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#35 Understanding Intrinsic Motivation for Movement with Kathy Sierra

Kathy Sierra is the creator/curator of Intrinzen and the Pain Science Workshop, and she’s well known on Instagram as PantherFlows. Kathy has ten years working in human sports medicine as a training director in Los Angeles. She then went back to school for computer science, working after as a game developer and software architect. Kathy eventually worked in Hollywood and taught “interaction design for intrinsic motivation” at UCLA Entertainment Studies and Universal Studio, and went on to create an educational book series in technology that sold over 2 million copies.

Horses have been a lifelong passion, but not her profession. However, when her beloved horse Draumur was nearly euthanized, Kathy felt it was her fault, so she took everything in her background on motivation, learning psychology, neuroscience, and movement science, and synthesized a path forward to help him when conventional methods failed.

In this episode, we discuss movement motivation, the nervous system, pain science, and so much more.

Podcast Transcript

This transcript was created by an AI and has not been proofread.

[SPEAKER 1]On this week’s episode, we’re talking with Kathy Sierra of Intrinzen.

[SPEAKER 2]Like if I could pick just one thing that I think has the strongest impact on turning a horse’s motivation on, getting them interested and focused, it’s the unexpected changes.

[SPEAKER 1]Welcome to the Equestrian Connection podcast from wehorse. My name is Danielle Crowell, and I’m your host. Kathy Sierra is the creator slash curator of Intrinzen and the Pain Science Workshop and she’s well known on Instagram as Panther Flows. Kathy has 10 years working in human sports medicine as a training director in Los Angeles. She then went back to school for computer science working as a game developer and software architect. Kathy eventually worked in Hollywood and taught Interaction Design for Intrinsic Motivation at UCLA Entertainment Studios and Universal Studio and went on to create an educational book series in technology that sold over 2 million copies. Horses have been a lifelong passion, but not her profession.However, when her beloved horse, Draymar, was nearly euthanized, Kathy felt it was her fault.So she took everything in her background on motivation, learning, psychology, neuroscience, and movement science, and synthesized a path forward to help him when conventional methods failed. This is an interview full of insight where we discuss movement, motivation, the nervous system, pain science, and so much more.So let’s get started.Kathy, welcome to the WeHorse podcast.Um, we were just saying at the beginning, I am so excited to speak to you.I’m a member of, um, of your community and of your workshop.And I just, I find your work so fascinating.So I’m really excited to speak to you today and introduce you to the WeHorse community. Yay.Thank you so much.So the first thing that I’d love for you to tell us a bit about is what is Panther Flow?How did you come up with that name?Um, all of the things that you can describe as to what you do, what you teach about and what inspires you.

[SPEAKER 2]That’s kind of a big question.So, Originally, and we’ll talk about this a little bit later, I created something called Intrinsin, which is a way of, it’s more or less a philosophy backed up by science principles of working with horses.But then I, for a bunch of reasons, I wanted to broaden that, like you’re a member of the pain science program, right?And Intrinsin is, pretty extreme.I never expected that very many people would want to do that with their horses.It’s more of an experiment and people who just sort of have the luxury of working with horses in a particular way, but it’s not necessary to quote do intrinsic to be able to help any horse with movement, with pain, with their overall well-being.And so that’s why I wanted to use a different name rather than intrinsic.So intrinsic is just one particular way of working with horses that applies these science principles, but there can be a zillion other ways.So Panther Flow is a little bit more broad in that sense.And the reason why I use Panther is because long ago I decided that I wanted my horses to be able to move and sort of feel more like a predator than prey.And we can talk about that later.And so I was teaching them sort of how to move in this kind of slinky, smooth, reaching way, where for me, movement is not just about what movement are you doing, you know, what range of motion are you expressing in these joints, what’s being activated.It’s really about the way they feel about themselves.And so Panther represented that to me, that idea of that kind of walking with that smooth confidence that a predator has instead of, you know, I didn’t like all the rhetoric about horses being prey animals. even though technically they are, but if you’ve ever seen a horse that’s gone after another animal, whether it’s a mare protecting a foal or a horse going after a snake or whatever it might be, right?You realize, no, that’s a very simplified story that doesn’t reflect who and what they are. And then flow is because intrinsic motivation is really important to me, rather than just the sort of binary, well, you’re either using negative reinforcement where the horse is doing something to earn relief, or you’re using positive reinforcement where the horse is doing something because he will earn a reward, a treat, for example.I care very much about the intrinsic motivation, which is what are the kinds of rewards that that really evolution right that nature has provided to for example all mammals that has to do with movement and exploration and curiosity and self-confidence and those things really matter to me a great deal and uh so just putting those two together That’s kind of how I came up with it.

[SPEAKER 1]I love that you say about bringing out the predator in our horses.And I think for many of us, when we do start to bring more of a play drive into our horse’s life, sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming to the human, where it’s like, oh my gosh, now my horse is getting really big and showing themselves.And sometimes we don’t really know what to do. I do find that we kind of keep our horses in a little bit of a bubble, so to speak, because us as humans don’t know how to handle the play drive.So before we go into the rest of the questions, have you experienced that and have your students experienced that?

[SPEAKER 2]Yes, and first I’ll say that my students experienced that a lot more before I did.Way back when I started this mainly because I had horses who weren’t moving at all, where their movement problem was no movement.One to the point of such pathology that, you know, he was on the edge of being euthanized.So the big movements was the thing I was desperately trying to inspire in them, right?I hadn’t had a situation personally where that was not the issue and the issue was more about, you know, coordination or kinds of movements, more about their self-confidence and all of that stability, right?Things like that.Those were not my issues. early on, and other people would try to start doing what I was doing, and they would very quickly, you know, suddenly their horse is doing canter departs in the barn aisle, and the horse is, you know, 16 hands.Mine are Icelandic horses, right?So, I did realize I needed to change the way I talked about things, but then I ended up with a rescue stallion who, he will never, ever, ever stop wanting to move. and he’s also hypermobile.He’s neurological, but he just, he could go all, he would go until he dropped, right?He, he never, there’s never a motivation issue.He wants to move all the time and it’s big.And normally that wouldn’t bother me either, but because he is also neurological, he has a very difficult time knowing where his feet are.So I always assume that very quickly, a lot of the work that I do starts getting the horses to very quickly realize where all their body parts are. so that I then feel safer being closer and closer and closer to them.But with this horse, it was always a little bit tricky.So that gave me a new appreciation.And then now I have a young horse who’s just fabulous.He also doesn’t have a motivation problem, big movements.He’s very young.So he’s not very mature in his movements. but he’s quite capable.So now that I have these two horses, and my husband’s mare also is a horse that will go all day, I started realizing that the way I was first talking about this, and I’m talking about like 10 years ago, was very much emphasizing go go go, get the horses to be badass, everything was reinforced big and awesome and badass, and that was not the that was not very helpful for people who didn’t have horses where motivation to move was the problem.So I’ve since changed the way I talk about that a lot.Now I am still very much interested in their self-efficacy and feeling like, well what I call the apex prey, like they’re not going to be predators. But I want them to feel like apex prey, like a worthy prey animal to whatever predator there was, right?So they’re going to be badass as a horse, the most badass a horse can be, which does not mean aggressive.Now, a lot of people I know are afraid of their horses being aggressive.Of course, I approach it very differently, that this is how you help a horse not feel the need to be aggressive, that aggression Well, first of all, there is science that shows that, for example, you know, with some of the horses, we do that activity where they actually chase after a bag.So actually, it looks like we’re teaching them to actually be predators.And some people will say, well, doesn’t that bring up aggression? Well, like Jak Panksepp has done a lot of studies on play profiles versus a real fight.So a play fight versus a real fight, what’s the neuroendocrine profile of that animal?And finds that it’s, of course, very, very, very different.But, you know, with horses, some people can look at horses play fighting and think that looks exactly like a fight. Like they won’t necessarily even know the difference if they don’t really know horses or know those horses.So it can look the same, but it’s not the same in a whole bunch of ways.And also studies about how the more quote-unquote dominant horse will handicap himself so that the others will play with him. There’s all sorts of behaviors, things we’ve measured internally and externally.So I don’t worry about that.I think of aggression as being something that usually comes from either resource guarding or the horse has a very, does not have confidence in their ability to move. So a horse or human for that matter, that feels like they have to be on guard all the time is often one that does not have confidence in their own body.They don’t have confidence in their ability to be agile.You know, I want a horse that feels like he can so quickly get into a position and move in any direction to escape if he had to.So therefore he doesn’t need to stay tense, right?He physically doesn’t need to keep his muscles on tension. to prepare for quick movement because he knows that he just can move.And he knows that he can move in any direction.He doesn’t need to stay ready.He can wait to the last possible moment before he has to take action.So that comes with physical training.So to me, physical training is the path to this sort of emotional regulation and the need to not feel aggressive.So that’s a big part of how I look at the idea of wanting a horse to feel more like a predator as a path to being more calm.

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[SPEAKER 2]It’s not magic.

[SPEAKER 1]It’s not a miracle cure. But anyone can do this.That’s part of the beauty of working with the horse’s nervous system.We don’t have to be as good because the horse learns to own all of his movements.They were born to express and explore movement and to love doing it.It’s still in there.Every horse deserves to feel robust, resilient, capable, Every horse deserves to be in love with movement.So that’s as much of the video that I’ll show.And like I said, I highly recommend that anybody that is listening to this podcast goes on and watches the full video.Any of the breaks when there was music playing, there’s like, just lovely video and heart like pulls at your heartstring video to to go along with it.So, Kathy, I would love to know you.You know, a lot of things.And I would love to know what is your background?I know you you have a lot of human biomechanic background.And so can you tell us about your background that brought you here today?Yeah.

[SPEAKER 2]I have to qualify this with, of course, I’m 66 years old.So this this is a long time ago.So, yes, I started out in university kinesiology. as my degree, although actually at the time, that’s what they’ve renamed it at the schools that teach this.Then it was called a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.And so as people who were going to go into some variation of exercise science, or maybe they were going to go into physiotherapy school, but it was still a very exploratory time for movement science.


