Mark Rashid Horseman Aikido Clinic Notes, Dec 2013 – AWESOME!!

By , December 24, 2013 12:37 pm

Thanks for your interest in reading my notes from Mark Rashid’s AWESOME (yes, seriously) “Aikido for Horsemanship” clinic last weekend in the UK. I absolutely adored it and learned a TON I’m now putting into practise with my horse.

If you are interested in reading my notes, I want to ask you 2 small favors.


1) In Ireland we have a serious problem with abandoned horses and the IHWT do amazing work to help as many equines as they can.

Before you read my notes, please donate even just 1 euro (or whatever the value of these notes are to you) to the IHWT online here:

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Lets improve our horsemanship and help the horses who need it. And if you enjoyed this and you haven’t already.. Mark Rashid is a LEGEND!! He’s got amazing books on amazon you need to read, and he’s back in the UK in May 2014 for more clinics.


Just back from a 3 day Aikido clinic in the UK with Mark Rashid. I wasn’t too sure what to expect. But I was blown away. It was 100% about horsemanship, the aikido was only a means to the end. Here’s my overview, any mistakes are my own!


CROSS FIT EXERCISE. Mark recommends to do this daily it only takes 90 secs.

Do each of the 3 exercises for 10 seconds. Rest then for 10 seconds. Then do the next exercise. Repeat all 3 exercises 3 times. Total exercise time = 90 secs. Total time inc. rests = 3 minutes.


– Pushups with completely straight body, only toes and hands touching the ground. If you can’t do this, stand up and put your palms on the wall and do them that way. Your whole body must be straight.
– Squarts with your backside out
– Lay on your back, shoulders off the ground and arms in the air. Legs in the air, at about a 80 degree angle off the floor and make sure to keep your lower back to be flat on ground – v important. Then use your core muscles to wobble a little bit back and forwards.



First up we all had to breathe while 1 person lightly put their hand on our shoulder. A lot of people were moving their shoulders while they were breathing – not good, you need to use your diaphram more when breathing. So instead:

Breathing: Stand still and breathe out, but further than normal through your mouth. think about breathing out through a straw. Breathe out for an extra 1-2 seconds than you would normally.

Breathe in normally. Shoulders should not rise up if you use your diaphram properly. After we checked again, and there was MUCH less shoulder mvt from all.

Also – this made a BIG difference to me. My shoulders relaxed, my center of gravity seemed to lower a little and I felt more grounded. All EXCELLENT for riding!


EXERCISE: This is a little difficult to explain in writing but I’ll try!

1) Stand with left foot forward.
2) Put right foot forward.
3) Instead of bringing left foot forward now, turn your body into the center and bring your left foot on the outside side of right foot.
4) You should now have turned 180 degrees.

EXERCISE: Grounding.

Move your backside in a circle slowly like you’re hula-hooping. Think about outside of your body, how your clothes feel touching your skin. Keep hulahooping the same way.

Now think about the inside of your skin…. keep hulahooping. Now think about your internal organs moving in the same circle.. Now slow down how fast your body is moving on the circle, but keep your inside organs moving at the original (faster) speed. Get to standing still with your internal organs still moving in a circle. Smoothly reverse that circle of your insides. Then gently let your body follow that movement and start a slow hula hoop circle the other direction..


(Very important in horses)

Stand behind someone, hands on shoulders. When you try to physically make them move they will tense their body against you. When you touch them lightly initially, and then ground and center yourself physically and thunk about HELPING them to move, they move with you much easier. This made a CRAZY BIG difference. There was NO resistance from the person who was being moved.

In the future always think about helping your horse. Never think about making him do something again.


2 people pull on each end of a broomstick type pole. Like a tug of war. A third person stands in the middle waiting.

Third person does a few things (while tug of way is underway).

– Puts hand on middle of pole and forcefully pulls one direction. The 2 other people on pole tense up and it all gets slighlty more violent.

– Puts hand on stick and thinks about helping one person move pole in their direction. BIG difference…. people do not tense up more, and stick actually moves more in that direction! Without 3rd person using any force!!!

