October is a favorite month for many of us. We all have our reasons. For me, it’s transitioning from a fast paced summer to a renewing autumn that intrigues. A time to take pause and discover life’s natural treasures and resources. I say discover rather than rediscover because just when I think I am too old or immune to have that same giddiness of a child discovering something for the first time in nature, I am proven wrong. So wrong. There seems to be an endless supply of laughter and teary-eyed provoking discoveries to fill my sensory system. For me, my husband, and our good friends this was our road trip weekend to the mountains. We jammed to Neil Young, over stuffed the jeep with orchard apples (some picked, some bought), hiked a forest that was location scenes for The Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans, and enjoyed a cascading waterfall while snacking on boiled peanuts.
One of the most beautiful things about nature is that it does not care about your goals, strengths or weaknesses. It lets you decide. Nature provides the freedom to release ambitions or fears and permission to relax an overactive mind. To breathe and explore. I’ve learned to take what nature is willing to give me or rather what I need. Nature is so giving. If you want to get rid of tension, go for a hike and run up the hill, if you want to refresh your soul, go for a swim in an open body of water and if you are hungry, pick an apple from the tree. Nature’s simplicity providing so much opportunity.
Nature also motivates me more than anything artificially contrived. If you’ve followed my past posts, you already know that I’ve been experimenting with the less is more concept in my riding. I’ve improved my partnership with my horse as a result. As I prepare to attend the Spanish Riding School next year, thank you to The Dressage Foundation and The Heldenberg Training Center Fund, I’ve spent the past few months making holistic changes as a rider that are purely for the benefit my horse or any future horse I am lucky to ride.
With the exceptions of a few special rides, I use a simple snaffle bridle constructed of nice leather. This particular bridle has no flash attachment or dropped noseband. I personally appreciate a horse that will softly chew or mouth the bit and has the choice to move their jaw. I find that a relaxed jaw decreases tension through the neck, back and hips. Clamp your own teeth together, I find it difficult to relax unless I release the pressure. I’ve spent much time studying the anatomy and mechanics of my horse’s mouth and have finally found a high quality, well balanced, perfectly comfortable, simple yet precise eggbutt snaffle that we both immediately adored. A natural design that has improved our communication beyond description. Nothing more than a whisper with the intensity of a soft breeze.
I’ve also discovered that I don’t need spurs on my horse. I’ll wear them on occasion, but rarely ever need them. I’ve taught my horse to be more aware of my body and respond to the slightest of aid. I’ll think flying change, decide exactly where I want it, take a deep breath and she’ll produce the most amazing change. I know some horses are born more sensitive than others; however, all horses can become more aware or perhaps it is we who become more aware.