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Episode 273: Svenja Sawinski - Teaching Relaxation Pt 2: Developing Duration





This is Part 2 of a 4 part conversation with Svenja Sawinski. If you are a regular listener to the podcast, you know Dominique and I talk frequently about topics that come from the coaching sessions that are part of my on-line clinics. That’s very much what led to this series with Svenja.

Svenja is one of the regular attendees at these coaching sessions. Last fall we were looking at some video Svenja had sent in in which she was doing some body work with her horse Daryan. Dominique was fascinated by how long Daryan could go between clicks while remaining seemingly very settled and relaxed. He wasn’t anxiously searching for "what is it that you want me to do?". This sparked a long discussion over whether or not to use a marker signal during body work sessions.


In this four part series Svenja is describing the process she used to very systematically teach Daryan how to do more than stand still. She taught him to stand in deep relaxation.


Last week I had Svenja introduce Daryan. I wanted you to understand that he did not start out as a straight forward, easy-going horse. Daryan is very much the kind of horse that can so easily frustrate and overwhelm a handler. In other words, he’s a very good teacher. And Svenja has been a very good student, so together they have a lot to share. When you’re working with an animal that is as large and powerful as a horse being able to ask for calm and get it reliably is a huge piece of the training puzzle.


Last week we ended with how Svenja began to expand the duration of standing in stillness to "Grand Prix level" waiting. We all know you can be waiting but not be relaxed. Think about how anxious you can get when you’re late for work and you’re stuck in traffic. You're sitting behind the steering wheel, but you're looking at your watch every few seconds. You’re anything but relaxed.


That’s not Daryan's form of stillness. He knows how to settle and deeply relax. In this episode Svenja describes the systematic teaching process that taught him how to settle and relax.


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