Deepening Connection with Movement and Touch

Prayer, by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-on Sentences

Our problem - may I include you? - is that we
don't know how to start, how to just close
our eyes and let something dance between
our hearts and our lips, we don't know how
to skip across the room only for the joy of the leap.
We walk, we run but what happened to the skip
and its partner, the gallop, the useless and imaginary
way we could move through space, the horses we
rode before we knew how to saddle up, before we
had opinions about everything and just loved
the wind in our faces and the horizon in our eyes.

EMBODIED HORSEMANSHIP is an equine facilitated experiential learning modality in which horses are co-teachers/facilitators for those who wish to develop a closer and more conscious connection with themselves and their equine partners, and for those who are recovering from trauma and addiction. By learning basic movement awareness skill that expand softness and connection, you will create greater physical and emotional balance and ease for you and the other four and two-legged creatures in your life.

EMBODIED HORSEMANSHIP can help those dealing with the effects of trauma or challenging life transitions. Trauma exists in many forms. It may be the result of an accident or injury, a profound loss, abuse, medical trauma, or family history including birth trauma. Signs and symptoms of trauma may include anxiety, hyper-vigilance, low self worth, compromised immune system, depression, hopelessness and chronic anger or rage. We may feel shut down, inhibited, or overly sensitive. Our emotions may be unbearable or feelings may be absent, with an array of somatic symptoms. Our system is in a constant state of fight or flight.

Connecting in an embodied way with horses opens us to discovering our authentic selves and learning new ways of settling and balancing body and mind. They can help us to become more comfortable in our own skin, more trustworthy to ourselves and others. With their help we can find a more reliable sense of physical and emotional balance, resilience and ease.

TOUCHING CONNECTIONS is another dimension of EMBODIED HORSEMANSHIP. Learning to bring greater awareness and sensitivity to the way that we touch our horses and all of our human and animal friends helps us to understand what we are communicating and what intention we are expressing. Touch sessions integrate understanding the developmental stages of touch (yield, push, reach, grasp and pull) as well as fundamentals of TTouch (the work of Linda Tellington-Jones). TTouch is called "the touch that teaches" because it helps the horse, dog or cat to feel and think rather than simply reacting. Mindful touch can help settle the nervous system and unravel patterns of tension, injury or imbalance, resulting in greater freedom of movement, ease and balance. Sessions include instruction in specific touches and exercises that you can do with your animal companions as well as how to use Clicker Training and groundwork exercises to help with physical and behavioral concerns.

With Embodied Horsemanship you can:
  • Learn how to track your body and how to settle when activated.
  • Build feelings of confidence, mindfulness and a spirit of improvisation.
  • Connect with the horse using bodily practices that are intuitive and playful both on the ground and in the saddle.
  • Learn how softness and listening can create physical and emotional balance.

    What does a session look like?
    It starts by just standing with a horse, noticing the horse and our own responses to simply being together. Work can take place in the stable aisle, in the stall or in a larger enclosure. Each session has its own organic structure, sometimes involving touch, leading, or simple, ordinary movements. We break things down into simple steps, noticing when we are moving too quickly or asking too much of our equine partners or ourselves.

    No previous riding or horse experience is necessary. All work is done on the ground.

    Download the Embodied Horsemanship brochure

    What a gift to horsemanship and consciousness! I can't wait for Paula's next class. She provided great practices and tools for transforming the foundation of our relationship with our horses - as well as any other living creature. Such a shift will bring more grace, ease and joy into the lives of all. I will enjoy being present with my four (and two) legged partners more, simply noticing the "problems/challenges" disappearing.
    Louise Dobish, Michigan

    Embodied Horsemanship