About Ride From Within
The Ride from Within method is governed by a set of Principles that come from ancient knowledge passed on over thousands of years. They are timelessly relevant and provide the foundation and the framework for any student of any discipline aspiring to ride and live with an enlightened approach. These Principles do not exist singularly, they weave together and are present in any moment that the rider satisfies the prerequisite state of body, mind, emotion, and spirit. The Principles build upon each other and ultimately become a cycle of awareness that is ever expanding.
It must be said that these Principles in themselves have become over time more philosophy relating to the mind and spirit or Spirituality. However, the real secret of effortless power lies in the physical understanding and use of these Principles. Combining their application in the physical realm alongside the realms of the mind and spirit become an endless lifelong journey I call Art. This is the Art of Riding or the Art of Ride From Within.
Use Mind not Force
In Ride from Within your conscious mind directs all action. This is to prevent you from falling victim to the unconscious habits of your body. If your mind does not direct the body, your movements will be reactionary, rigid, held and out of rhythm.
Inevitably this lack of fluid rhythm leads to the use of force in riding rather than feel and sensitivity. Your conscious mind directs your intent and your body follows. The body is limited by physics but the mind can be developed infinitely beyond the limits of time and space, which basically means anything is possible!
Never Oppose Force with Force
In internal martial arts it is assumed a force bigger and stronger is trying to upset your balance, which would be your opponent. In Ride from Within the two bigger and stronger forces that we do not want to oppose are that of gravity and that of your horse. Your horse is your partner, not your opponent but his movement underneath you by default, upsets your being balanced, and unless you learn to deal with that by receiving the force of gravity and his movement you will resort to using strength or force to keep your balance, no matter how subtle and whether you are aware of it or not. Simply said if you are keeping your balance as opposed to being balanced you are opposing force with force.
It is the law of nature that when 2 forces oppose each other the smaller weaker force breaks down first, in riding this is most often seen as a rider (smaller, weaker than the horse).
Lower back and hip problems develop when riding in an English saddle and knee and back problems when riding in a western type saddle.
"This is not yield to pressure!"
"The predominant method in riding and horse training today is “Yield to Pressure”.
What does that really mean?"
The biggest drawback of using yield to pressure as the basis of riding and training is that once you head down that road it is very difficult to come back, meaning that if your horse does not yield to pressure the only option is to increase the pressure, and if that does not create a yield, the only option is to increase the pressure. At what point do you call pressure force? What is the line between pressure and force? No matter how light the pressure, I believe they mean the same thing to the horse.
Yield to pressure is wrought with problems as a way to approach another Being, it pits strength against strength and if your horse is your “other Being”, I’ll bet on your horse. And because the horse is bigger and stronger than the rider, the rider inevitably needs an advantage when it comes to applying pressure and that is where reins, stirrups, spurs, ropes and whips or sticks come in.
The mindset of yield pressure is also an emotional minefield for a human being if the answer from the horse is no. With nowhere else to go but more physical pressure, that pressure can also build within the rider leading to emotions such as frustration, anger, resentment which can and often does lead to complete dominance and punishment. However subtle the force is, the horse knows the difference and the rider is completely unaware of their own imbalance and disconnection from the horse at all levels, physical, emotional, spiritual resulting in a very unfulfilling experience for both parties.
There is no judgment in this, we don’t know what we don’t know. But simply put, “yield to pressure” amounts to TELLING the horse what to do, not ASKING. I believe our horses know the difference better than we do.
The alternative is to create an open space for the horse to move into. This puts the focus on the rider and to achieve this the rider must be and stay connected to themselves first.
Ride From Within seeks to give you an alternative that never opposes your horse’s movement and never uses force against force. This allows for fluid harmonious connection and removes the resistance and tension in the body that wears us down over time.
“the principles that james uses to define his work come from ancient, almost forgotten arts.”
Receive and Re-direct
That alternative is to receive the power of the horses’ movement through your seat bones and then re-directing it cleanly through the bones of your skeleton, back to the horse with no opposition. This not only allows the fluid connection but also sets up the opportunity to direct the greater power of your horse in partnership instead of the push-pull tug-o-war that inevitably arises from having to use force to keep your balance while riding. It is important to remember that horses are innately good at this, they own it and don’t need to get better at it but we do and this is the path and the art of Ride from Within.
Because of the horses’ innate ability to receive and redirect, when we come into union with them they will tell us immediately when we have it and when we don’t, you can trust your horse to tell you as it has told me for over 25 years.