[SPEAKER 2]But in kinesiology, it’s basically biomechanics, exercise physiology, and sports psychology.But sports psychology is where learning physical skills comes in. Uh, that was what it was.And just because of a wide range of being in the right place at the right time in history and the right location, uh, and meeting the right people, I ended up working in these very, um, well, at the time they were the largest physical training centers.Uh, as far as we knew in the world, they were all in Los Angeles.And, uh, so for example, we would have a hundred trainers. working for us.And we, at one of them, we had a complete sports medicine center in the facility.There were massive facilities and everything.We had the best possible equipment that you could have.So you might’ve heard me tell this story before.I mean, we had access to the best biomechanically driven equipment that you could have for physical training. which meant strength training and also aerobic training, but mostly this is about strength training.So all of the equipment was so carefully tuned.And then because the facility was so, uh, you know, sort of big and influential, we could influence the manufacturers of the equipment to actually tune the equipment for us and, you know, do more with it.And then plus the, um, the sports medicine center had even more equipment. So everything was tuned to absolute the best biomechanical exercise prescriptions that anyone could ever have.And what was really disturbing to me about this is because we had at any given time, a massive number of people, both employees, and so physical trainers of all kinds, and of course, the members who were doing the training, were all injured, broken, completely messed up.And yet, if you picture like Los Angeles in the 1980s, right?And you have that idea of everyone looked, you know, fabulous, like they were going to be, you know, on an aerobics television show or whatever they were doing.That’s how everyone looked, right? And we had the celebrities and the, you know, the actors and actresses, everyone looked fabulous.And they were so broken.And they were doing the best biomechanical exercise that you could do.And we were very, very, very strict.And so at some point, it was like this, it’s never going to get any better than this.Like no one could possibly be doing better biomechanics, given what we think we know today, than what’s happening here.And yet it’s a disaster.And everyone looks great and was just so messed up.And for a while, we thought, well, it’s because everyone’s just maybe overtraining, which that was absolutely a part of it. But it just, I didn’t ever stop to think something’s wrong with biomechanics or something’s wrong with, I should say, something’s wrong with our interpretation of biomechanics.I never thought that.I just thought this is as good as it gets and it’s awful and I just don’t wanna be part of it anymore.And so I was so, it was very emotional for me to see people so injured and hurt and broken.And so I dropped everything and went back to school for computer science. I’ll go into a field where I’m not going to hurt anybody, really, at least naively.That’s what we thought at the time.And that’s where I stayed forever.And then, but horses were my hobby.So I loved my horses and horses were my hobby. And I did not put those two things together for a very, very, very long time.But so that’s how I at some point, though, I became so sad and disappointed and depressed by what was happening to my horses.And I started to get that horrible feeling like this feels a lot like what it was like for me with the humans that were doing all the biomechanics stuff and it doesn’t seem to be working.You know, I have world-class dressage trainers and Icelandic trainers and biomechanics trainers, right?I was never like super skillful or an expert or anything like that. But I had these great trainers and the horses were still messed up.And I would see so many other horses and everyone I knew.And we would just joke about it like, well, that’s just how it is.And then you send them to the trainer for a tune-up or you do this or you do that.Everyone seemed to be basically really unhappy. And people were upgrading to newer and younger and better horses.And they were like selling horses or retiring horses that were like 15 years old.You know, it just was awful.And then one day I went to Iceland for a un-horse related business trip, but it was my first time in Iceland.And I just saw all the horses just moving on the side of the road, you know, out in their big pastures. And I kept thinking, wow, like driving from the airport in the taxi.And I said to my husband, like, wow, look at those horses.This must be a farm where like top, you know, like world championship competition horses are.And the taxi driver started laughing and he’s like, no, you know, he knows all these horses.And he goes, no, those are just farmers horses.And I went, but the range of motion was like double what my horses would do.


[SPEAKER 2]And I thought, what is happening here?And I just started noticing how all the horses were just moving.And now it seems so stupid because it was like, well, yeah, my horses, we import them from Iceland and then we start keeping them in stables.

[SPEAKER 1]Right.

[SPEAKER 2]They don’t get to live like that anymore.And the ground they’re on in Iceland is so difficult and rough and steep and varying, and they’re trained almost entirely outside of arenas. And I went, wow, I wonder if that has something to do with it.But it wasn’t until one of my own horses, my beloved horse, Draymer, who was, I think at the time he was only seven years old, and he was in danger of Well, he was going to be euthanized one way or the other because he was diagnosed with neurological conditions, which later they found out he didn’t actually have.They had no other way to explain a horse that is starting to refuse to move.If you’ve knocked him over, which you could do, he would just fall down and knock it up.A horse can’t live very long in that state.I mean, technically, he could still eat and drink, But he had lost all interest in doing it.And so we knew that something horrible is happening, and we don’t know what it is, but I was out of options.I’d had all these professional trainers.They were out of options.A bunch of other stuff happened in the middle, and he did get better for a while, and then it came back again. I knew that, well, if I can’t figure this out, there’s no hope for him.So I really did have, I mean, this is rare, right?When you have like the one eureka moment, but I did have one eureka moment that just happened to be, I was reading Xenophon on horsemanship book, which I read, I don’t know, once a year.I was just reading it again last night and another book on motivation, intrinsic motivation. And I just, those two pieces came together where I realized that maybe the only thing that had not yet been tried was intrinsic motivation.And Xenophon had a lot of, even though he’s the OG of classical training, but he had a lot of hints in his writing about what that could be.And so when I looked at that, I said, okay, that’s the only thing that I have not tried.

[SPEAKER 1]And can you define what intrinsic motivation is for us?

[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, so intrinsic motivation just means that, well it means different things in terms of whether you’re talking about just chemistry or purely from a psychological perspective, it means the activity itself is quote-unquote rewarding in some way.So not because of anything that you get externally.So not because you get something from it from the outside.So it means, one way we can think of it is that that is what evolution has created, these sort of internal rewards.I mean, now they know a lot about what some of the hormones and neurotransmitters that are actually involved in that. But knowing those doesn’t really make any difference.It just matters that it is happening.Although now we know a lot more about what are the ingredients for how it happens, when it happens, how to make it more likely that it will happen, all of that.But it just means that the thing itself feels good.But what we also know now is that that also helps turn down pain. And it gives you not just turns down pain, but it also makes the thing that you’re doing usually easier to do if it’s difficult. including things that we think of most often in sports, right?So I think probably everyone listening and we’ve all had the experience, we’re out with the horses and it’s really intense, good day, physical day, right?And then we come back in and later that night we find that we have some huge bruise and we don’t remember when we got it, how we got it.Obviously that was actual tissue damage and yet, we were unaware of it, right?So the pain of that, our whole nervous system was saying, you’re obviously having a good time here, you’re involved in something, right?I don’t need to give you a pain response here, right?As opposed to if somebody just walked up to you and hit you and caused that same bruise or even a much lighter bruise, it would hurt like hell and you would have all the danger signals, right? So it’s that same phenomena, a lot of the same chemicals and hormones that are creating that experience.So I thought, well, if you have a horse that’s not moving, you need all the help that you can get, right?He needs every aspect of nature and his nervous system and his endocrine system and his brain and every part of him needs to be contributing to helping movement at the very least, feel more worth it, even if it is hard and painful. And at best, right, it won’t even be painful.Well, actually at best, it will actually feel not just not painful, but it will feel good.So that was my entire goal is all right.And basically everything I’ve done since then, that has been the goal.Now it’s of course expanded way beyond just trying to get a horse to survive and not be in horrible pain, but right on through to performance because it’s really all on a continuum. So at one far end of the continuum, you have the horse where every movement, his body is sending him signals that say, this is terrible, this is risky, don’t do it.Whether that’s expressed as fear, anxiety, stiffness, bracing, anger, a lot of pain, shut down, it doesn’t really matter.It’s all a protection.To the far end, where their brain is saying, oh, and their body is saying, you have totally got this, right?Just go for it.And where it’s just awesome, right? So moving them up that continuum, that was my goal.And at first it was just to get them out of the awful, horrible pain region.But then I realized, well, why stop there?I mean, there’s no reason to, that’s an arbitrary line.They’ll just keep going.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, yeah, absolutely.And so you talk a lot about this in your program.And so anybody that’s listening along, this is broken down very beautifully in Kathy’s program.Can you, for us, though, describe what pain science is?And so you have pain science plus performance.And I know that that goes even more.So what’s pain science?What’s pain science and performance?Can you kind of break that down for us?

[SPEAKER 2]Well, so first of all, there is something specifically called pain science, and there’s pain neuroscience, and then something called pain neuroscience education.And I’ll kind of mention that.But there are many other aspects of science, different domains that all contribute to this, including motivation science. But also, since I did spend so much time in computer science and artificial intelligence, one of the more interesting things that I think is contributing a lot right now is robotics, which I know is not something people normally think about. But I’ll come back to that a little bit later.I don’t talk about that a lot in the course, but it’s what has informed a lot of what I do.And that just keeps growing because robotics, they have a great deal of funding right now and incentive. to teach movement in a sense, right?To robots, which has been, it’s been so poorly done, right?Their success is so low and that’s caused people to rethink, what is movement? What does movement even mean?How does movement emerge?So they’ve put so much research into looking at how animals move.And it’s not where most people studying animal movement are looking, because why would we be looking at robotics?But it’s the roboticists that are looking at how animals move.So there’s really awesome stuff going on there.And anyway, that’s also helped to contribute a lot to this.But pain science itself is just looking at, again, Because all this is way more complex than anyone is capable of understanding, right?It’s funny because we’ve learned a lot about the brain and about the nervous system. But in the grand scheme, right, I don’t remember how this quote goes.It’s like, what we know is a drop.What we don’t know is an ocean.So we still only know a teeny bit.But what we know is still super useful.And it means that we’re studying the connection between, for example, pain and injury.And to me, I can sort of sum up the biggest hopeful and important and dramatic message of pain science comes from understanding that pain does not equal damage and damage does not equal pain.And for, you know, certainly all of my life, right, everything was, there’s a straight line relationship, right?Not just a correlation, but a causation.


