“Too many therapeutic options and not enough balance.” (M. L. Stanton, DVM)
Manchester came back frustrated from his training session. He whispered pointing his nose toward his toe, “I was that close from finding the solution and he did not help me. He waited for me to figure.” I told him that considering the size of his hoof, he was not that close, but he was all in his thoughts. “You don’t know what it is to be lame for so long and feel that one more adjustment in my back and I would have been sound. I waited for him. He brought me that close, he could have provided the last insight but he did not.” And why you were waiting for him? Manchester responded, “because I am a dumblood.I have been trained to obey, not to think.” This is when I blew up. There are no dumbloods; only Warmbloods ridden by dumb riders.
I went for a drink of fresh water and, in my burst of anger; I blew air making bubbles. An amusing thought crossed my mind in French; “Je fais des bulles, come le pape, (I make bubbles like the Pope.) “Bulles” is the French word for bubbles. “Bulles” is also the name of official documents signed by the Pope. Empowered by my new position, I asked to Manchester, and why do you think that he did not provide the last insight? “Because he wanted me to process it. I don’t think that I can think at this level.” And what are you going to do? “I am going to think about it”. He did, and the next day, Manchester came back from his training session absolutely ecstatic. He was in the cross ties looking at me side way thinking, “Soundness is cool.”
Most humans do like horses. They take riding lessons hoping that they will learn how to communicate with us. Most of them start with good intuitions, but their senses are neutered by the riding techniques. Instead of refining and furthering their intuitions, training techniques teach gestures and formulas that we are supposed to know and understand. For many, their equitation never goes beyond the studious application of correct aids. Like you did when you arrived, they don’t think that they can functions, both physically and intellectually, beyond gestures. They talk biomechanics but they don’t realize that the true definition of biomechanics is, “interaction of forces and consequent actions.” They are brainwashed by dressage formulas and rigid orders such as the training pyramid, losing confidence in their inherent senses. The equestrian education creates riders depending on systems and horses depending on injections and therapies.
Systems and rider’s aids fail preparing us for the athletic demand of the performances because they submit us to stereotypes instead of guiding our brain and therefore our body toward the coordination correcting our defects, considering our morphological flaws and preparing our physique for the athletic demand of the performances. They know how the movements look like but they don’t have advanced understanding of our physique as well as physics. They do gestures and we deal with forces. And when we have difficulties with the way forces interact within our physique, they consider our difficulties in function of what should be our theoretical response to their gestures, (aids). When he did not provide the last insight because he believed that you were mentally capable to process the right coordination, he acted as a real teacher. Instead of flatting his ego showing that he was capable of making you do it. He acted as a supportive actor whom real task is making the star shine and you shined the next day. You shined because he challenged your intelligence and your intelligence and courage lead you the victory of soundness.
In lieu of using more therapies, he taught you the mastery of balance, which is the mastery of your whole physique. This is in fact what skilled therapists do. You are handicapped by the damages of your left stifle and he did not let you believe that you can only be less lame walking with a cane. He taught you how to walk soundly. This of course could not have been done through the stimulation of natural reflexes. True horsemanship is not natural; it is educated. Natural reflexes are not adapted to the task of carrying a rider and never the less performing while carrying a rider. You learned to think beyond your instinct and became capable of controlling your physique beyond your nature. You wanted your soundness as badly as he wanted your soundness and he makes you realize that you were capable of exploring your own physique at a level that you did not believe was possible. Since, this “impossible” level of body control has become your “natural” locomotion.
As well, every horse wants to perform soundly and comfortably. The so-called horse person who interpret our unsuccessful attempts as behavior issues, have no brain under their helmet or Stetson. The ones who promote the studious application of the correct aids think at the same archaic level. You found your sound body coordination through numerous errors. He did not make you guilty of your errors; he used your errors as a description of your current body state. Based on intelligent analysis of your errors, he reformulated is question until you processed the right response. I told you that the day of your arrival and you looked at me thinking, “This is not for me; I am a dumblood.” You have been brainwashed that your purpose in life was obedience and you felt guilty when you questioned the value of rules and formulas.
Today, you are a great teacher because you ignore students who refuse to think beyond their stereotypes. When they talk to you at the level of forces and energy, you give in return “delightful” feelings. You are kind and I even saw you taking initiatives because you felt in the student true desire of communicating with you. In other times, I saw you annoyed by riders thinking about themselves. You gave them hard time and I was amused watching how you play with their gestures. You gave the wrong response and they were lost. Their world of submission to the rider’s aids suddenly collapsed like a castle of cards.
This is when he pats your neck saying, “Gestures, such as the aids that you just applied and annoyed him, are simply educative techniques aiming at the real equitation, which is about forces and energy. Gestures made Manchester lame. The mastery of forces and therefore energy gave him the gift of soundness. He is very willing to talk with you about energy. He will vehemently refuse any equitation of gestures.” What I see watching the students and listening to them talking to him is that they have been brainwashed the same way that you have been brainwashed. They do not believe that they can think beyond equestrian formulas and rigid orders. They don’t believe that they have the right intuition. He knows that they do have right intuitions but that their senses have been marred by wrong pictures. The equestrian education has told them that balance was created shifting our weight backward, that our vertebral column was a swinging unit, that lowering our neck would stretch our back. They have in their mind false understanding of our locomotion and vertebral column mechanism and they feel guilty when their aids don’t stimulate the proper response. The ones who have the heart to become good riders believe that they are not good enough. The ones who have too much ego to question their beliefs decide that we are not good enough.
He explains to the students how our physique effectively works, how our mind effectively processes and you quietly let them know that you are not going to accept gestures. He tells them that they have to believe in their intuition once they have the right picture in their mind and you respond immediately when they explore their own physique beyond the studious application of correct aids. As soon as a student thinks that he or she can think at the level of forces and energy, you are right there communicating with them. You are then a giant floating like a feather. Students often say, “I never felt that before” and I can hear you thinking, “Because you let formulas and regulations dominate your intuition.”