Observation (sensory feedback)

Its role is not to control HOW that action is taken. Instead, the unconscious brain makes constant assessments based on how far the action we took existed from our intention, and seeks to make the motor pattern more efficient and proficient with every future action we take.

For some, this will be a point of liberation and for some, they want to stay with the conscious control model. This work is not going to be for everyone if for nothing else in that… it’s all on you. It’s not a quick fix.

I haven’t found many (any!) forms of riding instruction that does not involve some form of conscious manipulation. From the point of view of this program, to consciously manipulate the outer form of the body only results in a change in outer appearance, and not inner mechanics. If it hasn’t been the decision of the brain to change how the body is arranged, then changing the body forcibly will only result in continued compromise and compression of the structure.

If conscious manipulation and change of the structure created true harmony and wellness, then the overall affect should be more harmony and wellness- in and out of the saddle. Your mental outlook, ease of movement and general wellbeing should be improved, and yet we rarely see these correlations.


There is little to no mainstream understanding of the structural changes that occur in the body between sympathetic and parasympathetic.

The majority of the population is so sympathetically dominant that we have normalized this as the way of being. Without this understanding, the only thing we can offer is to take how the body is presenting from an aesthetic point of view and correct it from the perspective of outer appearance.

What I hope to offer here is the understanding that there is a whole range of possibility for our structure and position that sits outside the normal paradigm and to my mind this holds the key to a greater sense of harmony and wellness.


The main ethos of what I teach from the point of view of biomechanics is that the best position you can take is the one that harmonises with your horse. This is also formulated from the understanding that if we have a fixed outcome or goal as a result of taking an action, we eliminate all possibilities for the brain to learn.


We are interested in the interrelationship of all parts of the body in movement, as opposed to just muscles and bones. For instance, fascia and organs are rarely mentioned in many circles and yet are foundational considerations.

I hope that goes some way to clarifying. More than happy to answer any questions or continue on with the conversation.

❤️ Jane

If you want to learn more about JoyRide, or come and join us, click here!


Trauma As A Dominant Pattern

Modern living has got us into all sorts of pickles when it comes to our nervous system. Let’s consider movement as an example. In early human times, movement was not something you chose. It was part of how you survived. You required movement to get your basic needs met; to hunt and gather, to take care of those around you, to build and maintain shelter.

In modern, first world countries, however, movement is now something we choose- or don’t choose. It’s something we do or don’t do, as part of a conscious exercise program that ranks in varying degrees of importance depending on our priorities and tendencies. For instance, I can literally never leave my house and have all of my survival needs met.

I can order food online. I can call people to mend my house if it needs it. I can chat to people on my phone. If I so choose, I can stay put in one room and be ok. I might not be happy, but all my most basic needs can be met.

So how does this relate to trauma? Well, it relates a whole lot. In fact, it’s fundamental. And for the record, I rarely, if ever, use the word trauma in my life and work anymore, but I do so here for the simple reason that it gives us a common playing field to work on, and for the sake of this discussion, that’s important.

If you are playing along with me at this point, I want you to start to consider all of your experiences in terms of patterns. If I have an experience that I might label or consider traumatic, I have now created a pattern related to that experience. This pattern can be a combination of both a physiological reflex (so a structural change and movement expression in my body) and a thought pattern and they can manifest in many different ways.

If we zoom out for a moment and consider the brain more generally, it is a storehouse for a huge number of movement and thought patterns. The ones that we practice the most are our dominant patterns. A pattern becomes dominant if it goes unchallenged. Challenge to a dominant pattern occurs via our senses, with the brain continuing to upload sensory data to ensure that what we are expressing and experiencing is a result of what actually happening, rather than something that happened in the past.

So let’s say something happens to me that really shakes the ground underneath me, something that I might label as trauma.

In the first example, I would not have the option to make my world smaller. Whether I liked it or not, I would have to be in life. I would have to move to get my food. I would more than likely have people to take care of. I would have to be in life. Because if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t survive.

As a consequence of being in life, I’m constantly uploading sensory data to my brain. I’m moving my body, expressing different patterns and creating new ones. The pattern around the trauma may still be there but it does not go unchallenged. And the more novel movement I do, the more engaged I am with other people, with activities, with my environment and with life, the more contextualized my trauma becomes. It sits in the content of the past rather than becoming an experience I constantly relive in the present.

