“Connected Riding isn’t easy……”
At the last Practice Day, one of the participants made the above remark. I was initially a bit surprised and wasn’t sure how to reply. After we had finished they came up and added that although they felt a huge difference in how they were riding and how their horses were going, and that everyone here notices the improvements that are happening, when they are at Adult Riding Club or at competitions no one else sees any difference in how they are riding. Hmmmmm!
I’ve had two thought trains since then. The first was related to the “easiness” issue. There is a lot to learn about Connected Riding and many refinements and nuances, but from the very start, when I had just read Peggy’s book and experimented with some of her ideas I was feeling a difference in the happiness of my horses’ responses, both on the ground and in the saddle. I was getting glimpses of that beautiful willingness and connection that I think is probably the dream of so many of us that have horses.
At my first clinic I had tears of happiness streaming down my cheeks, it felt so brilliant. BUT…… then I had to work pretty hard to change ideas about horsemanship and habits of my own posture and ways of moving. I feel this journey has been so well worth it, that was why I was surprised at the comment.
The way Jenny Pearce is teaching what she has learned from Peggy and Trisha is to help people really feel inside themselves for that “effortless powerful posture”, as she calls it, and be able to refind it easily, so others won’t have to go through as much of the effort to change habits as I have.
On the other hand there is much joy and pride in myself for what I have accomplished so far, and as with so much to do with horses, the challenge is to continue to improve and hone my skills. This is part of what keeps being with horses so interesting and stimulating. So if it were “easy” would it be as satisfying? Again Hmmmmmm?? Something to contemplate 🙂
The second train of thought has been about “the Others”. As the person pointed out the Others aren’t looking for what we are looking for, so they don’t see it. This seems to be a common thread, particularly when competition is involved eg “Classic” vs “Modern Competition” Dressage, and why Hunter Equitation classes were introduced many years ago in the USA. Peggy Cummngs’ focus and why she has evolved this method, has been to help horses “come through” and to make it possible for them to carry a rider without damaging themselves. This is NOT being “in a frame” or what most people consider “on the bit”, but true self carriage that lifts the horse from his front/”base” in such a way that he can easily lift his back and support his rider, while his hind legs can step well under and truly push the energy forward. I think it is what people do really want, but if you’ve never seen it, nor felt it, or your focus is on what the horse can do rather than how they do it…… Hmmmmm yet again !
There is a new trend happening for competitions which are being held for other people of like minds. Eg Steve Halfpenny/Silversands is sponsoring a “Soft Hands” competition. Some Bitless Riding Clubs have started. In Working Equitation one phase is an obstacle course done with Finesse, and for a horse to be so truly versatile as to do the other three phases well….
I guess what I’m trying to express is that the Horse world is changing and as more people embrace these different approaches I hope more people will understand and value what Peggy and Trisha and Jenny are offering and begin to see the beauty of “The Work”.
Here endeth the contemplation for today! 🙂