[SPEAKER 2]So when I was in school, we didn’t have MRIs, and we didn’t have the ability to do, even x-rays was a big deal and expensive, and we weren’t studying that in the lab.So when, and when people went to a doctor for an injury, and still today, right, mostly they’re not gonna x-ray your good knee, or your good shoulder, or your good hip, or your good ankle, right?You’re gonna get, from the orthopedic doctor, they’re going to look at your injury.Well, I shouldn’t say injury because it doesn’t necessarily have to be an injury, right?That drove you there.You just have pain.They’re going to look at your quote unquote bad knee, your bad shoulder, your neck where it’s painful, right?And the other thing we weren’t doing is we weren’t doing wide scale studies on people who were asymptomatic, right?

[SPEAKER 1]Pain free.

[SPEAKER 2]So what we didn’t know, for example, with all the back pain stuff, which has really been a massive change lately, we didn’t know that tons and tons, most people are walking around with terribly looking spines, but no pain.So when you take someone who’s in pain and you x-ray their spine and you go, oh, well, no wonder, right?And doctors would say things like, I don’t even know how you’re walking, right?And obviously this is terrible and bone on bone and all the things, right? And which it’s interesting now, there are some studies that show that the best predictor of whether you’re going to have pain is if you’ve actually seen your own scans.

[SPEAKER 1]Right. And that the language- That’s interesting, because you’re like, oh, look at that.I bet I either do have pain, and therefore you start to embody it, or I bet I’m going to, and then you start to embody it.Interesting.Exactly.

[SPEAKER 2]And even pain researchers will laugh about it, because they’ll say, I know how all this stuff works.And yet, one woman was part of a study.She’s a pain scientist.She was part of a study.They showed her her ankle scans. And she’d had a little bit of pain and running, right?And suddenly she looked at it and she said, oh, this is way worse than I thought.

[SPEAKER 1]Right.

[SPEAKER 2]And immediately she started having more pain, more pain, more pain.Two weeks later, they called her back and said, actually, we showed you the wrong scan.

[SPEAKER 1]Oh, my gosh.

[SPEAKER 2]She’s like, she goes, I know how this works.And it still affected me, right?

[SPEAKER 1]Oh, my gosh, that’s funny.

[SPEAKER 2]But it’s cultural, right?If you didn’t know what you were looking at, or if we didn’t have a history of people saying, I have a bad, you know, joint, or it’s bone on bone, or all these things, right?And now and so, which is really helpful for me, because I, I was a did some pretty extreme sports for a very long time.So I’ve had all kinds of orthopedic injuries and all kinds of operations.


[SPEAKER 2]I have bone on bone knees.I have every right my back is a disaster.And I don’t really have any pain at all now.So I but I didn’t know about this.And I think most people didn’t.So that caused a big shift.When pain science said, Hey, we need to rethink everything.Because when people are afraid, because it hurts, they start protecting even more, and they get stiffer, and they brace, and they start being afraid that they’re going to cause more damage, especially if it’s an old injury.But even if it’s not, they’re so afraid that then they move less.And now we know, of course, moving less is the worst possible response.So if you want to become more fragile and in more pain, just move less. And so we said, that’s the wrong message.And it’s wrong on every level.And so somehow, so pain science was about, and why now we have pain science education, which means we need to get the word out to people. that basically they have permission to move.And not only permission to move, because hey, it turns out you’re actually not going to damage yourself again by doing this.It’s actually what you need to do.And that’s, I think, the big role of pain science has been to say, In fact, now we know pain and damage, they’re often not even correlated, let alone not a causation.So you can have pain without damage, you can have damage without pain.And obviously in the horse world, you know, this message still hasn’t gotten out very far, which is really sad because probably every day if I wanted to go look in some, you know, horse discussion group, somebody would be saying, oh, we checked, my horse is not in pain.It must be behavior, attitude, They might even say fear, you know, but we checked it’s not pain or everyone will say first rule out pain.It’s like that’s not possible.And if you could do that, you would get a Nobel prize because actually no one is capable of doing that.We don’t have those markers.And so the other aspect I think that’s been so important with pain science is to show that It doesn’t, well, there’s things with horses where we now know they have all the same architecture for pain.In fact, all mammals do.So I think a lot of people used to think, right, and well, because I’m old, right, when I was young, we didn’t think they felt pain, which was ridiculous.Because why would we need to use then harsher equipment if they didn’t feel pain?Right, we were using equipment designed to cause more pain. But we just didn’t think they experienced pain in the same way.And we don’t have to know how they experience it, but they have, again, all the same neural architecture.You know, painkillers are tested often on fruit flies.So a fly has enough of the same neural architecture to make it worth studying painkillers on flies before moving up to mammals and then eventually humans.So of course they experience pain, even if they might express it differently.But now pain scientists told us that pain is just one of the things, one of the tools that the nervous system uses.So we shouldn’t think of pain as just there’s pain and then everything else.It’s basically pain is just one of the tools.So resistance, bracing, fear, laziness, bolting, right, any of these things.It’s all part of this protective mechanism.So if we think of it as the body’s way of saying, something is not a good idea right now.And I’m going to cause you to stop doing it or, you know, do it differently.

[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.And I feel like the nervous system is Maybe it’s just in my, you know how on Instagram and things like that, like you’re like, oh, everybody’s talking about it, but it’s only because those are the people that you follow.So on my, on what I see in the equestrian industry is that everybody is speaking about the nervous system and it’s very much in my world.So to me, I feel like it’s a hot topic.Maybe it’s not, but You have spoken a bit about the nervous system, and how important is it to have a regulated nervous system, for the horses to have a regulated nervous system, in order to have movement?

[SPEAKER 2]You know, this is just going to be expressing my personal opinion right now, is that I don’t actually think about it that way at all.I kind of think about it in the other direction, like it’s movement, that will help get what we might think of as nervous system regulation rather than the other way around.I don’t think we can separate movement from how the system is regulated.In fact, nowadays, I used to just shortcut and say everything was the brain, right?But of course, that was a bad idea because There is the whole nervous system, you know, the long tail of the brain, the brain goes all the way through the spinal cord.So now I think of it as, in fact, a lot of the science that I look at just uses the term movement system.So they don’t even say nervous system.They don’t say brain.It’s just the entire. system, right?Because where do you leave off, right?Well, all of these systems are brought to bear at every moment, every aspect of physiology.So sometimes I’ll see people talk about the nervous system as if physiology didn’t play any other role, that it was just the nervous system, right?But you kind of have to look at the whole body as a whole system.And then if you step out another level, you look at, well, it’s actually not the whole body.It’s the whole body in an environmental context. So it’s everything.It’s chronobiology.It’s like, what time of day is it?What’s the sun like?What’s the temperature?What bugs are there?What ground are you walking on?That you actually can’t separate out anything into isolated parts.But of course, that gets us back to the fundamental problem with the way we interpreted biomechanics.We just chopped up the body into pieces and said, these pieces matter. and these are the relevant pieces and this is how they work and it didn’t seem to matter much what they were a part of or whether they were even dead or alive, right?A lot of the early, well not early, a lot of the biomechanics studies people still use came from cadavers. and computer models, two things that are not alive.And don’t take into account any of the things that we now know are how movement emerges.So that was a bad idea, but that’s all we had.We didn’t know how to really study things any other way.And we didn’t know how limited we were by only the things we actually could study. So we would draw conclusions based on the fact that we could test that thing, not realizing there are about a million things that we’re not testing that matter, and they all matter.So we had kind of that issue, but we were just chopping the body up into parts.And of course, I was there in the days when we would do dissections, right? the classic thing, we would throw the fascia away, because who needs that, right?So now fascia has become a more important thing.Although to me, I look at that and I go, but fascia is still carving up the body.It’s just carving it up at a bigger level.

