Hannah Jones MMCP

Hannah works holistically with horses, taking into account all factors from feet to feed. She is a Reiki Master & Teacher, Holistic Therapist, Masterson Method Certified Practitioner and Qualified Remedial Saddle Fitter. We asked for her reflections on how lockdown has affected the relationship between horse and rider. We think you’ll find her reflections insightful and welcome your comments. How has lockdown affected you and your horse?

I’ve been thinking about the repercussions of no competitions this year and what that means. I’m sure many of you are devastated with most of them being cancelled this year. However, I always like to see the positives in any given situation and feel there are many in this case.

No competing allows us more precious time with our beloved horses, giving a great opportunity for 1-1 bonding, helping you to discover more about your horse in a multidimensional way.

Horses have this incredible ability to mirror what’s going on inside ourselves, it’s happening with my own horse, encouraging me to pay attention to it and release it, if it’s something I need to let go of. It’s a brilliant time to work on ourselves too and your horse is here to help you.

Hannah Jones, masterson Method Practitioner and remedial Saddler with her chestnut horse

How can you connect with your horse?

Check in with yourself about how you’re feeling, your intuition will tell you if you’re right and so will your horse. Watch your horse’s behaviour and ask if that’s coming from you. If they’re showing signs of anxiety, why is that?

Throw the clock away, keep an open mind and stand with your horse.”

Find out where in the body the anxiety is coming from, you’ll feel it or something will pop into your mind. Stay with it and release the emotions behind the anxiety, imagining them melting away. See what responses your horse gives too and if they release with you with a sigh letting it all out or by licking and chewing.

This is also a brilliant technique to do before a competition, helping you and your horse to let go of everything in that moment, so you have the mental and emotional ability to truly focus on each other. In those minutes of competition the only thing which matters is the connection between you. Help each other out by doing this, the results may surprise you.

The upside of not competing your horse this year

Going at the horse’s pace will hopefully become a common theme without the pressure of competing. Riders are no longer focused on being competition ready, lending itself to a mindset change, instead, observing what the horse is ready for or considering additional help they might need.

Slow but steady wins the race! Just think how many more competing years the horse would enjoy and be ready for if they’re cared for in a holistic way now.

Five tips to develop a deeper bond with your horse

and make sure they’re competition fit in mind, body & spirit

  • Offer your horse essential oils to smell, if they like it they’ll smell with both nostrils and want to eat it. Be sure to check they’re therapeutic grade and if your horse can ingest the ones they want to eat! You’ll need a variety of oils to cater for their mental, emotional and physical needs. Make a note of their favourite oils and offer these daily until they no longer need them. This approach is sometimes known as Zoopharmacognosy.
  • Use balance pads to strengthen the core muscles of your horse and help them to release tightness. You can use them on both fronts, both hinds or diagonals to help determine where their imbalances or restrictions might be.
  • Do the bladder meridian technique from the Masterson Method. Not only will this tell you where your horse has tension, but it also has a special ability to connect you and your horse even more, really helping to improve your relationship. It’s amazing therapy for us too! It creates a meditative state for both of you, also extending your energy to one another, strengthening your spiritual bond.
  • Groundwork, I can’t emphasise this enough. Shoulder-in is one of the few exercises which contracts the back muscles so is brilliant for rehab work and to strengthen your horse’s back. Every movement should be done in a relaxed state with balance as the focus, with the correct bend through the whole body. Groundwork is the foundation to ridden work, the more you can refine it the better, helping in your competitions.
  • Check your saddle fit! Your saddle is the most important purchase you will make for your horse. It should be placed 2 inches behind the scapula (English and Baroque saddles), it must not restrict the shoulders or withers in any way. It should have plenty of spinal clearance ensuring the panels are placed correctly on the longissimus dorsi muscle. It should be short enough, making sure the saddle doesn’t extend past the last rib, it’s better if it’s even shorter than this. This is why I adore the El Campo Shorty, an all-round baroque saddle with an 8cm gullet by Deuber & Partner. Deuber’s saddles are adjustable the whole length of the gullet with their revolutionary allen key system. I travel nationwide for those of you wishing to trial these brilliant saddles.

With a correctly fitting saddle, tension free body and happy mind, imagine what you could achieve next year! With such a solid foundation your opportunities could be endless! Make the most of this exciting time and feel the difference.

If you have any questions about these techniques please do get in touch. I’d love to hear how your horse responds, tag @sabresaddlery for releases you get!

Hannah Jones MMCP

Hannah works holistically with horses, taking into account all factors from feet to feed. She is a Reiki Master & Teacher, Holistic Therapist, Masterson Method Certified Practitioner and qualified remedial saddle fitter and Deuber and Partner saddle distribution. She assists her clients in reaching an understanding and connection with their horse to heal and rehabilitate by investigating the root cause behind behavioral problems. She uses groundwork and ridden techniques to ensure rider and horse are working as one using bio-mechanical principles based on historical dressage.

Hannah follows the ethos that the only opinion which matters is that of the horse.

Find out more about Hannah via her website

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The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website