Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Feel & Influence

A note about horse riding and feel from Dr. Glass, MD, who practices at Northwest Child Neurology in Bothell and Bainbridge island. Horseback riding today:
 "More modern, classical equitation refers to the essential roles of "feel" and "influence," and these two elements serve as foundation for riding today.
"Feel" is the ability to perceive-subconsciously and consciously-the sensory input from the back of a horse: movement, speed, symmetry, position, tension, and many other attributes. After having felt this input, a rider may then "influence" the horse, and the horse's response will be largely determined by the appropriateness and clarity of the individual aid, calmness of the rider, focus of attention, and, most importantly, the timing of communication or readiness of the horse.
Influence occurs by the feeling the right time and the right manner. Like a toddler developing greater autonomy, understanding, and intention, a horse cannot rightfully be forced "to do", but a rider can set the stage and cultivate best choices in such a manner as to positively influence the horse's desire to perform.

Hence, riding is not simply a process of backing a horse and moving along, but rather a complex process of integrating sensory input ( the feel), motor output (the influence), communication (largely nonverbal, between horse and rider), and finally, the spiritual element that is paramount but more difficult to measure.