[SPEAKER 1]But it’s still

<p>[SPEAKER 2]It’s still looking at pieces and parts, just bigger pieces and parts.And we need to look at everything all the time.Now, again, there can be a very specific injury, right?So if you fracture a bone, well, that’s a very clear acute injury.And that is a part that now has a really serious problem that has to be either repaired or given a chance to repair. most of what we’re talking about is not those actual acute, clear, you know, it happened less than three to six months ago, actual visible injury.And of course, what we now know is that even when there is a visible injury, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the actual thing that’s causing the problem.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Absolutely, absolutely.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So looking at things as a system, I think is crucial.And that’s been changing in the human movement world. a ton but not so much in the equestrian world.It’s been a very difficult thing.So I spend a lot of time working in the people that I interact with a lot and that are I think my mentors, they’re human athletic coaches and sports scientists and physiotherapists and they’re often in a very different space than I think where the equine world is.A lot of times the equine world is like this is where we were 20 years ago in the human world.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I was just gonna say I have opinions on why I think that The equestrian world isn’t catching up quite as quickly and we can discuss that a little bit later.I would love to know though, when you say on your website and you speak about modern movement, what does that mean?What is modern movement?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So it’s hard to actually define what that word means, but I will tell you how I’m using it.And some people will use the word contemporary movement science or modern movement science.And it really just means science that’s been informed by other domains and other much newer evidence. And one of the big domains that’s informed, I think, we consider modern movement science or contemporary movement science is complexity theory or dynamical systems.And that was something that was really never looked at before, even though, again, even when I was in school, you could probably ask any biologist and they would say, well, yeah, of course, a mammal body. well, any life, but a mammal body is a complex dynamical system.It doesn’t follow the rules of a machine, which means it doesn’t follow linear rules, right?So when you talk about things like the butterfly effect, things that apply to a complex dynamical system, are often the opposite of things that apply to a linear, not complex system.And yet, the way we were looking at movement, biomechanics, everything else, right, was from the perspective of this is just a complicated machine. And the rules, right down to the rules of physics, right?It’s always, people would talk about biomechanics like it’s just physics.And it’s like, yeah, but we are incapable of understanding movement because there are more movement possibilities in a mammal. just within the range of motion that a normal, healthy creature would have, right?So we’re not talking about hypermobility or doing things that would extend beyond what they could ever do healthfully, right?Just all the movement possibilities they have exceeds all of the atoms in the universe.It’s not possible to model in computers. It’s not possible to even wrap our brains around.So in science terms, we would call that combinatorial explosion.It’s absolutely impossible to model, but it doesn’t stop us from trying, right?So when we break something down into, well, you’ve got a moment arm and you’ve got your levers and the typical things that biomechanics would talk about, they’re looking at such a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny speck of parts and they’re not looking at the whole movement.And we know that movement is affected, excuse me, by things that we don’t think in biomechanics, well I shouldn’t say in biomechanics, but what we might think that biomechanics would say, it’s not possible for that movement to have affected that body part at the other end of the body because it never crossed any of those joints. We know that it does, right?Even in a human, they can do something and their grip strength will suddenly be lower from a movement that had nothing to do with anything that should be changing those parameters.And you know that even if you like you’re just standing there and you just ever so slightly shift your weight one, you know, one ounce to the other foot, right?It will change something in your ear.Now, people talking about fascia, at least they are acknowledging there’s a connected system.But we have to look at it at every possible level, which means the acceptance that we can’t actually know.And so what happens if you say, we can’t actually know? what’s wrong, what’s happening.And especially if we look and don’t find anything, then we have to say something, you know, the brain is protecting them from something or the whole body is protecting them from something.And we don’t know what it is.And we need to just stop trying to find what it is. and instead start to explore other ways to help the whole body become less overprotective.So I think that’s kind of the main goal for me is to say, how can we help the body, whether you want to call it the brain, the nervous system, the movement system, how can we help it be less overprotective?Its job is to protect and it doesn’t matter how it’s being expressed. our job is to help it be less overprotective.And as it gets less overprotective, that’s I think what a lot of people are thinking of as emotional regulation.But the way I look at it as, and the way I think a lot of people doing pain science will look at it as, you need to give the body and the nervous system everything, right?You need to give it credible evidence that the body is safe. So a lot of people, I think, with horses will approach it like, we need the horse to know that we, the human, are not gonna injure it, right?We’re not gonna hurt you, we’re not gonna force you.We want it to know that we are safe.And that’s a prerequisite.But that in no way tells the body that the body is safe, right?You could be with the safest person in the world, the person you trust more than anyone, and if they start to grab your arm that you just broke, you are not going to feel like that’s okay.You’re going to cringe, you’re going to protect, you know, it doesn’t matter that they feel safe with you.It matters that their body has the internal confidence that it’s capable of movements.And you know, like in the pain science course, that’s why we say the low hanging fruit would be proprioception. right, that anytime you can just give the brain more information, whether it’s through external, you know, touch and where bodywork can make such a massive difference, because it’s giving the brain all kinds of credible information about what parts are there, because it’s stimulating mechanoreceptors, a lot of mechanoreceptors.But that still doesn’t tell the body that it’s capable of controlling movements. So it doesn’t tell the body that it’s capable of stabilizing a movement.It gives it more information so it can reduce, just touch can reduce protection.Because now the brain is like, oh, forgot I had that left flank, you know, or whatever, right?No, it’s there.But it still doesn’t tell it it’s capable of stabilizing the whole body when the weight all ends up on that foot or whatever it is, right?We don’t know. So movement, credible information through movement that the body chooses is the only way to get credible information to the brain.So to me, that’s the fastest path to more and better regulation. and self-confidence and self-efficacy is by just helping the body realize that it is capable of expressing not just movements, but movements under unpredictable, surprising, unexpected situations.And there’s a whole bunch of physiological reasons why the unpredictability part is super important. which I think is not done in a lot of training.And again, you don’t want to do that to an animal that’s currently in some massive state of emotional trauma, right?Because the unpredictability does not give them a sense of safety, but once they have some base level of safety, training under unpredictability and surprise and unexpectedness is the fastest way that their system develops some of the capability it needs. including things like being able to prepare in advance without having to actually prepare.It’s kind of a freaky thing, but something called preflux. where it can very rapidly take the slack out of a muscle and co-contract around a joint to protect a joint.These kinds of things can’t be trained directly.They can only be trained through something where the body just suddenly has something unexpected that it has to cope with. So there’s all sorts of interesting ways to do that and ways to do that where the animal feels safe doing it because I understand why a lot of people think but that’s so threatening and that the horse is nervous so we just want to be really careful and calm all the time but that doesn’t necessarily produce the self-confidence in the horse’s own body. So finding out where those boundaries are and when it’s, you know, when it’s okay to ramp that up.So I do it often in very tiny ways, right?The tiniest bit of unpredictability that I think if everyone did this, they would start to find almost miracle situations with their horses, is that even if you’re just leading the horse on a halter, that if you just ever, ever, ever so slightly stutter your step, Like imagine just walking and then you, you don’t full on trip, you know, but you just ever so slightly, right, you stop being absolutely perfectly rhythmic and regular.But not only does that kind of stuttering, right, even if you’re not changing directions, right, you’re just going straight.And then you just build up from there.Every time you do something that is slightly unexpected, that starts this whole cascade of what I’m gonna consider goodness in the body and in the brain.That’s the first moment that you start to get a drip of what could be good hormones and good neurotransmitters.Because something was unexpected, something was a tiny bit surprising, it gets what we call like a micro wake up in the brain that’s actually a very positive thing.The brain rewards curiosity, you know, unless there’s terror, right?So, and that tells the brain something happened, I don’t have to check out because something different happened, even if it’s really tiny.And in movement, you start to see that the horses then start to develop like tiny, tiny bits of self-carriage just from the fact that you are now less consistent.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It’s like interesting.I find this I find this so fascinating.I find the way that the brain works around this absolutely fascinating.And I’ll tell you a little bit about why I had joined your program and kind of where I’m at.And and yeah, maybe get your feedback on it.So I have a horse who she’s only nine.And a few years ago, We had started running into some issues where she was getting really resistant to movement.I had got her everything checked out.So we had every form of body work you can think of, vets, equipment checks, all of the things.And no matter what, it was still happening.So I was then told it’s behavior. You know, that typical thing.Oh, it’s behavior.She’s just like that.It’s just she’s she’s lazy.She’s stubborn, all of the things.So we continue to do things now for. Four years, four years, this poor horse and I, we were struggling with why is this happening?Everybody’s telling us it’s fine, but there’s something going on.We have finally eventually found the reason, and we went through all of the therapies to right it.So we did all of the body work that that issue specifically needed.We had to do a lot of like relationship repair because, you know, since I was saying, well, I guess, I don’t know, I guess she’s fine.Everybody’s saying she’s fine, you know, and she was telling me she wasn’t, um, then we had to really repair our relationship.So that’s all, um, you know, passed and we’re in a really, really, really good spot now.And like I said, now she’s only nine.So all of this happened when she was like four, five, six, all of that.Um, however, It’s almost like she doesn’t trust her body to move. It’s the most interesting thing where she is the bravest, most confident horse.We can go and do anything.She doesn’t bat an eye at it.I can bring out like all of the quote unquote scary things to horses.She doesn’t bat an eye at it.But if I ask her for any movement, I can just I don’t ride her.I can just be off to the side and say, hey, you know, can we do this?Can we do that?It’s like she shuts down.Sometimes she’ll rear.Sometimes she lays down. just to avoid the movement.Same thing happens when she’s at play with my gelding.He has a big play drive and he’ll try to get her playing and it’s like she shuts down.She doesn’t trust that she’s able to do it because her body did hurt her in the past.And I just find it fascinating that it’s And maybe there’s still some stuff going on in her body, but also it could be a block mentally.And so what, when you hear me talk about that, what comes up for you?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, well, first of all, that is a very familiar story to me, both personally and one that I’ve heard so many times.So that’s not, that’s uncommon.My first reaction is always going to be, Statistically, there probably isn’t anything like an actual physical tissue problem, or that even if there is, that’s not actually what’s contributing to this.