Flip to the more “modern” option, and we have lives and upbringings where movement, play and exercise are often seen as luxury add ons when we have the energy for them. It’s a choice for adults, and for children these days, needs to be facilitated. Those for whom movement exists as a part of life and their everyday routine is in the shrinking minority.

So in this instance, if we have a situation where something happens to us that we experience and label as traumatic, from a physiological perspective, the pattern can easily go unchallenged. Our world gets smaller, we move less, do less, and the brain has limited opportunities to take in new information and create new patterns that provide buffering, understanding and context.

Instead of the trauma being part of our experience, we are now our trauma. It sits at the forefront of the brain in all its unchallenged glory occupying our thoughts and physiological expressions.

I write this not to minimize anyone’s experience but to highlight the reality of the essentialness of movement- and novel movement at that- in shifting experiences of trauma and creating a new reality; one that matches where you are now, not where you were previously.

We are creatures of movement. We move and shape our reality as we go.


❤️ Jane

Co-ordinating With The Balance Point Of Your Horse: The Nervous System In Movement

We’ve been working through a movement arc series in JoyRide that explores the difference in how the body moves between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, and how it is we can create intention maps for movement that allow us to best harmonise with our horses when we are riding.

The possibilities for your horse in movement exist only within the range that he is balanced; our job as riders, then, is not only to facilitate balance in them in order that they can carry us without compromising themselves, and to ensure that our balance point matches theirs.

The balance point at any one moment in time is related to your centreline, and finding the balance together involves understanding where and how your horse’s centreline moves in space so you can coordinate together in movement. This is what the essence of the movement arcs revolve around.

This is a photo of Merc doing a movement called a neck rein turn, which is something you see often in the school of Legerete. Here, the flexion is to the left, but the direction of travel is moving right, with Mercs head and tail moving on the same line, within the same arc, like a dial turning.

The position of the head and tail informs which arc we choose to shift the centreline on, and in this particular instance, my intention is to shift the centreline on the transverse plane in a best effort to sync up with Merc’s balance point.

In the movement and riding practices I teach, we work to the principle that the structure of the body and how it organizes itself in movement is the domain of the autonomic nervous system and thus outside of our conscious control.

What is in our conscious control, however, is the intention we have for the movement, the taking of the action, and the observation of that action.

So as I perform a movement with my horse I have:


  • Clarity on the movement pathway I want my body to take
  • I create the intention for the movement
  • I allow the movement to happen (again, without controlling HOW the body does the movement)
  • I observe how far away the outcome was from my intention


This process is the essence of how the brain learns; a process of endless action, observation and course correction that is an alchemy of conscious and unconscious processes.

In this way then, every movement is a success. As long as I am clear on what I am trying to create, I cannot control the outcome. I can only allow myself and my horse to explore the process with the understanding that our efficiency and proficiency will increase as our brain draws us our intentions and our outcomes closer and closer together.

An endless adventure of curiosity.


❤️ Jane

In JoyRide we are actively exploring the Movement Arc practices that allow for greater harmony and ease in the saddle (and get you out of the fight/flight reflex patterns so many of us are stuck in!). Click here if you want to read more about it!

4 Months Apart: A Before & After Showing With Merc

I thought this would be fun to show you. A couple of days back, my husband offered to come outside and take some photos of me riding Merc. We went through our normal training session and then I gave him the usual post session scratches before thanking him and putting him back in the paddock.

A couple of hours later, I sat down at my computer and looked at the photos and was genuinely really surprised. I have felt the changes in Merc over the months we have been working together but in the new photos, he looked really different.

Later in the day, I searched through my photos to find the original ones I had of him (I always lament not taking earlier videos for comparison!) and found one from the day I tried him out. This photo here is a photo of Merc when I first went to see him (January 22, 2022)- our first ride together.

This photo was taken two days ago (June 14, 2022). To my mind, this is a big change in the space of 4-5 months.


I delight in this not only because I’m so proud of my horse (a horse with a willing heart and mind is worth their weight in gold and makes up for any capabilities they may initially lack gymnastically) but because this evolution has been such a team effort.

Firstly, I am grateful for the practices I learn and teach. It has given me an ease in my body and an outlook that allows for me to find balance even when the work feels messy and hard.

