Month: October 2019

How I Started with Images of Energy

How I Started with Images of Energy

When I first started experimenting with images of energy, I went through a progression in my imagery.

  • I started with an image of a broomstick between my belly button and the horse. I would think of pushing on the horse with the broomstick.
  • As I progressed, I replaced the image of the broomstick with an image of streams of energy that I would turn on and off. I would send these streams of energy out in a straight line to push on the horse, and I would turn them off when the horse responded.
  • Later, I thought in terms of using energy in circles. I would imagine attaching an energy string to the horse, draw that energy string in through my center, and send it back out to the horse.

Let me illustrate this progression using the ground work exercise where you send the horse around you and change directions. Chapter one of Marty Martin’s book Problem Solving published by Western Horseman has the best explanation of how to do this exercise I’ve seen in print.

Here is an illustration from page 19 of Marty’s book:

Diagram of leading a horse past you and changing directions.
Broomstick

In my initial experimentation, I would visualize having a broomstick between my belly button and where the girth would be if the horse was wearing a saddle. I would think of pushing the horse around the circle in front of me with this broomstick. When I was ready to start a change of directions, I would visualize having the broomstick between my belly button and the horse’s hip. I would think of pushing the horse’s hip away from me with the broomstick. As the horse started to bring its front end across, I would visualize having the broomstick between my belly button and the horse’s shoulder—the one the horse was moving away from. I would think of pushing the horse’s shoulder away from me with the broomstick.

Energy Stream

As I progressed, instead of visualizing a broomstick, I would visualize turning streams of energy on and off. I would start by sending a stream of energy from my center to where the girth would be if the horse were wearing a saddle. I would think of pushing the horse around the circle in front of me with this stream of energy. When I was ready to start a change of directions, I would turn that stream of energy off and send a new stream of energy from my center to the horse’s hip. I would think of pushing the horse’s hip away from me with this stream of energy. When the horse moved its hip over, I would turn off that stream of energy. As the horse started to bring its front end across, I would send a new stream of energy from my center to the horse’s shoulder. I would think of pushing the horse’s shoulder away from me with that stream of energy. When the horse’s front feet were all the way around to the new circle, I would turn off that stream of energy.

Circle of Energy

When I started thinking in terms of using energy in circles, the change of directions I was getting from the horse improved immensely. I would start the change of directions by attaching an energy string to the horse’s nose, and drawing that energy string into my center. This helped the horse bend correctly for turning on the forehand. I would send that energy string back out to the horse and bounce it off the horse’s hip. This would move the horse’s hip away from me. I would have the energy string continue around the back side of the horse and bounce it off the horse’s shoulder—the one the horse was moving away from. The energy string would get to the shoulder in time to help the horse shift its weight back for a turn on the haunches, and continue aiding the horse in bringing the front end across all the way until the front feet were on the new circle.

With the energy string aiding in getting the proper bend in the horse, and shifting the weight to free up the front feet. I could be very light with the lead rope, and have a better result.

The Energy Bubble

The Energy Bubble

In Sally Swift’s book Centered Riding 2 Further Exploration she presents an exercise she calls the “Capsule.” There is an illustration on page 99 with the caption, “Imagine yourself in a ‘capsule’ with energy from your center radiating against the sides and filling it up.”

Near the end of her discussion of this exercise Sally Swift says,

During this imaginary Capsule exercise, you succeeded in balancing internal and external awareness. This new expanded awareness can give you better control in several ways when you ride.”

I have found the image of an energy bubble to be very effective. If you were taking a riding lesson from me, I would start by telling you to visualize building an energy bubble from your center that encompasses you and your horse. Then I would tell you to fill that energy bubble with waves of energy that go from your center, bounce off the wall of the bubble, and go back to your center.

If you want your horse to go faster, point the nose of your energy bubble out toward where you want to go, and have the energy waves be short and fast. If you want your horse to slow down, pull the nose of the energy bubble in like a wall in front of the horse and have the waves be long and slow.

Once you were comfortable using this image, I would have you change the path of the energy waves inside your energy bubble. Instead of having them go from your center to the wall of the bubble, and bounce back to your center, I would have you send the waves from your center out to the wall, have them bounce back to the horse’s center, then back out to the wall, and back to your center.

I experimented with a student and had her switch back and forth between including the horse’s center and not including the horse’s center in the path of the energy waves in her bubble. I could tell which way she was doing it by observing how connected to her horse she was, and how well she was with the horse’s movement. There was a visible improvement when she included the horse’s center in the energy wave path.

This is actually the first energy image I shared with a student. I had been experimenting with images of energy myself, but was not willing to talk to anyone else about them yet. I had a student who lived in Los Angeles. She would come to Colorado every few months for her business. When she was here, she would arrange to take a few lessons from me. Her horse being in Los Angeles, she would borrow a friends horse for the lessons.

In one of those lessons she said her horse bolted with her almost every time she rode, and it was becoming not fun any more. The problem was, the horse she borrowed for the lessons was so quiet and laid back, she didn’t feel like she could learn what she needed for her horse.

I told her about the energy bubble, and said, “When you are ready, fill that energy bubble with short fast energy waves, sending the nose out to the other end of the arena streaming those short fast waves out there with the nose of the bubble.” I also told her, “When you are ready to slow down, pull the nose of the energy bubble in like a wall in front of your horse, and fill it with long slow waves.”

The horse took off, she shrieked, and at what seemed to me to be the last possible second, the horse stopped, and they calmly walked back to me.

As we left the arena, my student told the horse’s owner,

You need to do what ever you need to do to get Joe to tell you about the energy.

