Home' The Horse Magazine : December 2016-January 2017 Contents 112 FROM THE ARCHIVES
I did not want to lose was my
initial love of horses and riding,
the excitement I had as a child.
This turned out to be a far greater
motivation and an infinitely more
I have wondered if I would
ever ride seriously again myself.
A back problem and the Alexander
Training led me to have brought
a long break from it. Shattered
dreams and fresh new hopes but
am I cured of the addiction? Are
my new interests enough? Is riding
just an inappropriate old habit?
‘So Paul why do we do it, why
do we ride?’
‘I see this thing at least now in
my life as almost metaphorical....
It is a system, or it’s a game, or it’s
a mirror image of something else.
A way of really letting you get at
the business of really living. If you
can’t ride you can still live but if you
can master this smaller discipline
then maybe you can master the
whole thing of living on a very
involved planet in a very complex
situation. I think these disciplines
are training grounds for your body
and for your mind.’
‘Are you finding your riding is
improving you physically?’
‘Definitely the proper physical
exercise in this way enhances
‘So do you notice a difference
in yourself before and after your
first ride in the morning’ I ask this
because he has told me earlier
about having had back problems
as a child due to a growth spurt.
From my experience most rider’s
backs deteriorate from riding. This
answer may affect my livelihood!!!
‘YES I always feel better! If I
have slept with the window open
and have a stiff back or a stiff neck,
after I ride I always feel better.’
Neither of us take much
the intricacies of posture.
Groundedness, poise, parallels
with the ‘classical language’ and
the language of the martial arts
and other sporting disciplines.
I tell him a bit about the Alexander
Technique. There is a matter of
factness about Belasik’s attitudes
here. I get the impression he thinks
‘of course there are these parallels
and of course riding is good for you
physically and mentally’.
I wanted to ask him why many
people experience a different
reality. Why are stress and physical
tensions and damage so prevalent
in riders. I wasn’t quick enough! I
was glad he went on.
'The intriguing thing about
riding of course is that your feet
don’t ever touch the ground. That
is what I think is amazing. Your
feet go around your horse and his
feet go to the ground. He really
is the vehicle of motion... the
mythology is based on some of
these things. When you really ride
the horse that is what you give up.
You are not connected anymore
with the earth. I think this has
philosophical and psychological
ramifications most of us don’t
realise. This is the reason we have
these advances in therapeutic
riding for handicapped people.
The gift of the horse is the feeling
of motion. With his superior
flight he can pull you away from
gravity... take you away from the
confines of the earth, from the
plodding gait we have, and then
separate you on a cushion of air.
If you realise that and you become
sort of a unicorn or creature of
mythology you become one with
your horse... capable of some
'But if you don’t do that and
you control every moment of the
horse, you keep yourself rooted
to the ground afraid of this
release then there is no possibility
for enlightenment, these real
moments of discovery. You’ve got
to give yourself over to the horse
to a certain degree... to the power
and freedom of the horse... to the
flight. That is risky for a lot of
people, a lot of people don’t want
to let go! They want to be held in
place by gravity.'
Here are many answers. Many
parallels and many questions.
What are stiffness, stresses, and
tensions if they are not over
controlling the self. Belasik inspires
That’s the paradox. We launched
into a discussion about what I
believe to be the ultimate paradox
for riders... the dilemma of being
in control whilst giving oneself over
to the horse... ‘being a partner
with nature rather than dominating
nature’. Globally it looms as possibly
the greatest dilemma of our time.
As he said ‘This is the fact of
the matter. You could say in a way
that force and brutality works! As
soon as you make the realisation
that brutality can work, that it is
possible to get your own way or
be rewarded [by certain judges]
for brutality, then you come to a
real important question whether
or not you are going 10 use it.
You know it will work but will it
be your way or not. That is the
bigger question to me’. I realise
what I like about Belasik, about his
book, about his example. It is the
integrity. He points us to our own
responsibilities, our own choices
with great joy and optimism.
Later I remember what is now a
favourite passage from his book:
‘The student interested in the
path or process is in a fascinating
position. He may step into a new
place, perhaps a place where
Podhajsky or Decarpentry has
never been. No matter where this
student ends up, he will be happy
for the chance to travel there on
the back of a horse.’ hTHM
That’s Riding Towards the
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