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.When she does move, she moves beautifully.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Okay, that’s fantastic.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Because that tells you that the horse does have a certain range of motion, where it’s capable of doing the movements, it is much harder when the horse doesn’t even have the movement capacity at all.Because then you know, right, those tissues haven’t moved for a long time out of that tiny range, like tiny ranges of motion are where I worry the most, because there’s almost no way out of that where the horse isn’t going to experience some discomfort. regaining those ranges of motion, right?They’re not going to damage anything, but to the brain, right, or to the body, if you suddenly move tissues into a range of motion that, again, isn’t causing damage, but you haven’t gone there in a long time, right?Think about all the chemoreceptors and mechanoreceptors that are going to fire for the first time in ages, right?You’re going to suddenly dump all this chemistry into these areas and the brain’s going to go, oh my god, something’s happening, right?And it doesn’t have to care whether any actual damage is happening.It’s just saying, why a second, right?This is new and could be risky, right?Doesn’t know it’s going to throw out all the protection.Now, what we now know is that like one to two days later, that’ll just be a range of motion because it wasn’t actually causing damage.It was just throwing out all kinds of signals.So I always accept that when horses are trying to reacquire ranges of motion, It might have a very mixed set of feelings for them that are both good and bad, right?I’ll talk about that a little bit later, why I’m sort of… more tolerant, I think, of the horse being frustrated than maybe a lot of people are, because I expect that that is what’s going to happen.And I just, since I don’t use force to do it, because it has to be voluntary if we’re gonna, especially if we’re gonna ranch it up the stress, because otherwise I’m just gonna make it all worse, right?The goal is stop the nervous system from being overprotective.Well, then the worst thing I can do is try to make them do it, right?Because if you make them do it, then they’re not going to get that quote credible evidence, right?The body’s going to say, well, I was forced into it.Now I’m going to be even more protective, just maybe in a different way.And so it’s not going to do us any good.Even if, even if ethically and morally, I was okay with that.And I think some people feel like, well, if it’s life or death, I’m going to make them move.And I’m like, I don’t think it is going to be life or death.I think there’s always another way, even though it’s super inconvenient to do it without a lot of force, right?And they do need to move, but we can always find a way.But that’s another question.But when they don’t have this credible evidence, I think there’s a bunch of stuff that can be going on.And you probably heard me talk about this in the course, right?That our goal is, well, if a horse is resisting movement, then we assume the brain’s being protective and maybe probably overprotective.That’s its job is to be overprotective, right?Its job isn’t to be protective.Its job is to be overprotective, which is why you will have pain before damage.Because the whole point is the brain is saying, I’m going to give you pain now so that you stop before you actually get hurt.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Like if we’re sitting on the floor on a hard surface, if you spend too much time in one spot, you’re going to start to feel pain. So it’s your brain saying, move now.You haven’t done any damage, but if you stayed in that spot for a lot longer, you would start to maybe shut down capillaries to a bad level and whatever, right?But it’s giving you pain before damage, when it can’t, right?Assuming that it’s not a catastrophic injury it couldn’t do anything about in advance.Then it’s giving you pain to say, for God’s sakes, go get help.Or don’t move.So it’s being overprotective. And we need to give it a chance to not have to be so protective.So we’re gonna use all the tools, right?Whatever we can.And one of the ones I talk about a lot is sneak movement under the radar.So you don’t want the brain to be saying, stop, don’t do this, it’s bad.So we want sort of movement to happen before the brain has a chance to do that. And there are a bunch of little tricks and these tricks work with humans and horses, right?So one of the tricks, but again, when I talk about this, I’m saying, I usually think I got to throw everything at it, right?I’m not, you might get lucky and just doing one of these things actually works, but often, no, you put all the pieces together and then you just try everything.And it may be the combination of all of those experiments that it finally starts to, you know, the brain connects the dots and says, actually, I can release the protections now, at least here, or at least in this context.So sneaking it under the radar, for example, the one I think, and this is the one that is the single strongest, most robust scientific finding in all of movement science in the last 40 years, is this idea of the external focus of attention.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]What that means is that, well, in human terms, it means that when you tell someone to move a body part, right, like lift your arm up, right, the movement system will put on whatever protections it needs to. Because no matter what you consciously think, the 95% of your brain that’s not conscious is saying, I don’t care that your trainer just told you to lift your arm up.It’s a really stupid idea to go past any other range of motion, because why, right?There’s no point lifting your arm, why?But if that same person said, reach up and grab that thing on the ceiling, suddenly, you would get sometimes a dramatic increase in your actual physical capacity. instantly even though how should that matter right and it’s very easy to get people to do these things where they suddenly will gain inches in their ability in their range of motion in the point at which something gets tight right whatever they’re feeling because now the movement system says that’s a movement purpose right Like it doesn’t have to care that there’s nothing, you know, of evolutionary value for grabbing that thing on the ceiling.What we now know is that at some level, the movement system is saying it’s a movement purpose and it’s self-organizing every part of the body to just complete the task.It doesn’t care if the task isn’t very important.But when someone says lift your arm, the movement system has no reason to do it. uh it’s saying there’s no purpose whatsoever and so it doesn’t do it or it doesn’t but it puts on pain or it puts on restrictions so having a movement purpose which usually means something at like an external target although it doesn’t necessarily have to be an external target but normally that’s how we start something to actually do which is why like a horse that struggles with range of motion but then suddenly when they have to reach and grab something suddenly it’s like doubles their range of motion they just do it where people who will go you know the classic one my horse is so stiff he can’t bend and then you turn around and the horse is scratching his hind fetlock with his teeth And it’s like, well, he’s pretty folded in half right there, right?Or my horse can’t balance.And to do that thing I just described is unbelievable balance, right?Like you could not train that. And yet there it is because everything in the body organizes itself to do that.And that means all those things with their, you know, more atoms in the, you know, in the universe, it brings all of that together and it self-organizes, but you couldn’t try to help with that to happen.So giving them a movement purpose as opposed to a trainer wants me to do it purpose. And with some horses, that’s really dramatic.So my older horse, Vavi, still, who is, I think, one of those horses that also has just no fear of things, right?He’s extremely confident, but loses a lot of confidence in his body quite quickly.He is a very sort of stiff, five-gated pace horse. But he kind of, this is not a real thing, what I’m going to say.It’s just sort of an analogy we use.We call it like adrenaline amnesia, where he very quickly will forget that he is capable of doing things.And he will more importantly forget that he actually loves to do things. So you have to sneak a reminder.And then once he gets that reminder, he’s one of those where you can almost see the switch flip.And for him, external focus has been his thing.It’s not as important for my other horses like Dreamer, right?But with Bobby, he’ll go from, I won’t move at all, I can’t, he’ll just shut down, right?And if he sees you with the flag, the chase the bag, he will suddenly go, right?And he’ll just start making all this noise and moving like a stallion.And then five minutes later, you take all the external targets away and he’s just going, right?He’s in this beautiful trot.He’ll, you know, canter departs, right?Whatever you want, but he needs something to bridge the gap. between what he can do and what he thinks he can do.And for him, you know, I’ve just kind of accepted he might always need these little reminders.Now when he gets in better and better, more regular shape, then the jumpstart, you know, lighting the pilot light, it doesn’t uh it can is much easier and doesn’t have to go through all that process right and i just experiment with things until i find something where they go oh oh that’s right i can do this and oh i love it uh so when you know that they can move to me that’s a really great sign because it’s much harder when they still can’t actually move because then everything their brain is telling them is accurate now we’re just trying to say be less protective because they don’t they don’t need to be less protective I mean, they can be less protective.So external, giving them something outside themselves that’s outside because the trainer wants it.That’s why pressure and release isn’t going to have that effect.And doing something with positive reinforcement, right?Doing it, move your body that way because you’ll get a treat.Even if it’s an awesome treat, that also won’t have the same effect. because it’s still not a movement purpose, right?So there’s a big difference between that’s what the trainer wants even if for a really good quote-unquote good thing like a reward, right? and a, because that’s what will solve this movement problem.So using a lot of props, things in the environment, other horses, right?A horse that doesn’t want to move forward, but then when another horse is exactly 10 feet in front of them, then suddenly they find their energy, you know, whatever it takes. And that’s not something that you do always, right?It’s something that you do to get them through this phase of having difficulty realizing. that they do have the credible evidence they can do things.And that can take a long time if the horse has, you know, went through a long period of time without moving or having whatever their reasons were for being, their body’s reasons were for being afraid of movement.You know, that doesn’t happen overnight.And as you know, you know, tissue changes don’t happen overnight.So sometimes, you know, a horse can be like, oh, actually, okay, my brain knows that it can do this. But my tissues haven’t done it very much, and it’s much easier to just not do it.Or if they’ve been crooked for a long time, their body is going to say, yeah, but I’m really good at being crooked.And my tissues are adapted to that.I’m perfectly capable of doing it this way, but oh my god, it’s terrible to do it that way. which would be like me trying to play tennis with my left arm, right?I mean, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to say, that’s too hard because my tissues are not adapted and they’re really good at this.So we have to get much more creative. about giving them movement problems to solve where their body makes the decision to do things differently.So giving them different kinds of situations, different movement challenges and problems to solve, which don’t have anything to do with us telling them which body parts to move. but where their whole nervous system says, I actually don’t think I can do this unless I turn the other way, unless I use the leg I don’t normally step under with, unless I bend the way I don’t normally bend, right?And those get kind of creative, which is why I like to use hills. uh I like to use a fence a lot where the horse if they have a tendency to do one thing they can’t do it if that thing is gonna if they’re gonna run into a fence they have no choice but to look in the other direction so I do things where I’m being like let’s experiment with something where to do something that you want to do like keep track of the human whether it’s you know it doesn’t have to be chasing a target could be just chasing a human.Or it could just be the human is walking along the fence line with your food bowl.I mean I’ve seen horses who won’t do shoulder in do the most beautiful 10 strides of three track shoulder in simply because the human is walking along a fence line on the opposite side with their food dish.And that horse is like, I need to keep track of you and you are walking forward.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right, where are you going with my food?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Right and so it’s like finding those kind of most natural situations where and then that was 10 credible steps to the brain.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Brain just goes oh by the way turns out you can step under with that hind leg.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p>

