• Erin Long

Balance vs. Play

Balance and it’s relationship to play is something many riders, and horses, confuse. For many horses, the only time they experience anything remotely like coordination is when they are playing. Many horse owners have seen this in the moment their horse lifts and spins away from them to run out to pasture.

Similarly, the only time most riders have felt anything resembling coordination is when their horse is launching them.

I think this is potentially why so many riders struggle deeply with aiding their horses towards balance, lift, and coordination. They feel safe in an utter lack of this feeling, and they struggle to move past that comfort blanket of downhill movement. This is also demonstrated with riders promoting their horse’s “balance” that involves all sorts of pulling and driving with their seat and constant tapping with a whip to “keep rhythm”. Often they throw in some ground poles or cavalettis for good measure.

The truth of the matter is that you cannot have balance without accepting that you are forfeiting some control. I suspect this is why some masters remain in deep awe of their horses - they realize that their balanced, coiled, and prepared-for-liftoff animals are purely listening because they enjoy the conversation. They recognize their horses power and intelligence, and merely seek to work WITH the horse to further improve their balance. When you accept that your horse’s balance can only truly come of a voluntary nature, you give up on forcing it, and turn towards clarity, consistency, and softness. THAT is where you will find the balance.

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