Freedom of movement
To be good riders, we must first respect the freedom of movement of the horse
We always hear about actions to be done using the hands or the legs "Use the internal rein... use the outside rein with the inside leg... slow down, increase... give legs...". We see riders 'pull' on the horse's mouth or 'pushing' with the legs relentlessly. We try to do exercises without purpose and goals. Let's take a step back. Before doing all this, have we ever wondered what exactly good horse riding is? Do we know which priorities should be met before making requests we are not aware of and expecting a response from our horses? Horse-riding and its principles originate and are based on something, around which everything rotates: the movement of the horse.
What is natural riding? Natural, or good, horse riding is achieved when a horse with a rider on his back finds a new balance and freedom of movement in the control of the rider and when there is trust and cooperation between horse and rider. This freedom of movement of the horse can be achieved only when riders and horses reach the perfect harmony that comes from communication. When is this harmony reached? When the riders have a correct position in the saddle and a stable structure that enables them to use the aid with lightness and sensitivity, in order to send the right requests to which the horse can respond with calm, serenity, and fluidity of movement. If, in fact, the horse opposes our actions, stiffens the mouth and neck as a reaction to our hand, and opposes and resists against the action of the leg, it means that we are doing something wrong and we have to correct ourselves. The harmony and the ease of movement are interrupted.
We often see horses working with constraints and unnatural attitudes that are imposed by their riders. This causes stiffness and effort, both physical and psychological, in horses, something that causes physical problems and defence reactions with the passing of time. First, horses must be physically able to perform the task required of them. Then, they must have well developed muscles thanks to good daily exercises. At the same time, we must be able to work with the right actions, coordinated and well-proportioned, free from all constraints, particularly of the hands that need to maintain soft contact, leaving the horse in its natural position.
If we want horses to meet our demands and become our allies, our friends, and trust us, we have to respect their movement, be in harmony with it, support it and use our actions with consciousness and cognition. Let us not forget that free horses without the weight of a rider can move their body without limitation. They can run, play, buck and do what they want, but with a rider in the saddle they must respond to repeated requests by adapting their balance to the weight on their back. This should make us think when we impose force on our horses, or when we ask them to do something that neither we nor them are able to do.
The first objective in order to respect the freedom of movement of the horse is therefore to obtain a stable and balanced disposition, that is reached when the rider's body merges with that of the horse, thus giving the hands absolute independence from the rest of the body. The goal that needs to be achieved is to accommodate the horse in its movements while minimizing our own.