A favorite creation tale begins pre-big-bang. The creative force exists with its scattered bits of power all over nothing-everything. Then like a vast breath this diaspora draws together in one place, like the heart of an acorn that imagines the massive oak. Then, the spark. Riding a horse, in the best sense, goes something like that.
For in the creative expression of the human-horse connection, so much centers on the focusing of power; and, for me, the delicious nature of riding attends the power dynamic with as much subtlety and intimacy as possible. My being thrills with the reassurance that authentic authority can manifest with grace and peace instead of in the hegemonic, destructive, and power-mad pyrotechnics that dominate poor politics, negative relationships, non-recreational play, and bad work.
When watching accomplished horsemanship, like other great art, the complexities of technique disappear so that massive weight turns light and opposites marry. When in awe of this creative art, those of us whose bodies ache from attempts at such reconciliation have to remember to inhale. We’re caught breathless in the presence of this essence of good work, the willing suspension of control.
To explain art risks the negativity of deconstruction, but since humans are driven to understand, let’s indulge a moment. As riding is about balance, so can understanding yield to appreciation. We just have to surrender the demand of full knowledge, just as the artistic rider asks and releases, trusting the relationship, not the command.
While the main event collects the focus—indeed the term “collection” in the dressage lexicon serves as a central organizer for most of what Leg’cy and I accomplish in our time in the arena—the pre-big-bang needs to be acknowledged. I suppose I’ll forever owe a considerable debt to the person who first introduced me to the world of respectful riding. Instead of the unfortunate norm in which humans presume to just walk up and jump on a dumb horse’s back, we got acquainted first. We dedicated as much time before asking the fellow creature to accept a saddle, girth, bit, and bridle as we did in that otherwise awkward alignment.
In yesterday’s time between Leg’cy and me, the re-creation might be noted in the moments when the scattered power, evident in the initial too-fast trot, drew together in a light lift-off, in the fluid connection flowing along the soft topline, in the immediate articulation as if pre-thought was already anticipated in our connected bodies’ action. Those almost timeless moments deserve credit for their magic in restoring a faith that power can be good.
Yet the quality of performance flows seamlessly, even if unseen, even if unappreciated, from the pre-big-bang. Without needing to name it all, one credit goes to the previous ride that was disappointing and that invited frustration; but it also offered us the acts of relationship: acceptance, forgiveness, and believing better.