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An Interview With Kim Lankford

Below is a brief interview with Kim that serves as an introduction to the basic principles of Kim's Living Horsemanship program.


big girl

LH:  Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

 Kim:  Well, I’ve been involved with horses pretty much all my life.  In fact, my family ran a pack station in the High Sierras when I was a young girl.  I’ve also been an actor all my life and I enjoy writing music, singing and playing the guitar.

LH: You’ve been an actor and singer?

Kim: Yes, I’ve acted and sang on stage, starred in some movies and on television.  I’ve even spent six years playing the role of “Ginger” on the TV series “Knot’s Landing”.

LH: Acting and singing… These things seem to be somewhat unrelated to horses. Are they?

Kim: Not really. What all three of these things have in common is that one needs a good instrument to make them work.  For me, my body is that instrument. With the proper use of my body, I can either make these things soar… or not.

LH: Can you explain that a little further?

Kim: Sure.  Like a lot of folks, I’ve owned and ridden a lot of horses over the years.  I had always figured as long as I stayed on the horse I was riding, things were going pretty well.  As time has gone on, I’ve learned that things can go better… That just staying on wasn’t good enough for me – or my horse.  I had a lot more to bring to the picture.

LH: What picture was that?

Kim: The picture I was seeing in my minds eye was that my horse and I could actually communicate.  That with some work, maybe I would come to know what he was thinking, and he would come to know what I was thinking.  I struggled with these things for a long time, and I still struggle with them.  Truth is, I probably always will.  Although now I’m seeing the pieces of this picture starting to coming together a little better.  For a while now, I’ve had the opportunity to see and work with a lot of different horsemen and I’m sure a lot of them you know.  Each has added to that vision of what can be done for our horses, and for ourselves.


LH: Some people would say that training the horse is the best way to achieve the picture you’re talking about.  You seem to be talking about a little different way of achieving it.  Communication through your body?  Your instrument? 

Kim: Yes. Obviously training is extremely important.  However, a big part of training is how effective we can be with our communication through our bodies.  I believe the balance that we bring through our bodies to our horse and back through our bodies, engaging the whole life force depends on how strong that life force is, i.e. core and/or powerhouse or trunk.   This is the center of ourselves, where we breathe from, where our breath gives life, where our horse feels life from us.

LH: And this brings us back to the rider’s body as an instrument?

 Kim: Exactly.  Of course in order for this to happen, the body should probably be as healthy as possible. 

LH: We understand that wasn’t always the case with you...  That over the years you’ve had some pretty serious injuries that could really hinder your ability to ride in a balanced manner that could help your horse under saddle.

Kim: That’s true.  Being a sports enthusiast, I have had some injuries over the years.  Of course injuries take a toll on one’s body.  However, if one is as dedicated as I feel I am, to live a whole and uncompromised life, one must become even more aware of one’s instrument.  After one particularly serious injury which happened during a hang gliding accident, I started various kinds of rehabilitative work and none really seemed to resonate with my body until I found Pilates.  Essentially, Pilates is a core/trunk-based strengthening program which encompasses proper breathing and neutral spine position. It was during my rehab work through Pilates that I started to feel my body open and become a more powerful force.  Seeing the enormous benefit in this kind of work, I became certified in Pilates at Long Beacbridgerh Dance Conservatory and since have become the Director of Pilates at Rapid Rehab, International in LA.     

LH: So not only has Pilates helped you, but you’ve gone on to help others with it as well?

Kim: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many injured people; neck fusions, back fusions, hip replacements, knee replacements, rotor cuff injuries, amputees, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, you name it.  And oh yeah, plenty of just plain old stiff and stoved-up muscles. Some people just become complacent and think they should just live life with these little aches and pains. And with horse people, it’s often these little aches and pains that get in the way of our communication with our horses.

LH: It seems that Pilates, with its emphasis on proper breathing and neutral spine, would be an extremely helpful tool for riders to become better balanced in the saddle, which in turn would improve communication.

Kim:  Yes.  The sameway we approach our horse’s life is really the same way we approach our day.  It’s postural awareness through life balance.  Ideally when we are balanced on our horse, our body is free to act in a way, like a marionette.  The halves of our body should work independently of one another, while at the same time working together.  So, when our right side is free to open, it sends a message to our horse and his right side is free to open, and so on. 

The wonderful thing is that life is always moving, changing.  Life in motion stays in motion, body in motion stays in motion, life in motion, horse in motion.  Body, hooves, getting to the feet through the “life force” which is our breath and postural awareness.

I don’t remember the first breath I took, it’s always been there, and its there for all of us.  It’s just getting it freed up - back to breath, to the muscle memory where we feel good again, where we support ourselves and our horse.  It’s there for all of us and it’s a powerful place to be.

LH: Are these some of the things you hope to share with folks at clinics during the upcoming year?

 Kim:  We’re working on some Pilates-based exercises right now that we can encompass into the clinics, and that should be very beneficial to interested riders.  We feel they will be exercises that will ultimately help people to better communicate with their horses in a positive way.


To read some of Kim's Diary entries when she was working with Mark Rashid Click Here