Saturday, December 13, 2008

Walking out on the icy slope down to the horses early this morning, arms laden with sweet hay, we had a moment of dread thinking of the winter to come. Would we need our YakTrax much, or would the temperatures be so cold the ice would grip? We always hope for snow, great drifts of it, where our boots sink from sight and the sun sparkles off the myriad tiny facets on the pure surface. We dream of the transformation of the brown lifeless ground into vibrant fluff, when the horses' eyes brighten like those of children with a snow day, snowcicles dangling mockingly from their chins, great puffs of warm breath blasting from their soft noses as they trot with lightness and bounce through their field. The snow allows them to be free from the uncertain rutted footing that plagues so many of the dormant days. Their hooves dance upon pure downy crystal.

Ground. Grounding. Being grounded. Ground work. A theme here which is fundamental to all endeavors, particularly when dealing with horses. It implies solidity of purpose, committment and basics. It is Zen , in the moment, a placing of one foot in front of another. Allowing gravity to do its work, the deliberate becomes free within the bounds of physics, the tools of artistic and creative movement.

Our job as riders is to permit the full, willing and free expression of our horses - insofar as a horse under a rider's direction can be truly free - so that together they form a seamless entity of grace, power and beauty. The human element becomes incidental as the images merge into one. We, too, require grounding to be a true partner to our horses. The calm and open spirit is one which feels the irregularities around it and can adapt to them, even becoming one with them through acceptance. Rather than dwelling on the bumps and ruts underfoot, one opens to all possibilities.

So, we wonder if, when we ride, we might actually be riding the ground beneath us? Our horse is our interpreter, and we must be free in our movements to feel the ground under his feet. To be free enough, we must be grounded, also.


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