"I felt as if someone had taken chains off my rib cage."

Article first published – May 2016 STRIDE Newsletter


In the January 2016 edition of Dressage Today, Felicitas von Neumann-Cosel gave a testimonial to her experience with Hanna Somatic Education® (HSE). She discussed her chronic back pain that had “not responded to many therapies including stretching, Feldenkrais and physical therapy.” Then she said: “After my first session of HSE, I felt as if someone had taken chains off my rib cage and my back felt better.”

Felicitas’ testimonial was part of an article, entitled “The Training between your Training” written by her teacher, Certified Hanna Somatic Educator, Ryan Moschell. His article and supporting videos will provide more detail about Hanna Somatic Education and can be accessed at http://www.somatichealthsolutions.com/youtube/

My own body-related riding obstacles paralleled those described in the article. So I signed up for the clinic in Athens, Georgia taught by Ryan on January 22-24, 2016. There were 10 dressage riders and the clinic consisted of two days of group class followed by an individual session for each of the participants.

The essence of HSE is to address Sensory-Motor Amnesia (SMA). “SMA is an habituated state of forgetfulness of how certain muscles feel and how to effectively coordinate them. SMA cannot be cured by treatment, medicine or surgery, but can be controlled consciously after a relearning process.” As Ryan says: “I have found that working with equestrian athletes has been highly successful because they are deeply passionate about their sport and intensely focused on continual improvements.”

Has my riding improved since the clinic? I have waited several weeks to write this article. I wanted to be sure that the encouraging results from the clinic would continue if I practiced the fundamental exercises at home.

To my delight I can report improvement in my riding. My legs feel longer in the stirrups, meaning that my pelvic muscles are loosening. I can now access my ‘whole’ left side (back and legs) on the horse. This is allowing me finally to make balance adjustments and prevents falling in by one horse and helps alleviate a stiff left side reaction from another horse. My coach agrees that my riding has improved. Additionally I can breathe more freely which certainly helps my half-halts.

Yes, I have done at least 4-5 somatic exercises a day. It takes perhaps 15 minutes and I can do them morning or at night. Ideally I’d like to do them both times! Ryan Moschell says that the work is cumulative and progresses and deepens the longer we continue the practice. His words have been further supported by Felicitas’ own experience in and out of the saddle.

Recently I met some of the participants from Ryan’s Somatic clinic for riders in Athens who happened to be showing at Canterbury. Their coach told me that several of the ladies are now able to ‘wrap their legs around their horses’. This is because of what they learned and experienced in the clinic as well as how they are able to implement and integrate their new Somatic skills every day.

I would be happy to talk to any STRIDE member who is interested in knowing more. If enough STRIDE members were interested, I am sure that Ryan would give a clinic for us here.

Ryan Moschell, CHSE, travels worldwide to teach clinics, consisting of group movement classes and individual sessions for each of the participants. He also offers online Somatic education at a distance. If you travel to Maryland or DC you are welcome make clinical appointments with him during your stay. Please contact Ryan Moschell directly. His website is: www.SomaticHealthSolutions.com and most of his videos may be seen at www.youtube.com/channel/RyanMoschell

Happy Trails! ”