Apr 9, 2012

Epiphanies Are Us

It was an interesting three days. We started every day with lectures, followed by riding and demonstrations. We rode, we watched each other ride, we talked saddle fit and position, we asked lots of questions and Susan had all the excellent answers. Some of my preconceptions about the attendees proved true, and others were immediately blown out of the water. One of the goofiest dressed amulet wearing beaded hippie Kerrit clad CR heads ended up my best friend in the clinic. She was also named Abby and we laughed that we were opposite sides of the same coin. She was smart and funny and took it all seriously. But there were also those who could find their Centers, had Very Soft Eyes, could talk Building Blocks and Rooting Trees and blah blah blah till I keeled over, but man, ask them  to steer and it was ‘AAEEII!! <crash>'. There was a sense it was, to some people, Centered Navel Gazing, rather than Centered  *Riding*. But as the hours went on and I watched Susan teaching, and was taught by her, and as I watched the good riders Riding, and the not so great riders Centering Their Navel Gazing, I saw what I could neither deny nor dismiss.

I had been riding the Smith school horses for several weeks and I knew most of them pretty well. I knew that yes, I could ‘get them’ to do what I wanted, but I also knew that ‘they’ ‘always wanted’ to do such and such.

In that three days, I saw that those horses didn’t ‘want’ to do those things any more than I ‘wanted’ to fly to the moon.

I saw that we, as riders, ‘made’ those horses do those things. We made them lean, we made them drop a shoulder, we made them pull, we made them go on the forehand. WE did it. OUR bodies did it. When they were not carting our bodies around, they did not do those things. Sometimes it was really obvious. But sometimes it was so subtle I could hardly believe it. I would experiment with the slightest, the tiniest adjustments in my tummy or hip, and yowza, the horse would straighten, lift, what have you. Even the old half cripped schoolies. OMG. Who knew.

I saw that all of the corrections that riders have been taught to do, historically, *work*, but that if *we* didnt make the horses do those various things *to begin with*, those corrections would not be necessary. OMG. Who knew.

The most mind boggling  exercise for me at the time was what Susan called Comparable Parts. We have a dropped right shoulder, the horse has a dropped right shoulder. We lean left, the horse leans left. Lather rinse repeat. Now it seems such a given, so obvious, but to me, then, it was a Jesus and the Lepers moment. Wow. Wow!

It’s not them. It’s us. Who knew, indeed.


  1. Yes, and so obvious. It kills me though that so many people havent really grasped what that really means though, and how the realization totally changes your relationship with your horse >;->

  2. It came home to me looking at one of my hunt photos. My partner and I were jumping alongside each other over a 3 bar tree branch jump at the Millbrook Hunter Pace and I was looking down (obviously to see if the fence was going to jump up and bite me, duh)You can see my horse's left shoulder dip to accomodate my weighting of his side. There is no getting away from the truth of the camera.