Recently, because I had read about the importance of proper breathing in Monty's book,I started with a biofeedback stess counsellor to learn to control my breathing and lower my blood pressure.It is fascinating.My cousellor will also hook your horse up to her biofeedback machine and elicit increased blood pressure and then decrease it and pair that with a cue word you can use to calm your horse in fearful situations.Of course I have only just started to work with the biofeedback so I am nowhere near ready for her to work with the horse yet but I am very excited and can't wait so I am doing the homework she gives me faithfully.In conjunction with this I found the videos at Horseandcountry.tv under horsemanship essentials where Monty and Kelly have a blood pressure monitor on the horse to be very useful in understanding all this, both in terms of my breathing and the horses responses to scarey stimuli.When our blood pressure elevates,we are in fight or flight [fear or anger, as my cousellor puts it] the same as the horse.I had not thought about it that way before.Also I did not realize how possible it is to learn to control our fight or flight response just thro' breathing techniques and to bring it down.AM looking forward to being more effective working with my horses as well as in other parts of my life.
My Join-Up® Experience
Monty and You...
Subscribe to Equus Online University and become a part of Monty's worldwide mission to leave the world a better place for horses and for people too.
Students automatically gain access to special rewards, such as exclusive discounts at the Monty Roberts Online Shop. Visit Monty Roberts Online Shop.
Hi Cheryl. That is so interesting, I never thought about that particular method to help with breathing and blood pressure. I do yoga and have also tried self hypnosis, which both helped a lot, especially the yoga. It makes you realise how most of us don't actually breathe properly right into our lungs, we shallow breathe using only the top part. I think Monty also mentioned he used a voice coach to help him keep down the adrenaline too. I would be interested to hear how you get on as you start to put it into practice.
Thanks for sharing this Cheryl. This is quite fascinating. I sometimes have trouble controlling my heart rate when I get nervous and this sounds like something I should investigate further to help me and my horses. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Last Monday, my horse was not co-operating when I was asking her to free longe to the left.To the right was fine , but she would not go to the left and when I tried to get on that side to cue her she kept facing up to me and wouldn't let me over there.I was very frustrated and angry. Because someone needed to use the arena, I took my horse to the barn to wait until I could have the arena to myself after.I was determined to make her go left if it took all night.Since I had to wait I decided to do my breathing exercises. It calmed me down.I started to think more clearly and came up with a gentle way using baby steps to help her understand.Both of us were calm[previously she had been running and bucking].Within a few minutes we had a little sucess, at which point I praised her ,rewarded her and quit for the day.Began to wonder why she hadn't responded well before.Was I miscueing her on that side?Realised she had tried several attempts to figure out what I was asking including a side pass against the wall when I tried to turn her from going right to going left.Next day had a lesson with a trainer who is versed in body languge and energy.As I described what had happened she noticed that I totally changed my body language when going left. I collasped My core, calling her in to me.My hips and toes were in the wrong position.My demeanor lacked assertiveness. Learnt how to do it well with a well schooled horse.Went home and tried with my horse again using baby steps and lots of praise and walking away for a few minutes and breathing everytime she did it right so she could think about it.She was brilliant.Realized I get too enthusiatic and try to move too fast.My horse is smart and very responsive but I move too more complicated things before I have the fundamentals solid.Then her dominant side comes out and she appears difficult when she is really confused and frustrated with me because she has tried and got it wrong and I have treated her as if she is not co-operating on purpose.Funny how a little bit of breathing can change the way you see things and then the way you feel.My horse usually walks to the gate to meet me when she sees me coming with the dually halter and lead line.Hope that never changes.Learning to breathe is helping me stay calm ,patient and thinking things thro more clearly.And less spooky because sometimes I have been spookier than my horse reacting to every little sound .I am becoming more focused and regaining focus faster when I lose it.Oh yeah, sometimes when I walk away and take a deep breathe ,from across the arena I hear my horse do the same. Too cool!
Well done, Cheryl. This is something we could all benefit from I am sure. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I Do Tai Chi and this has helped me move more softly. I am not tiny at all, quite overweight (but always working on it) but i am also a dancer so Tai Chi helps me remain harmonious and when i walk with Willow or around her i try to do it as if I were doing "the Form" (which ofr me is like danced yoga). I have noted that the few times I have frogotten myself and rush in to the stable in a hurry Willow reacts to it immediately. I stop, breathe deep and lowere my adrenalin and she reacts to that as well in a positvie way.
it´s funny, we have two neighbours, brother and sister, teenagers. And whereas Ana is sweet and gentle, Alejo is "a storm". willow reacts to Alejo´s energy nervously. But one day, i was putting some salve on a small cut on Willow´s neck and Alejo offered to hold her for me as the salve stung a bit. before I could say anything he said. "Don´t worry, today I´m calm". And he was and Willow didn´t move.
