Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Essence of Passion

"Forward" isn't just a direction. As a concept, it has a very specific meaning in dressage. When Eddie is properly forward he lowers his croup and his hind legs power him toward our line of travel with rhythmic strides, lifting his shoulders and freeing his front legs to express an elegant gesture. At the same time he is balanced exactly right so the smallest shift of my weight will cause him to do something else—something that came to life in my mind first. Movement is easy, cadenced and relaxed. He blows big long breaths and holds the bit lightly in his mouth.

It is in those moments I feel we can do anything—turn the smallest circle, sweep sideways, change gaits, and all because I thought of it. If you could see Eddie's expression you'd see how soft his eyes are and the way his ears flop sideways, occasionally flicking back as he acknowledges as aid from me. Being correctly forward causes him to be intensely focused, relaxed, and satisfied.

From the very first time a foal wears a halter and learns to lead, he is learning the concept of "forward." Each stage of training adds a layer of understanding for both the horse and rider. Not only does the concept grow with each achievement, but it also grows with the failures. Both horse and rider learn what "forward" is, as well as what it is not. Although it is possible to define the exact mechanics of achieving "forward", each horse has his own distinct feel when he is there, and his own best route to it. Riding more than one horse deepens our understanding of the concept of "forward" through each animal's unique nuances. But even my familiar Eddie is slightly different from day to day. For me, each ride is like opening little presents, and that joy of discovery keeps me coming back for more.

I think much the same can be said for anything one is passionate about—small distinctions and sparks of understanding are the tempting promises whispered in our ear.


  1. Eddie is such a great horse. I'll be he doesn't try to bite people--or does he? I've met a few horses that liked to bite, while others are so sweet.
    And there's the one at the fair I covered when I was a reporter who found it quite amusing to let himself out of the stall and then let all the other horses out, too!
    His fav drink? rootbeer!

  2. I think you're right - moving forward can be definied by both progression and setbacks. Congrats on moving forward with your book, too. Great cover!

  3. Dee- Eddie is a "licker" not a "biter." That said, I always operate by the "zoo rule" -- if it has teeth, it bites. If it has claws, it scratches (etc). Eddie's mother had quite a reputation for getting out of stalls and turning every other horse loose, too! Eddie will figure stuff out as well, but I've always been careful that his latches require a thumb to operate, and the fences are high enough to discourage a casual leap!

    Diane - Thank you! Tracy Hayes did a wonderful job with the cover!

  4. Susan,
    I love your analogies. I can feel the power of the horse, and you incite me to put that power into writing.
    Thank you,

  5. Thank you, Kath! Glad you're inspired. The muse loves passion!