I really prefer to ride Silk when we’re all alone. Ideally, my husband is around somewhere on the back of our property working on one of his never-ending earthmoving projects. If something happened, I could shout and he’d come running. It’s highly unlikely that anything would go wrong, since to someone watching from a window inside our house, it would appear that Silk and I were not doing anything.
Since Silk is so responsive, I’ve been practicing with her before I take the reins on Siete. I’m doing the exercises in Mark Rashid’s “Finding the Try” DVD to teach myself, not my horse. Silk is a very patient, cooperative partner. She appears to understand what I’m doing as I make small movements and stop and start and back and turn using as little pressure on the bit as possible.
We work on what I jokingly call “mind melding”. I think about what I would like to do and see if Silk can understand what I’m thinking. Sometimes, she does what I’m hoping she’ll do almost before I complete the thought. Other times, she’ll stand and wait since I’m not focused and communicating clearly. I’m also really working on relaxing my body while I’m on the horse and trying to move in a more balanced way. I take my feet out of the stirrups and ride with my eyes closed, feeling Silk’s footfall. Only recently have I understood how important footfall is to good riding. All of this practice requires concentration and awareness that can’t be found when someone else is there, talking to me or watching or riding. It would have seemed boring to me when I was more flexible and in my teens and twenties. Now, it fascinates me how sensitive my horse is and how subtle our communication can be.
What do you like to do with your horse in those private moments when it's just the two of you? I feel like I just confessed some secret and most people will think I'm an obsessive lunatic. Someone asked me for a picture of me riding Silk. I realized that I don’t have any. It’s become a very private activity. Maybe I can drag my earthmover away from his latest stump-removing task and give him the camera. Don’t expect to see anything exciting, just me sitting calmly on my favorite horse.
"The human mind has absolute freedom as its true nature. There are thousands upon thousands of students who have practiced meditation and obtained this realization. Do not doubt the possibilities because of the simplicity of the method. If you can't find the truth where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"
Dogen, founder of Japanese Zen