The Reed and Body Talk
I gave a lesson during the Self Realization through the Waterhole Rituals course on Body Talk that was very empowering. What I often find my students doing is communicating body language at the horse rather than dancing with the movement. So, I asked everyone to imagine that the horse was as big as a whale that was listening to them. They had to exaggerate their body talk while slowing down their movements so that the whale could clearly understand what they were asking. This worked out very well and helped the students to better understand how to use Body Talk. Another image to use is to imagine that your horse is far away and so you need to exaggerate your movements so he can clearly understand what you are asking from a distance. One student got the Body Talk down but could not use the reed with the same softness. She could not make the reed an extension of her body because she felt that is was too aggressive to use it. She used the reed in little jerking apologetic gestures, which only agitated the horse and no one moved anywhere. You need to use the reed in the same manner that a conductor would wave a baton when conducting an orchestra, in slow flowing movements. When the student started imagining that she was signaling to someone far away on a hill or to the big whale, the dance between her and the horse clicked like magic.
It is important to take the time to practice Body Talk and using the reed. Working to music will help open your desire to make a big statement with your body language that is soft and inviting. When you begin with the Waterhole Rituals, the first Ritual is Sharing Territory. The first step is to introduce the reed so you can share territory safely and allow the bond to grow naturally. You do not want to sit down in a horses space until you know you can ask him to stay a safe distance away from you as he respects your boundaries.
The best way to introduce your horse to the reed is to walk around his paddock waving the reed in front of you from side to side just like you would a Geiger counter. After about 10 minutes, you can start approaching your horse swishing the reed in front of you. It is a horse's natural instinct to leave anything that is approaching him so your horse should walk off. Make sure you approach your horse from the side or the front so that he can see you coming and you are not surprising him. If your horse does not move as you approach him you will need to swish the reed faster and put more energy and intention into the action.
Remember that horses are used to other horses pushing them around in the wild as they continually re-establish the pecking order within the herd, so your horse will not be offended if you move him. If your horse moves away very fast you have probably used too much energy in your movement and you should have been softer and less energetic in the request. A horse that does not move away from the reed has probably lost his natural instincts and become desensitized. If this is the case you may need to seek advice from a qualified clinician to help you re-educate your horse regarding boundaries and instilling his natural instincts.
Later on we will use the reed as a directional signal in Liberty Dancing as well as in all the training pursuits going forward at liberty. Don’t worry, we do not use the reed in a way that takes the bond away nor is the reed used in punishment of any kind. Using the type of reeds I do, you cannot hurt a horse even if you try to. I buy my reeds in home decor departments in stores like Pier One but you can also look for a natural stick that is very flexible like strong grass or a willow branch. It is important that the stick is flexible because a horse will respond to flexible movements from the reed more easily than those of a firmer stick.
That's it for this week, I'm looking forward to the weekend as I am pretty tired after all the recent classes and clinics. What are you up to??
P.S. By the way, I hope to have more news on the next Waterhole Rituals Insider Circle class for you next week.