The whole process of dressage is about the manifestation of a high quality relationship with the horse which demonstrates itself through variations of positions in space and cadence of movement. In our modern world, movements have taken the forefront as proof of certain qualities. The problem is that the quality of a relationship cannot be proven by movements alone.
Seeking dressage like movements is the sleight of hand of modern riding. We are mesmerized by magic tricks and have all too often mistaken these trick for the real magic. Real magic is found by the heartfelt connection with the horse with the truth of the connection being demonstrated in interaction, a life affirming energy exchange, which occurs in both direction.
A good relationship is not an idyllic longing, and beautiful metaphor nor is it contrived. It is only in authentic friendship that real magic is found. Authentic friendship is not purchased by carrots and other treats nor by playing games or by clicks and clucks. There is so much more to it than that.
The difficulty is that a true friend is not easily defined because authentic friendship is an experience. Such experience may be cleverly or poetically framed in language, but it is really something which is beyond such definitions. It is an equal and loving exchange of being which can only begin when one learns how to be a friend to oneself.
As friends with the horse or ourselves, one spends time with a friend for no reason and while we are most certainly kind to our friends, such kindness comes easily without effort. If you are thinking, “now I should show kindness” that is not it. It is more like, “Oh, that was kind.” We are constantly delighted and surprised by the most ordinary of things.
Our friendship is a reflex which happens to show up in all our work with the horse. Compassion and forgiveness are automatic. Whether with a horse or with ourselves, the object of our friendship is the discovery of a fundamental goodness which joins us. It is not “created” but rather discovered because it is in the life force itself.
How does one come to the discovery of such wonderful energy? It is by becoming human by opening our hearts and mind to a magic which is exists only when we can relax our fears. Good dressage removes the fear which is between human and horse and horse and human. Simple? Yes, but not easy… May this new year be a time for the opening of doors to the wonders of your own heart.