Nikki Livermore

Riding Your Horse With Chi

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Part I of III by Andrea Steele

Riding Your Horse with Chi: Knowing Your "Dan-Tien Breath"

From part of the article:

As riders, we have all been told to breathe at some point in our lessons. It is easy to simply stop breathing while concentrating on an instructor or on the horse. But breathing correctly is not something most riding instructors are prepared to discuss in any substantive way and this explains why advancement for many riders takes a slower path.

For children correct diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing is natural. This is one reason why children adapt to riding so quickly. As we age, the stresses of adult life can take a toll on our bodies and our breathing.

Part II - Riding with Chi: Knowing Your Level of Relaxation

From the article:

By definition, (physical) relaxation is the lengthening that characterizes inactive muscles. Equestrians, however, like most athletes, must maintain relaxation within an active body in order to perform with the necessary precision required by their sport. A balance between relaxation and tension must be achieved. This "balancing act" is even more complex for riders because both rider and horse need a high degree of relaxation in order to move in sync with each other.

Part III - Riding with Chi: Knowing how to "Be in the Moment"

From the article:

You hear that phrase all the time, but do you really know what it means to "be in the moment" or "stay in the moment" or why it is so important for equestrians to "ride in the moment"?

Being in the moment means having an acute awareness of what "is"... what you see, what you hear, what you touchyour movement and what moves around you. To absorb this "is-ness" is to be "in the moment."

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Oh fer crying out loud.

Just get on and RIDE.

Best way to learn to ride?

Bareback. Our bodies will breathe, our muscles will strengthen and learn. Move hips in tune to the horses steps, have fun and........

Just RIDE.

Articles like that make me think people spend more time reading about HOW to ride than getting out there and actually doing it.

The only way to learn how to do something is by doing it.

Sheeeees.

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Sorry--well, not really--but I can't believe I actually just read that stuff anyway.

And yea, I can ride. And I can breathe. Even do both at once. While chasing cows. Or riding a ditchline.

shakes head and walks away. You've got to be kidding. Is that for real....

who writes and who buys that stuff??? Maybe I ought to write a book about meditating on horseback [Duh] [Crazy]

Edited by Prairie Rose

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[ROTFL] Makes me think of having chop sticks where they shouldn't be.

YA PR, write that book. I bet it would be number one on the best sellers list. :happy0203:

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LOL Mudder!

Scary thing is, I bet peeps would pay money for something like that!

Yoga on horseback.....maybe, just maybe....even teaching my HORSE to meditate and to.....do Chi!

Gotta get on that! I'll send you a copy! Fer free!

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Okay, I haven't read the article yet (mostly because of copious amounts of homework) but I will try and comment subjectively.

I completely understand all the comments made above me. When people write about something that we do all the time, It is easy just to say "I do that all the time, I don't need to be instructed in it." Also, I understand the comments of you just have to go out and ride and everything will work itself out.

But on the other hand, isn't that what we take lessons for? To make sure that we are riding to the best of our ability. As a student, I find that gathering all knowledge, not just stuff that I agree with, makes me a better student and better at the things that I study. I find it hard to just disregard something that might teach you a valuable lesson. Also, I have seen loads of people that 'just ride', never getting any formal training or lessons and end up hurting their horses and themselves, time after time. I'm not saying it's anyone here, but it does happen.

I am a third-year theatre major and am currently taking a voice for the actor class. We focus a lot on breathing in that class. Every day we practice "breathing right", through our diaphragm and not through our chest. Since breathing is something we do everyday, these exercises don't just pertain to theatre. I can see how breathing correctly and efficiency can make a huge difference while riding a horse. Of course, we will always breath, our bodies will force us to. But it's not a matter of 'remembering to breath'. It's simply a matter of breathing in the best possible way.

Remember, these are just initial reactions, I reserve the right to edit my comments when I read the article. XD

Edited by coloredchords !?

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Shoot, I wait sometimes as long as an hour for my friend to just get her horse ready to ride. I can't imagine if she practiced chi, did yoga, or heaven forbid meditate on horseback. I'd have to go back to riding by myself if that happens. I just wanna ride. :thud:

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Hello Colored, and welcome!

If you could, can you set your type size larger? My bifocals are smudged and I had a hard time reading your post.

I see what you are saying, and appreciate your point of view. I do.

But I've been riding over 40 years. I ride quite well. I breathe quite well, too. :)

Acting and horseback riding are way different.

Just sayin'.

I drove my daughter to voice lessons for years--listened to many lovely Italian aureas, and singing and breathing vs riding and Chi--not even close.

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OMG, this is priceless. In the dark ages we did this sort of stuff but way back then it was called being centered and focused. Chi on horseback. Not much different than PP. Just stick a new name on the same old thing and turn a quick buck.

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Alright, just took a quick skim through it. (ahh, what skills college can teach you. XD)

Thanks Prairie Rose! You can call me Chords, I know my name is kind of long. lol. And I changed the font size too. In the other forum I was on, that size was the norm. This will take a little getting used to.

I don't think the article is telling us to do tai-chi every time before we ride, but always keep it in the back of your mind.