– Puts hand on stick, thinks about helping one person and also bringing the second (opposing person) with them. VERY POWERFUL. No additional braces from the 2 people. Instead both people actually SOFTEN!!! and stick is easy to move again.

Slightly mindblowing right there!

Then we were taught the horsemans Cata – a series of moves with steps and arms…


Back at home so hopped on Oz bareback to try out a few things from Mark Rashid’s “Aikido for Horsemanship” clinic. There was no planning, I didn’t read my notes, I just thought I’d scoot out and see what had stuck in my head. The sunshine was bouncing off the grass and it was like the middle of July in our field 🙂

My focus today was breathing, grounding and centering… (one side result was that bareback was sooo much more comfortable today!), using my weight and whole body (including never looking at Oz’s head!) to do turns and straight lines, and then really concentrating on what Oz felt like and where all his legs and weight were and harnessing them…. the result…. AN AWESOME soft ride… Oz was very happy, soft and willing throughout.

And it’s really weird….. I’m back in now at my computer but my whole body feels so soft and relaxed and grounded. I’m usually very happy after I ride but this “physical softness” is a new thing! I wonder if Oz feels the same way…

(Next ride I’m going to continue the breathing & grounding, and also be more aware that I need to move my core first and relax everything else…)

Day 2 aikido

EXERCISE: 3 cross fit type exercises done at the start of every day.

EXERCISE: put your hands on someones upper back. Relax and center, and think about helping the person to move. MAGIC!! (it doesn’t work at all if you fore the person to move, as they automatically brace against you)


Person B stands behind person A. Hands on their upper back.

Person A has their head up, eyes up. Person B pushes their back gently to see what happens.

Person A has head up eyes down. Person B pushes their back gently to see what happens.

Person A has head down eyes down. Person B pushes their back gently to see what happens.

Person A has head down eyes up. Person B pushes their back gently to see what happens.

Person A has head down & think up, etc. Person B pushes their back gently to see what happens.

Think up is most secure, along with head and eyes up.

RESULT: Its much harder to fall off if you’re head is up, you are looking up and yoo are thinking up!


1 person on 4s on floor. Other person, stand at one side amd put your hands on their shoulders. Standing person turns head left and right very slowly. Person on ground also moves head (just from change of feel / mvt by the hands on their shoulders).

The person standing now staring at persons head (the pretend horse). Pretend horse either lowers and softens their shoulders or does vertical flexion and drops their head.

Amazing stuff.

So – Imagine your body cueing horse inententionally one way, but your reins are asking the horse to go other way.. Really confusing for horse and I’m pretty much 100% sure this is why Oz used to be so frustrated / annoyed with me. Interesing…


So if you stare at horses head, he’ll lower his front end or do vertical flexion. Wouldn’t be the best if you want forward mvt though. If your horse has issues going forward, first thing to try is to stop staring at his head 🙂


Two people. One person puts their palm on top of the other persons palm. The person with the hand on top will help the other person to move. Again – focus on the word – HELP. So soften, center, ground, and think about helping the person. MAGIC again.

Them do same, but this time instead of palm on palm, only the tip of your finger points down on other persons palm, and you move person. Also do it with air between finger and palm.

Woah!!!!!!!!! 😎

The touch finger tip to finger tip. One person moves another.


Breathing – breath out for longer. Be grounded with the earth. Should be like this is the saddle.

TURNING 1: When you turn with your head first = your weight goes on foot in same direction and you have to cross your legs to take your first step in that direction = awkward.

TURNING 2 (better):When you turn… Turn your core first and head after = weight goes on foot left behind (not in the direction you are turning in) and you can take step with leading leg. MUCH MORE STABLE and simpler.

Ikeda Sinsay (great aikido guy on YouTube)

Part 2

ROLL TIME! The better you are all rolling, the less likely you will be to hurt yourself if you fall off a horse. Chrissie had a really good story about this.

Sideways rolls bended knees, head tucked up, shoulders rounded, slap Arm off Mat at 45 degree angle.

Backwards rolls head tucked up, whack arms off mat at 45 degree angle (nearer your toes than your head).

Backwards rolls legs crossed and change how thy are crossed mid air.

Backward roll full way legs over head.


