WOW - I really have to look for words to describe what we experienced. Our path with Desiree went from »I don’t like to wear a saddle any way and I don’t really want to walk forward« to »come on, let’s fly together«
But to start at the beginning: It was a big adventure for all of us – the girls: ZOMORRODA and KARIMA, Klaus (my driver and video assistant) and me.
Karima and Zomorroda don’t really know travelling. They did it twice before that (o.k. Zomorroda had the trauma-trip coming from Egypt, but this is something else). They both live a very lazy »horsy« life going out to the big big pasture they share every day with the Kauber Platte breeding mares, eating, having herd life and some little pieces of work at the weekend, when I arrive to see them.
So I thought some kind of adventure might be good for them too, when I was thinking about our riding assignment 2. I also wanted to do something which got us further in what we already do. Up to the course I was riding both of them with knot halters only mostly without saddle looking for a way of riding being more communicating then controlling. A way of riding taught by Judith Mauss, our coach and teacher. When I asked Judith for an idea, what I can add, she recommended Desiree Du Pisanie Oliveira. As I know Judith is very critical and very keen in looking for the well being of horses. And the way she talked about Desiree was full of fascination. I never heard her talking about someone the way she talked about her. So I was sure I wanted to do that. I booked a workshop quite close to my hometown Offenbach (but 106 km away from Kauber Platte). The booking meant a two days stay at an unknown stable with two hours private riding lesson per day with Desiree (so 2 hours for me with each of my horses = 4 hs in two days) + watching other people being coached by her. I organized our travel – asking Klaus living at Kauber Platte to carry us to Davidhof, Jügesheim on the 11th and 12th of April 2012.
Some days before – at Easter – the girls and I started to train walking into the trailer again. We did quite well, had just a little bit of conversation about going into this dangerous place for flight animals, but it was easy, everything went smooth and soft and cool ...
So when the very morning of traveling came I was quite excited and a bit nervous. But both girls behaved incredibly cool. Both went in – calm and they stood like rocks traveling all two hours in the trailer. I – on the front seat – was much more nervous then them.
We arrived at 10 a.m. and walked them out right into a well prepared box. Both went to grasing = eating hay at once. They still were calm and easy going. As we arrived so early we had plenty of time left after this to visit the place, walk them around, watch some other students and get both of them prepared = brushed and cleaned. We also got the chance to let them run in the riding arena and let them move a bit after standing still for so long. My first lesson started at 3 p.m.
But before it started I took the chance to speak to Desiree for a second. I asked her if Judith pepared her that we would come without a saddle for one (as we had agreed that she would do), but she didn’t know. So she looked a bit irritated. But said o.k. for that. So short before three I climbed on Karimas back (bareback) and went into the riding arena, Klaus took Zomorroda by hand and went with us to have both seeing each other and not getting nervous about being alone.
I got a headset on and Desiree told me that now she has to get creative because usually she starts with some lessons using the saddle and stirrups as tools for her exercises. She asked me a few things about my body awareness how I feel this and that part a.s.o. then she asked me for two characterictics I would use to describe myself. »No this is not a test« she laughed looking at my face: »I just want to know ...« So I told her the main characteristics that came up as most important to my mind about me: »I am curious ... and sensible.« So she said: curious and sensible – this is your way of riding. We, each one of us, just can ride the way we are. This was an interesting news and an interesting truth about my »wanted« way of riding I hadn’t known before. We started slowly. She asked me to concentrate on my feet: if they feel the same. Then she walked up the knees, the hips, the shoulders ... she then told me to concentrate on the bones I sit on in my bud, if they feel the same. Then she said: just forget about your muscles, you arrived here today without them. Today you are just bones. I had to laugh about this imagination but I could follow it very well. And Karima was so happy she snored and lowered her head when I took away my muscles and sat on her back as a bag of bones. Desiree then told me to imagine a bowl filled with water down in my pelvis, she asked me how the water is balanced in there. She gave me hints what to do to get it balanced, feel your feet, just relax, let them move naturally, let the movement go up to your knees, your hips. Let your hips move. Do they move? And how? Open up and give Karima the freedom to move. Now imagine a ball on your head let it drop down into the bowl of water and let it fall through it. Karima reacted with snoring and relaxing her back again moving with bigger steps from her hindback. Now I had to imagine with each of my two bones I sit on in my bud a little foot walking forward. Combining each of this images was a huge coordination task, but I got to some moments, when it all worked together ... this was an incredible feeling of well being for me and Karima. Then Desiree said: o.k. now we will trott. I had told her before, that I do little trotting without saddle because of back problems ... hm. But we tried. Breathing in, concentrating on the energy coming up, Karima was trotting and I felt like sitting on a sofa. I mean she is very smooth to sit on. But this was different because IT WAS TROTTING (and I have a back problem I thought). But I was asked to move with her. To dance with her and ... to sing. To sing, look around and be happy – to dance with my horse sitting on her back. I myself felt like a jumping jack doing this, but the ones looking at us and the video taken of this tells something else – two beings in perfect harmony. I realized doing it, that Karima enjoyed it, she moved her back swinging so beautifully and powerfully that for some moments I had to grap her mane to not fall off. So we stopped shortly. And started again. Desiree asked me to move with her just jumping on the wave of her movement and go with it. Enjoy it. This was incredible ... so incredibly good that I had to shout out. The images do not really grap the feeling but are meant to give you an idea about it:
We ended up with full excitement (me) – Karima was – totally calm and licking and licking and licking. So I thought – so far – this was the most exciting moment of this course. I thought ...
