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02
Aug
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Testimonial: How the core principles help me teach

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Glenda Player of Playland Equestrian Center is a current student in the MBS Foundation training. Since beginning to train with MBS, she has been finding ways to incorporate what she’s learning to her riding instruction, both for individual riders and in clinics. Here, Glenda shares how the most recent June 2013 segment added a new dimension to her riding clinics.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Glenda-Player.jpg“In our most recent MBS June training, Leora really focused on core principles: principles of movement, as I understood them. For example, looking at the reversibility of a movement, the quality, how far the movement travels through the body, the timing, or what gets involved with the movement. Looking at these core principles makes the experience much more about the learning process itself, and not just about doing a movement.

In riding, and specifically in dressage riding, you are evaluated on the quality of each movement you make. However, riders too often forget about the quality of the movement and focus on just getting the movement completed. When this happens, people tend to think they can ride at a particular level as soon as they can perform certain movements. In some cases, though, they aren’t using quality movements! The core principles point us back to what makes a quality movement, whether you apply them to a horse or to a rider, whether mounted on horseback, or in an ATM class.

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29
May
0

Riding with Awareness- Part II

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In the second part of this blog  series, we continue our conversation with MBS students involved in horseback riding and riding instruction. In this installment, Tellington Touch Practitioner and riding instructor Martin Lasser joins in the conversation.

 “You have to be there, open with them, and if you’re not, they will tell you. It’s a great way of knowing your mind, to be in this mindset. If you’re not, the animal will take off!” - Suzy Van Eijs

In the course of interviewing multiple riders and riding instructors, one particular horse fact kept coming up. Though it first seemed simply to be a stunning bit of trivia, by the end of our conversations, it became clear how central this little piece of information was to understanding horses and the people who really get to know them: It turns out, horses can feel a fly land anywhere on their bodies. A horse may weigh a thousand pounds, but it has an image of its body that’s dazzlingly detailed. As MBS student Suzy Van Eijs points out, “It’s not that because a horse is big, it has no feeling of its body. It’s actually very subtle.” As the various equestrians and teachers emphasized how much they learn from their horses, the skill they seem most to share with their equine partners, and most to value, is sensitivity.

 

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Each of the current MBS students I spoke with noted how their experiences in MBS and with Feldenkrais have refined their perceptiveness, both internally and in the world around them. In describing what has most enhanced her riding, Ulrike Reiffenstein first notes the change in how she perceives her own body in relation to the horse. Through attending Feldenkrais workshops over many years, and now participating in the Foundation course, she reports, “I’m more aware of all of these connections through my body, and that helps in riding, that’s obvious.”

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10
May
0

Riding with Awareness- Part I

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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.

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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.”

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