When we talk about preliminaries, there are two types; those techniques which occur before the basic aids go into effect and an attitude of mind which establishes the psychological ground upon which the means of working is built.
1. Attitude in working with the horse is to consider that both lives, human and horse are preciousness. So we approach training with a sense of the sacred.
2. Consider the reality of how training is never permanent. The horse changes everyday and not always in ways that we may like. There is no end to training but there is endless refinement which comes from practice.
3.The ultimate cause of any behavior may never be known, but one action leads to another. Both horse and human find entrapment and ultimately their liberation in the chain of cause and effect. Positive “correct”causes bring good effects. The primary cause of all problems which arise in the horse have one cause; Life. Do not waste your time on why, but rather deal with what arises.
4. All training has intensity and is inevitability difficult both for yourself and the horse. This difficulty must be worked with not by aggression but rather by gentle and persistent waves of effort coupled with gentle and persistent freedom from effort.
If this last point is not followed, aggressions cause strong and violent swings in behavior or a shutting down or withdrawal of the horse’s presence.
With a proper attitude as a base, we function as a teacher. We create a devotion, are inviting the horse into an atmosphere of sanity inspired by the skill in our example, and we guide the horse away from ignorance and suffering.
Our skillful means as the teacher brings the horse to experience curiosity, kindness and brings the horse down from excitement. Our dressage functions as a kind of moderator principle.
On the technical side, the second aspect of the preliminaries, are the harmonious linking to the horse’s body through the seat, legs, and hands. They start in complete immobility and then produce a mental connection which then works with space and relaxation. Since there is no movement forward, one might say that an inclination occurs. A invisible small wave manifests.
This takes some practice and a clear awareness. It is certainly teachable, but the two minds must be calm and focused. As the energy builds eventually the horse breaks into movement and then the basics manifest without distortions.
Here is the start. The relationship is always first. Good riders and trainers have an instinct for this. They do not need to think through this part, but us mere mortals must be shown the way. Knowing this “way” is interesting in terms of the literature, because, it seems it can only be seen once you can do it and then you can read it in the works of all of the great masters.