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Lack of empathy or callousness?

I have just returned from a weekend of working away, and believe me, I do love what I do, but some days I get back feeling down and completely broken-hearted. This often has to do with the question I struggle with the most…. Do riders really lack empathy or is it just plain callousness? This question has been the one I ask the most when I notice how some riders treat their horses. It is as if they never think about how hard it is for the horse to try and understand what the rider is asking, it is mostly about the heartless way in which some riders beat upon their horses when the horse just needs a break, maybe…

Pocahontas is in town

Have you ever noticed how we take our riding soooo serious? This morning while brushing my hair I decided to do the Pocahontas thing, 2 braids, and this at my age 😉 This is also when I had to smile and think about how we take things so serious. When did we forget that life, and riding especially, was fun? Sure, nothing ever is only just fun and games, but why do we loose our sense of wonder, our ability to laugh and just be surprized by whatever comes next? Like children do. They rarely question laughing, and I am often fascinated by their ability to just be in the moment. We have all heard it before: “horses teach us…

String of pearls

It is always hard to feel where your own body is when you are riding, and since most of us are crooked without us even noticing, we have to learn to become aware of our own bodies. One of the best ways to teach our bodies what to do, is to make use of imagery. It is much easier to imagine some picture, rather than going through all the technical, often boring, details of the correct anatomical terms. Not every rider is an anatomy geek (like me) so not every rider wants to have an anatomy lesson in order to ride. We all aim to sit upright and in balance on a horse, and one of the pictures we can…

Save the fish

I was listening to a podcast today, which really connected to the blog about The Hornet’s nest. The story is about a teacher who bought a fish and told the class to look after this fish, he paid a lot of money for this fish, the kids had to name it, look after it, feed it everyday. The only thing they were not allowed to do, was to touch the fish, under no circumstances, no matter what, for they will get suspended, no questions asked if they do. So the kids named the fish, fed it every day, and became really attached to it. Then one day, the teacher comes in, takes the fish out with a little net and…

Hornet’s nest

I was speaking to my German friend (who is also a vet) today, and we inevitably went to the same discussion we have been having, it feels like, for years and years and years. The problem is, no matter how many times we discuss this, how many angles we try to see to it, we never get to any kind of solution. So today, I am going to put my head in a hornet’s nest… For the last 20 years, or probably longer, there has been the discussion about rollkur, about tight nosebands, about wounds made by spurs, blue tongues….the list goes on, and now the latest about a very well-known rider in the jumping world “touching” the horse’s legs…

Heads up

The average human head weighs about 10 kg. If that 10 kg is precariously perched on top of a spine, it will surely have a big influence on the balance and direction of the spine. If you then consider the way our head is balanced on our spine, you can already imagine that the placing of the head would have an enormous effect on the stability of the torso. (see blog about the torso of the rider) If we consider the anatomy of the head and neck, we will notice that the head is not placed exactly within it’s middle on the neck vertebrae, it is more like a two thirds in the front and one third at the back…

The torso as a balancing tool

When we ride, we put our vertebrae on top of the vertebrae of the horse. So if we think of our upper body as a balancing tool, it would make sense that you have to know how to work with a balancing tool. Let us imagine for a moment we go to the circus, where we see a performer balancing a pole on his head. When this pole leans far out of the circumference of the performer’s body, he has to make rather quick or abrupt movements to get it back into balance. When the pole is exactly in the centre, the movements become quiet and very small. If the performer is skilled in this act of balance, he can…

The eyes are the windows to the soul

Have you looked into your horse’s eyes lately? What did you see? Your horse? Or yourself? They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul…so look deep into your horse’s eyes next time. Do you see him, I mean really see him? (I have boys, hence the him) Do you see his generosity, his playfulness, his wisdom, his knowing, his calmness, his steadfast heartbeat? Or do you see the chore, the irritation, the frustration, the he-does-this-wrong-on-purpose, the stupid horse, the nag? Have you ever asked yourself what he sees in you? Are you the generous, playful, wise, knowledgeable, calm steadfast person? Or the hard taskmaster, the irritation, the frustration, the please-leave-me-alone, the unfriendly, the un-wielding? Make sure you…

Criticism

What is it with horse people? Or is it people in general? This thing about putting someone down? A while ago I saw a post of a father proudly posting a photo of his daughter and her horse, at their first attempt at the piaffe. It was a lovely photo of a young blonde woman on a brown horse, and obviously the woman was in heaven. Well, the criticism came down on them like a ton of bricks! No, it wasn’t criticism, it was nastiness. The poor father was obviously horrified, as he clearly was just proud, plus the horse died soon after the photo was taken. So my question is….What is wrong with horse people? We all know how…