The quality of being delicately complex and precise.
The saddle creaks as I swing my leg over to settle gently in the gentle curve between pommel and cantle. I slide my feet into the stirrups as I gather the reins between my gloved fingers. Nudge. Walk forward. Nudge harder. Trot. Post, sit, two-point. Outside leg. Canter. Sit deep, two point, remember to steer. Aim for the middle. Release, two-point, jump! Woah, sit deep. Halt.
Seems straight forward right?
When I first started riding, that is what I knew. I used to my legs to increase speed and my hands to decrease speed. I knew to pull right to go right and pull left to go left. I knew to go up in two-point as my horse flew over a cavaletti.
Then I learned the subtleties. Leg aids, using your seat, engaging the core, looking, balance, collection, moving with the horse.
For the past couple of years, riding horses was a challenge. I suffered multiple blows to my confidence and would very timidly climb back on. I was always on the look out for the next scare, the next temper tantrum, the next buck. I focused so much on my surroundings and my fear that I forgot what riding is really about: becoming one with my horse and working as a team.
As I relearn the subtle cues, my knot of fear has started to unravel. My mind is so focused on balance and collection that I forget to be scared. Staying engaged in the details has created a deeper connection between me and my horse. I’m more aware and feel more confident that I can handle anything. I’ve learned to ride through the shenanigans my horse throws at me by never pausing on a bad moment and always looking forward to the good ones.
Riding horses is my escape. I can slide into the saddle and let my worries, stress, and fear go. My mind has to be so incredibly focused that I can’t think too much about extraneous details. While riding itself is not always stress-free, it is a distraction from life. It is my meditation, my silence, my zen. My fear made me forget just how much I love to ride. The subtleties have refocused my mind and taught me how to love it again.
Perhaps riding is a lesson in living. Every detail is important in the bigger picture. Don’t stress, fear, or be impatient. Stay engaged and aware of your surroundings. Nurture your bonds with loved ones. Ride through the bumps. Don’t dwell on the bad; instead look toward the good. Focus. Smile. Open your mind. Embrace the subtleties in life.