What is balance?
Real balance on a horse is as elusive as balancing on a bicycle, but unfortunately there’s a large ‘horse-sized-pillow’ that hides the rider’s imbalance. Children learn to ride bikes by going slowly and falling down often. Mom and Dad give lots of support as the child figures out the posture and other strategies that keep them from falling. Everyone accepts that one ‘has to learn to ride a bike’, and that it’s harder as an adult. Riding horses presents yet another special balance concern. But because you have a horse between you and coming off, the lack of balance is hidden.
We’re not good at identifying imbalance. We often interpret it as a ‘rush’, it feels exciting, like a roller coaster ride. That buzz of adrenaline becomes part of riding for many people. Generally riders who give up horses ‘because it’s just not a risk I want to take anymore’ are becoming aware of the fear factor, but they have accepted that a ‘buzz’ is just part of the experience of riding.
This isn’t fair to the horse OR the rider.
What imbalance feels like is uncertainty, thrills, excitement, ambition, anxiety, irritation, ego, anger, fear.
What balance feels like is confidence, ease, listening, sweetness, curiosity, affection, connection, peace.
Why is it important?
Because you cannot give the aids, that is, you cannot communicate clearly to the horse if you are imbalanced.
Because once you are balanced, your horse will go more easily and will respond to you with clarity and real partnership. Once you are balanced, you are communicating with the horse rather than simply making it do what you want. In communication, you and your horse can come up with something much more beautiful than anything you can imagine on your own.
Because horses carrying imbalanced riders are stressed by this. Some become emotional and get called ‘crazy’, some are slowed down by it, they go carefully and get called ‘lazy’. Carrying imbalanced riders causes physical discomfort which, over time, becomes sore joints and chronic pain.