The Naming

The Naming

Not just anyone can name you. Often times our first name is given by our parents. It seems only right that our mother and father who have brought us into the world should have the first right to place their seal and connect their authority through the use of name. Often the second people to rename us are the peers within our group. There is often a hint of teasing and jostling for position connected to these renamings within our American youth culture. In many native cultures renaming is connected to a coming of age ceremony, through which one learns or acknowledges their personal role within the society. It is usually connected to their personal giftings by the Great Spirit or the recognized deity within that culture. In the Bible there are stories of renaming that are usually connected to a change of situation, personality or character. When women marry often there is a change in name associated with the change in position in life.

My renaming was attempted by many. There were the kids who tried to tack their labels on me. Some stuck with pricks sharp enough to motivate change. This led to a struggle that wounded the fragile sense of image that I clung to, until the day the Lord began my renaming. I say, began because my renaming was a process that continues on today. First He un-named me. He tore away at all the labels and mis-conceptions that the enemy of our souls had tried, through various means, to adhere to my soul, destroying who God had created me to be. As He stripped back the layers of lies, He began to expose the truth, who I was in Him.
There were a few mentors that the Lord has brought into my life, to speak truth into my soul. This truth speaking drove back the lies and began to break through the hard exterior I had wrapped around my soul, protecting it from the barbs. Strange, how the self-protective methods we use, often keep us from what we need or really desire. One such mentor was Curtis Wright. One day up in Yosemite, among the grandeur of the tower pines, sequoias and maples, Curtis called me by name. Funny, how you can recognize your name, though you had never been called out by it before. From that day on, I have aspired to live up to that name. It is how this blog got its name, Dances with Horses.

Yet, ultimately my most important name is simple. It is found in a possessive pronoun. It would be unidentifiable admist the others who could claim it. Yet, when He calls me by this name all else fads away. Nothing else matters when I truly allow the truth of who I am to settle in to the crevices of my heart. Who am I? Simply, "His."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Freedom Of Gaits and the Joy of Liberty

Lib·er·ty  (lbr-t)
n. pl. lib·er·ties
        a. The condition of being free from restriction or control.
3. A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference:
at liberty
1. Not in confinement or under constraint; free.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

When we talk about freedom of gaits we are looking for a way of capturing the experience of how a horse would move if unhindered by the rider.  It all goes back to how we aspire to be with horses.  It is about gaining trust and friendship.  We must earn the privilege to influence our horses.  The privilege to influence is only given in absolute abandon to those who prove worthy of the trust.

When trainers first work with the horse, the goal is to get the horse to relax in the trainer's presence.  A certain level of trust must be gained for this to happen.  When working with the horse on the ground, as the horse begins to relax the horse will begin to develop a level of rhythm and cadence to its way of moving.  Some horses are naturally more relaxed than others and some have more natural rhythm than others, but the goal is to start with what a horse offers when relaxed and not under mental, physical or emotional stress. Then the trainer builds upon this relaxation to develop the best level of relaxation and rhythm for this particular horse.  

When a horse begins to relax and move in rhythm the horse will begin to offer the best form of his or her natural gaits.  When a horse is tense the horse will move in restriction.  This is true whether we are talking about mental tension, emotional tension or physical tension.  An excited horse with a tail stuck straight up in the air, will not move with freedom, and the gaits a horse shows when excited are not the horse's true gaits.  As a horse relaxes the horse releases tension in the topline, and he or she will begin to lower his or her head and neck.  This happens naturally, without any form of gadget to coerce the horse into reaching forward and down.  The horse begins to get swingy through the stride and to move in full range of motion through his or her joints.  This change is generated from the release of tension.

Once the trainer moves to the horse's back the process must be started over again.  The horse must relearn how to balance with the weight of the rider and become accustom to the rider's movement up there.  It is very important that in these beginning stages that the horse is allowed to move freely without restriction from the rider, which would only lead to further worrying and loss of relaxation.  In the beginning the rider must sit without disturbing the horse's balance, rhythm or relaxation.  The idea is to stay out of the horse's way.

In the early stages of riding it is important not to do much steering or over use the reins.  The best thing you can do in the beginning is to ride with a slight loop in the rein and stay centered over the horse's center of gravity.  The rider should move with the horse and follow what the horse offers.

As the horse becomes accustomed to the rider's weight, the rider can begin to interact with the horse.  The goal, at this point, is to introduce the horse to the aids in such a way that the rider sets the horse up to understand what they mean.  The rider is still looking to mostly stay out of the horse's way and not to interfere with how the horse is moving or carrying itself.

The number one inhibitor of freedom of gaits is the rider restricting the horse's movement through too much rein or through not following the horse's motion.  It is interesting to see a horse stretching over the topline, with all of the seeking (the hand) reflexes actively engaged, until the rider gets on.  When the rider gets on, the very same horse may quicken, hollow through the back and self-protectively raise its head above the bit.  This is a sure sign that the horse's freedom of gait was interrupted by the rider.  

Freedom of gaits sets the horse up to step into the contact.  The seeking reflexes that emerge in the freedom of gaits stage are encouraged by introducing the horse to the idea that the leg can both mean change gait and lengthen stride and frame.  As the horse learns these pieces the horse begins to become drivable into the hand and step into the contact.  

Each stage is important.  The horse that doesn't learn to give freedom of gaits will not give a true contact from behind. To progress further up the training tree the horse must learn how to move without restriction, constraint or interference from the rider.

For further reading on freedom of gaits please check out Ron Meredith's amazing article.

No comments:

Post a Comment