2018 Series 2

Deciphering What Your Horse is Telling You

Week 5:  Visual assessment: Working with Postural reflexes

reflexes to walk engaged walking straight.jpg

April 2 - 8, 2018

course content for week 5:

Visual assessment: Working with Postural reflexes

Welcome to week 5!

Introduction to week 5

These last weeks are all about gathering information from our horses. Information we can use to inform our work together.  We’ve touched on a lot of ways to gather information: resonating or feeling what they are feeling, palpation, and visual assessment.  You’re beginning to learn about things you can do to release excess tension and help mobilize areas that are stuck.

My hope is that these tools get tucked comfortably in your back pocket so that when you are doing something with your horse you have enough awareness to notice when something happens. And on noticing, have easy access to what to do next that might support your horse best.  That you notice as you pass your hand along his back that you felt something – resonance happened – not because you sought it but because you were open enough to experience it when your horse let you know how he felt when your hand passed over that one spot.

By weaving all of our assessment tools together we lay the foundation for being able to recognize when something is up, identifying potential sources of the problem and then doing something supportive to restore harmony.

Harmonious movement can only happen when our horses are free of mental, emotional and physical blocks.  Blocks that prevent them from connecting with us enough to hear our whispers – blocks that prevent them from being able to follow through on our suggestions.

This week we’ll delve into working with postural reflexes.  This is a fabulous opportunity to practice our skills in negotiating physical contact with our horses.  It is also the first step I take in initiating movement together. 

Over the years, I’ve found most of the horses I work with do not have proper functioning of one or more of the reflexes to stand, walk or turn.  When these reflexes are disrupted it makes it difficult for a horse to coordinate the movements we ask them to do.  Things that seem simple to us – asking them to turn to the right – are more difficult than they should be.  Restoring function to these reflexes solves quite a few common training issues!

Welcome to week 5 video:

This week I decided to welcome you to the week with a short demonstration of how to introduce this work to a horse.  Keep in mind as you watch, that Huey has been my demo horse for the last few weeks.  We have done a lot of prep work to get to this point.  I've watched him work in the figure eight pattern over several days.  I've worked to release excess tension in the places I could identify.  I've watched his body and posture change, open up and create more freedom of motion.  He's let go of tension in places he never has before since I implement Gin's idea of how work with palpation!

While he has improved in moving on his own, he still struggles when be asked to do things like walk and turn.  It's better than it was but now I can really see where he's still struggling.  It's a good time to introduce the idea of reawakening his postural reflexes.  I think this will be the missing link for him, but after today, I also think it will take a number of sessions for him to find this way of carrying himself.  When he does it may also clear up a lot of the behaviors I've seen in relation to him working with me. 

So thank you all for prompting me to do this work, finally, with my own horses!  I'm having so much fun.


Course Content for Week 5:

Working with the reflexes to stand, walk and turn


standing with proper engagement.jpg

video demonstrations:

In this video I actually coach Justine as she walks Rivaldo through the figure eight assessment pattern and then introduces the work with postural reflexes that we'll be working on this week. I think it's useful to watch because Justine had never done this work before so you'll get to hear me coach her through it.

I'm leaving the video of Huey doing the figure 8 up for this week because then you can compare how he's moving here to how he's moving as I work with his postural reflexes.