I knew from the start that I would need some assistance with Merc to correct his imbalances. He was heavy on the forehand, particularly on the left fore, that left him falling in through the shoulder. We had to renegotiate what the leg aids meant between each other to really establish forward, and to develop a conversation that worked for us.

Since March, I have been mentored by Kate Sandel and together we formed a training program. I followed the principles of Legerete, the French classical school of riding, that allowed me to work with Merc’s balance so he could more easily meet life as a riding horse in a way that facilitated more capability and ease of movement rather than the opposite.

Without learning to lighten his shoulders, lift the base of his neck and adjust his balance under saddle, I think a horse like Merc could easily have ended up unsound as a riding horse, simply because his natural body habits over time would have created soreness. I’m sure he is not alone in this.

We are also fortunate to have Dale Logan on team from DL Equine to form a diet for Merc that ensures he’s getting what he needs- no more and no less. We revise the diet with every change of season and I’m just about to send off his measurements, pasture photos and updates so we can revise things from where they were previously.

Horsing is such a team effort, and I’m grateful to have a collection of fabulous people in mine. And the other thing is, I don’t live near any of the people I’ve mentioned- across the world from Kate and on another island from Dale. We all work remotely.

I love what the internet has provided us with. I love the work that I do. And I love adventuring with my beautiful Merc.


❤️ Jane

You can visit Kate’s website here.

You can visit Dale’s website here

The Relationship Of Your Seat To Your Pelvis & Pelvic Organs

The position and shape of the pelvis changes dramatically depending on whether you are in a parasympathetic or fight flight nervous system state. In the sympathetic state, the entire rim of the pelvic bowl folds in and up, and it’s from this position that most of our instructions are the seat are given. The amount of us living dominantly from our fight flight systems has become so vast that we’ve come to accept and recognize the pelvis being in this position as the norm.

The resting place of the pelvic organs also will have a dramatic effect on weight distribution and pressure in the saddle. In the parasympathetic, the bladder would sit behind the pubic symphysis and bear weight on the cartilage, acting as a stabilizing force. It runs an energetic line somewhat like a half pipe towards the tail.

In the fight flight system, however, the colon starts to shift forward, tucking the tail; the bladder starts to lift up. As it’s fascially attached to the pubic symphysis, this starts to lift up too.

This has a flow on consequence for the abdominals; the pubic symphysis is attached to both the rectus abdominis and the linea alba and as the bladder starts to rise up, it causes the fibres of the abdominal muscles to overlap, altering their homeostatic length and making them incapable of contraction.

All of this occurs to bring the organs close together for both protective purposes and also for efficiency; if the organs are grouped together, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood to them.

If you lie flat on your back, you can gain information about where your pelvic organs sit by gauging where you feel the most weight. If the top of the tail and sacrum meet is where you feel the pressure (the top of the tail is where your butt crack is, or where the glutes start to part), then the bladder is most likely low.

If you feel the weight higher, it tells us that the colon is more weighted down and the pelvic organs are sitting higher.

As your organs shift, your weight shifts. Organ position directly affects your centre of gravity and ability to maintain an open and stable posture.


❤️ Jane

The biomechanics and sensing work I do in my membership program, JoyRide, allows us to establish adaptability and responsiveness in the nervous system so that the structure of our body is free to take up the most optimal positioning. If you are interested to read more or work together, you can check it out here


The Abdominal Wall, The Pelvis & The Seat: Looking At Abdominal Contraction In The Saddle

The subject of core strength and how to properly use and train our abdominal muscles get a lot of airtime when it comes to conversations around seat and position.

Typically, when we think of the breath and what is labeled as a full, diaphragmatic breath, this area is heavily recruited also, as we draw the belly button in on the inhale and allow it to release on the exhale.

But what happens to the rest of the body when we engage the abdominal muscles in this way? How does it affect our pelvis and our seat?

From a nervous system perspective, the stability of the abdominal muscles is necessary to preserve the space between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the pelvis, so the integrity of the lumbar spine can be preserved, and the fascial trains can slide.

When I contract the abdominals, so the belly button gets pulled in, I now force my pelvis into a posterior tilt and prevent the two sides moving independently.

As a result, instead of the fascial trains moving and sliding to power movement, the lumbar spine gets to work, moving in and out of the tube of the body to allow us to move through space, and causing compression of the vertebral bodies, with a shortening on one side and a lengthening on the other.

