Einstein and Chaplin

Chazot Thoughts 64

Chazot & Jean Luc Cornille

“They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you because no one understands you.” Those iconic words were spoken by actor Charlie Chaplin

“Oh Chazot! you have to read this one; it is beautiful and so powerful. Two genius respecting each other with gentle and subtle humor. A mathematical genius and physicist who created extraordinary theories and an artiste who pushed to a sublime level his understanding of human nature and the subtlety of his body language.” I loved the quote and I loved his next thought. “Both, Einstein and Chaplin, have to be our models as we have, working with you, to resolve problems of physics with and very subtle body language.”

I guess, it was a time where comments were intelligent. Just transpose this conversation in todays’ internet. It would be dummies arguing with Einstein on the relativity of his theories and others criticizing Chaplin’s farrier because he toes out. 

 “The problem is not people being uneducated. The problem is that they are educated just enough to believe what they have been taught and not educated enough to question what they have been taught.” I do not know who is the author but the statement is pertinent. It is basically a return to the “renaissance” age. In his search for truth, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) insisted in questioning conventional wisdom.

The dumbing down allowing the ones in power, banks, institutions, to make average peoples accept the unacceptable has always been a political and economic strategy. Napoleon wrote, “Religion has been created to don’t let the poor kill the rich.”  Equestrian education applies similar strategy. You are told about the correct aids and trained to believe that us, horses, are born with the knowledge of these “formulas” printed in our chromosomes. This infantilism allows you to judge our difficulties or resistances as “behavior”. These simplistic theories limit your knowledge. You are told how to make execute the move but you are not told or even explained how our physique does it. You are not educating us; you are exploiting us. You expect that our talent will cover your insufficient education and when our physique is not properly coordinated for the move, you are incapable to help us, so you judge us.

You are taught, for instance, how to do “half halt.” You are supposed to teach us balance with half halt. You are taught that we achieve balance shifting our weight backward over our haunches and what you are taught is plain false. We achieve balance increasing the duration of our hind legs’ decelerating phase in order to limit the shift of weight over the forelegs. When we commence the pushing activity of our hind legs, our hind limb is no longer under our body but instead behind our body. The net effect of our hind legs’ propulsive thrust is a force in a direction of the motion. The thrust generated by our hind legs travels forward through our thoracolmbar spine where it is submitted to the attraction of gravity. If we are not educated to convert a percentage of the thrust developed by our hind legs into upward forces through the muscular system of our thoracolumbar column, our forelegs receive excessive load and cannot propel our body upward as they are designed to do. Your half halt does not have any educative value. We just guess what you hand gesture is supposed to mean but you do not educate our physique for the mastery of balance.

Caesar often talks about the guessing game; “I guessed what my rider’s gestures were supposed to mean. When I was right, I was rewarded and when I was wrong, I was punished. The problem with these so called aids, is that I never learned how to properly coordinate and use my body. I jumped big jumps because I was powerful and courageous but I became lame because my rider never felt or understood that my back muscle imbalance redirected more weight on my left front leg. I developed arthritis between my second phalange and my coffin bone. I became lame because my rider believed in what he was taught to believe and I became sound because he questions conventional wisdom in the light of new knowledge.

For months, vets and therapists, focused on the lesion. Instead, he concentrated on the source of the kinematics abnormality loading my lower joint. The problem originated from imbalance of my back muscles. He corrected my back muscles imbalance and I became sound. I often wondered, since the knowledge is available, why others keep repeating what they have been taught. Then, thank you Chazot, you gave me the answer reading for me a quote of Douglas Adam, ‘Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so’.

What appears to be the problem with the equestrian education is that teaching techniques such as the “aids” became finalities. Albert Einstein wrote, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”. The rider aids are just teaching tools allowing riders to take conscience how each part of their body influences our physique. It is just a first step toward a more sophisticated equitation which is no longer about proper execution of the gesture but instead proper coordination of the muscles creating the gesture.

He never applies any aids; all our dialogue is about nuances in muscle tone. The pressure of his legs varies very lightly and quietly, the tone of his back, abdominal muscles, the tone of his forearms. All these increase and decrease in muscle tone create a very rich dialogue but do not stimulate protective reflex contraction. There is an integrity of his entire physique and there is no gesture. I realized that it is precisely because he does not disturb my body and my mind with gestures, that I am able to concentrate on the precise coordination of my thoracolumbar spine that corrects my back muscles imbalance.

Albert Einstein wrote, “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well." Reading Einstein words, “high level of technical skill,” the ones who want you to believe what they have been taught, will tell you that this high level of technical skill is not for you; remember, dumbing down is a tactic for power, especially when power is based on baloneys and tricks. He is very happy to see his students becoming comfortable with an equitation of nuances in muscles tone and therefore energy. In fact, the main difficulty is not the skill. The main difficulty for the students is liberating their mind and body from the equitation of gestures that they have been taught.

The greatest scientists are always artists and the greatest artist are also scientists. Leonardo da Vinci talks about “Studying the art of science and the science of art.” There is no equestrian art without sound understanding of equine biomechanics but the practical application of advanced research studies demands an equitation based on actual knowledge. We have an area of our flanks that is basically under your legs when you ride us, with a tactile perception that is higher than what you can feel at the tip of your fingers. You can understand that when you are taught to kick us with your heels, touching us with your spurs or batting our flanks with your legs, we have only three solutions, revolt, protection, or shutting off our perception. In all cases you will interpret our reactions as behavior. Instead, when you hug us with soft and study contact of the legs, as he and his students do, when light increase or decrease of your legs pressure respect our natural frequency, we have no reason to revolt, protect or shut off. However, talking about your legs, I realize that it is not about one body part but about the integrity of your whole body. Without adequate tone of your back and abdominal muscles, without the softness of your fingers and forearms, we are not capable to properly sense your legs. There is an integrity of your whole body that makes nuances in the tone of different muscles perceptible and understandable. He talks about energy, and the concept is accurate as energy implies integrity of the whole physique. 

Caesar explained that he was capable to think further that he previously did  because he was not disturbed by any gestures. Prior his arrival at the center, Caesar education has been obedience to the rider’s aids, gestures. He responded, as we all do, protecting his back muscles and performed with a dysfunctional body until arthritis ended his jumping career. It is only when he rode him without gestures, just through nuances in muscles tone that Caesar realized how much he protected himself from his rider’s gestures. His brain could not explore beyond survival. Caesar was blown away when he relies that he was not interested by the performance but instead by a coordination of his physique optimally orchestrated for the athletic demand of the performance. Caesar came back from his first training session saying, “This guy is more interested on how I move my legs that making me moving my legs.” Caesar was even more blown away when Manchester and I responded, “yes of course. You became lame because you moved your legs or jumped or performed with a dysfunctional physique why do you think that you could became sound doing the same thing. You know the story about doing the same thing but expecting a different results. You can feel better with drugs and manipulations but as long as the source of the kinematics abnormality stressing your lower joint is not identified and corrected, you will eventually be doing better, but not for long.”

Doing the same thing but expecting different results is exactly the point. The equitation that leads us to lameness is not going to restore our soundness even if it is presented with a fancy name and a sophisticated package. The sophistication that we need is not the envelop. The sophistication is the capacity as did Charlie Chaplin to express emotions and tell story without pronouncing a world. We need a sophisticated body language that is beyond the studious application of the correct aids. The sophistication is, as did Einstein, about understanding that it is energy. It is about interaction of forces that we both produce and can work in harmony as long as you have the intelligence and knowledge to guide our brain toward a coordination of our physique optimum for the performance and therefore, rendering the performance effortless and painless.