Exploring lightness has been an interesting journey, to say the least. What has surprised me the most is just how many degrees of lightness one can find. In my experience, I have found that the levels and degree of lightness have been more a matter of my mind than anything to really do with the horse.
When I was consistent, precise and clear the horse would exceed my expectations and continues do so. I never counted the number of “levels” I discovered but based on the length of my professional practice and the number of horses I have trained, my guess is that it must be in the thousands.
On a practical level, lightness turned into gentleness and kindness followed. I look back on my own earlier days and it freaks me out a bit to see how rough I was, but I cannot undo the past and so I continue my work into a better future.
I learned so many rules and principles in training. My seat, legs, and hands have been trained and retrained so many times. I have mastered what seems like endless complications only to discard it all. No rules, no complications, and only a few simple principles remain. Mostly, simple awareness coupled with a sense of how the mind builds boxes and systems to remove fear.
The fear is the funny part really, because over the years the most consistent thing was the complete and utter denial that fear was there or that it was in anyway real. Yet it was and is a part of what obscures awareness.
It is a very brave thing to face these primordial fears, but the real bravery has little to do with the horse but without the horse I doubt that I would have understood that the fear was really a fear of my own self; my limits, expectations and imagined world.
There are just so many gifts the horse has given me over the years. I advocate in favor of the horse because the horse never gave up on me but then I did not give up on them either. What I have discovered and attempt to share with my students is a unique dressage.
I wish I could claim that I authored such a beautiful dressage, but I did not. My study of the literature has lead me to understand that if you look deep enough, all paths in dressage lead to this kind of horse centered dressage.
Once you release your fears and open to the ocean of magic which is before you and available when you take the horse deep into your heart, a precious dressage is revealed in you. To find this dressage is to be brave, which is to give up your fear of yourself and extend love and kindness to the horse.
This is my testimony. This is what I witness in every day as I work with the horse. Belief and the mind are very powerful and you find the horse you create. Find the sacred horse in you and your work will be divine.
Let you mind be one with the horse.
Let the horse find its path.
Let the path clarify your confusion.
Let your confusion give birth to wisdom.
In this is granted a gentleness from which kindness follows.
If your dressage has any value, it follows from this.