In this video, we take a brief at the connection points of the abdominal muscles to the pelvis, the superficial front line fascial train and the role your nervous system plays in your biomechanics. There is so much more to discuss here but hopefully this provides a start point to see how some of your current movement habits might be hindering rather than helping.


❤️ Jane

If you are interested in joining me for my membership, you can check it out or jump in here!



The Difference Between Freeze & Collapse

The “fight flight response” or the “fight flight nervous system” is a common nickname given to the survival or sympathetic nervous system. It can be misleading, however, as far as overly simplifying how the body responds in survival mode and can narrow the conversation to one or two elements in what is a much bigger field.

It’s common to read things online such as “don’t forget there’s also freeze!” when it comes to conversations on this topic (assuming that fight and flight are the main players), or to group together the states of freeze and collapse, which are vastly different from each other, and should be understood as such.

There is actually a stage before fight where the startle reflex kicks in, and three further stages beyond freeze that cause the body to move into further stages of shutdown. Each of this has their own set of structural changes in the body, as well as behavioral expressions that accompany them.

Understanding what is presenting in both horses and humans is important as it allows us to make decisions as to what sort of movement might be useful to help ease the system into a more adaptive state, and the overall approach we want to take.

For instance, in collapse, the brain is essentially telling the body not to move. If we then “prescribe” vigorous exercise for someone in a state of nervous system collapse, we not only send them to battle with themselves mentally, but systemically it can create some dire consequences.

As opposed to the rigidity of freeze, there’s a laxity in collapse (with the final stage moving into rigour).

We can have lots of “ideas” about what might be good for us, but we need to remember the brain is always making choices for the body based on the sensory information available to it. This must be respected first and foremost. We are never purposely working against ourselves.

Instead, we have to ask, why is my brain choosing this for my body? And how can I best support it to see things differently?



The Difference Between The Fight Flight & Parasympathetic Brain

The fight flight brain looks for things that are the same.

“How is this experience the same as what I experience yesterday, or last year, or ten years ago?”

It searches for same-ness and eradicates difference, causing us to erase or not notice the things happening in our present moment that show us something is changing. The things which indicate progress.

The parasympathetic brain notices differences. It pays attention to all of the variables, all of the changes in our present reality that show us that we are different, that things are different from yesterday.

If you can start to notice differences rather than same-ness, you will start to meet the reality that you are changing all of the time. You allow yourself to be new. And in that new-ness, you can start to create a different set of circumstances.

Search for the 1% difference.


❤️ Jane

{Letters To My Body} Dear Breath

Dear Breath,

Oh my, Breath, where do I even start? I think of everything I do and teach and share… when I talk about you, Breath, I get the most kick back. People are very attached to controlling you. Did you know that? Very attached.

Let me tell you, I hold no judgement there. In fact, I am the least judgey of the judgey judges when it comes to all the stuff with controlling the breath and people’s attachment to it. Why? Well, for years I was kind of a pro at understanding you- or so I thought.

And I don’t mean a self-proclaimed pro with a big TikTok following. I mean, I studied you, was given qualifications in you. I spent a chunk of my day (every day!) manipulating and contorting you. I could hold you, release you. I would separate you so you came out one nostril and in the other. You went along with it, you’re very gracious like that.

I would segment you (or so I told myself) so you were either in my chest or in my belly. I would try to make you bigger or smaller depending on what it is I wanted to do, how it is I wanted to control you, how it is I wanted to control myself.

And it’s funny, Breath, as I write this, I think, what exactly what I trying to do? And I think at the base of it, my motivation for working with you in the way that I did was not so much to feel something but to NOT feel something else.

It was to not feel anxious. To not feel fearful. To not feel like I didn’t have everything under control.

So, success, then, Breath, felt like the absence of all those things. The absence of them as thoughts in my mind, and the absence of them as feelings and sensations in my body.

I’m not sure if we use you, Breath, to move towards something as much as we do to move away from something, but I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

Anyway, I don’t know if you read my letter to my Head, but if you did, it would save us some leg time here. If was to summarise, I would say that when I started learning about the nervous system, I started to understand the body- my body- working as a team. And when I thought of all the different parts of my body working as a team under the head coach Brain, I realized that so much of how I approached things previously had been to segment things… like I could choose a part, go in with my tweezers, pluck it out and isolate it. Because I knew best. But you all needed each other. You relied on each other as a team, to really work best.

