Chazot Thoughts 74

On aging

“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been”.  (David Bowie)

He arrived this morning with David Bowie phrase in mind. I was ready to tell him that he became definitively better while aging but he returned the compliment; “You have become the gentler horse in the barn. Deep under, you always have been a gentle horse but your exuberance rendered your kindness difficult to read. You started your life as a sophist betrayed by human incompetence. You had an intelligence above the average and a kindness that no one could see because of your enormous size and unusual power. They betrayed you by fear of your spirit and you betrayed yourself falling in the path of anger, frustration and revolt. You went on the attack and were even more frustrated because you were too smart to act at such level of stupidity. When I saw you for the first time, my thought was that you were sophist. Not like Socrate who added wisdom to his cleverness, but like Homer. You were wise and clever but trapped in a dumb equestrian world where behavior is judged without understanding the underlining factors.” He added for himself. It is quite sarcastic that a word defining quite well the cleverness allowing horses to figure complex body coordination from simplistic riders’ insights such as the so called “correct aids”, is now usurped by riders flatting their ego.

The system wanted you violent, because this is all what they are capable to handle. “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The system will irritate you- pull your beard, flick your face to make you fight. Because once they have got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”  (John Lennon) He did not respond to my rearing because rearing was my response to the system. He invited me in a world of non-violence and humor. His humor was his greater asset as I was not expecting such reactions. I blew up rearing and rearing and bucking aiming at him and he responded, “Cut move but the angle of your left ear was not correct during the quick.”  I took off bucking five or six times with him on my back and he cited John Wayne; “He did not buck you off; you fell off.  I have a horse that can show you the difference.” I realized that he was comfortable with my bucks because he knew in which direction I will blow up. My previous riders did not and it was easy for me to eject them. There is a human quote that say, “fear gives wings.” This is not true they were afraid of me but when I ejected them, they screamed like an eagle during the ascending phase but they fell like a rock.

He explained me how my vertebral column worked and I understood how he could feel in which direction I will blow up. Once I understood that his back educated my back, our dialogue reached a new dimension. During our barn talks, Caesar referred to the “bow and string” concept where our pectoral and abdominal muscles are flexing our thoracolumbar spine. I looked at him when he came thinking about the “bow and string” concept and he responded, “you are too smart for such primitive concept. That was created at the end of world war II. We are no longer there.” Caesar had the same opinion saying, “They asked me to do with my abdominal muscles what I was comfortable to do with my back muscles. I did it with my back muscles and they believe that they were the wise ones.” 

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” (Xun Kuang) This is exactly what he did. We are volitional learner; we can only learn in motion and he interested my mind in finding the body coordination rendering the move effortless and comfortable. It was no submission and associated suffering. It was a mutual search for ease and effortlessness. I soon understood that effortlessness was efficiency. I went even further exploring coordination more sophisticated than natural reflexes. This is where I discovered than our natural reflexes are ill adapted to the task of carrying a rider and never the less performing sophisticate movement while carrying a rider. This was a major evolution in my mind; I realized that I needed his understanding of how my body functions. The coordination preparing our physique for the athletic demand of modern performance is quite complex and I could not figure it without his insights. Basically, I do the processing and he does the analysis. He cannot do the processing for me and I cannot do the analysis. This is the dialogue that seduced Caesar right away. He came back from his first training sessions saying, “He believes in my intelligence; he lets me explore; he lets me do errors. Instead of punishing my errors, he helps me providing insights. My first reflex was resisting his insights thinking that it was another submissive attempt, but he lets me explore errors and gave me the time to think. I believe him because his aim is not submitting me to what he believes is right, but instead, he thinks with me about what could be the best coordination of my body. This is a new way of thinking. I performed well as long as it was about jumping because jumping challenges my athletic abilities, I never liked dressage because it was about making me executing contortions for which my body was not athletically coordinated. This is totally different. He does not make me fit the judging standards; he teaches me how to develop and coordinate my physique for the effort. Sometime, I am anxious to execute the move because I know it but he is not interested by the move; he is interested by the body coordination allowing me to benefit from the move. I believed that I knew shoulder in but the one that he taught me to do, is the one discovered by Monsieur de la Gueriniere. Very different from the one rewarded in the show ring. I had to unlearn and relearn. I felt home when he referred to Alwin Toffler quote, ‘ The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’  I paid the price of being a talented athlete over the jumps but performing with a dysfunctional physique. This is why I came here as impotent. It did not take long for me to realize that it was not about the usual submission but instead about involving me to learn about a better use of my body. I agree with him when he thinks that sophistic is more our cleverness in dealing with antiquated insight of traditional equitation than the rider insistence at submitting us to antiquated systems.”