“I remember one day after several years of study, during which I thought I was progressing quite nicely, my teacher said, ‘Riding dressage is not like playing tennis. You can make your body learn the techniques and make your head learn the movements, but the dressage comes from inside of you. You really need to develop your inner life.’ This was a turning point in my life, a quantum leap in my conscious process. I began to understand that people rode the way they were, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and that was why horses performed differently for different riders. As we open ourselves up to transformation, our riding improves.” From “Dressage in the Fourth Dimension” by Sherry Ackerman, PhD, Second Edition, published by New World Library, Novato, California.
I am not going to tell you all about trauma and horses and how horses can help you heal. Although they can. More on that later.
What I am going to tell you is that if you want to be a better rider, a better horseman, and have a better relationship with horses…and every other life-form on the planet…get to work and heal your trauma.
As you know, horses are sentient beings. Their ability to perceive and feel things is the very quality that has enabled them to survive over time. As prey animals, they are tuned into every nuance in their environment, and you, dear one, are part of their environment.
If you are approaching your horse with your head…and body…full of anxiety, you are getting in your own way. You can start by working on quieting your monkey mind with breathwork, mindfulness practice, meditation, clear intentions, working on your mindset, and building your confidence.
Follow Warwick Schiller and use his plan. Follow Jane Pike and her Confident Rider page. They are both brilliant. You will grow your personal skills and your horsemanship skills as a result.
But if you have trauma, you may have to dig in and do some deeper work. Your trauma is unique to you and only you know what it looks like. It could be any number of things from childhood trauma to the fear you’re experiencing after a bad fall that just won’t go away, and everything in between.
In February of 2019, Warwick Schiller posted a link to a brilliant interview by Kip Mistral with Sherry Ackerman, the author of Dressage in the Fourth Dimension, a powerful little book absolutely packed with wisdom. What struck me like a thump to the chest was when Marsden asks Dr. Ackerman how we can “…identify those issues so can we transform them…to get the flow back between horse and human…to find that Fourth Dimension again.” And she responds:
“What keeps people from merging with horses in a spiritual dimension is their own body,” begins Ackerman. “The body stores the trauma of our lives, mental, emotional and physical. When people say a horse is stiff, the stiffness in the horse is mirroring the person’s body/mind issues. That isn’t to say the horse might not also have trauma stored in his body, too.”
That thump I felt when I read that quote was the thump of recognition. It was one of those I know this to be true Oprah-like moments when I saw that. It has been proven that we carry our trauma in our bodies. And I know what it feels like to clear your trauma. I was at an EMDR training and I had to work on an issue of my own. I dug around in my brain and came up my worst fall, which I didn’t think was affecting me all that much. Until I could feel the difference afterwards.
If you’re ready for transformation, EMDR might be what makes a difference for you, and your horse, too.
To read the article in its entirety, here is the link: https://www.kipmistral.com/sherry-ackerman-phd-dressage-in-the-fourth-dimension/