Like the ocean, perception has it tides. Awareness, or active perception, is not a steady quality that does not change. Rather, our awareness alternates not just in terms of what objects we pay attention to but on a more primordial basis.
All of us rhythmically, like our breath itself, pass from subjective to objective perception and then back again. This process occurs so normally and sometimes so quickly that most people do not take the time to see this. Most of us find ourselves simply unaware of this and like our breath we take it for granted.
The importance of this in working with horses is to understand that the horse does this as well. What we call, “calm” is what occurs when this shifting of awareness occurs slowly. When calm is lost the process is fast and many times lacks balance. We find ourself, or the horse finds itself, holding too subjectively or too objectively. In essence we fixate on an object of fear or some subjective experience.
When we are aware of the process, we get brief moments where perceptions of one sort or another intensify. When fear is not present, curiosity arises. We see colors, hear sounds, smell smells, become more aware of textures in those moments. This works this way for horses as well and when calm and balanced they become more open to learning in those moments as do we.
Our progress in dressage and in the experience of working with and for the horse uses these “magical” moments of shifting perception and heightened awareness to advance our dressage. All it takes is a willingness/openness to fully experience our senses as we work together with the horse. The idea of harmony with the horse is about a syncing of this breath of awareness with the horse’s shifting.
Good dressage is the result of awakening ourselves to the full experience of being with the horse. It is not that there is anything new in dressage other than our willingness to open our eyes to what is before us. Let the mind find a way to open itself to the magic right in front of us.