As part of my groundwork with my new Fell pony Gwydion I’ve been doing some breathing exercises. Gwydion has a tendency to hold his breath and then when he can’t contain it anymore he has a little “tantrum”. He’s not being naughty he’s just anxious about the changes that have occurred in his life this past few months. So when I sense him stop breathing I stop and face him then I start to breathe more purposefully. I take a deep breath in for a count of 4 then out for 8, directing that out breath towards his nose. On that out breath he finally releases his breath and starts to calm and breathe again. (Don’t ask me why I started doing this, I just followed my gut instinct at the time!)
I think breathing is such an underrated part of working with and riding horses. Without this going too woo woo, breathing patterns have the power to change the energy within us and around us (it’s quantum physics stuff if you need the science).
I can feel the energy between me and Gwyd change when he stops breathing and I imagine it’s the same for him if I do. This creates tension in him which he then has to release in his little display of head flinging that follows. If I stop breathing properly, I get tense and then potentially overreact to a situation I.e. When it gets too much I release the tension with a little tantrum.
If you’ve ever heard the saying “Your horse is your mirror” I think I’ve just highlighted mine and Gwyd’s similarities right there…….
Whether you’re on the ground or on board the principles stay the same.
Your breath has the power to change your energy and therefore your body and how it feels and functions. If you don’t breathe deeply and fully whilst riding you will feel tense, your body will not move freely or fluidly and that tension will transfer to your horse. Which means he will feel tense and won’t move freely or fluidly.
Practice breathing with movement off horse with things like Yoga and Pilates-Weightlifting also has a breathing practice.
When you’re working your horse either on board or on the ground notice how you breathe. Are you taking full breaths and really using your diaphragm. Is your horse?
Try the pattern I used above of in for 4 and out for 8 and see if you can feel yourself change and then maybe your horse.
Also next time your ride or groundwork isn’t going to plan check into your breathing pattern and see if you can make some changes there and then try again. -Let me know what happens…….