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RPlus | Discover free work – Video 3
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Freedom without work?


Free work always means working on the relationship too, and a joint motion dialogue is only beneficial for both sides if either side is able to mentally and physically cope with the situation. Therefore, it is always up to our horse to determine the current level of training. This ensures to find lessons that are motivating due to their high chance of success; what is more, this helps to determine how frequent we are able to switch between various lessons without overstraining our horse.

Subtitles available in English and German

A vision of freedom

From jogging to trotting


The initial sequences of this video show the thoroughbred Arabian mare Salima and her favorite human being switching from jogging in a slow and feeble way to trotting dynamically. We can have a closer look at the motion sequence in order to see how both are created on an equal footing. First, Salima and Lea synchronize their movement at a slower pace when jogging. We note a rather flat curve of the motion sequence, and both of them lift their hooves/feet comparatively low from the ground. Furthermore, their steps do not cover much ground, and there is little flow of movement running through their bodies. Next, they increase body tension, lengthen their stride, and lift their hooves/feet higher from the ground to generate more motion energy from this conscious, slow jogging. As a consequence, some kind of momentum begins to flow through the entire body, and lets the faster trot movement appear in a much more flexible way.

Groaning with joy


For the first time ever during a training session, Salima groans with joy. The short prehistory: Lea reacted with laughter because Salima was hopping and turning on the hindquarters at once. This perfectly demonstrates that rewarding the horse’s initiative with food or cheerful feedback and recognition, like in our case, can itself be an important reinforcer. As a result, the horse begins to enjoy its own potential for movement. Salima starts to get creative, and consciously uses movement to initiate a motion dialogue with her favorite human being; this means she is sharing her joy and openness for communication with us, and thereby invites Lea to join her world of movement patterns.

Playful forms of movement


This video is not about developing a specific choreography, or fixed sequence of lessons and movement patterns but it is about developing one’s own ideas of moving. For example, Salima has repeatedly offered a turn or hinted at a hindquarters turn in this sequence. She shifts her weight far back on her hindquarters, and jumps with her forehead according to Lea’s reaction to this “hunting game” sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left. This playful ways of moving together we find in free work can be compared to the movement of two dancers. They synchronize how they move, and perfectly align their movement so that, in an ideal case, it becomes impossible to distinguish where one part’s movement begins, and that of the other part ends. Eventually, the movements begin to flow more and more into one another. Yet, it requires a high amount of flexibility on both sides to prevent the dynamism of the motion from stagnating. We, therefore, contemplate and execute each and every motion sequence so that new ideas can organically arise from there.

Playful levade


In minute 3:29 in the video, Salima has the idea to move from high rearing to sit in the levade; this is a movement pattern Salima has never performed in this form before. We could gradually bring this behavior under signal control, or cultivate and refine it further; in line with the idea of RPlus, we create new movement patterns as casually as possible, and do not squeeze them out of our horses. Each horse carries its own fantastic movement patterns – we can discover them best through a free dialogue of movement, and we can inject meaning through positive feedback. These patterns have always been hidden deep within our horse, and they only become even more beautiful and intense if we can make them shine.

Experiments require free space


Both partners need free space to experiment, and to engage in this movement dialogue on an equal footing that aims to equally listen to both voices and perspectives. So, anything that feels good in this partnership is fair game. Movement is the most essential form of expression of all higher living beings, and it creates togetherness without the need to resort to other channels of communication. Consequently, the more we agree upon various patterns of movement we use to communicate with each other, the more “topics” are “up for discussion”; and we gradually develop our common vocabulary to share our true intentions and emotions.

Time to enjoy


Mental breaks help to further process and understand such dialogues of movement. So, Lea extensively caresses Salima from time to time in order to direct and transfer the mare’s focus from action to relaxation mode. This immensely strengthens the invisible bond between Lea and Salima: Salima experiences in these situations that she is perceived when she does something great. She additionally understands that Lea considers being together and lovingly caressing her as important and beautiful, and that Lea equally values this form of interaction.

…and then again, time for creativity


Mental breaks also open up time and space for renewed creative movement. Salima continues with the topic “rearing”, and develops a form of walking straight ahead while rearing. So, conscious free work gradually splits and evolves movement patterns into distinct elements that later can be combined with each other over and over again. First, Lea gives the signal for rearing, and then invites Salima with the body language signal “follow me” to come closer; you know, vocab learning and using a new language can be lots of fun.

Marlitt Wendt & Conny Ranz

AUTHOR: Marlitt Wendt