More than 600 people, the Your Horse team included, attended the first Ride With Your Mind (RWYM) demonstration day of 2017 hosted by Mary Wanless at Addington Manor where they enjoyed a jam-packed schedule of demonstrations and theory.
Mary Wanless BSHI, BSc, FRSA with RWYM coaches Ali Wakelin, Peter Dove (founder of Dressagetraining.tv) and Karin Major (BHSAI, UK CC Level 2 & a Feldenkrais Teacher) as well as Ali Byrne (BHSII, UK CC Level 3, Human & Equine Shiastu and Back Rub) delivered a packed schedule beginning with an overview of the day and of the Ride With Your Mind principles from Mary.
Mary has dedicated her adult life to developing a method of coaching which teaches the structure of talent, so riders can progress step by step from their starting point. She offered an in depth look at the Toolkits required to train both rider and horse, discussing how ‘expertise-induced amnesia’ limits the ability of highly skilled riders to coach others, muddling much of our traditional communication.
This was followed with a demo by Ali Wakelin of her groundwork method based on the work of Dr Andrew Maclean with Mary as handler for Milly Dove’s pony Tinker. The basic operant signals of ‘stop’, ‘back’, ‘park’ and ‘go' were demonstrated, along with whip habituation and head lowering for relaxation.
Mary then demonstrated the power of improving the rider’s biomechanics with guest riders Emma Jones with Rocky and Hayley Allen with Essie. Emma and Hayley had never previously received training from a Ride With Your Mind coach, but they bravely put themselves forward in front of the enormous crowd. The principles and effects of the method became obvious as adjustments to their alignment, stability and balance allowed their horses to reach into the rein and begin to find ‘The Seeking Reflexes’ (commonly termed ‘on the bit’). After the session the smiles and exuberant praise for their lovely horses spoke of their experience.
During the lunch break, in a room above the arenas, the Feldenkrais method was showcased by Karin Major. The two sessions, which were free of charge, were fully booked before the day of the demo, with over 30 people attending each session, and proved a great success with participants.
Also during the lunch break, Ali Byrne demonstrated the Equine Back Rub on Milly Dove’s horse Ella, who was extremely calm in the atmosphere and responded wonderfully to Ali’s touch.
In the afternoon, Peter Dove, founder of Dressagetraining.tv, with the help of Milly Dove with Tinker and Chantal Cornelius with Mia, demonstrated how the Ride With Your Mind theories work to help riders master dressage and ride accurate tests.
Mary also showed how her methods benefit advanced riders, as demonstrated by Demelza Hawes with Fry, Karen Whiston with Winston and Sam Turner with her impressive cob Billy Whizz, and Milly with Ella. They all showed an impressive ability to change the horse’s balance, using what Mary termed ‘suction’.
Throughout the day, Mary performed simple exercises with the audience participating in their seats so they could experience the skills being taught.
"Some of the subtleties of Mary's work can be hard to understand if you're not in the saddle but Mary does a fantastic job of involving the audience during her demos, making her different points clear," says Your Horse editor, Imogen Johnson who attended on the day.
"Throughout the day we were given different exercises to do which brought to life what Mary was trying to explain. It was educational and fun at the same time - I'd recommend Mary's demos to anyone!"