Secrets of free work
Intuitive movement dialogue
The more we are able to open our intuitive perceptual channel for the movements of horse and human, the less difficulty we will have to develop a truly synchronous dialogue of movement with our two-legged training partner. One of the most essential aspects of this process is our own sense of rhythm. This becomes clearer if we picture our own inner impulse generator, and really physically perceive our current inner gait which can be immensely beneficial. Then, it becomes possible for the horse, depending on our own movements’ pace – footstep as well as resulting arm movements – to feel the beat and rhythm of our movements, and to grasp whether we are trotting or galloping inside. Most importantly, your outside speed is no reflection of your inner movement’s image; for example, we can walk slowly, and still inwardly set the pace for gallop.
A sense of rhythm
Having an idea of the relation of movement of individual body parts to each other, and having a sense of rhythm are closely linked: What is the angle between distinct limbs or extremities? What beat of the section accentuates the beginning of a certain movement, and when do we end it? In general, the difference between purely requesting a specific gait at signal, and letting the pace emerge on the level of body language becomes most clearly visible when we switch from one gait to another. There is one single moment in the whole sequence of movements that allows switching gaits in harmonious perfection. So, we can use this knowledge, and try to further synchronize our common movements if this window for smoothly transitioning gaits opens up.
Let movement through
Many already know the term thoroughness from equestrianism. The rider’s aids should move freely through the animal, and it should be possible to switch between different types and speeds of movement without faltering. Humans also need to have a high degree of thoroughness in order to perform truly beautiful, synchronized free work; then, every single movement flows through the entire body. So, you not only have to watch your own feet’s footprints but you also have to perceive how this initial motion impulse continues, and may be blocked or delayed in individual parts of your body.
Ballet dancing together
Watching professional ballet dancers allows us to observe in perfection how a tiny movement flows through the entire body; it begins to develop down in the feet and legs, and then travels up to end in a certain posture of the head, or moves into the tips of the fingers. Of course, we desire to discover this kind of thoroughness in our own horse; however, we frequently are the driving force that influences rhythm and change of direction, and are thus responsible for this dialogue of movement’s harmony. So, it is up to us; most of the time the horse simply reflects our own little stumbles.