But that’s what I did with you, Breath. I isolated you not recognizing that the brain, your coach, and you had chosen how you worked together. When I think back now, I feel foolish. And maybe a little arrogant. I assumed that I knew best, that I could bend you to my will, when you and Brain actually knew so much more.

You had checked on all the systems. You looked at all the tubes of my body, and the pressure in my veins and the alignment of my bones and the information from all my senses… you clocked it noticed it and adjusted my breath in the best interest of it. I see this now and I think, that’s magical. How amazing that you do that.

And along with thanking you, there are three other parts that I want to thank as well- Heart, Lungs and Deep Front Line of Fascia. Honestly, while I’m here tipping my hat, I just want to say…

Deep Front Line (and fascia generally)…. I had NO IDEA about you when people taught me about the breath. It’s not like you were given a fleeting mention. It’s like you didn’t exist as part of the conversation which now seems wild to me. And was no doubt very frustrating for you.

To think that all this time you were INTEGRAL to the function of how my body was breathed and no-one even cared to give you a mention. It’s a travesty. But I understand you now and I want to make amends.

So, as part of my overall letter of apology to you, Breath, I want will tie in all of your friends that I mentioned above and say this:

I understand now that how I breathe; how fast, how deep, how much is chosen for me by my brain. It’s chosen based on understanding, parameters and co-ordinates that sit far outside my conscious awareness.

And if I override this, you and Brain freak out a little bit. You are like, why is she doing that? We have chosen this for her, but she’s pressing the override button? We better lock things down!

And so you kick me into my survival nervous system not because you are at war with me. Because you really want to look after me.

I understand now that my conscious brain can set my intention for what I want things to be but it’s the role of my unconscious brain to decide how that happens. I’ve tried to do it all consciously, Breath, and you got caught up in that. I’ve decided not only how I want things to be, but I’ve also tried to control how you do it and it’s got us into a bit of a pickle.

I won’t do that anymore.

Thanks for being so understanding, and for taking care of things even when I wasn’t thinking about you. I appreciate you.

❤️ Jane

Of all the things we are taught about when it comes to body and mind control, on most occasions, the breath is right up at the top of the list. If we zoom out from the breath for a moment and consider the brain, the unconscious brain is always making choices regarding how the body functions based on sensory input and it adjusts everything from internal pressure to flow to breath rate based on that information.

Our conscious brain is not privy to such a vast well pool of information so when we make choices about HOW the body functions- which includes controlling the breath- we are overriding the choice that our unconscious brain has chosen for us. We are overriding a choice that is much more informed.

Every time we override the choice of the unconscious brain to influence how the body works, we activate our survival nervous system. Why? If the actions of the conscious brain sit differently to what the unconscious brain is perceiving, the sympathetic system is activated as a “just in case” policy. A “just in case we missed something” move to keep us safe.

But let’s talk about fascia for a moment. The Deep Front Line is a fascial train that extends from your big toe all the way up to your head. It also wraps around the heart and the lungs; the pericardium itself is part of the Deep Front Line (DFL). When the DFL is sliding and active (which occurs when we are functioning in the parasympathetic system), it controls breath rate and respiration in coordination with the movement of the body. In this way, our breath rate and capacity are always in harmony with our physical output and needs.

Respiration in the parasympathetic system is not confined to ordinary respiration as we know it; respiration occurs as a system. There’s cellular respiration, digestive respiration, organ respiration, the list goes on. All working together, all supporting each other.

Controlling our breath stems from thought patterns of conscious control; we are wanting to control our response, control our feelings, control our reactions, control our body, control our behavior. A conscious idea of what or how we should be in response to life situations.

Our conscious brain is not designed to control our body or our breath. It is designed to support our unconscious processes. Your current breath rate is the perfect rate for you based on the internal pressure systems of your body, how hydrated your fascia is and where your bones sit. It has been chosen for you based on the stream of information provided to your unconscious about the current state of play in your system.

In the parasympathetic system, breathing is barely perceptible. Nor should it be. Our body is breathing itself all the time; it should not be a novel experience that captures our conscious brain’s attention.

When you override or control the breath in some way, why do you do so? And how do you know if you’ve been successful?