Also, when reading this, I feel as though it might be aimed at less-experienced riders. Once you have been riding for 40 years, like you Prairie Rose, I definitely understand you not really needing this information. But for people like me, who is just starting to get back into riding after three years, it will probably be helpful while I try to maintain a good position.

I'm just trying to say to people that it might not be something to just throw away as b.s. I see way too many people doing that at school. :)

P.S. Of course they are going to try and make a buck. This is, after all, America. XD

...well at least where I am.

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Chord, [Huggy]

This part really got me giggling..... To absorb this "is-ness" is to be "in the moment."

I learned to ride as a little girl on a shetland pony with baling twine as reins.

That shetland, Diamond, taught me to stick, to fall off properly and improperly, to duck under the apple tree branches, to pull my knees in along a fenceline, and above all, she taught me patience.

Wtih Diamond, it was all about "Is-ness" in 3-D!

Once we kids could master Diamond, we graduated to Cinnamon. Cinnamon was a lovely palamino QH with the patience of a saint.

We rode Cinnamon bareback also. Everywhere. Miles and miles, alone and double.

We weren't even allowed to sit in a saddle until we could prove our riding skills bareback.

If we spend less time reading about Isness, and get out there and actually do it, listen to the horse (the horse will teach us more than we can imagine, if we just let them), we can relax and let ourselves truly enjoy the equine experience.

I think over-analyzing, reading about 'how-to' ride with 'chi', makes us lesser riders. I think we need to be WITH the horse and away from the book and allow ourselves to learn.

As we learn to ride--not just passenger--but RIDE our horse, our bodies become so much more well-trained as far as breathing and muscles.

I'd love to have you come out here and ride!

I'm not throwing it away as BS--well, yes, I am--but in my opinion people need to get out and actually allow themselves to relax, have run, and ride. BEST TRAINING EVER!

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I liked all 3 articles. But then maybe that's my inner hippie chick showing. I also have the tai chi for the equestrian exercise video - I got it as a Christmas gift last year.

PrarieRose, your objections to these articles remind me of the joke ... some people can learn by being told something, some people can learn by watching something but some folks just have to pee on the electric fence themselves. Obviously you're one of the latter types. [surrender] (I kid, I kid).

Actually it just reminds me that people do learn things differently. Sometimes reading articles like this will make me be a little more aware of my body & my riding, therefore making me a better rider. I believe that education is never ending & my personal opinion is that everything we take in about our horses & ourselves as riders can make us better riders if we actually use what we learn. Just because these articles don't do anything for one type of person doesn't mean someone else can't get something very beneficial from it.

PR, I also grew up on horseback much like you did only it was my 2nd pony that was a stinker not my first. I was 5 when I go the 2nd pony & he was a bucker. I've done lots of different equestrian things over the years. & I am very much of the saddle up & just do it mentality myself. But I have been around enough beginners over the years & taken enough lessons from many different people & attended my fair share of clinics (I admit it, I'm a clinic junkie) to understand that some people just need things explained to them in a different language than the one I use to "get it". Doesn't make it wrong or stupid, just makes it different.

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Chi has been around for a long long time, but, it hasn't been known in the equine world, or to some people, as chi. In the equine world it's called being balanced, relaxed, timing and feel. Prairie Rose already explained equine chi in her very first post, and the best way on how to achieve it. It isn't anything new. You use the same principles in everything you do from weight training, cardio workouts, walking, running, etc etc. Just try holding your breath as you stretch your body to reach something on that top shelf, that's just out of your grasp, and see what happens. If that doesn't get someone to understand the importance of breathing, nothing will.

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Exactly Mudder, exactly! You get it!

Willrodeo, I am the one that holds the electric wire to make sure it is working. Heck, best way to find out, right?

Maybe smoke a joint before riding. That will relax, hippify, and help one breeeeeeaaathe! Plus, won't hurt as much when one gets dumped.

No hard feelings willrodeo! Just kidding with you on that last part, too.

I've been to plenty of clinics. Shook Clint's hand last year. Lots of friends in the 'connected' world, including rodeo.

Pretty much every one of them is out there 'doing it'. That's how they learned! They didn't read Chi for horses, or if they did, they ain't sayin'! :winking:

Horses are something to be learned hands on.

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Uhm--we sell CHI hair products where I work. Even a CHI hair straightener.

They are VERY expensive.

Hmmmmm....

All right, I'll lay off for a while.

Back to painting my bedroom!

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Prairie Rose, I wish I had your childhood.

I am now firm in my opinion that this is something for less experienced riders, if for any at all.

I have never had a horse and getting to ride was only a weekly thing for about a year due to financial reasons. So my approach to horseback riding was that I had to read and watch others all I could so that when I did get to ride, I wanted to take advantage of every minute by knowing as much as I could.

Also, I'm always looking for places to ride! So if you're anywhere near West Michigan. XD

And, definitely will take your advice about smoking a joint before riding. :)

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LOL Chord!

I wish you could come on out here and ride with me. I have 3 that need riding.

I'm in North Dakota, by the way.

I'm not saying don't read, watch, and learn. With horses, there is always learning to be done! Never, ever stops!

