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ESI Q and A Forums > ESI Q and A Forum > Questions and discussions for the ESI Q and A Forum > Grounding through your feet, down through the horses feet.

Grounding through your feet, down through the horses feet.
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Mare`s Tales
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 Posted: Sun Oct 2nd, 2011 04:52 pm
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"When you can 'ground' through your feet, you will find that your eyes work differently. And with those eyes you will be able to tell whether your mare wishes it was 5:00 already, or instead whether she's enjoying what you're doing together. -- Dr. Deb"

I find this sentence so interesting and important that I was wondering if we could discuss this further.

In my own experience, (falling short because I am trying to put a "feeling" subject into words) I find that a rider who has a good feeling for balance can influence the mind of the horse without any effort whatsoever. When a rider sits in correct balance with the horse, all the way down through the riders feet, through the horses feet, all the way to the ground, they give the horse the feeling that they are no longer a burden or adversary but, a helper, thus establishing harmony between horse and rider. If this balance can be maintained, (which is an easier thing to do if the rider is balanced over their own feet) in all gaits then the horse gets the feeling the rider is "blending in" to their movement.

I have seen talented horsemen be able to manipulate the use of gravity through the rider, through the horse, to the ground and send that energy back up again( that transfers into rebalancing if a horse needs the help and thus at its most pinacle result.... brilliance!) through the use of the anicient art of "stirrup stepping" (if a name must be given to it because stepping into a stirrup is not what it is about but again, those darn "words" and I am sure the ancients who became aware of this struggled with this also but in order to teach the concept had to describe it). The way a rider does this, to influence the weight going down into a chosen foot of the horse is to do nothing more than slightly "spread their toes" in the boot or boots of which stirrup or stirrups, thus influencing the horses weight down through the horses foot or feet (depending on what effect they are wanting to achieve) that they want to influence and therefore effecting the horses balance. It is Dr. Debs discription of "spreading the toes" that got my attention. For the spreading of the toes can have an effect on the rider and perhaps the heightened "feel" that doing so creates. ???

When correct timing is used, I have experienced a calmness that comes over most horses. Horses begin to wait on and focus more on their riders, the reins become less important, the horse now paying so much more attention to the riders seat because it now "means" something.  
                        

 

Mare`s Tales
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 Posted: Sun Oct 2nd, 2011 05:56 pm
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Perhaps I took the liberty in my above post that when Dr. Deb said ....

"You want the soles of your feet to be spread out against the ground like the feet of a duck."

she meant the toes, for that is what I visualize when I think of a ducks foot.  Maybe I`m off-base. I am hoping she will explain further.

GoldPony
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 Posted: Sun Oct 23rd, 2011 05:41 pm
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Hi all,
I am bringing this thread back to the top because I also would like to see more discussion on this topic. Really getting down to the feet on a deep level......beyond just influencing the direction their movement a bit......is a hard concept. And does it effect raising or lowering the energy level to best support a particular movement?
Nancy

Mares
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 Posted: Mon Oct 24th, 2011 11:19 pm
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Hi Goldpony,

This is something Dr. Deb wrote a while back. I had copied it on paper in case it ever disappeared or I couldn`t bring it up again. VERY meaningful, put a new light on it for me.
Anyway, you can find the whole post if you put in the SEARCH.
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"Miriam, the VERY place that "feel" comes from is your hands.

The hara, or core, or "center" is the oven, or engine, in which "the life in the body" is thought of as being made or stored, or its primary locus or whirlpool. But that whirlpool flows up the spine and through the chest and down the arms. It goes also down the legs, through the whole area of the seat, down to the feet and out through the soles of the feet. As an aside here, if you want to really understand this, then go look at Joseph Campbell's "Transformations of Myth Through Time."

The "life in the body" has historically sometimes (metaphorically) been spoken of as "blood", since to a literal-minded student "blood" represents the fluid of life. This is why in virtually all representations of the crucified Christ, he is shown with the nails penetrating the palms of the hands. If you were really to nail somebody up in this place, the anatomy is not such that it would hold; the weight of the dying body would cause the nails to rip right through the palms, splitting out between the fingers. In reality, crucifixion nails went through the lower part of the forearm, above the wrist; here the anatomy is such that the nail would not pull through.

Why then is the crucified Christ always shown with the nails in the palm? Because in all Oriental religions, as well as in the martial arts today, the "exit point" for the "fluid of life" -- i.e. for the "life in the body," which is a kind of energy, and which is the essence of that which we call "feel", is the center of the palm of the hand. Likewise not only in Christian, but in Buddhist and Hindu iconography, when the diety is shown in a pose of blessing, the palm of the hand is shown facing the believer; two fingers are raised, while the ring and pinkie fingers touch the place in the center of the palm where "the life" flows out."

GoldPony
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 Posted: Tue Oct 25th, 2011 03:29 am
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Thanks Miriam, it does make sense. Indeed I did read Joseph Campbell many years ago, and though I was very impressed with his knowledge, I'm sure that at that age I didn't entirely understand how all his points and references applied to my life and limited experience. It's interesting to revisit a lot of the literature that I was drawn to when my view of life was from an entirely different perspective.
Nancy

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Oct 25th, 2011 05:16 am
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Mare's Tales, I was quite glad to see you back in the Forum with this. I haven't answered because I felt that what you had said already covered it. And then re-posting the business about how the "blood" or "fluid of life" comes out of the palm reinforces the same thought again.

