Feldenkrais and Connected Riding
Part Four (excerpt)
Managing the Susie Q Ranch horse boarding facility in the mid-1990s
I organized clinics and schooling shows to promote the facility to a community of locals thirsty for competitions. The ranch owner hired a well-known Canadian course designer to construct a regulation cross-country course on two large pastures of varying terrain with a suitable site for a water feature I gained immense knowledge from our collaboration, and our first official competition marked a splendid success.
In only two years, I was living my dream.
And I was miserable. I spent my days riding horses, walking for miles, carrying heavy feed bags, and being bounced around in old pickups. My lower back muscles were in a permanent state of spasm. Burning pains ran along my sciatic nerve in my left leg making my ankle and foot ache. I attributed the increasing discomfort in my hips to walking in soft arena sand. Pain robbed me of my patience for horses and people. Tired and hurting, I entertained unrealistic thoughts about getting a job as a grocery store cashier. By 1996, I was about to give up on my dream-turned-nightmare. Then Peggy Cummings, founder of Connected Riding, came into my life.
For more information about Connected Riding® and related concerns for proper saddle fit, I refer you to two books. The first, I illustrated: Cummings, Peggy with Diana Deterding. Connected Riding, An Introduction. Outskirts Press, 1999 and 2014. The second I co-authored and illustrated: Cummings, Peggy with Nancy Camp. Connect With Your Horse from the Saddle. Connected Riding Books, 2015.
Robert Spencer was a well-regarded, guild certified instructor in the Feldenkrais certification program when I met him. Since he was also a psychotherapist certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, he was the perfect person to convince me I needed Feldenkrais for myself more than I needed it for horses.
The Feldenkrais Method aims to increases a person’s perception of tensions and habits of moving. https://feldenkrais.com Hereafter I will refer to this instruction as Feldenkrais, having noted here the registered trademarks. You may find the answer to more self-awareness in yoga or Pilates, or perhaps the Alexander Technique®. Or the system of posture analysis and exercises set forth by Pete Egoscue might provide your key. However, you achieve it, finding comfort and maximizing function in your own body is a huge piece in enjoying a successful relationship with your horse, from the ground or in the saddle.
I don't have pictures of the horse I rode in my first lesson with Peggy. This sketch gives an idea of what he looked like. (right)