dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Last weekend I attended a workshop about "The Alexander Technique" and riding. It was really interesting. Essentially it's about learning to use your body without excessive tension. Some more information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_technique

The lecturer was not a rider so he began by asking us about the essentials needed to be a good rider. We all called out our ideas. The list included things like:

  • relaxation
  • balance
  • calmness
  • an ability to make good decisions in the moment (without anger or fear)
There were a lot more- I just forget them all. As the lecture carried on I kept returning to the list. Something was missing and it was bugging me. Finally it hit me what was missing: Love. As soon as that word crossed into my brain it felt right. 

(feel free to stop reading thinking that I'm going to descend into maudlin ramblings)

Still here? 
Okay. I've spent the past few days reflecting on why this seemed to essential to me. Horses are not machines or tools to win ribbons/medals. They are beautiful living, breathing creatures. I believe that to be a good rider you need to love them. this does not mean that if you love horses you will win or that George Morris will say that he has nothing more to teach you. But it does mean that you will always be trying your best to establish communication and a partnership with a creature who is as different from you as could be. Horses have no intrinsic drive to show, win or do any of the things we ask of them. But they try it anyway. Because we ask them too. While none of us are perfect riders and we make mistakes. I believe that if we truly love the horse we sit we will be okay. This love will make us try, take lessons, fail and yet return to the saddle again.

Imagine my surprise to see this  quote on FB from Nuno Oliviero:

“Hay creo, dos tipos de jinetes, los que aun con habilidad, utilizan el caballo como un instrumento, y los que le aman y le permiten expresar la brillantez de la que es capaz. Los primeros, no son menos expertos que los segundos. Estos Ășltimos, son probablemente, los “poetas malditos” de este Arte.” Nuno Oliveira.
' There is, I think two types of riders, those who still up with Skill, use the horse as an instrument, and those who love him and allow him to express the brilliance of the one who is capable of. The first, they are not less expertise than the latter. These last, they are probably, the ' cursed poets ' of this art.' Nuno Oliveira.

 It is the love that makes it all worth it.

No matter how that may hurt in the end. 


  1. What a lovely picture :D

    Thanks for sharing that quote. Not everyone has the good fortune to experience the kind of bond Mr. Oliveira was referring to... though I imagine it's hard to feel lucky from where you're standing. Hope you're hanging in there...

  2. You are absolutely right. The best riders do come from a place of love for horses; they are the ones who achieve the poetry of brilliance. Brett and I were just talking about how long it takes to build a strong, deep, trusting bond with a horse -- and how that relationship takes riding to a whole new level. You and Steele had that; you were blessed to share a wonderful bond of love and trust.

  3. You're right - love for the horse I ride is essential to me as a rider, I never thought about it before!!

  4. Beautiful post. For me, love is an essential ingredient in riding (preferably both ways!). :)

  5. I just realized that I never answered your question about the trail boots Jackson wears. They are Cavallo Simple trail boots -- so much easier than dealing with cables like on the Easy Boots I used to use. These are all velcro, they stay on great, and are super easy. I've used the same brand on Winston for trails in the past as well.

  6. I could not agree more that there are two types of riders, but I split the riders who get their equine partners to perform through relationship as well as training as "horsemen", and those who just use physicality without emotion as "riders". To me, a "rider" is someone I do not wish to be associated with, horses deserve so much more than just a "rider". There is nothing so magnficent or heart-warming as a balanced and harmonious emotion-based partnership between horse and human.

    I am so glad you went to the clinic, and it sounds like you enjoyed it.

    And you're right about another thing, too. It IS the love that makes it all worthwhile. No matter how much it may hurt in the end.

    It may have been said best by whoever it was that wrote this famous line, "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." A difficult, but essential, truth of life.

  7. That clinic sounds fascinating. You're right. Love is what makes it worth everything we go through with our horses. I actually think that is why I quit my dressage lessons years ago. I was riding a school horse that I didn't really get along with. She had the opposite personality that I like in a horse. Then I finally got the opportunity to ride a horse that I had loved for years in my lessons. When she sold him I had no desire to go back to riding the mare. I was heartbroken and lessons just weren't fun anymore. I hope I will enjoy them again when I take them on Chrome since I love him so much. This may be different from what you had in mind, but your post reminded me if it so I thought I would share. I hope you and Irish are doing well. It's so unfair that your time with Steele was so short but I'm glad you had the chance to love him as long as you were able and I'm glad you shared him with us. I'll never forget him.


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