A Master of the Chinese art of Calligraphy makes it look effortless and flowing like a dance of perfection, ease and grace. There are only 5 brush strokes in classical calligraphy and a beginner practises these strokes thousands of times, every brush stroke using a new piece of paper, every piece of paper thrown away until after countless hours of practise, the perfect stroke is achieved.
Now I would want to frame that perfect stroke but that too is thrown away, it is history. The joy and satisfaction does not come with time and experience mastering the perfect stroke, the joy and satisfaction is experienced in no time and is no greater for the Master than it is for the beginner.
The practise of becoming present to our breath in every moment leads to expanding our conscious awareness in every moment which slows down movement because through awareness moments get longer, this is the door way to ‘no time’ and the Art of Riding.
When we develop this level of awareness through daily practise we can become aware of the 3 elements that are essential for any change in direction, gait or tempo. These are: timing, rider’s weight distribution and rider’s position.
When these three elements change in the same moment, the change is effortless for horse and rider, it becomes the balanced, connected, harmonious dance we all dream of.
For example, coming onto a 20m circle from a straight line on the left rein, the three elements to happen in the same moment would be
1. Timing – horses left hind is in the air stepping forward (3/10th second)
2. Rider’s Weight – 60% into and through the inside seat bone
3. Rider’s Position – belly button to outside, sternum to inside (left)
The Art is in achieving the correct timing, position and weight distribution in the same moment. When this is mastered and all 3 happen at once they all directly and positively influence each other and this is why it feels effortless and magical.
For example, when the timing is right, the turning of the belly button and the sternum is much easier because they happen before the forces they offset (the force of the horse and centrifugal force) become apparent and start acting on the rider’s body. The shifting of the rider’s weight is helped by gravity when the left sit bone is dropping as the horses’ hind leg swings forward.
This is how it becomes effortless as we work with the forces of nature and the horse. Our conscious response and regulation of timing, weight and position are how we dance with ease and grace with the forces of gravity and the power of the horse. It is how we borrow the power of the horse and the forces of gravity to help us.
If we do not these ever present forces work against us. Meaning, if our timing, weight or position are not correct we are opposing these forces, they are working against us and it is this opposition that is the root cause of almost all rider issues and problems.
This dynamic interaction is the same for the rider in the saddle or on the ground, walking or running in daily life, the same rules apply for balanced and effortless, healthy movement.
In this way the Art of Riding becomes your way of life for it is an inescapable truth that we live with natural forces greater than ourselves that govern our world and our movement, whether we move in harmony and balance and stay healthy or not becomes our conscious choice when we choose to practise our Art in every moment of our lives.
In the teaching and practise of Art you never escape the beginning, the basics and the foundation. We never advance out of the basics whether they are in principle or in application.
In short, enjoy the journey and find the joy in being present in every moment and wave goodbye to frustration, anger and disappointment. Let go of ever arriving!
Enjoy your horses and enjoy life.
Written by James and Gillian Shaw © James Shaw Healing Arts LLC. All rights reserved. No copying or reproduction of content without permission.