The Rider’s Art

Silver Johnson and Spinner
Silver Johnson and Spinner

For centuries, humans have been attempting to describe and produce what their feelings wish to express. This is no less evident in the artists world as it is in the equestrian world of motion. From a human perspective, horses are a body of art unto themselves. As creatures in motion, horses offer human creative souls an expressionist point of reference, a jumping off place for self-discovery and expression of what we glean. Galloping or grazing, equine athletes make our hearts beat faster as they fly like the wind or slow to a steady pacemaker pace. As we watch silky beauties keep swishing- tail-time with a lazy field of clover, our human conditions mimic theirs. Astride, we must learn to stay on, synchronize our efforts and keep that same rhythm in alignment as we gallop.

As equestrians, in essence, we invite our equine partners to a conversation of creation.

Our canvas is the air and ground below, the sky above and the energy in between, inside and out. Without brush or camera or sculpting tool, with the lightest hand of any artist, the lithest movement of a prima ballerina, the skill of a surgeon, with tools of mind, muscles and energy waves, we paint, draw, sing, laugh, gallop, walk, sketch, fly… capture frame by frame and articulate the motion we call synchronicity. The better we get at this​, the more economic it​ appears. Movements are seamless, expression flows like a ‘Leroy Neiman,’ and ​“well done’​s” roar at our flawless artistry.

Astride or as spectators, we revere these sterling medal moments and thank our Pegasus partners, for, without them, we are merely humans on the ground.

Tools of our trade…

We humans wish to express ourselves using some hard tool to make our inner seeing’s known. As equestrians, we seek hard evidence of our creation, that we have mastered our horse/human conversation. With only our sensory tools to master and apply, to synchronize with a horse’s energy field, in still life as in forward movement, the masterpiece we desire to produce is truly living art. How to transfer equine motion into human art expression becomes our exciting goal. When we learn how, our efforts to create a masterpiece are noble and yet, always fleeting. So we ride as many horses as we can, practice, practice, practice and then, one day, for about one-tenth of one second, we feel it.

If seeing is believing on a surface, feeling is believing on a horse. Those moments we claim as masterpieces…as perfection…we can only hope are strung together like a beautiful symphony of noteworthy strides. If we practice even more,​ our string theories unite in muscle memories of both horse and rider and are unveiled for others to view. This is bliss on bliss, we say.

Our desire as humans to transfer this rush of bliss into verbiage is hard to control. We grope for a new word or expressive phrase to describe the transformation happening within our collective horse/human conditions. Xenophon articulated this well, so why don’t we make it our goal in the 21st century?

Many honor Xeno as a through-the-ages, Yoda coach or an equestrian go-to Jungian mentor. Lest we forget to apply Museler or other equestrian philosophers in our current equestrian evolution, we have a real, live present day herd of Jung and Wofford and Morris, Madden’s and Kraut’s and others practicing to master equestrian horse-human-ships, riding in the realm of perfecting our everyday practice to reflect it makes perfect art in the arena.

We want to play follow our ‘new’ leaders…

So we study, and ride and then we compare. We practice and practice, we read and learn, we study Michael’s Jungian theory as if it were a quantum metaphor on the hoof. We revere and apply Woffordisms, we ask What Would George Do in any and all situations, we watch McLain and Beezie go countless times and hope what we see in them, someday will play forward in our own dreams as well as in real life.

Yet, humans continue to wonder.

While learning from our modern-day masters we wonder how all this ‘works?’ And then we hope, one day, the understanding we have gained from their wisdom, and all our hours/years of practice with our horses will become present in our own expressions.

As we wax on collective equestrian philosophies like multiple Mr. Miyagis, our goal is riding into medal winning sunsets, crowds cheering while our inside voice holds back humble tears of joy. Once only described by ‘Carl’ Jung as the pinnacle of individuation or riding off in a Louis L’amour cowboy western, golden medal sunsets mean we have found our sync, our individual and collective bliss, listened, worked hard and paid attention.

From scoring a 10 in the dressage arena to becoming a 10 goal player, going clean as a whistle just like McLain and Clinta,​ executing the perfect roll back or vaulting round to completing what we believe to be a “​perfect​”​ ride, no matter our discipline, nothing and no one could convince us we have not become a complete human.

And so, we strive to feel complete, on a constant and consistent, repetitive basis. For the better part of our entire lives we are ‘horsehumans’ collectively seeking completeness on a daily basis. Now we have moved into a synchronized world of equestrianism, a peer reviewed and highly judged world of riding artists. What horses teach us, inspire in us and​ reach in us, words can hardly describe,​ nor do we really need their letters and punctuation to reveal what is already painted on our faces, breathing through our lungs and beating in our hearts.

