It is challenging to attempt to learn dressage. Working with the horse takes the full range of our psychological and physical resources. We instinctively and easily understand dressage in the sense that our fears drive us to extend control over the horse and do whatever is needed to ensure our security and safety on and around the horse, but we must appease not only our instincts but find a way to honor the horse’s sensibilities as well.
What follows next is that we may have difficulty expressing ourselves or difficulty understanding the realities of human-horse relationship. Can we find a way to honor the horse’s sense and our instinctive reactions so that we may both find a psychological and a physical equanimity?
This is the crux of the issue and it resolution is in understanding the nature of balance. We can not dictate nor can we prescribe balance through our theories. Balance lies in being and cannot be ignored.
This balance is not only physical but psychological as well. The horse and rider both must have the confidence to work together in a harmony cradled in loving kindness. This is the psychological balance which when combined with the mechanical realities enables a unity of being to demonstrate itself in the work; the centaur effect.
If we cannot find a master in which we can find absolute trust then we work with some degree of doubt until we can locate the true master which is within our primordial being. Even if we are lucky enough to work with the perfect master, doubts may still arise arise. Our belief in our own inner sense of mastery is not the same as actually being connected to our genuine inner master.
So our dressage may feel inadequate, thinking and sensing that there’s something we don’t know. We think and feel there’s some knowledge we should acquire. In such a situation, the emphasis on learning can be an obstacle. Why don’t we just wake up to genuine dressage without learning? Why don’t we cheer up and ignore the inconsistencies in our work without learning?
The answer to these questions is simple; we care for the horse and are unable to accept our own self-deceptions. We know there is a way and with our aggressions we seek to force the horse into our path rather than find the path which is the middle way between the horse and ourselves. We create systems of belief to give ground to methods which sometimes work and sometimes don’t that we seek to impose on the horse.
Doomed to experience failures from efforts to work with the horse, we ignore the realities and find solace in finding like minds which create little and then the larger horse society. We accept lower standards and half failures to ensure our success. Our ribbons and trophies and social acclaim are the armor we use to shield us from the underlying truth that our work is lacking.
The real problem is that we cannot work with our depression and our confusion. Good dressage starts when we can get beyond our own issues and when we can bring our mind to being in and with the horse. In this discipline is the path to finding the best in ourselves and in the horse.
Authentic dressage is not a clever phrase to sell a method but a state of being in which methods are left behind and judgments are suspended. We stand with the horse in a state of true balance because we have found a way to open our hearts to the horse’s nature and our own. In this journey, no one fails who can walk in kindness. Be and find that which is authentic and move beyond your depression.