Laura Christie specializes in rehabilitating horses and helping their riders. She says, "The magic of connection with a horse can create a current of transformation in a person." Laura shares how stretching and releasing, letting go of resistance, physically and mentally, has a healing effect on both horse and rider. She talks about what type of qualities help you understand and communicate with horses
What's your specialty with horses?
After more than thirty years in the field, my specialty is now a unique brand of horsemanship, which I call Topline Horsemanship. Horsemanship is the ability to communicate with horses and handle them correctly on the ground and from the saddle. With Topline Horsemanship, I work with the top line of the horses -- the neck to the back, which is all linked together. I also teach people -- helping them work with their horses from the ground and the saddle. The name also denotes top-of-the-line. I've done versatility training with multiple breeds of horses in 8-10 different disciplines, so this horsemanship has a very broad application.
How does Topline Horsemanship work?
It has classical roots, utilizing gymnastics, which I like to call equinastics. It is also biomechanically and anatomically correct. I use a special stretch that involves a top line stretch to teach the horse to relax by reaching down and then rising back up, stretching huge amounts of muscle and ligaments. The mental relaxation that comes from that stretch changes the mental atmosphere of the horse and makes the animal more relaxed.
People often think a horse is naughty or bad, but a lot of times, the horse is just in pain. Many horses have pain, knots, spasms, or different kinds of physical glitches in their top line (back and neck). The stretching and training rehabilitate the horse, which changes negative behavior and transforms the entire relationship between the horse and rider. It's cool because the spiritual aspect is a constant theme in my work.
How does the spiritual aspect play a role in restoring health to these horses?
Everything came together when I started seeing the spiritual aspect of my work. I realized that there are spiritual qualities behind what I'm doing -- principle, order, soul, beauty. Horses are governed by God, just as we are. When we see and expect that, then rapid changes happen. As I work with the horse, I know that the horse is not only a reflection of the one Mind, God, but also is governed in every detail by the one Mind. It's also really cool to show a horse with my hands how to release what she resists.
How do you get the horses to release what they resist?
You get all the parts to release when you teach the horse to release the jaw to the bit pressure. When the horse realizes that you're teaching it something helpful and that you want it to feel good, a light bulb goes off for the horse. The horse realizes the truth. All of this work is intertwined with the truth. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
Release is an incredibly metaphysical concept. How do you see release applying to people and life?
Negative thoughts, anxiety, or discontent cause all types of problems -- for people and for horses. Horses have their own body language. You have to have intuition, which starts with being centered from the inside and being open. If you're controlling and tight, anxious and bossy, domineering or pushy, you're not going to read the horses' signals very well. You simply can't exhibit those traits.
I think a lot of us tend to do a lot of resisting. But we can release all control to God and trust God to govern our lives. When we "know the truth" and release what we resist, harmony dissipates all the discordant junk. I've seen it happen. There's an absolute parallel that way. I've learned that the negativity, the pain, is not really a part of us; it's not the real truth about the horses.
The healing process with the horse often has the same effect on people, too. People who are unhappy and upset about their horse, who don't understand how to communicate with or help their horse, have a lot of anxiety, which all goes away when their horse becomes happy. The magic of connection with a horse can create a current of transformation in a person. This whole process is an all-around way to reflect good, to bring positive changes to horses and to their owners -- to help them all get rid of physical and mental tightness.
So what qualities do you have to have to read horses and communicate with them?
You have to be observant and sensitive. You have to be open. When I'm open, I feel what's going on. It's an intuition, a 6th sense if you will, which is spiritual. Sight is another spiritual aspect to my work. Knowing that there's one Mind governing all details has made my seeing much more profound. Every horse tells me a story. One of my clients was telling someone else, "She can get on a horse and be quiet with it for about 15 minutes. Then she just starts working with it." It's amazing, really. The horse tells me why it's anxious or locked up.
When you reach the mental atmosphere of wanting to help others, light bulbs go off. When we turn thought away from self-centered desires, we grow personally and are able to help others grow, too. Life is all about reflecting good and bringing joy to others. That's what I feel I'm doing for the horses and their owners. Working with horses is good for people. It's therapy; it's character building. You learn really good qualities -- patience, integrity, honesty. All those qualities add up.
With every single horse, I learn another aspect about how to listen, and I get more inspired about this line of work. I'm allowing the divine Truth to come through, and the evidence is a leavening of the whole situation.
The psalmist says that it's "God who performs all things for me" (Psalm 57:2 NKJV). I've always loved that idea.
Yep. It's like that. God is working through me.
What would you like to see happen with your system of horse rehabilitation?
My goal, mission, quest is to get it out there and educate the horse world about the process so it can be more commonly used across the board. This is a huge statement because there are a lot of different ways of using horses. Horses are so generous to us. So it's a joy to find a way to help them. This is a succinct system that works and does good.
What are some of the highlights you've had in your thirty years of experience?
The highlight for me is putting people together with their horses and creating a solid partnership that yields real teamwork and brings a lot of joy. There's so much character building that comes about, regardless of the field -- hunter/jumper, dressage, barrel racing, reining, cow work. I'm grateful that I've seen so many challenges with horses completely dissolved over the decades.
isit Laura's website - www.toplinehorse.com.