After this, he and Ana took turns to turn Willow out on the days I had to go to the city to work (I´m an Englsih private teacher) and willow has always behaved beautifully with both.
Now, however, Alejo is at the difficult age of 17 and his energy and hormones are flying everywhere so I have releived him of his task. Their parents have cows and they ues the stable next to ours so it is their father, as sweet and gentle as Ana, who turns Willow out and takes her in when I am not home. It is curious to watch how Willow beahves with different individuals. Ana has a young dog, Leia. And Leia is cionvinced it isher duty to "chase" Willow back to her stable. She has got to hang from willow´s tail and can you believe it???? Willow hasn´t kicked her. I hope she doesn´t. It sems she knows Leia and that this dog, unnerving as she may be, doesn´t mean her harm and so she just runs off to her stable with Leia tariling behind, someimtes with Willow´s tail in her teeth.. Oh.. so many little stories....
It's funny how Monty's concepts help us in unexpected ways. I've been called to play the organ in church, this is something I've never done before and while I can play the piano OK I'm not the most competent. Needless to say I was extremely nervous, after the second song my heart was beating out of my chest I remembered how Monty talked about teaching himself to slow his breathing to stay calm. I forced myself to breathe slower and immediately my heart rate began to come down. After that I played much better almost perfect in fact. Thanks Monty!
This is very interesting and I will have to try it too. I can see how that would help with our horses. Horses can sense when you are nervous and angry so it stands to reason that correct breathing to help keep you calm will help them to remain calm. Thanks for sharing.
There is a saying in eastern medicine. North Americans do not know how to breath.
There is more to this than just breathing slowly in bio-feedack.
When practising your breathing, the best way to learn is when lying on your back. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy. Take a deep enough breath to rise the tummy. If it does not raise you have done it improperly.
Also, when taking this breath, hold it for the count of eight and release it slowly through the mouth making a humming noise.
This releases all the air from the lungs allowing the good air, through the nose to enter the lungs. Also, the humming relaxes the diaphram and allows the whole body to relax.
When you have conqured this you do not need to do the humming in public, as people will think you are crazy.
But I do this with STAR and she does not mind the humming and she starts to breath with me.
When I am on the tread-mill and my heartrate is going too fast, my mind,(bio-feedback) will tell my body organs to slow down.
I was at a gym, a few years back, and the owner was watching me do this and asked how did I do this.
I explained to him the mind can allow you to do a lot of things if you have the power of concentration. This takes years of practise to do well but breathing properly can be learned in moments.
Also, it will be so noticeable that others will comment on it. When I am around my friends they will comment that they can see me breathing, it has become second nature to me now.
Learn to breath everyone and teach your horses to do the same.
Stand beside them with your hand on thier belly and breath diaphamicly, they will do the same and be so relaxed they will close thier eyes !!!!
Have a sunny day.
Oh wonderful posts here! Thanks for sharing everyone. :-)
I agree Katie, very interesting readings. I moved from the west in Canada to the very east 4 years ago and moved my Icelandic horse Stjarni with me. After about 20 years following Monty Roberts work, reading his books and now being part of this university, a lady who took in my horse to her stable and literately saved him after , he was. very ill with a bad stomach ulcer at another stable, I am now introduced to the Parelli horse work. Also very interesting but I hold on to Monty's method. Since I am here on Prince Edward Island, I got also introduced to choral singing and I am learning amazing things about breathing. My singing has improved, my horse responds in such a wonderful new way to me and I am happy to have now three great outlooks to learn from. Monty first and I will ask my two boys for a Christmas present for another year of Monty's university, the "Parelli lady", and my three music directors. I also enjoy yoga, it is such a wonderful way of staying flexible and relaxed, especially in my later older years.thanks to Monty who started this all for me. Hiltrud.
This is a great thread. Thank you guys. :-))
It is amazing a simple thing like breathing correctly can accomplish so much and is we have an open mind we can always learn.
I am a part time singing teacher and it's amazing the difference that comes about in the students when they get their breathing on track. Here are some tips that everyone can do:
Lie on your back and practise breathing with a phone book or 2 on your belly (not chest). The book/s should rise and fall with each breath. The added weight of the book forces you to become more conscious of your diaphragm and strengthens it. Start with little weight over short intervals and build up.
Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself breathe. Your shoulders should not rise & fall with your breathing. The lungs do not expand by the shoulders pulling them up, they expand by the diaphragm (located underneath the lungs) forcing them to. If your shoulders are rising and falling it is likely to create tension which will spread to other areas of your body.
Do yoga, as many people in this thread would probably testify to! Studies have shown that yoga not only increases one's physical fitness, but partcipants are also more likely to be able to achieve more in other areas in their life, e.g. weight loss, study et cetera. The theory is that because yoga links the mind to the body while practising, it strengthens your mind 'muscle' as well, meaning that you are able to remain clear-headed more often.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Great ideas student, thankyou!