Friend: one that seeks the society or welfare of another whom he holds in affection, respect, or esteem or whose companionship and personality are pleasurable : an intimate associate. (Merriam-Webster)
Can you consider the horse as your friend? Perhaps a better question may be can you hold your own self in friendship because if you cannot do so, then how can you extend friendship to the horse?
This has to be one of the first steps on the path to a practical dressage. There must be an extension of a feeling of warmth toward yourself and the horse; this is what it means to be an intimate associate.
Trust is a state of mind free from doubt which is cultivated by loving kindness, offered with no motive other than the pleasure of joining and so we join minds with the horse. This is what it means to tame the horse and is followed by harmonizing.
Our purpose with our friend, the horse, is none other than enlightenment. To enlighten is to be freed from ignorance and misinformation and at every turn in our relationship, our dressage or training, we reveal our open our heart and the horse opens its heart to find a friendship we can share.
The image is two deer in the forest who bow to us and each other, with ears forward in our presence. It is a moment where the deer abandon their fears and listen in a relaxed alertness while connected to who they are as members of the heard and as an individual being who are willing surrender their own safety to honor the moment in a bow.
So it is that the horse comes to us and consent to be ridden. This is a noble sacrifice offered to us by the horse and our gratitude is kindness and friendship. In our “dressage” we learn to offer these two gifts which we work to perfect and create through a process of self-education.
We find and learn the path of kindness surrounding the horse with our friendship. What does this have to do with horse shows and the horse world? I do not know, but I do know that this place come first before one can progress further. This is a place where the basics of dressage begin.