Working with ‘Energy’ and your Horse

At my recent clinics in Darwin the subject of ‘energy’ came up for some great discussions. As a result, I thought it would be useful to share some of my basic ideas on working with ‘energy’ and your horse.

I like to keep all my lessons in a good energy space for both horse and rider. This is a place where it is encouraging the relaxation of the mind and body of both the horse and the rider. This is where it needs to be, and then the harmonious dance between the horse and rider can begin.

Energy can also be translated into the emotional state of your horse or yourself. A horse’s energy might be UP in a number of ways – nervous, excited, happy, quick, wanting to please or even sad or depresses. Or, it may be DOWN – dull, slow to react, soured, depressed, shut down.

Horses, like people, can have high or low energy and they can both have this in a positive or negative way. Noticing how your horse’s energy is and then how your own is, is an interesting observation – if the energy of your horse is in the negative form, changing your own energy or emotions can start to bring the horse into a more positive space for training and spending time with each other.

‘Up your energy’, what does it mean? I’ve often heard people talk of lifting their energy. When they demonstrate it, I observe the front of the body lengthening in a negative way and holding an upward breath into upper rib cage, resulting in their centre of mass/balance being too high and making them unstable. Also, ‘upping’ the energy is sometimes translated into an aggressive response from the rider. In the end, it’s going to be left to the interpretation of each person how they will respond.

I like to think of lifting my emotions to joy, excitement like butterflies in my tummy, expansion of breath into my tummy and back. It all depends on the horse’s energy as to how I would use mine. When the rider’s energy and the horse’s energy in synchronised, both come into flow, and flow happens when you both listen to each other and match each other’s energy in a positive, supportive way.

So how does it affect you? What does it do to your breathing – is it carried up, short, quick or do you lengthen your front? If you are told to ‘up your energy’ can it be not in an aggressive form but rather in the form of excitement and encouragement? With internal excitement, body language and voice of joy or happiness, for example “yay, good boy”. If you lower your energy how does it translate – are you heavy in the saddle? How does your breathing change? Can you empty your lungs with an out breath through pursed lips to contain the internal pressure (barometric pressure) and soften your tone without collapsing down onto your horse, so he does not hollow and push his hind legs and pelvis out the back? Do you use low tones in your voice, for example in the form of a deep hum down to your diaphragm?

This is only a small portion on the subject of ‘energy’. I am always intrigued and curious about how this plays out between horse and rider and I would love to hear your thoughts on it. I would love to hear how working with your energy with your horse has played out and what changes were made.