“I was so stressed I had my mouth completely dry!” – have you ever had such a situation? The stimulation or inhibition of the secretion of saliva in the body is handled by two parts of the nervous system that act together to accelerate or decelerate the body in order to maintain the perfect balance for as long as possible. They are called the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous systems. Sympathetic nervous system is responsible for “fight or flight” responses of the body, and Parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” responses of the body. One, among many other accelerating functions, increases the heart rate and inhibits secretion of saliva, the other one, among many other decelerating functions, decreases the heart rate and stimulates secretion of saliva.
The Old Masters waited for the bit in horse’s mouth to give a “clicking” sound as sign of relaxation of the jaw. The bit gave a “click” when lifted up a little bit in the horse’s mouth by the tongue. The tongue moved because the secretion of saliva was stimulated by the “rest and digest” action of the Parasympathetic nervous system, meaning that the horse was calming down. This, automatically, was relaxing the whole body and opening the mind for all the information the rider wanted to pass to the horse. The mind can be at work only when the heart rate is down.
Today many people know and experience everyday that producing the foam during dressage exercises from the ground or from the saddle doesn’t need the presence of the bit and is very different from chewing, understood as submissive Calming Signal sent by the horse. It’s the Parasympathetic nervous system at work relaxing the mind and the body, stimulating the secretion of saliva and gentle movements of the horse’s lips that in turn produces so cold “foam lipstick”.
Many people want to have a relaxed horse that goes through his body, and they know that it’s connected with the relaxation of the jaw. So they address the jaw. But it’s impossible to relax the jaw, and thus the body, if the mind is tensed. It’s totally reversed order.
Relaxation of the jaw is possible only in CALMNESS, when the Parasympathetic nervous system is at work, and the Sympathetic nervous system is at rest.
Relaxation of the jaw means relaxation of the tongue, relaxation of the tongue means relaxed stomach, relaxed stomach means ability to breathe freely, breathing freely is the CORE OF RELAXATION, and in turn is responsible for the correct movement patterns and movement that goes through the horse’s body. But to have it, you have to start from relaxation of the mind. Relaxation is youth, detoxifying & nourishing the body – which in turn results in wonderful, round strong and relaxed !! muscles that feel like water in the plastic bags and that are round, pleasantly build and fully aware. Simply because the relaxed breath fills the body with the awareness.
Relaxation of the jaw is the effect of total relaxation of the body that RESULTS from and not PRECEDES the relaxation of the mind, that is untied with the body in action in a tension free way.
Relaxed jaw is a sign of relaxed mind, but trying to relax the mind by relaxing the jaw is like putting the cart before the horses.
Relax the mind, and then everything else will follow.