After seeing and hearing glowing testimonials about DTM I decided to give it a try. It sounded a little woo-woo, but I figured that I had nothing to lose but money, so I purchased 60 Days to a Better Dressage Seat and the magic and the weirdness started.
DTM uses Feldenkrais to give riders a better sense of feel and timing using gentle “lessons” that involve prone, sitting, standing, walking movements, and body scans. Everything is easy, using very subtle patterns that help straightness, coordination, fine motor skills, and most importantly give that elusive feeling of being a natural rider.
Dave, of the DTM, came to Feldenkrais after an accident that stopped his riding career. Interestingly, Feldenkrais not only got him back in the saddle but improved his sense of feel and timing to such a degree that he got certified in FMAT to be able to use it as part of his teaching and coaching.
There are several different courses at different price points. Nothing is cheap, but you do have lifetime access to repeat various lessons as needed. Also, there is a 6 week Zoom class package that is pretty reasonable. I went with the 60 Days course but if the timing had worked out right I might have done the Zoom classes first for a taster.
Anyway, to get to it. What do I think after completing the 60 Days to a Better Seat course? Was it worth it? Am I miraculously a better rider? From the first lessons on doing a body scan and noticing asymmetry, I was hooked. Nothing is physically difficult but after a lesson you scan your body and you are straighter. You go out and ride your horse and both of you are straighter. With no effort. Bizarre stuff. All based on the idea that Feldenkrais lessons reprogram your sense of yourself in space and change your motor movements. There are 5 modules, each with their own emphasis. From asymmetries, to following the motion, to turning and bending, to rider self carriage, it is all covered. You are never told specifically how to do a riding movement, you are just put through a series of gentle exercises and then told X might feel something like this if done correctly. The emphasis is on learning to feel and explore movement patterns yourself with your new awareness.
I can’t believe how much this has helped my riding. It has solved some long standing issues, things like automatically getting a square halt or easy shoulder-in every time. More importantly though, I can feel the horse so much better and readily change my movement patterns when needed. The whole basis of Feldenkrais is that if you “effort” you recruit the wrong muscles and cause tension because you are trying to hard. By working on gentle movement patterns off the horse, my motor control is so much improved, without tension, but also my sense of being able to feel what the horse is doing is so improved. Case in point, I was riding Cruise the other day at the posting trot on a circle. I got flexion, bend, and turn and because he was nice and forward that day I could feel the energy go from his hind feet, surge through his lifted back, and go towards his nose wrapped around in a curve. I’ve never ever felt that on a horse before. I felt like I truly had access to his hind feet.
Anyway, that is just one small example of how the DTM has improved my sense of feel. The breakthroughs have been many, with I’m sure many more to come. Having my hips lead the dance and sitting up will continue to be a work in progress but I feel like I have the tools to gradually improve that piece and many others on my riding journey. I can’t say enough good things about this program. I love it and wish I had know about Feldenkrais much earlier in my riding career.