I always feel so at peace after a day of riding. In the moment, I can drift away from the past and the future and simply BE - I find this state particularly soothing.
I have found that in general, my horsemanship has moved in this direction for the past few years. I now believe that having peace and calmness is the true art of horsemanship.
This goes for even the faster things that we do with our horses. I still laugh at some of my students' faces when I galloped past them on a fat little cob during a trail riding clinic in Wales --- eating an apple!
I think that single image drove home for them more strongly than anything else I taught that clinic that even with faster gaits and activities, both you and your horse can be in a total state of connection and calmness.
But how does one achieve this?
I believe it comes first through awareness - first of yourself and then of your horse's - internal and external states. Are you tight? Are you worried? Is there a good reason for this? Can I foresee any issues during my ground session or my riding and if so, can I simply avert it by being passively proactive? And can my horse check in with me and see that things are indeed okay? Can he see that I have been a patient and progressive leader for him? Can he trust that I will not be afraid or offended by what he needs to do?
Perhaps I notice more strongly now what a true partnership feels like because I know now what a false partnership feels like. I can feel the lack of attention and the lack of trust. I can feel the harmony and the moments of true oneness. I can feel the moments when my horse and I are slightly out of sync, and yet, I can also very patiently and simply refocus my energy and my intentions to bring us back to harmony quickly.
It's like a dance - you can't dance with another when you are both so intent on correcting. Like in music, you need silence between the notes. You need to separate the moments between the motions.
It is this present PRESENCE that is so important to our communication and relationship with our horses. It is when you get yourself trapped in the past or the future that your heart, your soul, and your mind get you in trouble. The horses are only in the now - with memories of certain past experiences, certainly - but no fear of something that does not exist unless it is also in the present.
It is a lesson for us all. Just as with everything, Horses Teach Humans and Humans Teach Horses.
Enjoy the dance! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Mattie Cowherd loves sharing her passion for horses, nature, and learning. Join her for some fun thoughts and adventures. Mattie loves writing, teaching, horse care, and --- well --- horses!