In 1731, François Robichon de La Guérinière was complaining in his book “School of Horsemanship”, Chapter I “Why There Are So Few Horsemen & the Qualities Necessary to Become One”. Nearly 300 years later, we are asking the same questions! Here, his initial comments:
“All arts and sciences have principles and rules governing the methods resulting in those discoveries that lead to their perfection. The Cavalry [School of Horsemanship] is the only art for which it seems there is only need of practice; however, the practice, stripped of sound principles, is nothing more than routine that only results in a forced and uncertain performance and a false brilliance that fascinates the demi-connoisseurs, who are often amazed by the horse’s kindness, rather than by the rider’s skill. This is the reason for the small number of well-trained horses and the lack of ability presently seen in the majority of those people who call themselves horsemen.”
(© Kim Walnes 2018. Photograph by Bo Reich.)
To me instructing is a sacred trust. I feel it is my responsibility to create a safe space where neither human nor horse are judged. It is my job to understand where there may be mental, emotional, or physical blocks in both…to bring these to the awareness of the person while addressing these blocks with kindness, competence, and a feel for what each person/horse can handle in the moment. I always make it clear that I well know that everyone, both horse and human, are doing their very best in any moment.
(Lilith: A Romance by George MacDonald, excerpt Chapter XXXI. First published in 1895. Detail from “The Prince Rode Out In The Moonlight” by John Bauer, 1882-1918.)
I stood and watched the last gleam of the white leopardess melt away, then turned to follow my guide—but reluctantly. What had I to do with sleep? Surely reason was the same in every world, and what reason could there be in going to sleep with the dead, when the hour was calling the live man? Besides, no one would wake me, and how could I be certain of waking early—of waking at all?—the sleepers in that house let morning glide into noon, and noon into night, nor ever stirred! I murmured, but followed, for I knew not what else to do.
The librarian walked on in silence, and I walked silent as he. Time and space glided past us. The sun set; it began to grow dark, and I felt in the air the spreading cold of the chamber of death. My heart sank lower and lower. I began to lose sight of the lean, long-coated figure, and at length could no more hear his swishing stride through the heather. But then I heard instead the slow-flapping wings of the raven; and, at intervals, now a firefly, now a gleaming butterfly rose into into the rayless air. By and by the moon appeared, slow crossing the far horizon.
“You are tired, are you not, Mr. Vane?” said the raven, alighting on a stone. “You must make acquaintance with the horse that will carry you in the morning!”
He gave a strange whistle through his long black beak. A spot appeared on the face of the half-risen moon. To my ears came presently the drumming of swift, soft-galloping hoofs, and in a minute or two, out of the very disc of the moon, low-thundered the terrible horse.
(© Kip Mistral 2018)
The labyrinth is a archetypal symbol that has appeared in pan-global culture, art and literature for thousands of years. A formal labyrinth created for meditation appears to meander in circles, but in reality is a purposeful path that focuses our attention in a powerful way on a personal pilgrimage experience. The word labyrinth can also describe a place, as in a garden maze, full of intricate paths and blind alleys, or as in the myth of the Minotaur, who is found in a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers on the island of Crete in Greece. Finally, it can be used to describe something extremely complex, intricate, confusing, and even tortuous. And why would I use that word in the title of a blog post that also includes the word “riding” and the name of my beloved Valentín (Val for short)?
(© Kip Mistral 2018. Horsewoman Petting Dog by Alfred de Dreux.)
Recently I was asked by the lovely folks at www.horsesandfoals.com to contribute to their “expert roundup” to answer the following two questions:
1. How do you bond with your horse so that you can get him/her to trust you? and 2. What is your best tip for bonding with a new horse?