For me, the academic art is like a conversation topic between me and my horses and also between me and my students. The way I see it, the academic art is not only about side movements and collection, in fact these are at times almost like by-products of the conversation. Or more like the result of the conversation.
I had a day of teaching in Warsaw and while the overall topic was the academic art, we spoke about many different things. About why a horse might be mentally absent and not gain weight, what we could do to help and to connect better to this horse, teaching the aid for inside leg in the groundwork and how to connect bend with focus, how to help a horse who is very stressed when cantering on the longe, being assertive about one’s personal space when doing groundwork with a young horse and teaching shoulder control on the longe, correct lateral balance in the quarter-in and quarter-in in trot for the advanced longing, learning the half-pass in riding.
It’s very important for me that we always train the whole horse. Yes the physical training, the exercises, might give us a topic to talk about and to get started. But in my opinion they do not mean much when done without soul, without connection. I try to teach as best as I can to see and know the horse’s mental state, how this particular horse learns, or where his issues might be. Sometimes the conversation leads us to an uncomfortable topic, but often it is these topics which need speaking about and given a bit of thought. Sometimes the conversation is rolling and time flies.
When teaching horse riding, there are always three participants in the conversation and for me it is important, that the horses have a say and that we hear them. Their conversation topic might be a different one than the one we in mind, and then that’s where things might feel off. Then I try to integrate the horse’s topic in our lessons as well, if the student is open for it. Sometimes the student has a topic that is on their mind and then we dive a bit into that and see if it’s a good topic at the moment and if we can build on it, or if another topic might be more suitable. Myself, I have to be aware that I do not take my personal topics to my lessons and really pick up the topics which come from my students and their horses.
Tomorrow I have another day of teaching and I’m already curious which topics we will discover and where our conversations will go!