Finding the way; the journey in dressage or the linking of mind to the horse is an understanding rarely found today. It is not so much something we need to create as much as it is allowing ourselves to be a certain way with the horse.
Such a mind state can be instant but not usually. It is rather a slow and organic realization which takes years to occur. The simple changing of the mind is all that is needed which starts with an authentic connection with your own body.
There is a discipline in this. It is not a discipline of “no pain, no gain” but it is more like a vacation from that kind of thinking. Mechanical repetition is not good dressage. It is only boring. Discipline here is found at a whole other level.
Finding discipline is about generosity and effort which starts with finding the ground. Good dressage must start with sanity. The test of sanity is how directly one relates to earth. Anything else is a sidetrack.
This earth discipline brings certain joy and the work with the horse takes on a playfulness. Knowing how and when to touch is about territory. There is no territory that is yours or that is the horse’s; both of you are in no man’s land.
Patience arises, territory dissolves and because there are no obligations you are free from time, in the sense of that you are not being compulsively driven by obligations to keep within time to achieve something with the horse.
The educated horse person’s actions are calm, deliberate, and persevering. Since there is space between such a person and horse, there is no feeling of being threatened, but what is done is very careful and skillful. Scanning the whole environment for what needs to be dealt with. Both patience, intelligence and caution are operating in no man’s land which will become the ground upon which the centaur will arise.
Reflecting on the traditions of dressage and the moment to moment circumstance with the horse brings the educated horse person to be authentic in their actions. The knowledge of the past is not ignored but understood.
First one must step into the tradition understanding it fully. Traditions have both wise and its foolish aspects. Understanding why people are hypnotized by tradition’s dogmas, one must understand what wisdom, if any, lies behind the dogma. Then one can step out of the insanity of dressage into its basic sanity.
Each of us follows some form of path in dressage. The number of steps we take which allows us to “change our mind” and connect with the horse is completely individual. Fighting with the process is not necessary but it seems to be something we all do.
It is useful to understand that we are on a journey of the mind with the horse. Take the trip and enjoy the journey but be gentle both with yourself and the horse. If you have been hard on the horse, find forgiveness and start again. In this, be like the horse and forgive your own confusion. Dressage should be fun for both of you but if you discover it is not, stop, and start again. Find your kindness.