I love fast horses. Forward movement and energy is a thing that resonates with me. Perhaps its the athleticism, the spirit, or that fact that it gives me something to work on. I have trouble riding a slow horse, perhaps because I find it hard myself to sit still.
My own tendency for a driving seat has gotten me into trouble however; from a runaway or two to strung out gaits, not to mention putting that extra perk in the prey animal. Through the years I have been able to work on this skill on a variety of levels, using horse psychology and improving my riding skills and horsemanship, as well as gaining a better understanding of horse's biomechanics. This last area is my most recent endeavor, and surprisingly sheds a lot of light to connect all the others.
One of our therapy horses is a young Appaloosa mare, sensitive and smart. She is also fast and opinionated. In our training routine we have built a good bit of trust and communication, which has reduced the opinion factor greatly, turning her opposition reflex to more willing partnership. She loves her job in the psychotherapy realm, and does really well taking riders with special needs, however one area of difficulty has been in transitions with a new or unskilled rider. I began to understand that the opinions she was showing stemmed from concern that she could not manage her fast body effectively in those moments.
Once I had developed an effective communication with Diva for forward, I began to address the balance factor with transitions. Balance in her body, balance in her mind. She showed fast results and was soon willingly moving forward, and stopping softly. As we practiced this balance in a dim arena at twilight, I saw the changes in her body as more relaxation and attentiveness, as well as a springier step. Her center of mass was moving towards her hindquarters, giving her an opportunity to use her strength. She was also paying thoughtful attention to our agreement, and no longer irritated.
It was only after our ride that I noticed the changes in my body. My core was strong and enlivened, and my attitude as well was improved. I realized that I had been blowing through my day and my emotions, giving no thoughtful attention to my agreement with myself.
During our collected and attentive ride, both Diva and my solar plexus was engaged. This space in our bodies is an energetic center for our personal power. In other words it is our physical access to self- confidence, assertiveness, and usefully expressed emotions. It is our access to effectiveness and balance. In working out this physical muscle in a mental game, the emotional aspect of the imbalance had relief.
So often we think that emotions are just emotions. They get so personal and so entrapping. We then live at the effect of our emotions, and other's emotions. When we see an expression from others, we blame them and take it as truth. When we see an expression in ourselves, we begin to believe that is who we are. Like a forward horse in an unbalanced gait, we trip, buck, pin our ears, and worse, go faster.
Sometimes we forget that we can collect ourselves. In finding a safe and balanced space within our own bodies and minds, we can rethink our emotions, make better transitions, and express our truth more effectively in the world. This space is sacred to us. It does not belong to anyone else and cannot be shaken by anyone else without our attention. It is our agreement with ourselves.