Question: I was watching your lesson last Saturday (I was the one wearing the yellow jacket) and was fascinated by your explanation of energy work. Thank you for letting me watch! My question is, when the lady couldn’t get her horse to move out, can you explain again why that was happening? I missed it, and I’m sure that was the most important part! When are you back at Bowden again? So glad you moved here!
Answer from April Reeves: Hi yellow jacket: yes, I remember you (hard to miss actually!). Feel free to audit any lesson (unless my client asks otherwise).
Energy surrounds all living things every second of our lives. Even rocks have energy levels. Horses are highly tuned to energy. We all know this by the reaction our horses have to our emotions each time we approach them, yet we routinely disregard this and blame our horse for the reactions he/she has to us.
My student was having trouble getting her horse to move out, NOT from lack of training, but she has a bad habit of looking down at the horse all the time. Her energy (she has a high energy level) drops down and grounds into the earth directly through the shoulder of her mare, keeping the horse from being able to move out freely. The horse feels “weighted” down and therefore moves slowly with short steps.
You were present when I got on. The horse not only moved freely, but was almost ready to take off when I showed my student how energy affects them by raising my levels as far forward as I could. I looked out ahead of me as far as was necessary, and brought my energy up and forward in front of the mare. It did take her some time to understand the concept, but she did work on it and did see a big change in the horse’s stride without any leg or aid use. As she keeps this up, she will see bigger changes as the horse develops the “connection” needed to understand (the horse’s language, not ours). Eventually, she will move this understanding into every aspect of training and riding and working with this mare, and the two will connect in a relationship that will make her realize why she chose to be with horses in the first place.
Not sure if you missed this, but I explained, that energy has a continual “loop” and how each loop pattern affects movement. You can stop a horse easily by closing the loop, or cutting it off and grounding yourself, thereby grounding the horse.
These results can be quick or slow, depending on the horse’s ability to “tune in”. If the horse has been ridden with no attempt to use or understand energy, or use it incorrectly or inconsistently, it’s likely it would take a few more rides before the horse tunes in and “takes up the offer” to apply it well. It’s an individual choice with each horse.
We use our energy levels all the time with horses and have very little idea of the impacts. Good riders intuitively use it, but I believe it’s time to integrate these intuitive teachings into every lesson, as it is the biggest stumbling block most riders have to getting the results they desire. To truly understand the effects your energy has on your horse, you need to be aware of it every second until it’s not a logical left-brained process anymore, but an intuitive right-brained process. Once you grasp the concept, you move from a good rider to a great rider. All the great riders use energy effectively, whether they are aware of it or not.
Energy is individual with all horses, and you will find you can either adapt to what ever horse you are dealing with, or you may find you have a calming effect and prefer to work with horses that need this. It’s my preference, but I can work with very quiet to “dead” horses as well. It’s just that there are an abundance of “hot” horses and issues on this planet, so I think I’ve adapted to this more so.
I will be writing more on the use of energy work, as it applies to groundwork, equine agility and astride. It is a complex understanding that requires a very open mind and an understanding and belief that humans are far more highly evolved than we believe or can see.
And of course, always the desire, deep inside, to learn new ways of connecting with our horses.
I will be riding a student’s horse in Bowden at Larry’s Rockin’ H ranch this Friday, Nov. 2, around 11am if you are in the area. Anyone is welcome to watch and ask questions. Learning is for everyone.
I have a very “lazy”, low energy (for the most part) mare. What do you suggest for her?
Hi Erica. That answer is fairly involved. Maybe what I’ll do is write a new post for this. Thanks for the question: I’ll work on it and post it as soon as I can.
I have a 3 year old gelding paso fino and he to doesn’t like to be worked, in fact on ground I’m working harder then he is. Since I last wrote I was afraid of my horse and had no confidience. In a few months I have gone from fear to understanding and now ride my boy. I have kissed dirt once but got right back on him. I have been out on two rides with a friend on the road for about a mile. I was the worse for wear at the end, knees hurt lol but he did great. I read your articles and completely understand about energy. I teach about the energy that surrounds us. Good article.