Nobody gets to be a world-class rider without figuring out how this works in their own body, in other words, how energy flows within the body. It is absolutely necessary to awaken the person's ability to feel this energy flowing, which is what Ray and our elderly teacher referred to as "the life in the body".

Of course it flows in the horse's body also. "Feel", as the term is used in our school, means this: it means the ability of the handler or rider to feel the life in their own body; to project that energy through the over-covering of their fleshy corpus; to project it so that it penetrates the fleshy over-covering of the horse's corpus; so that it ultimately touches and blends with the life that is flowing in the horse's body. Hence Bill Dorrance's saying, often repeated by Ray: "You feel of him, you feel for him, and you let him feel back to you."

In Buck's movie, there is a spot where he notes, "A lot of people think that 'feel' just relates to touching the horse's body with your fingers. But 'feel' can be a lot of things. 'Feel' can reach across a distance." And of course I have told numerous stories here, and there are other people who also knew Ray and our elderly teacher who can witness, that they saw these master-horsemen influence horses over a distance of ground, without physically touching them. Nonetheless they were certainly feeling of them, and the horses were feeling back to them. And those of us who have been dedicated students also gained the ability to do this. And we in turn seek to awaken that ability in anyone who asks.

Now the life in the body is generated within the body, but that doesn't mean that it can't or shouldn't be boosted or augmented if the chance should arise. One instance of this is the innocent, and often grateful, receptiveness of handicapped riders -- who, when they get on horseback, despite severe neuromuscular dysfunction when off the horse, frequently experience near-normal functionality so long as they are in proximity of the horse's spine. The spine is the main channel through which the life in the body flows (i.e. ch'i, prana, ruach), as you will read in Joseph Campbell's very clear summary.

Another instance of this is what I was mentioning about getting the person to be aware of having their feet in thorough contact with the ground. It is not so much about some technique involving spreading the toes, as it is to tell the student to spread their toes as a sneaky way of getting them to be more aware of their feet. Especially in developed countries and especially among white females, awareness of the crotch area is culturally proscribed. So in Buck's movie he talks about the person needing to be aware of the lower part of their body, the part below the waist, and makes the same joke that Ray used to make about what would happen to the rider who was unaware of their lower body so that the horse just walked off with that half, leaving the person's upper half hanging motionless in the air. Hector Carmona, with whom I studied for a number of years, used to say "the upper part of your body belongs to you; the lower part belongs to the horse." He meant the same thing. Ray used to say, "mah hosse's body IS mah body."

As to "stirrup stepping", yes, this is spoken of by other very accomplished riders and I am aware of their sayings about it. However, I make a point of never mentioning it in those terms, because it is so very easy, if one starts talking about "stepping down into one stirrup", to get a student to leaning over or tromping down. As you say, Mare's, it really only involves spreading your toes inside of one boot, and that in turn as we have already noticed is really only a way to make the person more aware of their foot, to draw their awareness down into that foot. Their awareness will open the channel in which the life in the body flows.

Sally Swift did much good work in this particular area, also, and it is worth reviewing the original "Centered Riding" book for anyone interested in learning to get "the life" down past their crotch. -- Dr. Deb

Mares
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 Posted: Tue Oct 25th, 2011 03:04 pm
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Dr. Deb when you came to Madison, you spoke about people who had lost their limbs but had the feeling that their limbs were still there. We spoke a little about Ray having that ability, only now the "horses" feet were his feet, as if they were his own. It is a projection that we can all develope if we can be senstive enough to where we can actually "own" the horses body as if it were part of ours, as if we were born wearing it.

I agree, that the term stirrup stepping falls short and the description is crude, for stepping into a stirrup is really no more than directing a bit of our focus, at the right time in the stride, on a certain leg of the horse to "help" the horse accomplish a shift of energy to stay balanced or re-balance. The energy then either grounded (for the horses body to stand up or pivot upon or "coiled" to go to the ground and come back to us (like a bouncing ball). The analogy of "lifes blood" then makes so much sense and it is easier to visualize.

"Their awareness will open the channel in which the life in the body flows."

THAT is what I was looking for.

Thank you.

GoldPony
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 Posted: Tue Oct 25th, 2011 05:34 pm
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Great insights as always, thanks to both of you.

The less analyzing and more I work to feel what my horse is doing, the more she "talks" to me. Not much reason to talk to a human who is deaf.

I have been going so slow only hindsight allows me to see how much has changed this year - and I know that our whole relationship has changed for the better. Even some other people have noticed.

The other day when we were expanding the circle, I felt she WANTED to canter (just as you said she would), and we did.....and it was without tension - yahoo!

Thanks again for creating such an excellent resource.
Nancy

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 Posted: Wed Oct 26th, 2011 09:09 pm
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http://eclectic-horseman.com/content/view/54/92/

Pictures of Tom Dorrance`s hands. Eventhough I never met the man in person, I noticed how Tom carried his hands in videos and in pictures. When I got to meet and observe Ray Hunt and BB and saw how they similarly carried (carry) their hands I got to thinking. These photos say a lot about Tom`s energy.

Ride A Grey Horse
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 Posted: Fri Aug 31st, 2018 11:16 pm
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Great thread.


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