One of the beliefs I have around movement and “training” generally is that “good training” and “good movement” should be a form of therapy. It should ultimately leave both us and our horses in a position where we are physically and mentally “better off” than we were when we started.
If we consider training in this way, what we hopefully create is situation where the further into our training and movement work we progress, the less need we have for interventions or assistance from the outside; we have both more skills to know what should be applied and when to remedy imbalance or “dysfunction”.
We allow the body to inform us of its movement needs, rather than applying a “fixed” program onto what is an ever changing and ever adapting form.
Concurrent to this belief lies another, which tells me that the body is inherently wise, and capable of self-healing and self-correcting. This principle, or understanding, is not new and yet there is often a disconnect between the principles that inform a practice or methodology, and the practice of it.
If I truly believe that the body is capable of healing and self-correcting, then my work and practice with both horses and humans becomes about assisting the unconscious brain to make those corrections, rather than forcing it to assume a particular form through gadgets or otherwise, or abide by a set of rules about exactly what should happen when.
For instance, I was at a training the weekend before last continuing my work with body mapping and understanding how the nervous system and unconscious brain ultimately determine where the structure of the body is at any one moment in time. We observed ten different people, ten different bodies (myself included) and were all given the same points and the same cues to work with. What was fascinating was that how each body corrected of its own accord to find balance was different.
Some moved forward and back. Some move left, some moved right. Some moved in a combination of all of the above. All of this was unconscious change that we were able to consciously observe, rather than us forcing a position or dictating how and where the body should move.
What this highlighted for me was that we cannot consciously know what precise adjustments any one horse or human needs to take in order to find “balance”. We cannot predict the route of “rearrangement” that the unconscious needs to follow. We can simply give it more information by increasing sensory information to the body and then observing the changes that it makes for itself.
When we consider the horsemanship saying ‘set them up and let them find it’, to me, this is so much of what this is about. We create an intention of how a movement might look or where to direct the body. Our aids should essentially be a framework of possibility towards achieving a particular outcome. But HOW the body achieves that outcome is not our concern.
We set the intention… I would like you to move in this way
We take an action… I apply this aid and offer this suggestion
We observe… how the body needs to arrange itself in order to bring itself closer to my intention.
We suggest the action, but we don’t control how that action is taken. Because that is outside our conscious awareness and control.