October 10, 2022

Connor and his Biomechanics Changes

Hello, my name is CobJockey, and I've ridden three times this week!

(This is a recent record.)

"Excuse me what?" PC: Barnmate Leah

It feels good to get back to it, even if what I'm doing looks wildly different than what I was doing a year ago. So let's look at what has changed. First up, with Connor.

I mentioned that we had a session with Celeste last winter. While I haven't been faithful about doing every single one of her exercises regularly, I've done enough to see a huge change in the way he moves and his musculature. It sort of drives me crazy - there's a lot about the way it's marketed and the cult-like fanbase that puts me on edge after my "cult-like clinician experience" from several years ago, but I think she's onto something, and I'm so grateful that I did it for him.

My current theme with him is "Okay, you can do the thing, but can you do it with your underneck relaxed?" One of the things Celeste told me that stuck with me is that his underneck had become his pillar of strength over the years, and he was actually afraid, truly fearful, to let go of it. He wouldn't even try to put his head down for a full 20 minutes when I started asking, and you could see fear in his eyes. In his mind, we were asking him to walk off a plank, or let go of a life preserver in the ocean, and we hadn't even touched the under saddle stuff yet - he was still just wearing a halter and lead rope standing next to me in the arena!

He was just clinging to his pillar of strength as we went further and further up the levels - and the left lead canter depart is still the one thing he desperately clings to the underneck on. PC: Blogger Leah

So we've taken things all the way back. My rides look more like training or First Level rides these days. And I love it. He's never been more relaxed, and he hasn't had a head shaking episode in months at this point. There's a softness in his eyes after our rides that hasn't always been there, and even standing in his stall or the crossties, his posture has changed. It's honestly kind of incredible to see.

Given that, and given my biomechanics discovery from Kate (more on that Wednesday), I'm still not taking lessons at this point. I know what I need to work on, and I know what needs to be solid and ingrained before I add in the pressure of thinking about someone else's opinion of where we are. I love my GP trainer madly, but right now it just needs to be me and Connor.


  1. I agree about the cult like following but also agree that she is on to something. I've seen huge improvement in my old guy's posture and muscle development just doing the three pillars in hand a few times a week. Under saddle is harder for him, so like you we have gone back to easier things to get them right.

    It's interesting, because once you have this knowledge you see the nerve impingements and over use of the underneath in so many horses.

    I wish the information was in a different format that was easier to access and understand but so it goes.

    I have found the groundwork certification Mary Wanless' dressage training tv to be super complimentary to the BTMM FWIW.

    1. That's really good to know, I may check this out over the winter. Thank you!

  2. Sounds like you two are on an exciting path! It's so much more pleasant when the horse is relaxed about the work. I totally get what you mean about needing to work on your own for awhile. There's really a lot to be said for just working through things. Lessons will be available when you're ready for them.

    1. Yes, definitely. I'm not fussed about it or about not showing this year at all.