As riders we communicate using aids to direct our horses performance. Here is an easy exercise for you to see how your cues are being felt.
Most of us have one leg shorter than another and when seated on moving horses we tend to have a certain ‘sidedness’. One of our shoulders may be back further than the other, or higher or lower, and one hip is often closed tighter while one ankle is floppier. This describes our asymmetry. It is what we strive to even out and balance with relaxation and core strength in order to protect our horses from having to make adjustments and keep from becoming crooked.
Do this exercise with a partner, then exchange roles. Each reaction provides insight into how your horse feels when you communicate with your position and your aids. The exercise can be taken from a number of different body language techniques, I am using one from the Truthplane in a book by Mark Bowden.
Stand before a partner with your hands open at your waist with palms facing upward yet relaxed, then gesture in front of you from waist level and say the following: “I have given you all this information and it is right, trust me”. Next place your hands on the top of your head then raising them up with fingers outstretched and repeat the same words, “I have given you all this information and it is right, trust me”. Watch your partner’s facial expression change, they probably shifted position, stepping back and away? Next hold one hand at chest level and the other at hip level asymmetrically and repeat the phrase, “I have given you all this information and it is right, trust me”. Even doing this before a mirror you can feel a difference without changing your tone or expression, because the position of your hands influences that. Imagine how it makes horses feel when our entire body is involved.
This exaggerated dramatization is useful. As riders we aim to connect with our horses and as sensitive as they are, it reminds us that balance and congruence feels good, while dissonance and asymmetry feels less good, like our message might not be understood the way we mean it. I am inspired to work on greater balance wholly, inside and out, are you?