The Heart of Science
The Heart of Science
Jean Luc Cornille
Once I was asked to help an autistic child riding a horse. The horse was a mare that someone in the stable graciously loan for the session. The autistic child was non-verbal with the reputation of having violent impulses of anger. In fact two male nurses came with the child and stayed in the ring to eventually “protect” me. The child had the facial expression of the grumpy cat, very intense an introverted. Once he was on the saddle, I placed myself in front of the mare for control and also because the only way we could communicate was body language. I did on the ground what I was expecting him to do in the saddle. I lifted my upper body opening my chest and he mimicked me. The mare responded immediately slowing her walk and coordinating her back. The facial expression of the child changed instantly. His grumpy face turned into a large smile. I was thinking, in fact he does have a beautiful face. His eyes were now wide open and their expression were like a language. He looked at me, looked at the horse incredibly happy that she felt him and responded positively and wondering if I saw it. The session became an astounding event. I faced right inviting him to turn right and he was ecstatic to feel the mare turning with him. I looked at the mare and she was very concentrated on the child and perfectly at ease. The child experimented right turn, left turn, halt, looking at me with an expression of total happiness. They were so much in tune with each other than I let them play just staying in front of the mare in case of possible reaction. The child was having a body or energy conversation with the mare. At times, he looked at me for help when the mare was not reacting as he expected. I did with my body the adjustment that he needed to do and his large smile came back as the mare responded.
The clinic was organized as a social event. It was cheeses and crackers and wine and champagne on the tables and the noise level of the many conversations was very loud. I noticed that soon it was complete silence. Everyone realized that they were witnessing an unusual event. This child and this mare were having a comfortable and friendly dialogue at a different level. The child had never rode a horse before. The mare was not trained for handicap riding. It was pure, peaceful and clear communication. The two male nurses had left the ring and one was crying.
The child and the horse talked to each other for a long time. The child was asking half pass at the walk mimicking my body language and the mare responded. Of course the mare knew the move. Of course it was not a perfect half pass. Of course it was at the walk, but the child had never rode. It was no aids, no cue. I moved my body as he should and he did and the mare responded.
Soon, the young boy showed signs of muscle fatigue and we ended the session He did not want to leave the mare and we continued with the work in hand. He was on the left side of the mare holding the reins and I was close from him helping eventually. Of course he needed some help but he had picked up the natural frequency of the mare and his move were soft and at the right cadence. The horse world tends to be satisfied with simple explanations and, since it is well known that sometime autistic persons develop unusual senses, the explanation for what they just witnessed was that he was autistic. The owner of the mare was one of the few ones realizing that it was a dialogue; it was a two ways conversation. Showing great intellectual modesty, the owner of the mare repeated, “I never saw her so confident. He did better with her than I ever did.” The father of the young boy was not a horse person at all, but he knew his son and realized that an important event had just taken place. He asked, “What happened?” I told him, “.More and more studies talk about frequency, vibration, energy. Horses have a level of sensitivity far beyond what classical approaches can even imagine. They feel the energy that we created through nuances in our muscles tone. Your son picked that when the mare responded to the adjustments of his back muscles. He was so happy to be able to communicate with the mare that he concentrated on this feeling. He does not have a brain that has been trained to think correct aids and all these stereotypes that are used in the equestrian education. He vibrated at the horse’s frequency because he was fully and purely interested in communicating with the mare and the mare was comfortable with this level of dialogue because such is the horses’ real level of sensitivity. It is indeed, their comfort zone. When I realized that, I let them be together just helping him when he looked at me for help. I can tell you that being close from both of them, it was beautiful to watch.” An auditor approached us asking “I did not see the aids?” and then, in the line of horse peoples who ask a question and provide the answer all in one sentence, she added, ”It was no aids; he is autistic” and she walked away. The father commented, “I see what you mean by being brain washed by formulas and stereotypes.”
We discussed about the benefits that riding could have for his son and I encouraged him but also warned him that he will have to find the right person as this person would have to adjust the program to his son and not fitting his son to a program. I told him remember what Albert Einstein said about the school system, “I failed school and school failed me. I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. “
Almost a year later, I meet the father again. He knew that I was in the area for a clinic and came to discuss a little. I asked about his son and he said, “he does not want to ride anymore. I did not understand your warning and they did exactly what you say. He wanted to communicate with the horse and they wanted him to learn the basis, I tried to explain what you did but they looked at me in total incomprehension.” I told him, I was afraid of that. They don’t have enough knowledge to be able to adapt. They don’t have enough understanding of the equine physiology and neuro-physiology to understand that love is not just heart. You need the science to understand what the heart feels. Your son was intuitively capable to feel what the equestrian education regards as the finality. They don’t have enough understanding of how the horse does it to be able to adjust to your son sensitivity and start by what is traditionally regarded as the end. The system put riders and horses through formulas that are supposed to be learned in a specific order. Doing so, they kill intuitive minds for both, the horses and the riders. We were talking about Einstein. He wrote about that. “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” The reason in the equestrian world is lack of knowledge. Trainers know how the movements look like but they don’t understand how to prepare the horse’s physique for the athletic demand of the performance. They can only fit the horse to the system. They are not capable to take a gifted rider or horse where they are and cultivate the gift. A few good trainers and teachers can do it but they are very few. Most want a faithful servant because they do not have the biomechanical knowledge to be able to deal with situations and events that do not fit the system. The father smiled saying, “You just described the heart of science.”
Jean Luc Cornille 2015