Come and dance with us

Come and dance with us

In the daily working with the horse there is no goal as such. There are however many points at which can grab our attention. A thousand small details can be found and strung together to give our work a purpose. When we permit our attention to enter into grasping, accepting  or rejecting these details, we lose our way. Anything connected with goals involves a journey toward somewhere from somewhere and always has the danger of sacrificing our relationship with the horse. Good dressage is learning to be with the horse in a very simple way. Being is always in the moment and so being with the horse is never a goal. Any goals which we choose to make arise in any given moment will eventually block the work we undertake with the horse. Therefore, in the practice of the finest dressage, there is no goal, no journey; you are just just aware of what is happening with the horse. Secondly you harmonize with the motion as the horse starts to move. The dance has started then and the horse who has learned to accept our presence now welcomes the enrichment of the harmony and finds a certain magnetic quality arising spontaneously. This welcomed magnetic and enriching quality which arises where there is harmony draws the horse in a very specific way along very specific lines. From the human view, this is called “control;” we lead the dance. What are called resistances are simple mistakes which are resolved and cut through by the application of intelligent kindness. This way of working with the horse is difficult to grasp but simple...
Let it be you

Let it be you

Good dressage is not about force, about the consciousness acting with nobility to control or modify the unconscious instinctive reactions. Genuine dressage relies instead upon increased awareness and insight to allow us to make positive choices in working with the horse. Education in dressage is then the cultivation of understanding the dynamic structure of experience and the consequences of actions via the aids which leads to the recognition that every experience of any kind is an opportunity for healthy practice with the horse. We build a language in which we communicate and in which the horse can communicate with us. Working then with the horse/human physical and mental state, we build a bridge which brings about a relationship based in harmony. All of this may seem philosophical and theoretical, but good instruction is the process of turning these ideas into a practical practice. Working with the horse is something which must be done every day if possible. Short sessions are always better than long one. It is about quality rather than quantity. Sadly, it is not likely that you will find an instructor who will mention, no less work on, this subjective level and so it for each of us individually to attend to this level. No one can train you as well as you can train yourself. It is about mindfulness and awareness in the practice with a constant sense of simplicity and kindness not just toward the horse but toward yourself. Who in their right mind takes on this kind of training? Only those whose love of the horse and whose fearless nature will take on the...
Songs to the deaf

Songs to the deaf

Is it that light? So gentle? These are the questions that arise as I try and show a student the work in hand. Well, no, it is really much lighter when your hand is not between my hand and the horse. It is really quite astonishing and then again of course it is that light. A horse can feel the legs of a fly and so then, why do you needs to have any more? What makes it work is not your aggression toward the horse, but rather the horse’s mind which moves its body. It is intelligence which brings about the elements of dressage and not your aggressions. To work at this level you must prove you are intelligent to the horse by working with its intelligence and not by increasing aggression. Simple? Yes, but you must have the confidence in gentleness and always work in kindness. There is no action which you make that does not work, but there are lots of actions which have no obvious results. Especially at the start, the results are invisible. 3 to 4 actions in gentle cadence do not work at the start, but there is always an effect. To this end, it is useful to place a gentle accent to the final beat. Thought and feeling move way more at the start than the body. Learning to work with the invisible is difficult because you lack belief.So too does the horse lack belief in you. Both of you must meet in the invisible first. This is good dressage. It pleases the blind and one does not mind having a conversation...
Take a journey

Take a journey

Dressage is to work with the horse in a certain way. Considered precise and conforming to the horse’s nature, true dressage must of necessity be diaphanous or risk missing the horse’s nature. If it is not, it is a merely a fiction, a vague approximation of the truth and while it may be popular and a brand sold for public consumption, but it will lack one important characteristic; authenticity. When something is diaphanous, it is composed or arranged to permit ready perception or comprehension of an inner or veiled essence or substance. That essence and what makes dressage authentic is the nature of the horse. What is contrived and pushed reveals more the nature of human fantasy than the horse’s nature. Is this not obvious? Now, what to do about it? Remove what is heavy handed. Study lightness and reduce all actions down to the most simple and basic form. Find the horse’s nature and build your dressage there without deceptions. Go down and find the earth. Look up and see heaven, now join them both in a new and personal dressage and in this you will discover what the old masters knew. This is a journey of mind, yes, certainly, but it is connected to the body. In fact, if it is not embodied (linked ) , then you must start again. Really good dressage is not like one arrow shot from a bow pointed true, but rather it contains a willingness to constant start again and again until the arrow finds the true target again and again. If there are problems, start again. Vow to be a beginner...
Due measure

Due measure

In dressage, some think that to be correct is about a physical location and appearance. Correctness is not something imposed on the horse. One has to realize and understand that correctness is something that one needs to impose on yourself first. To make this correction takes extreme kindness and gentleness and is much easier if you learn to like yourself first. It takes a long time before one can understand what correctness is really about and it is not about some ideal at all. Correctness is about a way of moving and being which is congruent with the life force and extended far deeper than physical appearance. It is found by learning to listen. What makes dressage good is listening to the horse with modesty (modesty is from the Latin, modestus which means, “keeping due measure”) To understand the idea of due measure is a difficult idea to embrace because it takes initially a lot of faith/feel in that one must have a sense of the complete horse/human condition. When that feel/faith is misplaced through either personal or cultural distortions, what results is a neurotic kind of dressage. There is another way that at sense of due measure arises and that is through an extensive experience with working with enough horses over a long enough time. In this modern day such experience is hard to come by. Good and kindly instructors can facilitate modesty through true teaching or by example, but while there are good and kindly intended instructors out there, few have the education and experience to fill the gap. At this time, I should have some clever...