in training

by blogasana on October 9, 2010

I promise not every post will be about my new horse, Cowboy.

Just a lot of them.


We spent some time yesterday with Phil the horse trainer. Phil gave me tips on how to nurture the relationship Cowboy and I are building, and the principles sounded strangely like teaching yoga.

Let the horse know that you are driving the car.

Horses are prey animals so being safe is one of their main concerns. By establishing a trusting relationship, the horse will respond to your cues: if you are breathing and calm, it will be too. If you are clearly leading, steering, driving, he won’t need to.

Sounds a lot like teaching yoga. Drive the car so the students can relax and feel safe as they journey along.

Be clear and consistent in your communication—verbal and non-verbal.

When lunging a horse (with a long lead, asking the horse to run in a circle around you), point your arm in the direction you want him to go, fix your gaze at the girth (near the front shoulder) to direct him forward, and use clicking sounds to indicate the pace you want.

Everything one does while playing the role of yoga teacher is sending a message: where you look, how you use you body, gestures with you hands and face, and of course, what you say. It’s helpful for the student when all those messages are clear and consistent.

Allow for moments of rest.

After a bout of work with a horse, take a rest. Sigh. Give some scratches.

Just like yoga. Without the scratches.

The training doesn’t end until you leave the pen.

Yoga doesn’t end when you leave the mat.


Cowboy and I are going to learn a lot about each other, and in turn, learning a lot about ourselves.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Y is for Yogini October 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Cowboy is beautiful. Thoroughbreds are my favorite. I come from a family of Arabian and Quarter Horse lovers, but I’ve always been a Thoroughbred girl. :)


Elizabeth October 12, 2010 at 1:08 am

Sounds good for dog training too. (Including the scratches.)


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