Riding in cooperation
There is something very special about the position you are in when you ride a horse. You are sitting in the middle of the horse at their point of equilibrium as well as your own. The point of contact between you and the horse (your perineum and there mid spine) is the center point of the cross that you are making together physically as well as energetically. You are in the middle of the totality of that which you and your horse create together.
In daily life your attention and energy mostly moves quickly and is often in front of your body. Similarly during horse riding your attention will often be, for example, between the ears of your horse, instead of in the center of your own body. In your own body you can find a wealth of resources. When you are centred and in yourself fully you can give clear and easy direction to the horse in a natural way instead of keeping the reigns taught continuously or using whips etc.
It is important that you manage your own energy in the first place and not to try to change the energy of the horse. For example, when your horse is restless calm yourself as much as possible instead of trying to calm your horse. As I have previously said, when you are calm in yourself your horse will be affected and may begin to resonate with this calm state. Conversely your horse will immediately feel any restlessness in your system and will be influenced by this, possibly becoming agitated etc.
Compare horse riding with cycling. First picture this : Imagine your hands gripped on the handlebars, your energy is far in front of you fighting a battle with the oncoming wind. Then change this picture for sitting on your bike, hands loosely holding the handlebars, sitting straight and feeling relaxed. The whole experience is different in this second position. There's a calmness and even maybe more connection with yourself. You are fully engaged with keeping your balance and managing your own energy. Riding a horse is much more pleasant for you as well as for your horse when you ride from this second example.
Now compare riding with a tornado. In the middle of a tornado is silence. All the movement is at the periphery. If you find yourself there you have to do a lot just to stay alive. If you are riding in this way you have moved away from your center (and therefore the center of contact) and have entered the fullness of the storm trying to control instead of being in control from this silent center.
An other important thing is to 'do nothing' when you start riding a horse. Firstly to be a passenger on the back of your horse. To find your natural balance just by sitting on your horse. Many people feel the need to start doing as soon as they mount a horse. First just follow the rhythm of the horse, like you are listening to a piece of music following every single tone and word. Be present with every step that your horse takes. When you can do this you are truly engaged with the horse and co-operation can begin. It is only then that you can start giving precise impulses for direction and tempo.
At some riding schools they teach you that you have to steer the horse as soon as you begin riding, even at your very first class. Then often you can begin to give too many impulses to the horse, and even contrary impulses all at the same time. When you ride a horse for the first time it is normal not to feel sure of yourself and therefore not being able to relax. This will affect how you try to communicate with the horse and will often result in you doing too much out of tension and fear. For example you might ask the horse to move forwards using physical impulses but because you are unsure you actually send out the message 'don't go!'. This is confusing for the horse because s/he picks up both messages and doesn’t know which one to follow. In the worst case scenario the instructor tells you to use a whip when the horse doesn’t move. In this case the horse will move but out of fear and to avoid further unpleasant experiences. This kind of treatment will close the horse off more and more over time because when s/he followed your inner message (to not go) s/he was punished.
It is also possible to give mixed messages using only your physical body, for example giving an instruction to go one way but then using your body weight in the opposite direction or by making needless movements with your body in general. This also creates confusion for the horse due to lack of clarity in your movements. You can also give mixed messages to the horse when you are caught up in your thoughts and are somewhere else entirely.
For example giving an impulse physically to go to the right while you are making a shopping list in your head. Your horse picks up that you are not wholly present. Every physical impulse needs to be an expression of your intention. While riding your horse your whole being must be involved: A clear intention and focus, supportive thoughts (or no thoughts) a calm and balanced inner state with clear and precise physical impulses which are friendly and inviting.
Further it is important that every impulse is followed by a release. The release confirms to your horse that he is doing what you have asked. If you give many and continuous impulses, your horse may become unresponsive.