Saturday, January 28, 2023

Balance Through Movement Method & the Three Pillars


As I talked about in my last post, my initial foray into the BTMM was last spring with the FB Masterclass.  The Masterclass is a series of guides including videos, pictures, write ups, and posts.  It is not a step by step how to, but more of an exposition of the theory behind the method with lots of real life examples.  This second time of going through the guides, videos, and posts I feel like I got things more because there are many more supporting materials and examples.  It is not however, a step by step of exercises that you can quickly breeze through and implement.


There is a good general explanation of the methodology and theory on the BTMM website HERE and the link to purchase the Masterclass that is hosted on FB.  Right now, other than the Masterclass, some in person clinics given by Celeste and some of her approved instructors, there is also the option for virtual one on ones.  My understanding from the website is that there will be online academy classes for a nerve release course, the pillars in hand, and then under saddle pillars this spring and summer.  Another great learning opportunity is to check out Celeste-Leilani Lazaris’ personal FB page that is open to the public, where she does a fair amount of posts on explanations of theory and biomechanics.




The base of the method is the three pillars that must be present for the ridden horse to function in correct biomechanics.  I don’t want to go into detail because it is Celeste’s work to explain and profit from, but I thought I could do a generalized overview.  The first pillar has to do with the relationship to contact and being able to turn on and off certain of the horse’s muscles.  The second pillar has to do with the center of gravity of the horse at the standstill and in motion.  The third pillar has to do with spinal integrity, the horse being able to abduct independently, and be able to do a curved line correctly.  The pillars build on each other and are simple, but take a while to get right and then to build up strength.  When the in hand is solid then the same exercises are started under saddle.  Everything is done in a sympathetic manner and is a little more like gentle physical therapy than slamming the horse through a series of movements.  The idea being that any riding horse in a ridden horse sport should have the three pillars as a base and then split off into a specialty.

Of course if your horse has nerve impingements from a collapsed thoracic sling, foot issues, or any of a host of other problems you would implement a more complex supporting plan but the pillars would still ultimately be how you would eventually rehab them into correct biomechanics.

 I feel like I am learning so much from this Masterclass and continue to be blown away by the wealth of online learning opportunities available.




Friday, January 27, 2023

Confession Time


I have a confession to make.  I have been cheating on Mary Wanless and Dressage Training TV with Celeste Lazaris’ BTMM Masterclass on Facebook.  I initially dipped my toe into the Masterclass HERE in April.  I liked the exercises and found the Masterclass useful but a little confusing in format.  I started taking lessons with a Mary Wanless trained instructor and basically fell down the MW rabbit hole.  No regrets, fixed my big biomechanics issues and learned a lot.  But.  Riding Cruise felt like driving a dump truck.  The contact was heavy.  Correct upward transitions were still super hard for him.  Everything was obedient but difficult to execute.  And Jet really didn’t improve at all with my improvement in biomechanics.  Hmmmm…

I know I have a tendency to bounce from one methodology to another, so I immersed in Mary Wanless for 6+ months.  I kept getting glimpses of the Masterclass when I was on FB though, and the posts spoke to the issues that kept coming up with Cruise.  I bought the MC for Jet but as time went on and I re-explored the updated content I started to be convinced that Cruise’s thoracic sling is under developed, he can’t abduct well, or put weight to the outside of a circle.  Even though he is naturally uphill with big gaits, the lack of thoracic sling development is why he struggles a bit.

I made an executive decision to try the Masterclass while I can’t ride outside much in January and February.  I went through the guides in the MC from the beginning.  Everything is much more organized with a lot more content, written and video, and I feel like I comprehend the theory much more.  Honestly, the Mary Wanless stuff educated my eye and understanding quite a bit.  I had missed a couple of (many!) key points in my first foray into the MC and with the expanded content I felt comfortable giving BTMM another shot.  And damn.  The horses both love it.  I started with the ground exercises and since everything is step by step, when they were pretty good there I started the process of transferring the same exercises to under saddle work.  

It’s been very interesting.  We’re about a month in and both horses are thriving.  Relaxed, even in the cold temps.  They both seem much more tuned into me and are moving much more correctly.  I just recently noticed that after this first month Cruise’s girth is now 3 holes down on one side and two on the other with no feed changes and if anything slightly less calories because the grass is poor. I can’t go into much detail about the BTMM exercises but I think I’ll do a post soon about the general outline of the 3 pillars and why they should be present in all types of riding.

Are you having any winter epiphanies with your riding and training?

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Cruiser and Jet Recommend for Winter Blahs






The Shires Ball Feeder is a Cruiser favorite.  Sturdy of build, fairly hard but not impossible to get a treat out of, this ball gets a serious workout every day.  The first time I loaded it with treats, he watched me do it, I rolled it to him, he banged it with his foot until a treat fell out, and a love affair was born.  Jet completely doesn’t get it and is uninterested.


Jet however does love a Likit.  In any flavor.  He has been known to eat one in a day.  Cruise gets a little more time out of his Likit but just as much enjoyment.  Both boys highly approve.  They also make great Himalayan salt holders.


The mostest bestest favorite of both boys is an Uncle Jimmy’s Hangin’ Ball.  Sticky, grainy, deliciousness that I save for special as it takes days to get the molasses off their faces and ears.  They both think the deliciousness is totally worth the mess though!








Monday, January 9, 2023

Riding in Release by Kate Sandel


This is a really interesting little book.  The description speaks for itself and the reviews are fantastic.  I found it written in an easy to understand, flowing way with many appropriate quotations from the French Classical and the Vaquero/Buckeroo masters.  It is honestly the first clear, understandable explanation of the techniques of the French Classical School I have come across.  From the beginnings in Baucher, to the philosophical base, to the physical development of the horse, this little book covers it all.  It’s also amazing how much crossover there is with the Vaquero/Buckeroo School.

There is a lot of technical detail about release of the jaw, lateral bend, balance, and the thoracic sling echoing things I have come across before in Dressage Naturally and Connection Training but with a lot more theoretical underpinning and step by step direction.  It’s very clear and easy to implement.  I’ve been playing with some of the concepts and it’s been interesting how both horses have responded very positively, especially to the flexions which they seem to find very relaxing.  

What have you been reading, or viewing, that you’ve found useful lately?