Conversation between horse and rider

What is the conversation between horse and rider?

Recently I’ve been working with a horse and rider team who are deeply bonded. After an accident the owner is building up her riding time. Her concern was that he would not sustain a trot for a length of time and that her body was not seated in the saddle evenly. Each side of her felt different, and one side felt unwieldy and unable to really connect.


We worked with Ortho-Bionomy for both horse and rider. Part of that involves freeing up the areas that were blocking forward movement. By linking up stronger areas of the horse’s body with weaker areas of the rider’s body, the rider could make corrections in her body and the horse could help. The technique worked with the linking of stronger areas in the rider’s body with weaker areas of the horse’s body too. After an accident, the body needs to reclaim its confidence, which can happen to varying degrees depending upon the severity of injury and restrictions imposed by the accident itself.

IMG_1011In this case, the weaker areas of the horse were also the weaker areas of the person! So in this case I supported both by positioning that was comfortable to both. This can happen in horse/rider teams who have spent many years together and mirror each other’s weaker spots.  The idea is to strengthen the weak areas in both of them so that they can give support where needed and not feel under-resourced.

What became apparent toward the end of the session was that the two of them wound down in their energy and it went into the ground rather than forward into a longer period of trotting. I thought he looked concerned.

I could break down the elements in this way:

  • Person’s body confidence
  • Each mirroring weaker areas of the body
  • Mirroring each other’s energy
  • Horse taking care of the rider

It occurred to me that the horse did not want to sustain the trot because he didn’t feel enough forward energy coming from her. He is also taking care of her – if she doesn’t have the energy for a long period of trotting, then he doesn’t want her to trot that long. Simple as that. This was part of the conversation.

It reminded me of years ago when I was recovering from an injury. My gelding Khami had volunteered to help me with getting back in the saddle. He was really helpful and adjusted himself to my needs perfectly. When it was time to go out on the trail, I felt ready to trot. Khami absolutely refused to trot. This was a horse who was a very forward mover, so his refusal was strange to me. But I realized that he was afraid of hurting me. I also did not have my usual store of energy after the accident. He had a better idea of my condition than I did. I felt I was ready, but he did not. I listened to him (probably better than I listened to my doctor) and began to trot with him when he felt I had good enough balance to do so.

As we worked with this horse and rider team, and as the rider became less blocked and restricted in her body, the horse felt more able to IMG_1941trot and carry her. She began to swing her hips naturally in the saddle. His walk extended also as a result of the work done with him, he tracked forward more efficiently, and he no longer looked concerned.

As she grew in body confidence, he felt she was more able to trot in a balanced way, without growing so tired.  This was achieved through working with the strong areas of the two bodies, and allowing them to help the weaker areas. Her energy came up once her body felt better in the saddle which translated to the horse. He then felt she was resourced enough to do what she was asking of him. It showed in her body and then in his body as the two could move more fluidly together.

These sessions always begin with what appears to be a simple challenge, and then as we unravel what’s going on and listen to both horse and rider very intently, there is a deeper story of interconnectedness. That’s where the conversation really starts to take place and where the transformation can take place on many different levels: body, mind, emotion and spirit.

IMG_0240This type of horse exhibits the qualities we want in a horse – a caretaking leader, who will take an active role in taking care of his person, with love and concern.

Copyright (c) Susan Smith


Article in Horse Around New Mexico about Horse + Rider work (also another one in the September/October issue – not yet posted):

Horse Around Article P1Horse Around Article P2

Professional Services include:

Bodywork: (Ortho-Bionomy for people, Equine Ortho-Bionomy, Equine Positional Release (EPR)): private sessions,  tutorials, phone consultations, Horse & Rider sessions, Equine Body Balance.

Distance Healing Communication

Gift certificates

Ask about The Equine Body instruction & curriculum beginning in September!

Liberty Coaching:

Clinics, mini-clinics, workshops,

Private and semi-private sessions, tutorials

Consultations: by appointment:  505.501.2478 or emailing  Contact me for details.

Let me know if you want to do a clinic in your area. Prices will vary according to location & travel costs.

Sign up today! Saturday, September 19 – The Equine Body Balance Workshops presents “Tenets of Equine Healing” one-day workshop at Arrowhead Ranch, Santa Fe. For the owner, horse professional or person interested in learning who would like to be able to do some bodywork on their own horse or others.

This approach to equine healing provides a framework for the student to use simple techniques to aid the healing of the horse. These techniques follow the horse’s natural tendencies, resulting in specific, sustainable results.

Cost: $140 Early Bird (paid before September 1), $150 after September 1. $15 trailer in fee if you wish to bring a horse. We will work with ranch horses.

To enroll, contact Susan on Facebook, email or 505-501-2478. Payment can be made by check, PayPal/credit card or cash.

September 25 – The Equine Body Balance Workshops presents “Tenets of Equine Healing” one-day workshop in Jones, Oklahoma. Instructor, Susan Smith Cost: $175. Clinic is filling quickly so be sure to enroll!


SHR_LibertyFoundationsSeptember 26-27 – Fall Liberty Weekend in Oklahoma — Susan Smith and Ruella Yates, co-instructors. Contact either of us: or ruella@libertyfoundations for further details. Cost: $325. Clinic is filling quickly, be sure to enroll!

Saturday, October 10 – “Hang with the Herd” – Third in a series of Liberty Workshops. Join me and my herd under a canopy of the trees for some real quality time together –Experience herd, honesty, healing. A new Liberty Foundations 1-day workshop for those who want an introduction to the work or to reinvigorate their liberty process. PayPal and credit card payment available. Whether you have studied Liberty Foundations with me before or not, you will benefit from this workshop.

Hang with the Herd_flyer_Oct10_Page_1

We will interact with the herd in the morning, and work with horses in the arena in the afternoon. We may possibly go to lunch at a nearby restaurant or bring a lunch. Excellent herd to liberty experience! Space will be limited, be sure to enroll soon to ensure your spot. Location: Mac’s Overnight Stables, Canoncito (near El Dorado), Santa Fe, NM.  Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $150 Early Bird before Oct. 1, $160 after Oct 1. Contact or 505-501-2478 for information.

February 6-7, 2016 — Weekend Liberty Foundations Clinic in DeLand, Florida at Curly Dee Ranch.DeLand_Liberty_Feb_2016

Susan is a member of the Independent Liberty Trainers Network.

Associate Instructor, Advanced Practitioner – Ortho-Bionomy & Equine Ortho-Bionomy

Practitioner, Equine Positional Release


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