There is a science behind all our horse sport and sweat…

According to the Schumann Frequency, Earth generally vibrates at approximately 7.83hertz. Recent studies and recordings say our home planet is speeding up its frequency. Measurably, at times, up to 33 H.

Horses can perceive frequencies up to 25,000hertz.

Humans on the other hand, typically, up to 12,000h.

Humans with the ability to recognize frequencies up to 20,000h were and continue to be deemed ‘horse whispers.’ No need for verbiage and hence ‘whisperer’ seemed an appropriate term. Yet, whisperers will tell you the art of communicating with a horse is in the ‘listening and feeling.’

When these skills are practiced and applied properly, science has the potential to produce art. Synchronized dots of information connecting, expressing a highly creative process. Straddling the lines and bridging the gap between realism and impression, somehow fitting together as if an engineer designed all those pointillists disguised as neurons, those lepton sized particles are crammed and lovingly cradled inside a mass of grey matter hoping to ping us toward discovery and prove to the world our noble findings.

Scientifically, artistically, athletically, we are engineers, mathematicians, time keepers, memorizers, gymnasts and more. All the science in the world defining horse-​human interactions and connections is a brilliant indication we are on the right path.

Where the divine lives in our horse/human relationship, is the place we love most.

It is not in anything we can prove. It is merely in what we know… because on some level, we feel it. We ride for this dual rhythm. Even though we put every muscle in the exact perfect place, use every aid in its ideal, memorize tests down to the millimeter, and ride with our brains, breathing and bodies, on a very elemental level we are opening a conduit to and producing love. And we want it returned. No matter how our ride, test, course, or event goes, love is our eternal goal and shines brightly whether we are ​cleaning stalls or​ going for the gold. The truth is in the silence…

Horses love us back. And tell us like it is.

Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. Photo: Annan Hepner/Phelps Sports
Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. Photo: Annan Hepner/Phelps Sports

Our dearly beloved equines are clear and precise communicators because their very lives depend on it. They use NO as a loving word and expect it to be understood, immediately and forever. Reminders are clear, yet not without consequences until communication is understood and returned with respect. We humans learn from their love language. We adore their love language…long for more and return to understand and gain perspective. Like an artist with palette in hand, thumb up facing a distant horizon, equestrians look through our horse’s ears for perspective, balance and precise vision. For their scope is so much larger than ours, it is hard to absorb. Which invites us to respect it and rely on theirs. Trusting hoof falls, allowing, synchronizing, every stride becomes an artful expression and a visual sign of duality in rhythm. How freeing in our breath and life, to create…to experience this kind of powerful conversation without force.

Moving or standing still, we humans are mesmerized by horse’s rhythms. Slow or fast ​we want to keep time, keep our eyes glued to their sleek canvases. As we do, we keep time to the rhythm of the earth, change our own rhythms for the better, and discover what our journey into their world teaches us.

So, we have chosen to explore the horse’s world of art. Many humans want proof of this experience. Others merely want the experience. As equestrian teachers, words are an important expression, a tool to describe and inspire, a pathway of verbiage leading the way toward comprehension of this experience and of a riders art. If indeed, proof is needed, horses provide us with all the empirical evidence we need.

We practice and learn to effectively understand and translate, to become transformers and translators and apply energy in its transient form. All we need to do is listen, breathe and feel.

You Cannot Prove Art…

“You cannot prove art,” said horse lover, author and a former museum curator, Robert Moeller lll.

Photo courtesy of Robert Moeller lll
Photo courtesy of Robert Moeller lll

Indeed, we cannot prove art.

Nor can we prove the ​horse.

But do we really need to?

All we really need is to feel and appreciate its beauty in motion.

Science defines. Movement creates. Art expresses.

When we mix these mediums of horse and human, a motion-filled canvas is electric, sparkling and vibrant. The proof is inside the beauty and between the beholders, needing nothing more. Our horse human connection is an absolute opportunity to love and an athletic art form to strive for. When these two come together, the rider’s art is born.

Photo courtesy of the vaulter, Lily Wray-Davis and from the Author’s ‘Bareback Ballerina’
Photo courtesy of the vaulter, Lily Wray-Davis and from the Author’s ‘Bareback Ballerina’

S.Johnson © Copyright 2018 The Rider’s Art All Rights Reserved

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