<p>[SPEAKER 2]And you can bend that way and you actually can flex horizontally at the pole like that right.So those kinds of things can happen very quickly but sometimes it’s hard to come up with those scenarios, right?Those like weird problems for them to solve that do it.And because some horses are very creative, it’s still doing their go-to movement that’s the movement we want to change. or the movement that we don’t want them to be stuck in, and they are, sometimes horses are so good at it, right, that their brain just keeps saying, I know this is really, well, we could say that’s super inefficient.And their brain’s like, well, not with my current state of tissues and neural development.I am super good at this movement, and I’m gonna use it for everything, right?I’m gonna be crooked for everything.So we have to give them enough reasons to expand their toolkit. so that they say, Oh, yeah, actually, I, I can do it this other way.It’s still going to feel super awkward, though.So with, you know, with neural things, the changes can happen almost overnight, right?Neural wiring can start to change overnight.But tissues, you know, we expect to take some time.So we have to kind of be creative during the time when we’re making those changes. if it’s tissues that actually have to change.But sometimes we find out that actually it wasn’t the tissues at all.It was always a neural thing.And that’s why you can have these big breakthroughs that suddenly happen overnight.But it might take you, you know, four or five, six months to find all the pieces where then the brain goes, oh, yeah. I can do this.I could always do this.Why are you looking at me weird?I’ve always been able to do this.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.I love that.And I think that she would respond really well to that.She loves puzzles and figuring things out.So I think that she would actually respond to that really well.And it kind of leads me to my next question, which is, how do you think that so Before I ask that, I’ll give a little bit of context.We often put very human things on our horses, like human responses.Oh, well, this is, you know, they’re this way.This is what they think, you know, those sorts of things.Right.Which is fine if it’s just a joking, you know, personality type and it’s another thing if it is at some expense of our horse and by that I mean limiting belief.How detrimental do you think it is for for the humans limiting beliefs on our horses.If I was to say she doesn’t like that, or she can’t do it, or if I’m working with her and I say, oh, it’s fine.If you don’t want to do it, you don’t like it, it’s totally fine.You don’t have to move if you don’t want to just stay standing still all the time.How do you think that that could potentially affect our horses?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Well, part of this is going to be personal opinion, right?I mean, there’s a certain amount of science on it, but most of that science is around humans, right?So I think it has a huge impact, a detrimental impact.And that means in any direction, right?I think whatever we think we know, whatever story we’re telling, we should always be careful of.And for a lot of reasons.A lot of times I think people just simply won’t update their story.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right?Yeah.We love our stories.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah, we love our stories.And it’s natural, right?And part of it is super well intended, because we’re trying not to cause any distress to the horse. Well, again, part of my own personal feelings is that I think trying to protect the horse is the opposite of giving them credible information that they are actually strong and capable badasses, right?So if that’s what they need, then this idea that I’m the horse’s protector and ooh, let’s not stress him, right?Part of the reason why I’m so adamant about not using actual force is because I do intend to stress the horses quite a lot. And for that, the more stress you’re potentially asking them to participate in, the more important it is that it be 100% voluntary. which is not always easy to do, because even if you’re just using positive reinforcement, right, you can still be coercive.And especially, you know, if the horse is hungry, you know, or there’s resource guarding or, you know, so I have to take a lot of care to say, is my horse really just doing this?Because he knows that if he does these big movements or goes fast, you know, he’s going to earn a treat, right?But it’s pretty easy to deal with that if you’re used to dealing with that.So I don’t really, worry about that that much, but I have to I still always have to care.But there’s easy ways to deal with it.Like, well, just give the horse some hay beforehand and maybe have some hay during if he wants it.Or I work with my horses a lot.About half the year, they’re literally on grass while I’m working with them.So and the gates are usually open to where they can leave and they can go to another horse if they want.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So I try to do all that because I’m going to ask a lot.If I wasn’t going to ask a lot, I wouldn’t have to go to that much trouble. But because I’m going to ask a lot.And so I don’t want them to be feeling coerced by the food.So it needs to be voluntary, but I am definitely going to take them to what I think a lot of other people would assume are way past boundaries.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]But</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I wouldn’t do that with horses that were new to me, that I didn’t know, and that I didn’t know how to read any of their signs, but also I’m, and again, so what I do isn’t necessarily a good idea because I am willing to go to such a high extreme, but you know, I trust my horses, and once you know that your horse is willing to say no, and is in a situation where they will just stop if it’s too much, then if I see any opportunity to get them to move in ways that they haven’t, and to really push beyond what they’ve been doing in whatever manner that is, right?I mean, I use exercise physiology, so sometimes that’s going to be speed.Can you go faster than you’ve been going?Well, then the next two days, I’m not going to do anything with speed, right? what I call leg day when they’re doing like the big fancy trot right things that we may be using a lot of collection and pushing up instead of pushing forward right I might go well I’m not going to do those exercises for a few days because that was a really intense you know just like I think of it just like a person at the gym. You’re not going to do leg days twice in a row.You’re going to give them breaks depending on what system exercise, just plain old exercise stuff.But given those parameters, I’m still going to go, you know, if you want to get higher and higher and higher, get higher.And every now and then I will go Okay, that was a little bit more than was appropriate.Like I’ll realize that they are like sort of literally high, like the adrenaline is just way over the top.And now, you know, they they’re not feeling any pain.So they will literally do anything.And I’m like, that’s too much. um if I called it wrong like I hadn’t given them enough to eat and it’s super windy and it’s chilly and crisp and they were all just running around like maniacs right then I might go okay there is a limit right but it’s hard to hit that limit um with my horses but with the stallion he can hit that limit instantly so for him For him, I push him quite hard by having him be doing things that are very coordinated and concentrated.So the word I like to use is effort, high effort.And I used to equate high effort with super high energy, which meant super big movements, right, in the sort of low energy horses. But it’s not.It’s just effort is effort.And so for the stallion, he wants to throw his legs everywhere and bounce up and down.That’s easy for him.But being very concentrated, like sort of a you know, collected shoulder in on a downhill with a big exaggerated front legs is so high effort for him to stay in that focus.So focus is effort.So if I can get them focused on a really difficult movement, it can just be at the walk, right?I do a lot at the walk, but it’s high effort.So it doesn’t have to be that super high adrenaline energy, but whatever it is, And that’s another way to sneak movement under the radar is like my horse Bobby.He’ll go, Oh, I, you know, Oh no, movement, big, fast movement.Oh, I can’t possibly. And I told you how sometimes, you know, you pull out an external target and he’ll suddenly he goes into chase and catch mode and he’s, you know, he’s flipped the switch.But a lot of times with him, he can do things that are high effort, but he doesn’t perceive them.And so like, like I do those things like the weight shift back, like a kind of like a self half halt, or thing we sometimes call crunches, right, where they shift their weight back.And then suddenly you ask for a counter depart. And if he’s not feeling it, right, he’ll still do just one counter-depart and then stop. But a lot of times that flips the switch.But he’ll do it when he’s super tired or when he’s super like, oh, I can’t move.But he’s like, but I can do that, right?I mean, I’m just standing here, right?I didn’t even take a full step forward, right?But suddenly he had to engage every part of his body.He had to shift his weight back.He put himself into a more agile position by elevating in the front to do that counterpart. he automatically lowers his haunches because if they’re from a standstill to actually spring forward or even up, they’re gonna automatically for free, right?A horse that’s like, I can’t possibly bend at the haunches, I can’t flex my hindquarters.But then you go, oh, but can you spring forward?They’re gonna bend, right?They’re gonna take, it’s an automatic, free, reflexive, stored energy in the tendon thing, right?They just do it.And then once they do it, then the brain is like, oh yeah, that’s kind of fun actually.Or a fast change of direction.So I can often get my horses to suddenly turn the switch by we’re just walking, walking, walking, walking.I’m holding the food, right?I can do this when I’m delivering their food.Like I said, I’ve got their little tiny pan of supplements.We’re walking along the fence line.And then I go, oh God, I changed my mind.I turn around and run.The horse that was just walking suddenly spins, right?Just like a rollback. and canters, and if they had time to think about it, they’d still be in the, I can’t possibly canter mode, right?But suddenly, they’ve just done it.So that’s like you’re using these tricks to get the brain to do something before the other part of their brain has a chance to go, oh, be protective, you’re tired, right? when they’re really not.So obviously you’re not going to do that with a horse that’s actually legitimately injured.But most of the time that’s not what we’re talking about.So that’s enough to get the switch.So those little unpredictable changes of direction, like if I could pick just one thing that I think has the strongest impact on turning a horse’s motivation on, getting them interested and focused, changing their movement capability and their relationship to their own body.It’s the unexpected. changes and they can be like I said super tiny just while you’re walking forward and you just stutter ever so slightly right and then all of a sudden all of a sudden right but unpredictable so you can’t do it at a regular interval right and then you slowly go well now I’m going to do it and I’m going to start to change direction and then go oh no never mind and then keep going the way you were going right those little things and it’s like I’ve seen people use that and then they no longer have to ever think about using a whip because that gets the horse in front of the leg And it’s so simple, but it doesn’t feel like it would be a superpower.And I think that’s the one biggest superpower.But it’s weird at first, right?And the horse might go, that was weird.But I would much rather have my horse go, that was weird, as long as they’re not freaked out. And usually when they freak out, it’s because you’re doing big and fast, but you can do tiny ones and then suddenly all the movements start opening up.So if someone’s walking forward, if you’re walking on one side of the fence or any barrier or just poles on the ground, the horse on one side, you’re on the other.If you walk forward and then suddenly you start to take a step back, and then you walk forward again, you will almost certainly have gotten right there a little bit of adduction and abduction in the horse’s legs.They will not have any choice.They will make some little shift because you took that little step back and then walked forward again, right?And they’re trying to kind of keep up with you.And then you just keep expanding that.And I think people are often amazed at how much their horse actually can do, especially people who are not like you.You have the ability to recognize what your horse is doing.A lot of people don’t.But so back to your story about like, what story do you tell yourself about the horse?I always tell people, allow yourself to always be surprised and that never assume that you know what that horse’s story is now on any given day.And that means in any direction. Like, we see people in more of a traditional horse world do this in the wrong direction, where the story they tell themselves is, oh, he can do this.He just doesn’t want to.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And it’s like, no, hell no.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]That’s very common.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Hell no.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]No.No.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]If the horse says no, you know, a big one for me because I think it’s the most damaging is a horse refuses to jump, right?And you’re like, but he just did it.And it’s like, well, yeah, but now it’s different.And his body knows things you don’t.And, you know, that horse knows refusing to jump is a bad thing to do. but he thinks it’s a better thing to do.It’s less risky than taking the jump in that particular way.So you know all of those so in any direction but I think a lot of times people are doing it to to be more um protective and helpful of their horse so but I’ve learned there’s so much I I call my horses mercenaries because they will they’ll play and they’ll do all their things for anyone but I’m always amazed at how many times what they do with other people including even non-horse people will often be bigger and more interesting and more awesome than what they do with me.And I’m like, I still had a story about what I’m doing, and I wouldn’t have even tried that.Maybe even subconsciously, I just wouldn’t have tried that.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.Right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]That even when I’m not thinking he won’t do it, there’s a part of me that still just assumes.And I think that, do you know Tara Davies, Unbridled Goddess?