We went on at 5 p.m. with Zomorroda. Zomorroda had a lot of accidents in her life time harming her legs. She had an open crash of her right front leg, she destroyed the big vein of her left hind leg and survived by a miracle, she did nearly cut the same leg by a rope burn (when she was covered being pregnant already but having her feet tight so she couldn’t tell) ... so she is not in her full power to move any more – I thought.
Today Zomorroda is eleven years old. She was started to be ridden in Egypt. She was started with equipment that didn’t really fit. With an 80 kg man jumping on her pulling her head up and backwards as the normal set up for being riden. She always hated the bit. She hates the saddle tightening her stomach (as I can’t wear a belt). When she was in foal with Ghazaleh she said stay away riding me, o.k. so I didn’t. After she had to let her foal go, I asked her for riding again. I did so without saddle even if she didn’t know it. She let me do it, which was a gift from her to me – that’s how it felt to me. And she started to enjoy riding. So throughout the last months we two really enjoyed doing little things communicating bareback. She appreciated this subtle and fine way of talking and listening feeling every little movement of muscles and changing positions. But we just did walking and trying out some conversation about where to ge when a.s.o. – not more. Now we brought the saddle back into our relation because I knew that this would be good to get everything of Desiree’s talent. Zomorroda flicked her ears back first, when we did put the saddle on her. But o.k. – she accepted it, ... We went into the riding arena. I got the headset on and Desiree asked me now even more simple things like: relax the upper side of your feet. Doing this Zomorroda lowered her head. How do they feel – each the same? Go up to your knees, your hips, find the bowl of water inside your pelvis, Zomorroda snored. See the ball on top of your head and let it fall. Everything went well until we started to trott. We trotted on the left hand, Zomorrodas stiff side. I thought. Not used to the saddle for such a long time she got really angry put her head to the left, and bowed her body to the right throwing her head back. I knew that problem and told Desiree that the left side is her bad side. Desiree smiled and asked me: how does your left side feel?
It turned out with little hints from Desiree to change body positions that Zomorrodas body bowing to the right just tries to balance my body posture bowing to one side and being totally stiff on the left side. Very little changes of body position (but a lot at the same time so coordination was not easy) brought a difference I cannot describe. It got so totally clear that it is not Zomorroda having a problem but that she was trying to tell me permanently: hey look – you do have a problem in body posture. Please get it »right« ... that I was really touched when I realized her permanent and hard try to tell me. Klaus did some films of us, trying to figure out the whole thing and one of them shows Zomorroda snoring permanently. Very impressive. Desiree now asked me to open up to give her space to move, she helped me by giving me an image of a crocodiles tale moving under my bud realizing that it might be a bit bigger then I thought and that I have to open up more to give space. We did and it worked well. But the most difficult thing for me was to move my right shoulder with the whole of our movement. Luckily Desiree had a lot of tricks to get me there. The best was not to think, but sing and dance. The changes of Zomorrodas movements were incredible, she started to swing and show the real movements she still has (!!!), she pushed us forward in a way I couldn’t believe. And I didn’t need to ask her for them but just get the idea of going forward and trust myself to move with her strong energy shwoing up. I am not really able to describe what I felt but I got an idea now how it feels being with a horse sharing the same idea and synch of movements ...
The last thing we did, happened when Judith arrived to join us. She looked at the whole and said after a while: why don’t you try Zomorrodas saddle on Karima, I think it might fight and will help you to get her body balanced in trotting a.s.o. I wasn’t sure but we tried and it worked very well. Look at that:
Now I am really full of new ideas and found one more fascinating and heart catching way of our horses being our mirrors.
Workshop with Desiree Du Pisanie - Sabine Heimen - http://ajaaja.de
11th and 12th of April 2012 - Davidhof, Jügesheim