Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jewels of Antiquity

Marwari of USA: Jewels of Antiquity
Dr. Maria Katsamanis, Horse Trainer & Clinical Psychologist

By Gina McKnight
1st Publication Going Gaited 2012

The New Jersey arena is filled with emotions, heartbeats and reflections this morning.  In training is Alohaj, a noble Arabian stallion owned by Hemlock Crest Arabians.  The mirrors along the arena wall reflect a perfect image of trainer and equine.  The morning sun through the arena window imports stellar rays of warmth and sundust.  Alohaj has come to Dr. Maria Katsamanis, Horse Trainer & Clinical Psychologist, for a course in ambitious groundwork that will re-establish his connectivity to maintaining emotional balance as well as physical comfort.

Dr. Katsamanis maintains an academic appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey USA, as well as Horse Trainer and Riding Coach.  Her training emphasizes maximizing a positive self-carriage for both the horse and rider.  Her philosophy for optimum equestrian pleasure focuses on equine and human physiology.  Horses and riders attending Dr. Katsamanis’ clinics receive tailored treatment depending upon their physical profile, personality and overall disposition.

Dr. Katsamanis embraces all horse breeds into her training and visits stables around the world. Hailing from Greece, she has been schooled in the classical, natural art of horse training; the idea that respect is created and maintained between horse and rider through clarity of intent, awareness of self-carriage and mutual respect, creating a deep bond and love between horse and human.

Xenophon, the Greek horseman of antiquities, wrote on the importance of your horse as a partner, not a slave.  “You must ask yourself, what can I do to be my horse’s best partner? Why would he want to dance with me? How can I grow in this relationship? What are the learnings that this relationship is bringing to me?  This relationship being no different than all those one creates with others, spouses, parents and colleagues.”

Recently, Dr. Katsamanis visited the stables of Ms. Francesca Kelly, Martha’s Vineyard USA, owner of Marwari horses.  Marwari are an indigenous breed to India and their exportation is currently limited due to low census. The opportunity to work with Marwari has been a long desire of Dr. Katsamanis. 

“My time with Francesca was incredible,” says Dr. Katsamanis.  “When I was invited to Francescas, I felt compelled to go.  I went as a horse trainer because I wanted to learn and experience the horses up close.  I had never worked with them before.  Ms. Kelly, the patroness of the breed, extended the invitation to what was an elegant and unforgettable journey. As a horsewoman she has allowed her horses to be horses. I rode her horses bareback with rope halters over sand mounds and into the sea; it was amazing…very phenomenal! Their reliability, tractability, high intelligence and kind nature left me wanting more.  I found myself missing them long after I left Martha’s Vineyard.  I had bonded.  I am Greek, so I was impressed with the simplicity and elegance.”
Marwari are known for their beautiful confirmation, angelic grace and strong confidence.   Dr. Katsamanis describes Marwari as the ‘jewels of antiquity’, confirming their royal heritage as one of India’s most beautiful resources.  The Marwari are part of the old world of horse mythology and folklore.  One of the oldest breeds in existence, Marwari bring a legacy of unforgettable appeal and tradition to horsemanship. Dr. Katsamanis welcomes the opportunity to work with Marwari, identifying their unique place in the world of horses.

Marwari, like all equines, are spiritual by nature.  Dr. Katsamanis explains, “If you are having a bad day and you go into a stall with a horse, the horse creates a ‘torus’, a circle of energy that embraces us.  Horses have a heart five times larger than ours, emitting electro-magnetic signals.  This is what creates the ‘torus’. This electro-magnetic field has a wingspan five times greater than our own.  It is in this space that their heart pattern, being an electrical wave, can affect our own heart rhythms.  Perhaps it is through this, our heart connection that we bond and communicate. There is a lot of healing through horses – from the horse to man.  Horses have healing power; the healing comes from the connection we have with animals.  When we are connected with the horse, the creation of a magical electrical circuit is likely to arise. Horses have a slower heart rate than we do. Their on/off alarm button has been refined because of their prey status, so that they are great role models for us to learn how to manage our own levels of stress and alertness.  That is one way that they help us heal.  On another level, physically being in their space promotes emotional and physical healing via the electro-magnetic force created by their heart resonance.” Science proves that this unseen connection between horses and humans creates a catalyst for motivation, confidence, increased self-esteem and overall well-being.  This phenomenon has been documented and tested through years of research.  Horses have healing power.

“We need to go back to nature, back to basics in life and in our training of horses.  Simplicity is key.  You see more and more that people are drawn to activities that connect them to the earth.  Being around horses is grounding.  There is a meditative component to the seemingly mundane rituals of things as simple as grooming.  The mental health community even endorsed Equine Assisted Psychotherapy as a viable psychological approach to emotional and mental distress*.  In that spirit, I do a lot of groundwork to establish communication on the groundwork and then taking it to the saddle. We waste a lot of chatter on what we want the horse to do instead of letting the horse show us what it is capable of.  It is about allowing them to show us who they are, how they wish to be ridden, and what they have to teach us.  Honoring that means being prepared to see changes in other areas of your life.” says Dr. Katsamanis.  Being conscious of our body language and breathing behavior creates a blueprint in establishing the horse-human relationship. 

Mr. Gajjar, Freelance Equestrian Trainer and Riding Instructor from India, is an acquaintance of Dr. Katsamanis.  Mr. Gajjar states, “I have particularly admired Maria’s training methods as she is very patient with her horses. Lots of groundwork does give you a wonderful horse and that is exactly what Maria emphasizes on. I am happy to hear that a Marwari will soon be making their way to her stables and it will be a new experience for her as a trainer. Maria plans to conduct equine training workshops in India soon, which I will help her organize and I am sure many horse owners here will be happy to learn about her ways of training and the importance given to groundwork."

Helene Hylander shares her joy of being one of Dr. Katsamanis’ students.  Helene writes, “I am a breast and colon cancer survivor with many disabilities.  Wear back and knee braces so I can ride. Maria is giving our 19 yr old quarter horse paint mare Cassie and me a canter/stop lesson here preparing us for our trail ride for the cure October 16, 2011. I am Cassie's 4th owner and 3rd breast cancer survivor. My husband David and I adopted her two years ago from a field. Maria has been working with us from the beginning. Using Maria's body awareness, groundwork and in-hand training methods have helped both of us come to this point in time. No braces!!!! And a balanced horse!!!”

Marwari, the ‘jewels of antiquity’, have arrived at Dr. Katsamanis New Jersey arena.  They are experiencing her talent as a trainer, her wisdom as a clinical psychologist, and her undivided love for life.  Her Greek ancestors would be honored by her commitment and compassion to classical horsemanship and healing.  The Marwari, as well as other horses in Dr. Katsamanis’ arena, will receive affirmation of the importance of trust, the key components of balance and the commitment of comfort for both horse and rider.  With a smile and confidence in her abilities to proclaim the joys of horsemanship, Dr. Katsamanis states, “A commitment to kindness and deep connection – a classical formula for your dream ride, your dream life.”

Follow Dr. Katsamanis
At the time of publication, Dr. Katsamanis was a freelance equine trainer, providing services on location at Pennfields Farm Arena & Equine Facility, Pamela Rosenborg/PnR Training LLC, Owner. Many thanks to Ms. Rosenborg.

*See the American Psychological Association, Division 17 Animal Assisted Psychotherapies: or EAGALA (

1st Publication Going Gaited 2012. All Rights Reserved. 
Gina McKnight, Freelance Writer, USA

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