After finishing Visconte Cocozza's wonderful book: Core Conditioning for Horses, I memorized the exercises my horses needed and went to apply them to our riding session.
In these clips (the first one is HORRIBLE quality, but I wanted you to have full disclosure of what happened before what happened happened) you see the reaction of Maia to having completed the very first exercise, the Core Release Volte.
The idea of the Core Release Volte, according to Visconte Cocozza is to imitate a human Half-Moon Pose which "...gently stretches the back and sides of the human body"--for the horse, the stretch comes from executing soft figure eights with an inside stretching flexion, allowing the reins to slip down as the horse stretches down when he feels the release; the horse can then "release and bend though the body a little more each day."
In these clips (taken from different angles), we had done maybe 4 figure eights, and then two continuous circles to the left when we stopped. She never got really long and low, but I could feel her body softening in the last few paces of the second circle and wanted to reward her. Well, little did I know....
Her immediate reaction was to yawn. And yawn. And yawn. Oh...and yawn. Incredible release!!!!!!! (The second video shows this release better than the first.)
This was totally a first--she has been known to release with other work, like light groundwork, or some stretching, or even with me laying on the ground near her, but in saddle? Totally awesome.
If she had exhibited any signs of pain or bracing in the exercise, I might have thought the yawning was a sign of pain or suffering. But, she was loose, happy, relaxed, so I was so glad that she got some benefits from this very simple exercise.
Oh, and to add some Ponti Kriti to it all, I decided to continue to caress her mane, give soft verbal encouragement, and stroke her neck while she released so that she could equate my actions with her feeling good. The idea would be that, in the future, when I caress her mane, she might subconsciously (and maybe even consciously) connect the dots between a caress and her feeling good, doing good, and knowing that all is good.
Thank you Visconte...loving this work.