Jean Luc Cornille
“Because we have viewed other animals through the myopic lens of our self-importance, we have misperceived who and what they are. Because we have repeated our ignorance, one to the other, we have mistaken it for knowledge.”
Clinics in Europe keep me 5 days away from home. When I come back I carefully and progressively bring my horse back to work. The first day is just a lunge work and I take a real pleasure watching Chazot sustaining a perfect cadence at a very rhythmic and slow trot. He is full of energy but he also knows that running like a maniac at the end of the lunge would hurt him. Chazot totally understood that keeping his own cadence would allow him to burn his energy in an organized , painless and efficient fashion. He is highly concentrated making minutes but constant adjustments in the propulsive activity of his hind leg, the work of his back muscles converting a percentage of the thrust generated by the hind legs into upward forces, allowing the forelegs to propel his body upward.
It is not a spectacular trot but it is technically superbly efficient. He sustains his natural frequency all by himself. He sustains his neck where it is the most efficient for him and constantly adjusts his back muscles to benefit from the advantages of the stretch-shorten contraction phenomenon. “The ability of the muscle-tendon units to recover elastic strain energy is apparently energetically so advantageous that the most economical stride frequency in running may be set by this key component alone.” (Paul C. LaStayo, PT, PhD. John M. Woolf, PT, MS, ATC. Michael D. Lewek, PT. Lynn Snyde-Mackler, PT, ScD. Trugo Relch, BS. Stan L. Lindstedt, PhD. Journal of Orthopaedic & sports physical therapy. 557-571. Volume 33, NUMBER 10, October 2003)
Chazot learned how to properly coordinate his back muscles. He learned about the frequency allowing optimal use of his forces but he totally deducted by himself that sustaining his optimal cadence allowed him to burn his energy without hurting any one of his tendinous, ligamentar, muscular as well as bone structure. He recognized ease, effortlessness and comfort when he learned during training sessions, but he applied the knowledge to resolve a dilemma; how to burn extra energy without sustaining damages.
It is a delight to watch. It is just a horse sustaining an economical and regular trot at the lunge, but it is a horse showing that given a chance, animals are capable of intelligent deductions. I feel sorry for the fast-forward addicts, submission addicts, tradition addicts, behavior addicts who submit their horse to their cult and never enjoy the horse’s intelligence. Every time we are doing this work, as I am coming back from a European clinic, I turn four times around the ring combining numerous circles, straight lines, circles, straight line and so on. At the end of the four times around the ring Chazot stop and show discontent if I ask for one more. Usually, I start the lunge work at one end of the ring. This morning I started at the other end. Chazot stopped at the end of four rotations around the ring even if it was the opposite end of our usual work.
I asked him to restart and he showed frustration; I am supposed to be able to count until four. He halted again half way through the ring a walked resolutely toward the mounting block. I rode him as he expected.
Jean Luc Cornille