“Art is Long, Life is Short” – Lao Tzu
Riding is an art and the greatest enemy of art is hurry, the driving force behind which is to reach a goal, achieve or posses a finished product. In riding this can be a dressage score or ribbon, trophy or some other achievement.
And while there is nothing wrong with valuing such achievements, they are by-products and in and of themselves are not necessarily a measure of success.
The essence of Loa Tzu’s quote is that art can not and will not be hurried. To my way of thinking the training of an art form is the same no matter what form it takes, the steps are the same, they are all made up of fundamental practises. These practices are meant to develop skill through experience and through experience develop a state of ‘no hurry’ or to be absolutely present in every moment.
This is different than the state of ‘no mind” often spoken of in Zen Buddhism. ‘No mind’ refers to knowing something so completely through practice that it becomes ingrained in the practitioners being so that no thought, no effort is necessary. This usually refers to movement whether it is the stroke of a brush or sword or the squeeze of the hand to influence the rein.
It is important to remember that the state of ‘no mind’ can and is found in movement that is not helpful in maintaining our mental and physical connection with the horse. When this is the case we call it unconscious bad habits or reactions to keep our balance.
To be present in every moment, time slows down and with Mastery time actually disappears into an experience of ‘no time’. It is in this state of awareness that ‘feel’ in riding becomes amplified.
So the practise of an art as taught in steps leads to a state of ‘no hurry’ or no time. It does not create patience as patience is not required when the student understands that there is no ‘arriving’ in art, there is only ‘what is’ in the now and complete acceptance of ‘what is’ allows for change and improvement.
The difference between patience and ‘no hurry’ can be likened to the difference between being balanced and keeping your balance. When I am not balanced, I have to keep my balance, when I am in a hurry, I have to practise patience.
‘Ride from Within’ teaches the art of BEING balanced (NOT keeping balance) from a state of ‘no hurry’ which allows the expanded awareness that teaches ‘feel’.
This state of being balanced is 3 dimensional and is in a state of constant flow or movement in harmony with the forces of the horse and the forces of gravity, so that from the outside the rider appears perfectly still.
In traditional riding methods we are taught to keep our balance in only 2 dimensions, like scales that are counter weighted balancing front to back (one dimension) and side to side (2 dimensions). This is very limited and ‘held’ in place with strength and tension.
Balance and ‘no hurry’ are states that are achieved by being present, in the now moment with no desire other than being where you are at, with no judgement and no goal for the next moment or for any moment in the future.
The practice of techniques in any particular art are merely building blocks or opportunities to develop this state. ‘Ride from Within’ techniques re-train the body and refine the movements required to be balanced and they train the heart to open, the mind to be still, expanding awareness and they train the center to expand and move more not less. And the result is harmonious, effortless riding where horse and rider become one whole on every level in every moment.