A theory that I’m working on that brings together three different areas of current (and ongoing) fascination for me: brain mapping, riding as an embodied art form and synchronized movement. Here’s my (massively) simplified breakdown. See what you think…
Let’s start with movement.
Humans are primed to move. From an evolutionary perspective, our brain rewards us for moving (part of the reason exercise is so protective from the point of view of mental health) with “green movement” (moving in nature) being even more beneficial due to the co-regulating benefits the natural environment has on our nervous system.
Not only are we primed for movement, but we are primed for synchronized movement. You think about how important dance and story telling has been throughout our collective history and how it is we naturally come together as a group to express, share and move.
Synchronised movement between humans creates the sensation of unity. As we move in space, our brain maps inform where it is we are in relation to everything around us, holding an awareness not only of the edges of our skin but also our peripersonal space- the bubble around us.
When we move together in synchronized movement, we see others performing the same movement along with us and our brain merges both of our experiences together as a unified field of perception, enhancing our connection to those we are in relationship with.
This is true of human to human movement practices, but what about human to horse? When we sync up with the movements of our horse- through practices such as matching steps, ensuring we are in tune during in hand work, and of course in the saddle- it makes sense that the same experiences emerge. An enhanced sense of connection. A unified field of perception.
I love that connection is such an embodied experience. I love that as I ride, my brain maps my body to not only include just me, but the wholeness of me and my horse together. Togetherness is not just a nice idea. It’s an energetic, neurological, physical and biochemical reality.
Maybe that’s what they meant by the word horsemanship.