“This is a whole new world for me…I had no idea fascia controlled so much of the body. Now all those stiffnesses he has make sense and I know I can help him out. This is such a relief. We’ve been missing the whole point of how to be healthy. What a gift to have, thank you.” Mary K, TX
“This workshop was a game changer.” Jenn D, ME
“It was a wonderful workshop, I learned so much.” Carole B, VT
Choose a path to learn Fascia:
– Clinics: Any experience level.
– Levels 1-4: The path for certification.
– Certify: A completion of the 4 Level program, with certificate.
Levels for certification:
Level 1: Introduction; Stance, top line
Level 2: Head and Tail
Level 3: Limit patterns
Level 4: Series work on horses with written session reports & photos.
Certification: A final report is accepted and certification issued. Level Fee: $1450/Level. Packages available.
"I attended Margret Henkel’s SOFT RIDERS/SOFT HORSES clinic near Brattleboro VT. I had already read her book, “Is Your Horse 100%?” and watched her companion DVD. But there is nothing like in-person, hands-on experience. Margret demonstrated a technique - we then performed it on our horse. We were able to practice all the basics on multiple horses thus having a range of experiences. Centered Riding with instructor Dorothy Crosby demonstrated how to be “Soft Riders”. The instruction was very good with exercises and images given to help us all find our centers. A good time for all." Elizabeth V, NY
In May, I attended a workshop presented by Margret Henkels on Conformation Balancing for horses. I read her book, "Is Your Horse 100%?" and watched her video. I knew I had to learn more. I flew to NM to study with her for a week. The course was amazing. Margret arranged for me to experience a wide variety of horses with a wide variety of conformation issues; the whole time I was working with her one on one. She was right there with answers to my questions and suggestions about staying safe. It was like a mini-apprenticeship; there is no better way to learn. I started working with my horses using the methods I learned to promote fascia change and bring about Conformation Balancing. My horses are loving the time I spend with them and I am already seeing changes for the better. I will complete the levels for certification in the near future. To me it seems the perfect way to promote well being in our horse partners!" Bette, NH
Reprinted with permission from July/Aug 2019 Horse Around New Mexico
Fitness for Horse & Rider
Riders like riding better. Riders like their horses moving better and happily. Combining rider awareness with improved horse fitness can help accomplish both. Here is an introduction to Centered Riding® and Conformation Balancing which can help riders accomplish these goals.
Many of us are familiar with Centered Riding, developed by Sally Swift. It focuses on “use of self,” enabling the rider to stay soft to enhance and not impede their horse’s performance.
Centered Riding brings rider awareness back into their own body.
Here are the four basic concepts of Centered Riding:
• Be centered in your body by having
balance, energy and control.
• Focus on and be aware of your breathing to breathe correctly which will bring about relaxation and softness.
• Know and practice basic building blocks which puts your body in a balanced position for best functioning.
• Keep your eyes soft which will improve awareness of self, horse and others.
Conformation Balancing is myofascial bodywork that teaches riders to relieve stuck adhesions, which helps their horses move past athletic and trauma pain.
What is myofascia?
Fascia, myofascia or connective tissue seems like a hidden world. It is the body’s unseen internet, a linked system that connects all the parts. It’s the vital link to the horse’s athletic ability. Horses are master compensators; any strain might not
be apparent due to the horse’s ability to hide the injury in numerous ways. Compensation works until it doesn’t.
The poll is another area that often contains myofascia adhesions.
If the horse has rigid fascia adhesions and compensations from old injuries, he can’t move smoothly nor respond willingly to tasks. This is the source of “resistance” in horses; it’s a can’t, not a won’t.
Four areas to check on your horse:
Conformation Balancing shows very simple, basic ways for riders to melt stuck fascia adhesions in horses, maximizing results for better riding. It addresses
four areas: stance, top line, head and tail.
Riders can look at these areas for vital clues to their horse’s condition. Do this check daily when you visit you horse:
• Stance: Does he stand squarely, easily
• Top line: Are there dips, dents or lumps?
• Head: Is head posture relaxed and is his poll soft?
• Tail: Does it hang loosely and evenly? Is it flexible?
Riding with these two tools- Centered Riding & Conformation Balancing- is an experiential shift, rather than a goal. We raise our receptivity with our horses, enabling us to work from where we are. The horse feels this shift immediately. This emotional connection with the horse is a big reason why people still ride horses. Horses are not just transportation anymore. The horse-rider partnership is a freedom for both sides.
www.horsearoundnm.com | July/August 2019 | HORSE AROUND 2
Riders who routinely pay attention to their horse’s condition can prevent and eliminate issues instead of waiting for a debilitating problem. Short regular scans of your horse’s body with soft palms help us find changes and tightness quickly. The power of melting fascia helps our horse immediately, before it turns into a stuck limitation.
Fix it before it breaks.
It is exciting to see riders focus less
on what’s “wrong” and become more present for their own riding experience. Quick to fault themselves, riders become unconsciously performance driven. This can pressure the horse past his physical and emotional limits. Our relationship with our horses is far more complex than our relationship with our cars or bicycles and far more rewarding.
By learning more about Centered Riding and Conformation Balancing, we will become more present with ourselves
and our horses, fix problems before they intensify and be better horsemen.
