(continued from the last post)

Fantastic feeling when it all comes together!

That nagging feeling is urging you to step even deeper into the riding world. Much more awaits aside from just the mechanical steps of the horse. Below the surface level, you discover that you can in fact influence your horse beyond your wildest expectations - you realize that through riding alone, you can create the horse's attitude, comfort, self-confidence, and even the way your horse carries himself. You can affect his coat shine, muscling, the quality of his movement when he is turned out in the field.

You discover that you can be a prime factor in developing his personality.

And at this point, your riding efforts go through a transformation. You now use your technical skill to improve the horse - his way of going and his mental outlook. No longer is it sufficient to get the horse moving from point A to point B. Now, your focus changes to getting there with more balance, a little lighter on the forehand, with more enthusiasm and expression... and you search for the intangibles that become the true essence of riding.

Thus you move from the pure mechanics of riding to a soul-stirring, relationship-creating effort that involves not just a rider and a horse but two partners giving of each self to create a new whole.

This path from the lower-case 'r' to the upper-case 'R' is what keeps you coming back for more....

3 Comments

  1. I get what you’re saying, and I too am working always to ride better in order to make the horse I ride feel better, be fitter, etc. Because horses didn’t evolve to carry humans on their backs, so we need to ride in such a way that we minimize the invasiveness of our being on them! They are so patient to allow us to do that. And as I get deeper into animal-rights issues, I must say I feel guilty about being on their backs, putting metal bits in their mouths. In my next life I’ll have my own horse and ride bitless and bareback! It feels almost selfish to ride, yet it gives me such a sense of completion. Horses are my sacred space and I’m deeply, humbly grateful they tolerate us as much as they do.

    1. Although I do agree with you that “once we’re in the saddle, we must spend a lifetime apologizing for getting there,” (Charles deKunffy), I still believe that we do more damage with less equipment than with correct use of the traditional equipment. I think it’s more about becoming good riders and developing our skill base. And yes, I agree that horses must be the kindest, most forgiving creatures on the earth.

      1. I have to agree with you on the equipment front. correctly fitting traditional equipment especially saddle is slightly better for our equine partners as it distributes the weight over the correct muscles of the spine/back.

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