October 11, 2013

Defying (And Occasionally Obeying) Gravity

Solo locks on at Longleaf Pines.
This saga may end up longer than Newton's treatise on gravity...

When you gallop across turf, towards a cross country obstacle, it's as if gravity pulls you.  Not just your body down into the saddle & your horse's hooves to the ground, but also, drawing you both forward to the challenge in front of you.  Your eyes, his eyes & ears, are all pulled to its height, to its breadth, to shadow, to distraction.

His shoulders, head, & neck are all pulled by gravity down & forward; his gallop gains speed to hurdle this obstacle placed in his path by the course designer & by you.

Mr. Shiny Schools with Mrs. Holder
We have a charge, as horsemen, not only to recognize this momentum, but to arm ourselves with the innumerable skills of the educated, technical rider.  And to wield them with confidence each & every time we leave the start box.

Technical riding is a matter of subtlety of minuscule degrees.  It is with this technique that we much teach the horse & teach ourselves to defy the force of the universe itself.  We must take on these forces, these strings of gravity which pull eyes, balance, velocity in towards this solid jump, staked to the ground & unyielding in nature.

By taking these strings & snapping their hold, we are creating something better.  Creating something difficult to describe, but once felt is rarely forgotten, and is chased down time & again until it becomes second nature.

 But what is this mystical technique?  Do I have to order glitter hoof polish?  Won't my $7896906 custom boots do the trick?  I'm not familiar with the Vulcan mind meld.  Do they have it at Family DollarBit of Britain?  Is there a class at the Y?

Ah no, it is much simpler than all that.  And much more difficult.

It is shifting the points of your horse in relation to gravity, to momentum, to the pull of the jump in front of you.  It is rearranging those points to change your horse's balance, sometimes in ways so minuscule that only the most experienced eye can tell the difference from the ground.

But when you are in the saddle, it is not a difference of degrees but of miles.  Or more accurately, a difference of probability:
  1. The probability of success, of that distance out of stride or that perfect bascule, or...
  2. The probability of failure, which is at best, an ugly jump, a refusal or a runout, at worst, the accident that no one wants.
So how do we set our horses up for the first & avoid stumbling into the second?  This is certainly not a process of an afternoon or a clinic or even a month.

Just as we guide our partners up the progressive steps of the dressage training scale, we must lead them to the correct answers to the questions on course, always, ALWAYS keeping an eye on the future.  I think each of us knows all too well what happens when we stumble into one of those gaping training holes we bypass in our quest for finish flag glory...

Horse: 1, Rider: 0
 As usual, David patiently offers his (literal) world of experience and lights the way...

To be continued...


  1. Well, double phooey. I was looking forward to sinking my teeth into a nice, long post about you and He-Who-Jumps-Now and this was just a teaser...

    Double phooey because I was totally going to read Newton's Treatise instead, BUT, as I haven't used much Latin since Sr. Catherine's 10th grade class, other than lustily singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful's" Latin verse at Christmas church, I can't handle it. Hrrmpph.

    I guess I'll just have to wait for the rest of this post. :D

  2. Dang, double disappointment, I guess I gotta be good at something! I have the videos coded, just need to write the text!!