Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Alchemy of Lightness

Lambertville, New Jersey – When looking for ways to improve riding skills or raise equitation scores, most equestrians would never think to turn to the science world for training tips, riding lessons or for solving problems in the dressage ring. Words such as molecules, electric charges and chemical reactions don’t seem to naturally coincide with words like piaffe or passage. But for clinical psychologist and horse trainer, Dr. Maria Katsamanis, the two worlds are deeply intertwined. For her, phrases like “intermolecular energy exchange” and “being on the bit” co-exist quite nicely. In a new book that Katsamanis co-authored, along with Dominique Barbier, called The Alchemy of Lightness, she explains how science can easily be converged with the art of dressage, and the results between horse and rider are amazing. Enlightening riders on how to truly become one with the horse, this spiritual riding guide opens the world of molecular equitation, which is otherwise known as the scientific study of the interplay of mechanisms when humans and horses meet, communicate and interact. By encouraging the equestrian to let the horse be the teacher at times, this book explains how a rider can change consciousness in order to affect riding habits and build on togetherness with an equine partner. A beautiful example of the importance of respecting, trusting and fully connecting with the horse, this resource provides the key to obtaining the ever-elusive quest to find total lightness with our horses.

“Our relationship with our horse is key,” Katsamanis explains. “It is timeless, and our two species, horses and humans, share a connection that predates any gadget or formula. The inclusion of scientific information to explain our relationship with our horses allows for a new way of thinking. Science helps to explain what we experience with our horses.” Katsamanis goes on to describe that The Alchemy of Lightness provides dressage riders with valuable, best-of-both-worlds information based on real life experiences that she and Barbier have had with horses, and combines it with clinical and scientific facts. In this book, Katsamanis has skillfully leveraged her background as both a psychologist and a dressage trainer to benefit the reader. “Evaluating the science behind the art of equitation is the perfect marriage of my experiences in both arenas,” she states. “In the end, both professional caps I wear contend with mammals, albeit different species. I am fortunate that my education as a scientist helps me describe the excellence we aspire to with our horses.”

Katsamanis also shares these experiences and provides this beneficial information to equestrians through many clinics that she conducts around the world. “During the gathering that I hold the night before my clinics, I introduce the participants to classical principles of the French tradition of dressage along with scientific findings from the world of New Physics,” said Katsamanis. She adds that all of her work is based on real-life experiences. “So, writing a book with Dominique, who is a world renowned clinician, was just another way that we can share personal life experiences. It was fortunate for the two of us that many of our life philosophies parallel each other.”

Katsamanis hopes that The Alchemy of Lightness will provide valuable information, guidance and direction to benefit all riders well into the future, and ultimately help to shape a new way of how humans relate to horses. “I wanted to be part of creating a new philosophy of equitation that will endure through time,” she explains. “I see so much aggression and ego in the equestrian community, and no major advances to bring us closer to connecting to something bigger and more powerful. Having a doctorate in psychology provides the perfect complement to my working with horses and their human counterparts. Because I have a parallel passion about humans, I am committed to each individual’s journey with the horse. We ride as we are. We ride as we live.”

Dr. Maria Katsamanis is a horse trainer, clinician and psychologist. Her equine background is broad. She studied in Greece, France, and the United States and influenced by great masters such as Dominique Barbier and Walter Zettl. Her early equestrian career included working as an exercise rider for a French racing barn. Katsamanis is part of a select few trainers, outside of India, that has worked with the rare and exotic Marwari horses. She was selected to be a breed display rider in Windsor, England for the Queen’s 60th Diamond Jubilee Pageant. She maintains an active and exclusive student base in New Jersey and continues to be sought out as a clinician both here and abroad. With a formal education as a clinical psychologist, she is able to help demystify and explain the elements of equitation that are key in helping riders establish the ultimate connection with their horses. Her explanations of the barriers and myths that block the path between horse and rider help to free the rider to connect with their mounts, making the dance accessible to anyone regardless of age or breed.

Co-Author with Dominique Barbier / Dr. Maria Katsamanis
For more information, a review copy or an interview with Dr. Katsamanis, contact:
Christianna E. Capra, USA CapraHorse PR (publicity and marketing)

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