How the combo began
Margret Henkels and Dorothy Crosby have combined their expertise and established Soft Riders/Soft Horses,
a horse healing and human coaching method. The two met as presenters during Equine Affaire 2017 in Massachusetts.
Dorothy presented Centered Riding demonstrations. The two clicked immediately, realizing what their work had in common: consideration for the horse. Centered Riding and Conformation Balancing were good partners for a balanced horse.
In 2018 the duo presented a combo workshop called Soft Riders/Soft
Horses in a horse event in Vermont. They call it, “An empowering marriage of the two, integrating body consciousness, balance, softness, mental poise, holistic fitness level and happiness for both horse and rider.”
Margret Henkels is the author of Is Your Horse 100% and developer of Conformation Balancing. See ConformationBalancing.com.
Dorothy Crosby, a Third Level Centered Riding instructor based in Vermont, manages Southmowing Stables, owned by Lucile Bump,
a legacy Sally Swift protégé. See Crosbyequi-libruim.com.
Back To Basics
By Dorothy Crosby
I don’t know about you, but riding this winter was consistently inconsistent at best….of course, those with indoors may not have had that extensive an issue, but the cold temps and icy conditions surely affected riding times, turnout, or other areas of horse and human play dates.
With the hope of some regularity in the riding schedule, many of my students are looking at ways to polish the tarnished skills and motivation they and their horses have experienced after so much time off.
We have begun tweaking some of the basics in communication, use of self, balance, sensitivity, and movement, to name a few. We are refining some in-hand skills, working on clear and precise communication to maximize understanding and teamwork. We are considering how we use our bodies both on and off the horse to convey instructions, teach new skills, and co-exist with mutual respect and cooperation. We are grooming like crazy to eliminate all that shedding hair, but also to assess the physical issues and their possible solutions, learning new massage or stretching techniques and seizing the opportunity to evaluate body score and condition.
We are utilizing the concept of “less is more” so often emphasized by Sally Swift, to increase sensitivity and awareness on the part of both human and equine; how little can I do for you to understand and respond to what I am communicating? Learning new and reinforcing old methods of movement and use of the aids helps loosen bodies, engage brains, and create suppleness and flexibility for horse and rider.
Remember: gross motor skills must learn things first, regardless of your age or condition; any new thing does not defer to fine motor skills until muscle memory and practice make them easily accessible. While we have long operated on the premise that “practice makes perfect” we should be taking the time to practice quality, not quantity, because, in reality, practice makes permanent; we do not want to perfect that which is incorrect or detrimental to the goal!
Taking the time to return to the basics occasionally for the rider’s and the horse’s sakes is time well spent; when the timing and movement of the aids is automatic and the mental effort easily directs the maneuver, then – and only then – do we have the ability to move forward and see real accomplishment.
As you begin those rides, give your horse the opportunity to really warm up those muscles. Walk out on a long loose rein allowing him set the pace for just a few minutes, noticing the movement itself; stiff, fluid, even? Allow your own body to flow; create a checklist to see where you are moving and where you are stuck: seat bones balanced underneath your shoulders and over your feet?
Knees alternately dropping with the swing of the walk? Feet completely touching the sole of your boot and experiencing the feeling of walking? Shoulders swinging front to back, opposite from the direction of the seat bones, as the horse swings her head and neck? Elbows bent allowing them to open and close so the shoulders really swing and the hands move forward and back instead of bouncing up and down (which happens when elbows are straight)? Breathing and relaxed?
This is an evaluation tool, not a test; make changes as needed, but move on from each spot to avoid being “stuck” there. Return your attention to your horse; you have assessed yourself and made adjustments, now notice whether this has affected your mount’s movement. Use your seat, legs and hands as little as you have to for results.
Once assessing how both of you feel, then require changes of stride – longer ones, shorter ones, those in between; vary the exercise to avoid maintaining any difficult part longer than a few seconds to help him learn he can move on and return there with little difficulty or stress. This will also increase both of your range of motion, creating flexibility and suppleness.
Teach your horse to be more sensitive to those aids, and yourself to not overdo every movement; after all, a horse can only be as soft as the rider. We create horses ignoring our aids, or being lazy, or not following through the movement by demanding too much! (Do you like being yelled at to get a simple task accomplished, or is a quiet request more to your liking? I suspect after a while you might ignore the screamer – there she goes again! – and only listen when you think you need to or they do something drastic to get your attention).
Begin with some simple communication and transfer it to all the gaits and movements….you and your partner will reach a whole new level this season!
Fascia changes ARE the shortcut.
Self-Intelligent, self-directed changes in fascia (also called myofascia or connective tissue) resolve problems that drugs, surgery, lazer lights, chiropractic movement and acupuncture can't change. This is because fascia is independent of those modalities and only changes with a matching temperature, which is the human hand. Fascia actually holds the meridians, bones and other body parts in place. Fascia also holds emotional trauma and charge. When Fascia opens and releases emotional charge, this is called Soma emotional release or a Still Point (Upledger).
When fascia changes, healing is complete.
– Phone/email photo horse consultations
– Level Seminars 1, 2, 3, 4
– Private Sessions for horses
– Introduction Clinics
– Quarterly Newsletter: $75/year, digital. Includes Fascia updates, horse examples, case photos and success stories. Keep up with the wave! We’re using postal payment for now.