At the end of our lesson on Monday Sarah had me untack Grace so she could give her some CranioScaral Therapy. Grace has many telltale signs of TMJ discomfort; she gapes her mouth when she is stressed, we know she had head trauma from being roped as a foal and she can be pretty darn snarky most of the time. Grace relaxed as soon as Sarah started the CranoSacral touches and was fairly quick to release. Sarah explained each touch to me along the way. At one point both of Grace’s eyes puffed up, it was one of the strangest things I’ve seen. She also made some very odd sounds through her nasal passages. At the end of the treatment Grace looked like we had sedated her. Sarah had me turn her out to graze before taking her home. When I pulled her out of the pasture both of her eyes were back to normal and looked softer, more relaxed then before the treatment. The next day Grace was just much more pleasant to be around. I could feel a shift in her energy, there was a tension that was missing. I was now looking forward to our group lesson on Saturday when Sarah planned to teach her students how to do CranioScaral Therapy on their own horses.
The horse that Sarah used for her demo had never had CranioScaral Therapy administered. She showed us how his tongue spilled out from his teeth, almost like he didn’t have room for it in his mouth. He also had some overdeveloped muscles on either side of his bridle path which were rock hard to the touch. Sarah made sure that we each had a feel for the amount of pressure she was using on each touch. She really put my mind at ease when she said that there was no wrong order for the touches and we were not going to screw anything up on our horses. Her demo horse would get really antsy right before a release and then he would let go, licking and chewing. At the end of his session his body posture had completely changed, he was now standing underneath himself. By placing a hand above his tail I could feel the wave of spinal fluid flowing from his tail to his head and back again. Sarah talked to us about the wave and reminded us that we sit on it when we ride. Any time we are out of balance or stiff in our bodies we split that wave, interrupting the horse’s natural pattern. I let that idea sink in as we went off to work on our own horses.
Grace was very receptive to the work, after an opening pass and leveling of her sacrum I went to work on her head. I had to remember to say in my body and make sure I was breathing. It didn’t take long for me to find her rhythm; I found my own energy changed as I became more grounded. Grace was quick to release in some areas and more resistant in others. At times she would gape her mouth and bite at the air right before letting go. While waiting for a release with my hand on the front of her head, my arms started to burn. I had to let go and shake them out a few times before Grace finally took a deep breath and let go. At the end of the session Grace was relaxed and calm; her energy had shifted to the point that she didn’t take notice of the horse running in the pasture to her right.
Sarah has us all get on our horses so we could feel the difference in their movement. I noticed that I was in a much better place in my body. I had a much better feel than I usually do in the saddle. Sarah had me slow Grace’s walk by slowing my own rhythm. Missing was the usual forward surge from Grace that I tend to get from her anytime I try to change in the saddle. Her jog was phenomenal, her hocks had so much bend, her head was steady and her rhythm never changed. I could have ridden it all day long. Onto the lope Grace surprised me with one of the nicest transitions of all time. Again there was no tense surge, just a rocking motion from behind and we were loping. I followed her rhythm and Grace gave me the best 10 lope strides that she has ever done under saddle. I seriously considered getting off her back right then in fear that I would only screw it up. Sarah has us continue to lope, each time I was surprised by the quality of the transition. A few times Grace went to the left with her shoulder, maybe it is always that way but for the first time I could really feel it. The left lead was more difficult, on account of my body being tense. Sarah worked with me until I got the feel and was able to again follow Grace’s rhythm.
I was amazed at the end of the ride by how little effort it took for both of sync up together in each gait. My plan for the week is to do CranioSacral Therapy before each ride and then focus on my energy under saddle. I’m looking forward to one day turning those 10 perfect lope strides into an entire Western Riding Pattern.