Over the weekend, whilst flicking through a non-horsey related magazine, I was confronted with an image that made my stomach turn and my heart feel sad. It was a picture of a wild horse overseas being used as a centrepiece in a demonstration, and the contraptions that they had in his mouth and the look in his eye doesn’t beg description.
It seems also, that this last week more than most I have come across images and read words of “advice” from people whose ideas of horsemanship and equitation clearly differ from that of my own. And although it is easy for such matters to dominate the mind, I do believe that the tide is turning, that there is a rising ground swell of consciousness and understanding that appreciates the sentience of the magnificent animals that share such a large part of our lives, and who seek to find the way and means we can go about creating a fulfilling partnership for both of us.
I am also of the belief that you do more good by promoting what you love than “hating” on that which you disagree with, so I have decided to take a few moments to write about what it is that I hope to do through Confident Rider and it’s influence on our most beauteous, most magnificent of equine partners.
It is my hope that as riders and horse people, regardless of our background, level of experience or level of expectation, we will do everything within our power not to inflict both a disorganized body and a disorganized mind onto our horses. Instead, as an inquiring rider, as someone who is interested in the qualities of partnership, respect and beauty, we will take moments to disconnect ourselves from our “problems” or our “horse’s problems” and seek to discover ways firstly, that we, ourselves, may be perpetuating or initiating the current challenge- be it through our own biomechanics or body organisation, lack of skill or horsemanship knowledge, of confidence or emotional control- and actively enquire as to how we may go about finding solutions to any limitations that we may feel arising.
If you feel stuck, move. Ask. Enquire. If the answer doesn’t work the first time, ask different questions, get different answers.
As riders and horsepeople, we must learn continuously to “stay in the moment”. Do not expect this to be instantaneous in the saddle if you can’t do so out of it. Practice mindfulness. Set yourself realistic challenges and be patient.
If we are seeking unity, seeking beauty, we must work our horses ethically, to let go of arrogant assertions that we are somehow training them and be open to the realisation that true horsemanship is self-mastery in union, more than mastery of another. We have to find ways of working with them that promotes joy within us, and consequently allows them to feel the relationship is of benefit to them also.
As the saying goes, “Anything forced or misunderstood can never be beautiful. If a dancer was forced to dance by whip and spike, he would be no more beautiful than a horse trained under similar conditions” ~ Xenophon, the Art of horsemanship.