I have just gotten back from being on tour teaching in Europe. A little over a month this time, away from home. While on tour, I rarely get to ride. Mostly I teach and do a little in hand work (but more and more so as people seem to like watching me do this work).
When I return home, one of the many joys is that I start riding again. It is always a refreshing time because I see my own horses anew again. It is a time of renewal because I always recall what I like about riding and feel just how good it is to ride again.
My horses have had a chance to think about our last conversation and so on my return they frequently offer their reflections on my work and this time was no different. What was different this time is that a door of kindness opened for me. A whole new world has appeared and my relationships with my horses are coming to a new and deeper level.
In and of itself, this is always a wonderful thing when doors open and I have had this occur many times in my practice. It is just the extraordinary evolution and the practice of this wonderful and sacred art. Generally such openings occurs many times over the course of a year which it is why many of my students check in to make sure they have the latest version of the software (to use a metaphor for my teaching in dressage)… kind of Craig.10.2 and like computer software we have had major and minor upgrades over the years.
I think the most wonderful part of a living art are these shifts, but more and more some of these latter upgrades require not just software upgrades but an upgrade in the processor (the processor is me). In essence, this is another way of saying that a major paradigm shift has occurred.
So, I find myself upgraded both in software and processing. A major shift, I want to share, but other than the horses, I find it hard to find students who can run the upgrade.
What I can say is that as I walk further and further down the path of gentleness, I find myself alone (except with the horses who are with me). The horse world and its values appear more and more draconian. I find myself in complete awe of the horse as I discover far greater intelligence in the horse that I ever thought possible.
It is all so very simple as I am more able to surrender verbal language and rest in a language of gentle touch. My desire to share this is great, but the only real way to teach it is to find in gentleness and lightness as the only thing of real value. There is nothing more important. Technical dressage is a trap and the subjective world of the horse presents its own reality. I once again realize that inner work is the only thing which leads to outer work of any value.
This is, perhaps, a pointless musing, but it is both heartfelt and authentic and I write this to express my state of mind for others who may find, have found or will find this place. The real value of dressage is not in objective standards, but in subjective experience and it takes the time it takes to join the inner and outer work. Take the time to join your insides to the horse’s inside and let the outer stuff find its own expression.
Join your inner and outer worlds together first, connect inwardly with the horse and let the horse deal with its own outer world. Working like this brings such special rewards. Working with outer appearances is without lasting value and the approval of the crowd is overrated.