Alexandra Kurland will be guiding us through a series of body awareness exercises. These exercises help us not only to become more aware of our different body parts and their relation to each other but also how to influence and improve our posture and balance. This is not only relevant for our own health and wellness but also important for the interaction with our animals. Horse trainers are generally aware of the importance of posture for riding but they often unaware of the relevance of their own balance when they are interacting on the ground. Knowing of the importance of balance is a first step towards finding good balance which is a never-ending process but one that improves more and more with practice.
The exercises that Alexandra teaches can be done anywhere and basically anytime, so you can take them with you and practice as you wait for you tea water to boil or standing in a cue at the post office.
As we explore these exercises during the summer camp, we will get feedback from our peers on how certain movements felt to the other person. This is key information for us as we apply these movement through a lead rope or leash or the reins or simply by our hands. We can further refine the movements using that feedback and then ask the horses what they think of it. What a great learning opportunity in a safe environment for everyone!
Nathalie Van Cauwenberghe, a Feldenkrais practitioner, will guide us through a Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson. If you are not sure what that is, google it, you will find thousands of resources.
The method is not only very pleasant but has undergone scientific scrutiny and proven to be effective in alleviating a variety of medical conditions. Look at this one, for example, Stephens et al., 2001 found that ATM improved balance and balance confidence in people with multiple sclerosis in a randomised control study.
Exploring your own body and movement over the course of four days following Nathalie's guidance, you may experience significant changes. Movements will become more fluid, easy and graceful. This also has a significant effect on the interaction with our animals and most probably, they will want you to continue doing this.