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Green Cross Code of Change

If I asked you to visualise a green cross, which way would you see it? Horizontal and vertical (+) or diagonally (x)?

If I asked you how do you see change, is it a positive thing or a negative thing, what would your answer be?

I asked myself these same questions. I chose horizontal and vertical (+) and I see change in a positive way. I always think if we keep doing the same thing, we always get the same results; but we can change one thing to make a big difference.

Then I started to look closer at the crosses and what they symbolised. To me , the horizontal and vertical cross is the ‘positive’ symbol or plus sign. It is also the medical symbol or first aid. The diagonal cross makes me think of when an answer was wrong in school and you would have an ‘X’ next to it, or a no entry sign, giving me the impression of it being a ‘negative’ symbol.

When young and being taught about how to cross the road safely, we learnt about the ‘green cross code’. As a child I always looked at the symbol for the green cross code (its an X) as being slightly negative in the way it needed respecting and to me at the time, it wasn’t particularly friendly. (I also thought the green cross code man was a little scary!) So, I decided to change it to a + symbol instead, paticularly as it looks more like a road to be crossed.

When teaching this to my son recently, it all came flooding back. First find a safe place to cross. Stop, look, listen, then cross but keep looking and listening. The more times we went over it, I started to realise that the code can also apply to making a change in our lives. I call it, The ‘Green Cross Code of Change’, and this is how we can use it…

So you want to make a positive change ‘to the other side of the road’ so to speak?

First find a safe place to cross. I see this as finding the right time in your current situation to commit to the change you want to make. This can play a vital role to the success or failure of the change.

Stop. We need to stop doing whatever it is we want to change first, in-order to start with the something new. When we change something in our lives, like a behaviour or a habit, we first need to understand that it was a learnt process in the first place. If we learn how to do something, we can also ‘un-learn’ it. But to do that, we need to have something to replace it with (ie. a new behaviour that you want to become the habit) However, its not like replacing a damaged chip in a computer circuit board where one is taken out and another put in to replace it and it all works fine. The new behaviour has to be learnt by practice, practice and more practice.

Look. This is a good time to look for opportunities to help with the change you are making, research it. Maybe try out the new behaviour when those opportunities arise. Look for information to help back up the new learning and other peoples success stories for inspiration.

Listen. Listen to the feedback you get, not just from those around you, but from your inner-self. Do an ecology check. Is it working? Are you proceeding in the right direction? Does it fit with your visualisation of your expectations? Do you need to adapt?

Cross. Once you have decided it is the right place and time to make a change, commit to it wholeheartedly. Don’t just ‘dip a toe’ in, or ‘I’ll see if it works’, or ‘I’ll try it’. As Yoda says in the movie Star Wars, ‘Do or do not, there is no try!’ If you don’t commit to that change it is less likely to happen, and you won’t achieve the outcome you are looking for. Commit to practicing that new change. Sometimes we need to exaggerate the new behaviour in our practice until it becomes easier, then with more practice the behaviour will become deeper embedded and more likely to stick and like second nature. This is when the old habit or behaviour has become obsolete and the new one has chance to shine.

Once you have ‘crossed your road’, keep looking forward, not backwards into the past, as that isn’t the way you are going!


5 most common evasions horses have when schooling

DSCF8262When horse are being schooled, we aim to encourage them to carry more weight on their hind legs ( the strongest muscles) and lighten their forehand.

This weight transfer is better for the rider as the horse becomes more rideable, but for the the horse it it makes carrying the weight of the rider easier and promotes a longer working life on their joints and muscles.

The gymnasically more useful way of moving takes time to develop and can be difficult for some horses, especially those with conformation issues. The horse will ‘avoid’ bringing the hind leg further under the body and using it to push. These evasions could be due to a lack of straightness, loss of balance, lack of coordination, lack of strength or physical conformation.

Like some humans, when there is hard work to do, they may try to find what they think is an energy saving way of going. This is why we need to school the horse into a more economical, balanced way to move. Think of it as a table with the legs too far apart; the centre weight bearing area of the table becomes weak. But with the legs under the table and supporting, the table becomes stronger.ride-201699_1280

The 5 most common evasions I have found are:

1. Bulgeing the shoulder sideways – this causes crookedness so the horse falls in (or out) to avoid pushing forwards and stepping under with the hing leg.

2. Throwing the haunches in – again causes crookedness because the hindlegs no longer follow the front in a ‘corridor effect’ . They lose the ability to push and carry correctly.

3. Lowering the head and leaning on the riders hands – this loads the weight on the forehand and the rider holds them up. The horse is then pulling itself along as the hindlegs straighten and trail. Some horses depending on their conformation may curl up behind the bit.

4. Speeding up and rushing – this usually follows the above as tbe horse loads the forehand and runs along ‘flat’, unable to re-balance and hold themselves up. The horse can sometimes misinterpret the need of more impulsion for speed and avoids the transfer of weight back onto the hind quarters.

5. Slowing down – the horse doesn’t go forwards from the leg. Again the horse bimbles along dragging itself on the forehand and hindlegs trailing. The horse usually doesn’t track up, particularly in trot and often in walk. When the horse lowers its head and neck (also seen in 3 and 4) the hind leg will straighten and the weight of the head and neck help leverage the weight off the hindlegs and onto the forehand. The horse has to learn to go forwards first before being able to bring them back onto their haunches.

Being able to fine tune our focus onto where exactly the horse is putting its hindlegs and shoulders is the first step to correcting the problem. Riding the horse in a ‘corridor effect’ where the hind legs follow the the forelegs, as well as the riders shoulders, legs, hands and body position all follow accordingly.

I have found some horses may try all of these evasions one after the other, some just one or two. By understanding what is happening underneath the rider and recognising these common evasions, you are already one step ahead of your horse. Happy schooling 😉Emma Sonic Beach01

What are we really communicating to our horse?

horse to waterIf we watch horses in the wild, or just in a group turned out in a field together, how do they communicate their feelings to one another? Those who have a close relationship will nuzzle and groom each other. Some might put ears back or shove the other to move them out-of-the-way. Only if there is conflict does the ‘touch’ between two horses get hard or brutal even.

When we first start to train our horses, we give praise by either voice or a gentle pat. Even the great horse whisperer Monty Roberts says to ‘give your horse a gentle rub on the horse’s head as a reward.’ But why is it that in competition, the excitement of a great test or jumping round do we see some horses being slapped quite hard across the neck or even hit on the head?

Seeing the expression of shock on the horses face (even fear in some) makes me ask myself ‘What does that communicate to the horse?’ It must be confusing for a horse to jump to the best of its ability, and although sensing the riders pleasure with the effort, is subsequently hit around the head.

A horse can take firm pressure and quite enjoy it in the form of a massage or physiotherapy. But even when doing a massage we build up the pressure slowly, starting with long gentle strokes to relax the horse and the muscles. We don’t dive straight in with firm pressure, as this just causes tension and discomfort for the horse.

It has certainly made me look at the way I praise my horses. I do still pat them on the base of the neck or shoulder but in a gentle way, sometimes choosing just a long stroke down the neck and a friendly scratch on the withers. When I start off the young horses they are patted all over with a cupped hand (which makes noise but will only send a gentle vibration through the muscle) to help desensitise them. Firm pressure is only used to reprimand unruly behaviour and should be used sparingly but in a sympathetic manner.

Your Thoughts?sonicschool smile 02