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So she came here one time, and she, of course, is amazing, right?I’m not super skillful.She actually, of course, is.And this was probably the most dramatic for me because she was like, Oh, I’m going to do like haunches in with the dreamer.And I’m like, no, he doesn’t know that.He has literally never done that.He has never been taught that.No one has ever tried it.And I turn around, she’s doing it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]They’re doing it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]She’s not touching him.He doesn’t know like body part targets.You know, like a lot of people can get movements by using their hands as targets.I don’t do that.Right.So it wasn’t like he was just responding to her.Oh, move your hip that way.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]If I put my hands out, they’re still usually going to move away from it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I just turn around, he’s doing it.I’m like, damn, what magic is she doing, right?And it’s just, there it is.And then I thought, well, of course he’s capable of doing it.And she just thinking that he could.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And you were telling yourself the story.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Yeah and she did that in several different ways.But then since then I’ve had like a lot of people here playing with the horses and but still every time I have to consciously say I’m not going to tell them anything because whatever I tell them is probably not going to be right.Now with the stallion that’s different because he’s got these issues like for safety I’ll say okay don’t have him run fast down the hill.Have him run uphill but have him be more controlled on the downhill because he he literally won’t know how to stop sometimes.So that’s like the only instruction that I gave but otherwise when people come I’m like here’s here’s a target or you know here’s some treats just you know probably the only thing I will say is I’ll say if they have been a clicker trainer I’ll go don’t click too soon.You’re not clicking him for doing something you want.Basically they click when you get tired. And you know, just go.And if he stops and walks away from you, just keep going, do something different, right?But then you’ll get him back.And that’s probably the only thing I do tell people.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And then that’s it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So we just had a camp here a few weeks ago.And so that was another opportunity to see so many different people with or without much horse experience working with the horses.And I gave them no instructions whatsoever. Some of them knew the horses from watching them in videos, but some of them didn’t.It was just so much fun for me to see how much new novelty, wonderful things happened.And I kept probably said 10 times, well, he doesn’t know that.How did he do that?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It’s like.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]That’s my limiting, you know, right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, absolutely.Yeah, I have a quick little anecdote.And then, then I’d love for us to discuss the equestrian industry itself.I used to teach a chair yoga class.And so the majority of my participants were seniors. And we used to have an absolute blast.I would get them to do so many different things in the class.And we’d be like, yeah, you can, you can do it.We’re going to do this today.And we’d be doing all this different stuff.And they used to say afterwards, thank you.Because any other chair yoga class they had gone to, they were treated like senior citizens.They would say, oh, you know, well, don’t do too much.You know, just like, here’s some things.Just stay in the seat.I’d be like, stand up, do this, do that.You know, pick up your chair, move it over there.And I realized one day, I was with my horse, and I said, I think I’m treating you like a senior chair yoga participant, where I was like, oh, no, well, it’s oh we don’t want to do too much anything like that and I thought I need to go back into the mindset of saying yeah you we can try it let’s let’s just try it you know and and I thought that was really interesting that mindset shift where I realized I think I’m kind of putting this limitation on us here.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Exactly my husband and I we always used to try to motivate ourselves when we were we were used to do a lot of running and we would run, you know, 5Ks and 10Ks.And there was this one 10K that we would do.And every year we would look at the results and we would see how many people we could find who were 30 years older than us who were kicking our ass.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Although I will say the last competitive run we ever did, we were laughing because we took off and we’re like, OK, we’re doing great.We’re doing great.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And then these two girls were dressed in full head to toe M&amp;M candy costumes.I mean, their entire body.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.We’re laughing.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And we’re like, oh, you know, and then we we passed them very early on and we’re going we’re going we get toward the end.And it was a particularly cruel run where there was a hill at the end.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Mm hmm.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]and but you know we’re all feeling cocky I don’t know we were like maybe 50 years old then or something and these two m&amp;ms they just come blasted up the hill and we’re like the only thing worse right than failing is is when you’re beat by these two m&amp;ms because we were so cocky about it right and then they just killed us But we would always try to get motivated by people, you know, but now I look back and I go some of the times we were motivated by people who are the age we are now, right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]But it’s like,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Movement, I mean, so obviously, I pay a lot of attention to the optimistic movement science on people who are much older.And it’s really positive.And then also, of course, senior horses.All of my horses are seniors except one, except my youngster.They’re all 20 or older.So, and I don’t really see them very differently.I mean, Draymer, right, he acts younger than he did when he was seven. So I do have to care about it, you know, but even the vet, she’ll come and she’ll go, well, you know, they’re getting older teeth, right?You might have, you’re going to have to start caring about how you feed them.She’s like, but hey, you know, they’re moving.This year, I think there was a 23 year old horse in the Icelandic world championships.And I think there was either 20 or close to 20 that did like Well, not this year, but one of them has actually set a world record in racing, in a pace race, over 20 years old.So, I mean, all of the things that we think we know are not really true.And then you look, some of these people have estimated that some of these wild stallions who’ve had brutal lives, right?Some of them they think have lived to 30. and they’ve just been torn to shreds, right?And sometimes there’s starvation, right?And they are still, still powerful and, you know, living under the worst conditions.And I think, you know, but when I grew up, 20 was considered really old for a horse.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, yeah, same.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And they got retired, right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Well now,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Then I went to the Spanish riding school many, many, many years, maybe 15 years ago.So I know it’s changed lately.And then they said, oh, most of these horses, their average retirement age from performance, and remember, they’re doing really hard things, is 25.Now, they wouldn’t be doing maybe all the airs above the ground.That was usually some of the younger stallions. but they’re still doing what we would consider the highest levels of dressage like it’s nothing at 25 and they go some even 30.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Wow.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Right, and we had one horse that actually outlived his rider and we didn’t know what to do because he was still ready to perform but his rider died, you know.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Oh my gosh.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So it’s like, wait, wait.So the way we see age of horses and their performance but now I mean you can see how beat up some of these horses get and most sport horse injuries are repetitive stress.They’re cumulative microtrauma.So that’s a big part of why whether it’s a backyard horse or a sport horse, they need the big broad movement toolkit because their biggest chance of injury is that they just don’t have enough movement capability.Even though it might be like those people I talked about when I was working in that field is that they were super athletic looking and they could just kick ass at a few movements.But the moment you move the body into a movement it doesn’t normally express, it’s a beginner, right?It doesn’t have the capacity.So we know that a lot of these trained movements that people do with horses, like we’re just gonna train shoulder in to get this balance and this, this, right?It doesn’t transfer to anything but shoulder in.So we look at the human movement science that’s now saying, you know, some of the equivalents of what we might think of as shoulder in, well, this is a, one example, like the pistol squat.People go, don’t train the pistol squat.You could go on YouTube, look up examples, put people in the position, train the hell out of it, but then you can no longer use that to know if they actually have good movement.Instead, if someone has a good, rich movement toolkit, you can say, drop down in one leg with your other leg out, and they’ll just be able to do it, even though they’ve never done it before, because they have the capability. So we train children, then we don’t know if they actually are capable of good movement.Whereas if we don’t try to explicitly train it, but then we give them a reason where that would be a great way to solve a problem of go forward, but look to the side because you’re trying to keep track of something.Then we can go, Oh yeah, look, of course they can do it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I try to be really careful about not training a very explicit movement.If I want that movement, Then I might go, okay, he can do all these movements, but some of them I’m going to put on a cue.So that if I’m doing a show, I can do that movement.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Or if I just like that movement, but I’m going to try very hard not to train the movement.I’m going to try to wait until they already have it in their toolkit for solving some movement problem.And then I’ll capture it and put it on a cue.But that’s a very different way of thinking.But in the human world, In the human sports and athletic and skill world, it’s not at all uncommon for people to talk about the problem of transfer, that these movements don’t transfer or that the transfer is too specific.And also exercise physiology, same problem, right?The tissues, they adapt very specifically.So I don’t like the idea of training those movements, but I very much want the horse to be able to express those movements.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah. Where do you think the equestrian industry has gone wrong?And what is your hope for the equestrian industry in the future?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Boy, this is a hard one for me.I mean, the fact that you asked me to be on your podcast is one of the moments when I feel hopeful, right?I mean, there are obviously people who are talking about all from all different kinds of perspectives, right?Not just people who do what I do, but people who care in this way.And, and the stuff about social license, those conversations are giving me hope.But I’m not very hopeful overall.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Um,</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]There’s a bunch of problems.So if you look at sport, I think we kind of all know inherently that we get what is rewarded by the judges and then people breed for that. and the money, right?And it just, it just keeps perpetuating.People are going to get what’s reinforced or they’re going to train what’s reinforced.And so, and the judging almost always in every sport, I mean, even in human sports, right?Things just tend to get more and more and more and more extreme, right?Cause where do you go?If everyone can already do the thing, right?So, so I used to be a sponsored skateboarder, right?Where do you go?You get harder and harder tricks.In my case, I got injured because I was asked to do a trick that at first only men could do.And now suddenly they found out some young woman was going to do it in a competition that she had nailed this big trick.And so then my team was like, you’re going to have to do it then because she’s going to get all these extra points for it.So then I, they were like, you got to do this trick that no girls had ever done.And so now I’m working on that trick.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]but I didn’t know the things I know.I might’ve been able to actually do it without getting injured, but then, no.So, you know, it’s that thing where you just, you keep getting bigger and bigger, and a lot of sports, that means flashier and flashier, or higher and higher, or faster and faster, or sometimes slower and slower.Those extremes, and none of those are in the best interest of the horse, no matter what, no matter what, right? I don’t know how that’s ever going to change.It would have to take the willpower of the organization or a big group of judges would have to all together say enough, right?If any one judge does it, and I correspond with judges sometimes, and they’re like, I want to change things from within, but I can’t because if I start being the one who adjusts my judging, then I won’t be asked back, right?And a lot of things have multiple judges, right?And they’ll go, well, if one judge is giving a low score and everyone else is up here, right, you’re just not gonna be part of that group anymore.Or if you’re judging for something that’s different from what everyone else is judging for, even when they’re actually judging to the designed guidelines, but those guidelines, I mean, we know, right?We see it happen all the time.We’re like, how did you just give a good score to a horse that was fighting the bit every single step of the way and hated every bit of that moment.And it’s just, it’s a disaster in almost all sports.Now sports where there’s not that kind of subjective judging things where it’s just about speed and how high you jump, right?That’s also, we know where we’re at with that.So I think there’s the sport problem is huge.I think it could be solved.It might be solved by social license.That conversation is at least happening. But for example, I watched a three-hour presentation to FEI on what we need to do so that we can continue to have sport.And I was horrified.The presentation was amazing and wonderful. And I was horrified by how many people representing the different member organizations for FEI stood up and what they were complaining about was they just hated that people criticized them.And they were like, well, we want you to put money into educating the public because all these arm chair, you know, or people sit on the fence and criticize us.They just don’t understand sport. and that they need to know we really do love our horses and that this is how it works, right?That this isn’t really abusive.And the FEI group that was doing these recommendations, they pushed back.They’re like, it’s not gonna matter if you tell people that you take good care of the horse.They need to see evidence, right?They don’t need to see how you brush them and clean them and give them good food.