Soft Determination

I found this one on the Internet long ago, with no indication of the author.* However, it has stayed with me, blending intensity with passion, being so eloquent and yet knowledgeable about the "path". I have personally gone through many of the moments that are described here, and so it has touched me deeply, and been an anchor through my growth as a rider. Enjoy!

* Edited to add: The author was found (see comments below)! Thank you for writing this beautiful poem, Bernie!


Soft Determination

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So we: make haste slowly; try harder gently; are softly determined.

The ideal we desire is one of dynamic harmony,
with aids telepathic in their subtlety.

Towards that goal,
our aids should speak in whispers rather than shouts.

The horse is the partner whose emphasis includes strength;
the rider should not emphasize this.
So beware the clenched jaw of the rider,
showing the strain of excess muscular effort, trying too hard.

Clearer communication is not usually stronger muscular effort,
but more correct and focussed effort.
Finesse, and the sweat of an iron will,
rather than the sweat of iron muscles.

As we progress in riding,
some muscles grow stronger - our legs, our abdominals -
but our real strength comes from inside,
our wish for harmony,
our desire to move as one with the horse.

So we:

make haste slowly;
try harder gently;
are softly determined.



  1. This was written by my friend Bernie, and probably takern from dressageunltd,com. I’ve emailed your link and asked him to respond.

    1. I believe I found it in a forum – which explains the username attached and no other identifying features. I think I found it during the days of the web (Web 1.0) when the pages were all text-based with little pictures. I would be very interested to “meet” the author!

      1. Always glad to meet someone who enjoys my writing.

        This was originally posted in a dressage forum on AOL; later on it was also adopted by the Ozark Dressage Society as a motto for a while, and I had the distinct pleasure of them sending me a mug with it emblazoned upon it.


      2. Hi Bernie,

        Thanks so much for stopping by! Your poem has many fans here. It is truly so well written and inspiring. Do you have any other writing you could point us to?