Riding with Awareness- Part I Featured
While attending a MBS seminar, you may find yourself rolling vigorously on your mat or using your fingertips to gently trace the vertebrae along the back of your neck, perhaps getting a picture of them for the first time. Whatever the lesson’s focus, the learning always uses the movements of the human body as the means of developing one’s awareness. So it may come as a surprise, even to those seasoned in MBS or Feldenkrais work, that the same principles learned through group class, demos and hands-on partner work also find useful application when used with horses and other animals. Whether using touch to enlarge a horse’s awareness of its own body, or leading a class of riders to better understand and refine their own physical organization, both professional and amateur equestrians can benefit from an enriched picture of their own movements and those of their horses.
The students who come to MBS courses hail from a diverse range of backgrounds, including performers from the arts and athletics; therapists and coaches who treat both body and mind; as well as many individuals looking to alleviate pain, expand their capacity as learners, or simply enhance their sense of well-being. In the current MBS Foundation Program in Bad Toelz, Germany, many students come from the world of horseback riding. Now entering their final year of training, they already report changes in how they teach their riding students or train and connect with their horses.
Becoming One’s Own Teacher
The riding instructors currently training with MBS identify a primary goal as helping their own students to become more independent. Current student Suzy Van Eijs points to the danger in riders becoming overly reliant on their instructors, those situations where over the course of years “you’re going and going,” unable to achieve the same performance without a trainer standing by. She’s long worked to help riders teach themselves; as she recalls, “I’ve always had the intention of getting them to know themselves and to solve normal daily problems by giving them a place to start.” As Suzy describes it, her original orientation of helping students to become their own problem-solvers has only strengthened through training in the Foundation course. “At first, it was more a gut feeling…. Now I’ve gotten to test it out, with my own body or with horses.”Continue reading