In riding, there are varied opinions as to styles and techniques and disciplines of riding and training. There are ways to get things done, that achieve a goal, that make you feel good- but are they right? I have three words to help keep me centered on a goal that I think encompasses any horse and rider combination.
They are: calm, straight and forward. I know there are more words to describe a correct horse but I feel these three wrap it up in a nutshell and the understanding of them has improved any clitch I have had with a horse.
Calm denotes an acceptance and understanding of the rider by the horse. This includes the rider learning to be clear and concise in their asking- not just having a horse “put up” with their idiosnycracies. Some riders are consistant in their inconsistancies and the horse learns to tolerate the lifestyle to which it has grown accustomed. Horses have become desensitized to saddles, girths and various other clothing, so it is easy to see why they would get ho hum about our heaviness and lack of control. ( Putting up with us does not equate happiness.) It is not created by once a week contact under saddle alone.
Straightness means being symmetrical in the body. It involves proper alignment of the horses structure and is directly related to balance. I see many riders trying to staighten a horse by being crooked themselves- My horse needs a parameter, a plum line to be compared to – not my misguided sense of staightness. I remember walking through fresh snow for a distance and then stoppping to look back at my tracks. I thought I was walking in a straight line. But what a wibble wobble of steps there would be. However, if I fixed my eyes on a goal and then walked- when I looked back at my path I had a line of steps that made my others look like a drunken meander.
Forwardness is power from the right source and headed in the right direction. It is not achieved quickly or with ease. It involves the rider creating more from the horse than the horse would normally give and then having the horse give it back to the rider. It is dynamic and living.
Horses can and will perform without achieving any of the above traits. They are creatures that follow comfort and seek the path of least resistance. So if I tell someone they need to do things a different way- they have plenty of argument to show why they should continue the way they have always gone. And that is fine- does not make them right, but fine.
In my life I try to follow the same three steps I apply to riding.
Calm – a trust in the One who has made me and wants only the best for me. This does not mean I am just going through the motions and doing my “duty”. This comes not from a once a week visit.
Straightness- keeping my eyes on the goal and believing there is a plum line to be compared to and knowing that there is no straightness in myself alone. Being symmetrical – equal in balance in all areas.
Forward- knowing where my true power comes from and letting it work through me and giving it back to the One who made it in the first place. I am as dynamic and alive as ever I could be. This is no crutch or infringement on being the best I can be. There is no shame in a glove acknowledging that its true use in life comes when the Hand is placed inside it.