Rider, riding and feeling
Riding is very particular sport and the process of learning how to ride cannot be forced into a general pattern
Generally speaking, movement is the expression of the entire personality of an individual. Life is movement! The ‘inner’ person influences the quality of movement decisively. When feeling good, one’s posture and movement will be very different from when feeling mentally down. An erect posture, a straight and free walk are always sign of inner security and mental balance.
Enemies of the ability to learn a movement are fear, stress, monotony, chaos, over-demand on strenght and coordination and, last but not least, stress. Thus, when riding under stress, one can no longer react to the demands of the moment and for certain one cannot experiment with new movement experiences.
Generally, movements are initially large-scale and are exected with more effort than necessary. Gradually they are optimized and applied economically with the least possible effort than necessary: from the raw form to the fine form.
The learning of a movement happens not only in practical operation but to a large degree in the head. In the science of sport this is called ‘mental training’. Mental training consists of a systematic, repeated and conscious image of the execution of a movement with optimal inner feedback of sequences and result.
Mental preparation is extremely important, especially in high-performance sports. Speaking about the training of the rider, there are so many different opinions when asking the questions: what are the logical and consecutive steps in the training of a rider? What should be learned first, what second? What should we pay attention to? Should a beginner start out with or without stirrup? First sit on the saddle or in light seat? There are surely many different answers to questions like these.
In all other types of sport the training is broken down in precise and systematically arranged steps. Riding is very particular sport, completely different from each other sports, and the process of learning how to ride cannot be forced into a general pattern. A riding school is not a driving school, where a minimum number of lessons is mandatory for the horse driver’s licence!Riding cannot be learned following a rigid system. The riding doctrine can be generally divided into seat, aids, feel and influence.
Contact with the horse and sensibility are the most important basic requirements for making learning possible. Feeling and a good inner direct line to the horse dismantle fear and create a situation of mutual trust. Such a connection with the horse is stronger than technical skill. The really great achievements are based on this inner contact, this mutual feeling between rider and horse.
The fisrt goal demanded from the student on the horse is balanced. Without balance you would fall off or would have to hold on with pure strength using above all your hands. The development of balance, especially for the upper body, is prerequisite for any future equestrian education.
Once balance is achieved in a movement we do not have to expend any more strength than necessary for a certain situation. No muscle is permanently in tension. Suppleness is not to be confused with looseness or limpness of the muscles.
Only a relaxed seat facilitates the control and indipendent movement of the extremities, the basis for finely tuned aids. The feel of the rider, the optimal communication between horse and rider, are to be regarded as the climax of all equestrian abilities. This feel is not the innate privilege of some few highly gifted talents but a major learning goal for any rider. The sensitive communication with the horse must be learned and taught from the very first lesson on.