Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Riding the Feel

Laura asked an interesting question a while ago:

I have a two-part question for you: (maybe you have tried to explain this already and I just don't remember) could you describe what you think of when you say "you ask the horse to do what you feel"? And when you are thinking about "the feel", are you giving leg/seat/hand aids and cues?

I'll try to answer - I'm sure I've made attempts before, but it's a hard concept to communicate in words - it's really not a "words" thing . . .

Start with yourself - just yourself - no horse. Now just walk, and feel what it means to walk - where are you looking, how are your feet moving forward and back, what does this all feel like . . .

Now break into a jog - just yourself, no horse - it just happens naturally, doesn't it?  You don't think "trot", no one gives you leg or seat aids, the energy just comes up and with your thought - maybe hardly any thought at all - you're jogging.  And now come back to a walk - again there are no aids, or even really thought - you're just walking.

That's how it can be for you and your horse, and that's what riding the feel is about.

When I ask the horse to do something, I think/feel in my body how what I want would feel, and offer that feel to the horse - this is a mental thing, there are no aids involved.  I feel my own body move into the corners, and step longer or shorter, bringing the energy up or down, or change the rhythm from walk to trot to canter, or move laterally.  I offer the connection and the horse joins into that and we do things together.

Aids - leg, hand, seat - are just boundaries and come into play only if the horse needs assistance understanding what I want - more and more these aren't really necessary.

The trick, I guess, is to feel yourself doing it and have the horse take up that feel and do it as well.  With practice, it can become a pretty seamless connection . . . pure magic, but really not - just ordinary, like moving yourself from a walk to a jog.

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