What I am saying is some of that stuff out there? It's garbage, money making garbage, pure and simple. And it can get people hurt. What looks good in the written word doesn't translate well into hands-on a lot of the time.

This Chi stuff? Phooey. I was shocked to even see it on the boards!

And this coming from a mom who toted a kid to voice lessons for years (50 mile round trip), and 3 kids to TaeKwonDO for years (50 mile round trip).

So it isn't like I don't have some clue what it is.

Hugs to ya, and wishing you many, many years or horses in your future!

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You make some great points, Prairie Rose.

I guess it's just a matter of looking through all those cheap tricks that people do for money to find out what is worth listening too. And me only being 21, I am definitely not an expert at that. XD

Oh and Rose, just let me say that even if your kids don't tell you they appreciated all those rides to various lessons, they do A LOT! As one of those kids that my mom served as taxi driver to and from voice lessons, riding lessons (occaionally), play practice, dance class, girl scouts...there is more but I can't think of anymore ( I was a very unfocused child ), we may not realize it but we really do love you for it. XD

Ohhh North Dakota!! Sounds pretty!!

And trust me, there will be lots of horses in the future. They are going to be my children. For me, being a child was enough. :)

Edited by coloredchords !?

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Chords,

You are a sweetheart, and I'm very pleased to have 'met' you!

Sure hope my kids appreciated all of that running! :) I think they did. They are pretty good kids!

My oldest is a daughter--she just turned 20. Next is a 16 year old son, and then a 14 year old son.

I adore them!

You are going to do just fine, young lady. I feel it!

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Hmmm ... breathe ... breathe ... puffpuffpass ...

Oh wait ... wrong thread! LOL!

This is me at 8 years old on a Mustang mare, born and bred on the range, full up bridle horse:

26088_1379214126670_1421424231_31064235_5345796_n.jpg

Wish I still had that balance but at 50, not even Tai Chi is going to help me none ...

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[ROTFL] Andi... That made me giggle..

[Not Worthy] Prairie Rose and Mudder said what I was thinking. I was also a hop on bareback and hope for the best learner. Still prefer it.

Heck, if you don't breathe, you'll end up passing out. We all know passing out on horseback can't be a good thing.... [ROTFL]

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Andi....puffpuffpass! [ROTFL] Ya, that's what I need!

I wish I could get the balance back I had as a kid, too. It's there....buried, somewhere.

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i'm loath to scoff at this kind of content--everybody learns differently, and what works for my learning curve might not be so effective for yours. i windsurf, and i remember years and years ago when i was learning and having such difficulties figuring out what the instructor meant by "don't try to muscle it, use your weight". when she found out i also water-skiied she was able immediately to apply some of the same principles and off i went. as in right away.

furthermore i could see how this kind of article could be beneficial to people with fear issues.

i think you CAN work on your balance no matter how old you are. my bareback riding has improved dramatically after having spent the summer kayaking four to five times a week with my squirrely dog on board. my reaction time, focus, are just noticeably better.

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Andi....puffpuffpass! [ROTFL] Ya, that's what I need!

I wish I could get the balance back I had as a kid, too. It's there....buried, somewhere.

That's not riding with Chi. That is riding with Che.

As in Cheech and Chong. LOL

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You guys can puff puff pass all you want, I'm a "special" brownies kinda gal myself. Satisfies my chocolate craving at the same time. And really, if you feed your nervous horse some "special" treats before a ride there are no worries for anyone involved.

fyi, even at my advanced age I still ride bareback, I just can't stick w/ the quick footed ones when they try to turn out from under me like I usedta could & I can't jump my fat butt up onto my horse like I usedta could. I am however pretty proud of the fact that I can still lope a barrel pattern bareback, no puffing involved.

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I thought the articles were very good--I'm guilty of concentrating so hard in lessons that I forget to breathe. Really "sit up" and "breathe" should just be put on a looping tape for me.

I think the articles are great for older riders, nervous riders, or riders who just starting. Oftentimes, these riders are tense (which translates into an unhappy horse) and therefore ineffective. Simple breathing exercises or stretches can really help. Having someone scream "relax" or trying to force yourself to loosen up doesn't work, but when you concentrate on your basic breathing pattern, you can't help but feel calmer. Not just on horseback either.

There a million ways to teach something, and I'm always open to new ideas that might help get the idea across.

But I'm one of the hippies who has done yoga and Pilates (in riding clinics) to combated my own physical limitations :-)

ETA: you have to remember a lot of people take lessons but don't actually own a horse. They often can't get in the amount of ride time needed to become "natural" at it.

And even more people didn't grow up riding horses, making the learning curve that much more difficult.

Edited by Milo

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I love everyone on this board!!!

I also love special brownies but they are pretty hard to make. Good as a 'special' treat though. XD

Prairie Rose, I'm glad I 'met' you too!!!! *hugs*

Awesome Pic!!!

Sorry, I'm not looking up everyone's names because my mind is currently pre-occupied with getting over a crazy cold. Blech.

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And really, if you feed your nervous horse some "special" treats before a ride there are no worries for anyone involved.

With *my* luck, my horse would just get even *more* paranoid.

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