Body awareness is something that is not expressed by the looks of the body, but by how the body is being carried within standing, walking, trotting and cantering. It is possible for a horse to have a big body awareness when trotting and very little body awareness when cantering, if he has been rushed to the canter, stressed or simply started cantering on the line too soon, too long and especially if he started cantering with the side reins or any fixed reins.
In the same way, a horse can have a big body awareness when walking, and little awareness when we ask him to collect. It is especially visible whenever the movement is becoming slow: all irregularities, all weakness in the movement (pushing and lifting the body only with one hind leg, etc) and all difficulties in connecting one side with the other are coming up to the surface especially when the movement is slow. When the movement is slow we can literally see how much awareness is there in the movement.
When your horse moves, he uses his feet to start and to end this movement. Each step starts from the feet and ends from the feet. Hooves are moved by different muscles, but it’s the hoof that allows the movement and connects your horse with the ground that is giving the support for the whole body to realize the movement.
When feet are abandoned by the awareness due to stress, wrong movement patterns and shoeing the whole movement becomes unaware, awkward and “empty”.
Feeling of the movement starts with feeling the feet that touch the ground. You can feel it yourself. Stand up and take few steps. And now, take few steps again, but this time with your whole attention focused on consciously touching the ground with your feet. What is the difference? Did you notice how your body moves using the support of the ground and how by becoming aware of this support you can allow even bigger relaxation into your body?
In the same way your horse can become aware of his feet, legs, and the whole body, by learning how to fully relax the side of the body that is not working.
When your horse learns to stand in an aware way, even if one if his feet is being lifted up he can start to move in an aware way, he can LEARN about his body and how his body moves. Your horse can learn how his body transit to walk, how it transits to trot, how it canters, and how it passages. Your horse can learn how his body works and can start to ENJOY it and to EXPERIMENT.
Bigger Body Awareness means that your horse can do MORE with his body. Bigger Body Awareness means that your horse can move in a relaxed and healthy way.
Even if your horse has some health issues when you ALLOW him to develop bigger Body Awareness all these problems can go away.
When your horse moves in an aware way, he is more relaxed and more open for your propositions. It is easier to do canter pirouette when your horse understands how his body moves in a canter. When your horse is nervous or disengaged, it may come from lack of Body Awareness and lack of understanding how to use his body.
It is obvious that we like to do things that we know how to do. When someone asks you to do something that you do no know, you do understand probably your engagement would be low. The same way when you ask your horse to do something with his body and your horse is not aware of his body, how he can be engaged?
Bigger Body Awareness brings fun, health and engaged to everything you do with your horse.
It starts from very simple step, by expanding the awareness of the hooves touching the ground. To let it happen we have to first fully relax these hooves BEFORE they will touch the ground. And this always gives me the biggest joy to see how many tensions leave the body of the horse as soon as his feet fully relax:
In Self-Study Course about Awareness of the Body for horses we start from expanding the awareness of the feet. You cannot imagine how many stressed are stored in the horses’ hooves. We can help our horses to release them and to enjoy the fully aware, beautiful and slow but powerful and full of energy movement: Expanding Body Awareness For Horses, Self-Study Course