Person coming toward you. Gently take arm (same side) and help them past you.

Part 3

Person attacks with sword, you move behind them, hands on shoulder move them away.

Person uses two hands to grab your collars. Step back a little. Put one of your arms through their arms and flip their arm up.

Person uses two hands to grab collar. Step back a little. Slap face, take their opposite arm with two hands and turn their wrist.

Person used two hands to try and grab your collar. Before they do, pull one of their hands to you and put other hand under chin and push their chin away. Stay squareish with them.

Breathe…(always good to remember this)

Did the cata again…

Donation time….. just click on the picture below:



Day 2 – Hopped up bareback in the field with a gale blowing. Another gorgeous ride!!

Started up standing still and I spent a few minutes on my breathing, centering and grounding. Horse was totally relaxed.

Then while standing still, I played with turning my core right and left….. this resulted in Oz changing what hind foot he was resting 🙂

Then off we went.. again I focused on

1) look where I wanted to go, not at Ozs head
2) breathing and staying grounded *my center of gravity felt like it was in my knees!!
3) feeling everything

Got circles and turns from moving my core and putting more weight on one side of Oz… magic

Got stops from just thinking about them.

In walk on a straight line, I focused on 1 front foot and thought about helping it to step a little to the outside… BINGO

Same on the near fore..

Then played about thinking about off hind.. could I help it to step under? yes, the horse started to turn right….

Blown away by my horse, then a tractor went past… didn’t bat an eye (historically Oz likes to use a distraction for his own means) but he was just happy and chilled out to be with me.

Awesome horse, awesome ride.

And yes, again back at my computer I feel very mellow and relaxed after it all!

AIKIDO Day 3 part 1.

Cross fit type 3 exercise warm up as usual.


– Step with right foot, left door doesn’t go forward instead it sweeps behind and forward the right
– Look up, turn 180
– Stay straight
– 75% weight on front big toe

Breathe out for 1 or 2 secs more than usual.


Pair up with someone
One person is the zombie

EXERCISE: zombie walls to you with arms out, very much like a zombie. You step forwards and little sideways with outside foot. Arm on same side brushes 1 arm away. Other wrist goes beside zombies neck. They get unbalanced and start to fall backwards

EXERCISE: zombie walks to you. Their arms are out. Do 2 step manovre and end up behind them. One hand On zombie Shoulder and one on zombie arm. Lightly. Direct their moving energy to the side.


Put elbow on persons shoulder. Drop your center. Breathe out. They’ll start to drop slowly. Do not force it.

Put back of forearm on persons forearm and hold hand on same side. Think down, they’ll drop down.

Grab 2 wrists of person. They soften, your hands loosen, try out one hand to their face and their other hand unwraps your thumb. They twist your wrist and you’re in trouble.

Horse hands under chin and ask horse to raise head. After a while they’ll want to lower head (like elbow on persons shoulder and they want to drop) so allow horses head to drop. After while put your fingers under horses chin and they’ll drop their head.


Someone puts you on a headlock. Turn your chin in, pull their elbow down, hold onto elbow and you turn your body to outside so your facing nearly the opposite direction. Then they’re leaning backwards and in trouble.

Someone grabs your sleeve. With grabbed arm, spin it out and over.

Part 3.

Horsemanship cata – the spiritual side of a rollback…

“If you’re heading in one direction, but what you’re looking for isn’t there anymore, you should turn in another direction.”


4-5 people stand shoulder to shoulder beside each other. The the whole line leaning against 1 person, who is at the end of the line. If the last person tries to push the line of people, it doesn’t work they are stronger than you. But if the last person accepts pressure, then can move like in other direction.

AMAZING. I moved 5 people!

EXERCISE – Communicating softness though a chair (or any physical object, maybe the reins?)

1 person pushes down on the top of a chair. Other person put their hand on the chair, softens, and then its much easier to lift chair.


This was an amazing clinic for horsemanship. I came home with a lot of stuff I want to try, which makes perfect sense and which my horse is already enjoying.

If you are thinking of doing this, don’t let the martial arts side of it put you off – its not about that, its about horses.

Really really good. Thanks Mark!


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thank you all 🙂

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