I received an email from that student several weeks later telling me she had ridden her horse in Griffith Park and it was the first time in a very long time she felt like they were partners.

Our Nature is Different than the Horse’s Nature

Our nature and the horse’s nature are very different, and it is important that we understand this difference. This is basic and fundamental. I’m not talking about predator/prey—I’m talking about the horse’s nature being pure and honest while our nature is broken and depraved. The prophet Jeremiah describes our nature like this, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Ray Hunt expressed it this way:

“There is no way that the horse will ever try to take advantage of you. He’s as honest and as truthful as anything you could ever work with. He has no ego that gets in his way. He has no pride that gets in his way. He doesn’t know what win or lose is. And those are the four things that get in the human’s way. It’s very sad. All the horse is trying to do is survive; he’s trying to make it. So I try to work with him like he was me, just like I hope he would work with me.”

Our Self-Preservation Instinct

Pride and ego, Ray says they get in the human’s way. That is putting it mildly. Just like the horse, we have a self-preservation instinct to protect us when our lives are in danger—so we can react quicker, fight harder, or run faster when we need to to save our lives. But the problem is our self-preservation gets hijacked by our ego. When our pride gets hurt, to our ego, it is a matter of life and death. Have you seen someone willing to fight to the death to keep from looking bad? Have you seen that person in the mirror?

There is an ancient Hebrew story about Balaam and his donkey that illustrates this point.

Balaam was on a journey with his donkey and God sent an angel to oppose him. Balaam didn’t see the angel, but the donkey did, and the donkey saved Balaam’s life three times. The first time the donkey left the road and went out into a field to avoid the angel, and Balaam hit the donkey with his stick. The second time the donkey squeezed up against a stone wall squishing Balaam’s foot, and Balaam hit the donkey with his stick again. The third time the donkey saved Balaam’s life, there was no way to go around the angel, so the donkey laid down, and Balaam hit the donkey with his stick again.

Then God allowed the donkey to speak and the donkey asked Balaam why he had hit him with the stick.

Balaam said to the donkey, “You made me look like a fool; I wish there were a sword in my hand, so I could kill you.”

If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that most of what we punish our horses for is injuring our pride.

Dealing with our Pride

How do we get to the place where our pride and ego don’t get in our way? Consider A. W. Tozer’s discussion of this issue on page 112 of his book The Pursuit of God.

The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol.

How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest.

Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them.

Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear…, and meekness is [the] method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.

I heard a great quote a while back, “If we think in terms of our horse being bad, that opens us up to the concept of punishment. If we think in terms of our horse having difficulty, that predisposes us to the concept of helping our horse through the difficulty.”

How do we get there? We loosen the grip our ego has on our self-preservation every time we say, “I was wrong.” How many times each day can you honestly say, “I was wrong”?

Why am I blogging?

I started my journey by seeking answers to problems

When I first became interested in training horses, I wasn’t thinking so much in terms of horsemanship; I was looking for answers to problems. I would go to clinics, thinking maybe this person will have the answer, but my horse didn’t always respond the way the horse at the clinic had. I began to understand that these clinicians had something I didn’t.

“As I became aware of horsemanship, I could see there was more to it then learning a certain technique.”

Different techniques were needed to fit different situations. I thought that horsemanship must be the ability to know which technique to use. With that in mind, I set out to developed a large tool kit of techniques gathered from different sources.

I developed a large toolkit of techniques

I went to see well known clinicians whenever they were doing something in my area. I studied their books and video tapes, along with other books and tapes by classically trained authors. I applied these techniques to a variety of horses, in a variety of situations. As valuable as I found this tool kit of techniques, what helped me understand horsemanship the most was being introduced to the idea of actually communicating my intent to the horse.

I learned to use images to communicate my intent

On page 16 of his book Dressage for the New Age Dominique Barbier describes it this way,

“Visualization is similar to you and your horse watching television. Visualization is the rider bombarding the screen with pictures—clearer ones every time. If you are not transmittiong or sending the pictures that appear on the TV screen, and the horse is putting them there, you are in big trouble. If the screen is blank to begin with, the horse is going to fill it up by sending his own pictures.”

Sally Swift, in her books Centered Riding and Centered Riding 2 Further Exploration teaches riders to use mental images; including images of energy beams and energy bubbles.

In two years of study in Larry Napier’s Rediscovery of the Heart Institute, I learned:

  • The language of our heart is images.
  • Images control everything we do.
  • We can choose what images are on the screen of the “image maker” in our heart.
The Third Factor

Communicating through images, and controlling energy with images does not take the place of having the horse in the proper shape and balance, or your feel, timing, and balance. It is a layer we can put on top of the best mechanical work to make things much softer and subtler.

“”I believe this is a large part of the third factor Tom Dorrance was referring to on pages 9, 14, and 15 of True Unity when he said,

“I will mention the need for self-preservation; this to me includes the physical and the mental—and a third factor. I’ve been trying for some time to think of words to get this third factor to where it comes to light; to show how it blends in with the other two—the physical and the mental. It is the least mentioned, but I am beginning to believe it is the most important factor to recognize…. I didn’t used to elaborate on the third factor, spirit; I only just mentioned it. But I’ve begun to wonder about it in the last few years. Maybe if people got to realizing the importance of that part of the horse, they could get more feel and understanding from right in the horse’s innards…. Mind, body and spirit is what we are talking about here.”

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me say for this to work you need to have the right attitude, and think of your relationship with the horse in the right way. It is your attitude and relationship that opens the door for this type of communication with your horse. A lot of what I’m going to be talking about is the attitude and relationship with your horse you need to get this working for you.

I invite you on this journey with me to discover the attitudes, images, and energies at “The Heart of Horsemanship.”

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