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, when FEI, like when they release on, Instagram not too long ago, the photos of the, you know, the horses doing their trot and they were all completely underdeveloped with their trapezius and beyond in their bodies.And it was like, does, does nobody recognize that? But what gives me hope is all of the comments that did acknowledge it.And I do think that the change is going to come from top down.But I think that if we bottom up the voices, if, you know, all of us little guys are speaking, then maybe, maybe we’ll hear, get feedback from the top.I think it’s happening.Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I think I note a tone of like defensiveness. Like in people who are like sport dressage people, like who are, I mean, they’re not bad people, right?I mean, I did all the bad shit, like, sorry, I did all that stuff.So I get it, right?And I get how you can be swept into thinking that it’s okay.And it’s so normalized, right?I mean, writing with bits is normal, right?That’s just what you do.Like that’s such an absurd thing to think when you think about it from the perspective of, a mammal that isn’t, you know, an athlete, that that’s how you do it, that you put a bar in their mouth, right?We would never do that or tolerate it. in an agility dog.And those dogs often go through a lot of physical training.So it’s like skillful sport dogs, you wouldn’t put a bit in their mouth.And some of them do train positions, right?They still aren’t going to put a bit in their mouth to do it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So there are all kinds of crazy stuff that we do that we just say, that’s normal.That’s just what everyone does.And, you know, and then the arguments like, I like it when I hear people pushing back because they’re feeling defensive, right?Or they’re feeling defensive that they had to use a whip.I’m like, that’s great, that’s awesome.If someone has to feel defensive, even though they’re justifying that they’re using a whip, we didn’t used to have to justify it.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]We didn’t used to have to justify that we hit a horse.Yeah, at least now there’s like a… Whether it’s conscious or subconscious, you’re feeling that like, oh, kind of a feeling.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]They don’t get to feel comfortable like they can do it all with impunity.And so they’re still doing it.They’re still justifying it.But if they’re now doing it without being able to feel totally comfortable, right, like like if we’re simply annoying people, that’s enough, because it means that that we’re forcing them to actually have to think about it.And I, you know, I’ve been doing this a long time and I have seen people sometimes two, three, four, five, six years, like it can be from the time they were first really exposed to the idea that maybe you don’t have to make the horse do it and you know in the Icelandic world it’s really common to do drive and restrain to do training stuff like that to the point where people just assume it’s not possible to do it any other way well of course you know now a bunch of us are showing it’s totally possible but uh and a lot more fun but uh people didn’t know that and now i think they’re starting to to see that right and then i’ll see them like sometimes i will even see people like join the pain science course and five years ago they were just hated every single thing i ever said right so i think you know as people learn more from other domains and they see other possibilities and there is a lot more interest I think now in body work again and that’s helping people understand that there’s more to it than just make the horse go into these positions.I think a whole bunch of stuff is contributing but I still you know, we’re still a tiny, tiny number.I’m in a bubble, so I mostly only interact with people who, you know, are mostly want to be good to their horses in that particular way.But the big world is, you know, and once you’ve got all that money involved, it’s really hard for people to stop doing something. if their livelihood depends on it.But there are people that I do know that are at very, very high levels of sport, like my friend Marianne.She runs the River Tiger podcast.She’s getting her PhD in applying an ecological dynamics approach to both horses and rider training.She’s a dressage scribe in the UK.In the UK, it’s different from the US.In the UK, if you are an equestrian coach, a riding coach of jumping or dressage, you’re considered part of the coaching community, you’re a coaching professional, they have standards, you’re part of organizations, you get ongoing training.You know here right in the U.S.anyone can call themselves a trainer of anything.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]There she is interacting with people at the highest levels of show jumping, eventing, and dressage, including Olympic-level riders and trainers.And she’s having a major impact on these people.They’re starting to grapple with these questions.For example, the biggest one, and she wrote one of her first papers on it, was about when the horse refuses to jump, right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]She’s had some people on her podcast, right?They’re not any more close to doing the kinds of things that we’re doing, but they’re actually saying the horse is in a better position to know whether he should take that jump than we are.And the idea of we should not punish them.But then think about what happens for someone to say, we shouldn’t punish them for refusing a jump.Well, now that causes a massive shift because now people have to deal with the fact that they’ve been training through punishment and fear.So if you don’t punish the horse for refusing a jump, the first thing people say is, well, then he’s always gonna refuse it.And then you have to go, well, now let’s think about that.What does that mean?And what are you gonna do about it, right?And so if you just, it might sound easy to change one thing, but then that starts a cascade. of a bunch of other things that people have to address.Like when I first said, I’m never going to use a whip ever again.I’m never going to hit my horse.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Never.Ever.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Then what does that mean, right?Well, two weeks after I threw the whip away, you know, Draymer decided out on the trail.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]What are you going to do?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I’m going to stop.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]What are you going to do?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]It’s like he looked at me and I looked at him and he’s like, you’re not going to use a whip.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]So</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]even though I hadn’t had to hit him in a long time, but just having it, you know, the right, that little reminder.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It’s just like an energy.It’s like a line of energy.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]He’s like, well, what are you going to do?Like, are you going to make me?You’re not going to.I know now that you’re not going to make me.So what if I just don’t go?What if I just don’t even take a step?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]What do you got?Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]And I’m like, I got nothing.It was pretty funny, actually.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I’m at that stage.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]We both kind of sat there and went, well, let’s just figure this out.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]So everyone, I think, comes to that realization.Or if you’re trying to use physical cues to get the horse to do a movement, like the big one is a horse is stepping under, engaging the hindquarters, right?And I get that that’s a big one for people.And that, well, but if the horse isn’t doing it, don’t I need to get him to do it?And it’s like, Yeah, but it’s not helping anything if you have to remind him.If you have to remind him to do it, he’s not actually doing it because that’s how he wants to move.So what if he just said, no, I can’t do it that way.How could I actually get him to actually want to move that way?Because that’s the way to move. And then that starts a very, very different conversation with the horse.And those are the conversations that I think are just super, they’re actually so fun and interesting to me and exciting.But at first they’re super daunting because at first you go, well, if you take away my tools that I’ve been using, I got nothing.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]It’s true.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]but you don’t have nothing.It just feels like nothing.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]If that’s all you had.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]I just, I find it so fun because you learn so much about yourself along the way.Um, so it’s those things where you’re like, Oh, that’s, that’s interesting.I didn’t know I felt that way or, you know, whatever that comes up.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Well, it’s certainly convenient to use all those tools, right?People go, well, what do you do if the horse says no?I’m like, well, I always have a Kindle on my phone because, you know, we could be here a while.Why don’t we just read while I’m waiting for the horse?What about trailer loading?Well, unless there’s a fire, which, you know, I have had to do that, and then I would do whatever I had to do.We’ll just sit here for a while and I’ll just read.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Oh my gosh, so funny.I feel like I could talk to you all day long, but I want to respect your time and we are coming on two hours now.Oh my God.No, no, that is totally fine.I, I absolutely, I love this conversation.I know our, um, our listeners will enjoy it.And, um, I have four rapid fire questions I’d love for us to wrap up with.Um, the first one is, do you have a motto or favorite saying? Oh my god.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]No, because I change it all the time.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]That’s OK.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Well, right now, my current one is that biomechanical abundance is better than biomechanical correctness.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]OK.And the second one is, who has been the most influential person in your equestrian journey?Wow.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]That’s not a horse. Obviously, we all have the horse, right?We all have that one horse that made us.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]We all have that one horse.And I always say, when somebody’s like, I haven’t, I’m like, well, you will.You will.You will.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]For me, it was a dreamer, right?</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]And that can be your answer.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]Honestly, this is so weird, but I’m going to say Xenophon.It might not be obvious to a lot of people, but yeah.But because until Xenophon, I had never understood the idea that of how, both that you should and that you could get intrinsic motivation from a horse through movement.And that the idea was that you want them to be showing off as if they’re showing off for other horses.And that his idea was if you can reward a horse, the moment they start showing off for other horses, and if you can find ways for them to feel fancy, basically, then that’s what you want. That got lost along the way in classical training.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Right.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]But he was the OG.And so that that definitely changed my whole world.So, yeah.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]OK, third one is if you could give equestrians one piece of advice, what would it be?</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]To value novelty over any other goal. And that just means different is better than better.So you want to do anything that you can that involves something that is novel, a slightly different way of doing a movement, a slightly different way that you hold your body, a slightly different footing, like change little things, big things all the time, that novelty is where all of the magic happens.And it’s the one thing that we kind of learned not to do.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah, yeah, you’re right. And the last one is, please complete this sentence.For me, horses are… Well, my lifesavers.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]I mean, I kind of mean that literally without going into details.I know there are a lot of horse people who feel that way, but yeah, for me, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be alive without horses going all the way back to when I was a teenager.So I can’t even imagine life without them.So they represent life, literally life.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Yeah.Kathy, where can people find you and how can they connect with you?And I’ll link everything in the show notes.</p><p>[SPEAKER 2]The best place is Instagram, although I took a very long break last year from Instagram.I’m sort of temporarily on Instagram again right now.PantherFlows, I couldn’t get PantherFlows, so I think there’s an S on the end of it, but PantherFlows is the account, and that’s the best place. Yeah, the course is on my website.You already mentioned that.I’m actually working on an app for horse owners of every stripe.And that’s why I haven’t been doing very much online and why I’ll probably go offline again to finish it.But I think that will be exciting because it’s for everyone.</p><p>[SPEAKER 1]Awesome.Awesome.Well, I’ll link both of those in the show notes and then you’ll keep us informed on Instagram when that app is available.Yes. Thank you so much for this conversation.I absolutely enjoyed myself this afternoon immensely.So thank you so much.And I know that I’ll continue learning from you in the workshop and the course and that.And yeah, it’s been a blast for me.Thank you.Thank you so much.All right, bye. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Equestrian Connection Podcast by WeHorse.If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a rating and review, as well as share us on social media.You can find us on Instagram at wehorse underscore USA, and check out our free seven-day trial on, where you can access over 175 courses with top trainers from around the world in a variety of topics and disciplines. Until next time, be kind to yourself, your horses and others.</p>

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