“Every word has consequences. Every silence too.” (Jean Paul Sartre)
Often a pause empowers a sentence better than any extra word. This is true even when, as it is in our case, the language is non-verbal. He often teaches, “give to the horse the time to process.”
Caesar entered the conversation, “As a French, I heard about Jean Paul Sartre. I don’t think that he was a rider, but I like his thought. My rider was moving all the time, the hands, the legs, the shoulders; I never had the time to think. I selected a small portion of his so called ‘aids’ and I guessed what my response was supposed to be. It was such a relief when I came here and he gave me the time to process”.
Insecure humans are afraid of silence and riders are not different. They talk all the time because they think in terms of obedience. They believe that their silence would give us the opportunity to escape. This is the sequel of an empirical training psychology emphasizing submission as the only way to make us perform. I heard him giving two explanations that should help riders to move away from their empirical training philosophy. One is about the work in hand. “The first day, you will be out of control. Two weeks later, you still be out of control but you will get used to it. However, the horse will still there, next to you. He could have cantered back home any time he wishes and there is nothing that you could do with just one hand on his shoulder. Instead, the horse choices to stay with you demonstrating the falsehood of the submissive theories”
The second explanation, that I like, is more scientific but very clear. We are constructed of systems within systems within systems, exactly like humans. This construction allow greater efficiency. Some systems are totally responding to stresses and we don’t even control them. “Experiments with cultured cells confirm that mechanical stresses can directly alter many cellular processes, including signal transduction, gene expression, growth, differentiation, and survival”. (Christopher S. Chen and Donald E. Ingber. 1999) This is why he constantly warn against training techniques loading our front legs and rushing us faster than our natural cadence.
Our brain and whole nervous system control deep systems that are out of reach of the rider influence. These systems are part of the accuracy and also elegance and soundness of our performances. We don’t have inherently the right response as the body coordination most precisely adapted to the athletic demand of modern performances is not part of our genetic heritage. We have to process and not be afraid of errors. We have to experiment and your insights as riders guide us toward the right coordination. However, as long as you believe in “making us do it”, we are likely to became a dysfunctional horse executing movements for which our body is not properly coordinated. We are intrinsically designed for efficiency, in spite of our weight and size, we can run faster and further than most of our predators. Efficiency is our way of life and we are comfortable with an education encouraging us to became more efficient. Whatever the specialty that you choice for us, we are born with athletic abilities but we still have to learn a body coordination and control that is far more sophisticated than our natural reflexes.
All the techniques expecting our obedience to the rider aids let us unprepared for the complexity of modern performances. We execute the move at the best of our natural athleticism, but also protecting whatever muscle imbalance or morphological flaw that James Rooney refers to as our “body state”. Evolving from our body state to the body coordination optimally adapted to the athletic demand of the move, involves our curiosity, creativity and other elements pf our intelligence. We are inherently wired for efficiency and we process information in search of greater efficiency, but it is a mental research that you can help or disrupt.
Caesar came back one day from a training session smiling all the way to his ears thinking, “I remained silent and he listened”. Caesar won his soundness processing a new and very different coordination of his body. Caesar is French and therefore naturally against institutions and formulas. Caesar knew that he needed help but he was feed up by the overloading and confusing directives of his previous rider. Caesar only accepts suggestions, if they make sense to him. Caesar is a thinker. He is sometime so intense in his mental processing that he even forgot to move. Caesar greatly appreciated the fact that he respected Caesar ‘s thoughts and gave him the time to process.