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What am I allowed to do with my hands?

BILL– I’m assuming I should confine my answer to dressage-related activities. Even so, my answer would be different if we are talking about in the show ring, best case scenarios when you’re schooling, or some of the exigencies which arise when confronted with impenetrable inherited tangles.
Let’s begin by agreeing that it is OK to use your hands. However, at all cost avoid random, habitual niggling. Anything you do with your hand must be on purpose and carry a message. And generally speaking it should be as a modifier to a primary aid which began with your seat or legs. Nor should it be used in a backward direction (other than when you are in survival mode). Non-allowing – yes. Pulling – no! Often when you think pulling is the solution, a greater push to that same non-allowing is a better choice.
Remember, your hands have some things to say, but in the context of the rest of your arms. Your elbows must remain elastic, and your forearms must be soft. “Your forearms belong to the horse!” Imagine that the reins continue through your hands and up through your hollow forearms to connect into your elbows and back. At the same time, as I wrote in DRESSAGE Unscrambled quoting Rosemary Springer, “Quiet hands are not dead hands.” An inert, non-communicating hand just allows your horse to lean on it.
Another issue is hands which stay too wide apart. I’ve been known to say, “Don’t push the wheelbarrow. Imagine you’re strangling the barn cat.” Not so much in the show ring but sometimes with a greener horse, it’s OK to open a rein but hardly ever both at once. But immediately after you use it, put it back where belongs. Don’t keep it wide.
As for those extreme cases, if I have to describe to you what to do, you probably aren’t ready to be doing. Keep in mind that your hands may need to be corrective, but try, try, try not to let them become punitive.

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What is Reiki

Reiki, pronounced ray-kee is a lovely, ancient healing art that originated centuries ago in Tibet. As you probably already know, Tibet is located in what is now China. You also know that acupuncture began in China, and that acupuncture is centered about the concept of a life-force energy called chi. So we are talking about ancient cultures that regarded disruptions in the body’s chi as a source of dis-ease. Today this concept is being given more attention, as science begins to accept the idea that there is more to physical disfunction than just germs and broken bones.

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INTERVIEW WITH BILL WOODS

Interviewer: Elizabeth Waller

It’s well known that Marion County boasts more than its fair share of equestrian luminaries in every possible discipline, thanks to an environment that has fostered and supported the horse industry for more than 100 years. Now we can add an accomplished author to the list: Ocala resident and dressage instructor/judge Bill Woods’ first book, Dressage Unscrambled, was published by Half Halt Press last October to rave reviews from readers and riders all over the United States. According to the publisher, the book consists of a ―slightly off-center‖ collection of stories and anecdotes that ―elucidate, illustrate, and demystify hoary dressage principles while managing to skewer the sacred bovines, both two and four legged—of our sport.‖ Readers have described it as ―brilliantly hilarious‖, ―hysterical‖, and ―full of wisdom‖.

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