The Root of Light is Heavy
This is one of the greatest paradoxes and probably the most misunderstood Principle, just as the term ‘lightness’ is in riding. “Light” in this context is referring to light, effortless movement and the Principle that states this “lightness” in the movement must have its root in being heavy.
Most of us were taught to be light on the horses back and in the saddle. In an attempt to be Light riders hold their weight (against gravity) off the saddle through holding (tension) in the legs to achieve sitting lightly on the horses back. This is most apparent in rising trot. In Ride from Within, this means you have no connection to your horse! We need this connection first and foremost to have power and influence without using force. And from your horses’ perspective, it does not make you lighter (your weight is the same), it makes you less easy to carry and less easy for him to move well, (nevermind effortlessly) under.
Lightness in this Principle comes from the natural result of allowing the force of gravity to flow through the rider’s skeleton into the horse’s skeleton (bones transfer force) and through the horse into the earth. The root of this lightness is heavy. Here is the paradox!
In the context of effortless movement, heavy means; the unobstructed flow of gravity into the earth. When this is achieved the rider is able to move their bones with the very smallest muscles in the body and in doing so manage the force of gravity and the power of the horse without involving tension in the larger muscle groups.
When a rider has no opposition to the force of gravity dropping through their body into the horse through the bones they feel heavy, solid but not tense or held in the saddle when this state is achieved you are effortless to carry and the horse can lift its back up into the rider. With no rigid, held tension in the rider, the horse is free to move effortlessly and lightly.
All Movement Comes from the Centre (Your Seat) - Stillness in Motion.
This ancient Principle is at the very core of Ride From Within. I have often heard highly accomplished riders and trainers say that “the (rider’s) seat is everything” and then follow that statement with instruction and tuition that is based on rein and leg aids with very little, if any, instruction on what the seat is and how to use it! At Ride From Within, the seat is way more than where your butt contacts the saddle. We clearly define the paradigm shifting 3 dimensional seat and how to use it.
This ancient governing Principle states: All movement is directed from the center, moves through the center and is redirected with the center. This truth absolutely applies to riding and in Ride From Within we replace the word center with the seat. In the rider, the center is the seat and is made up of three parts: the lower lumbar spine, the pelvis/sacrum and the femur bones.
Using all 3 components of the seat in dynamic fluid movement exactly as your horse does you can achieve a state of “being balanced” on your horse. Being balanced requires the seat (as defined above) to move in relation to the forces flowing through it (gravity and the power of the horse). The more refined this movement of the center is the less the extremities of the body (the hands and lower legs) move. This creates the vision of stillness in motion where the rider appears to be still, relative to the horse but is actually moving a great deal from the seat. Being balanced is the highest form of harmonious movement and can be achieved through relaxation of the large muscle groups allowing the horse to move freely and naturally.
Without the 3rd dimension to movement in the seat the only other option in riding is “keeping your balance”. To keep your balance on the back of a horse the rider has to hold their seat, their center still which not only blocks the flow of force from the horse, it causes the extremities of the body (hands and legs) to move and the only way to quiet the hands and lower legs is to tighten even more. This creates a great deal of tension and restricted movement which is completely and directly mirrored in the horse’s movement.
This principle can only be true if the rider receives the power of the horse into the entire seat (the lower lumbar spine, the pelvis/sacrum, and the femur bones). When this state is achieved, the horse and rider are truly joined. When the rider has effectively received and redirected the power of the horse through their body and back to the horse and there is no opposition to the flowing of the forces, (horse energy up, gravity down) they have achieved Oneness. The rider can then influence all movement through their seat or from connection to the seat.
Effortless Change: Timing-Weight-Position.
This Principle in Ride from Within states: Timing, weight aid, and position are three parts of a whole that is effortless change. Meaning, changes in gait, tempo, direction. All three have to be correct and in place for the change to be effortless. Timing, weight aid, and position are the tools we use to make an effortless change and when one or more of these three are off we have to use force to achieve the desired change.
Simply put, timing is based on the footfalls of the horses hind legs. It is the power and cadence of those steps that set the rhythm of all the gaits and create the force the rider must receive to effortlessly redirect. It is the most powerful tool in diagnosing issues in the saddle. Anything from perfect circles and bends to straightness and jumping. Looking at these three things and determining which one is absent will give you the reason for your change not happening fluidly and exactly when you want it.
Frequently Asked Questions