True Release = True Neutral
For most of us in horsemanship a very big challenge is being able to offer a true release to the horse.

We here at Connected Horsemanship have came across this situation again recently with a lady whose horse was responsive but slightly “reactive”. She was a little worried by this.
Use the Life
“There has to be life, you can’t orchestrate anything if there is no life.”

I asked her to try to view her horse differently when its life came up. Try to view it as something you need, that is useful to both of you. Try to just give her life somewhere to go and something to do.
This gave her a better focus and she stopped seeing the horse as “right brained.”

This had an immediate effect on the horse because the owners worry was diminished.
Her horse became calmer over the next few sessions but the owner was still having problems having the horse stop when she did. The lady was finding this frustrating.
We tried the following:
When she decided to stop and the horse could not I asked her not to pull on him but just stay on the spot and allow the horse slack to move and come to a stop. The first few times the horse kept moving. It did not improve much with this tactic, so after a few times I tried another tactic. As soon as she stopped I asked her questions, how long had she had her horse, how long had she lived in Ireland? She answered me but looked at me like I was a bit mad. We did this three times. Each time she stopped I asked her questions. The third time the horse stopped exactly when she did.

I asked her if she realized why her horse had done so, “maybe because I’m not paying so much attention to him” she said. In a sense she was spot on.

I explained to her that when she stopped, before the questions, although she was physically stopped, mentally and emotionally she was not stopped. Her horse could not “feel a release” from her, only continued pressure which was why he felt obliged to keep moving his feet.

A true release from her meant a release from all expectation. This would only be picked up by her horse if he could sense it not just in her physical make up but in her emotions too.

Later we went back to this again and she was able to do it every time as long as I asked her a question.

Her challenge over the coming weeks, maybe even months would be to get herself in to this true neutral zone where the horse felt no pressure.

“But how will I get there?” she said.

Well you have a feel’ now for what it feels like to be in true neutral. You just have to play with it until you can summon it up at your request.

Although she did not seem completely satisfied with my answer she said that she could feel when she was still running inside herself

I thought this was a marvelous description of what it feels like for all of us when we can’t put our lives down.

So many times, as an instructor, my job is merely to identify the area of ourselves that we need to work on…the rest is up to ourselves.

The development of “feel” can be at times a lonely and very personal journey.

Take it from one who is still trying, still developing and always will be.