The Art of Relaxation

From Burger’s book, cited by the author as exemplary of a relaxed seat. Unknown Cadre Noir rider.

The first thing that a rider must learn, if he aims to become an artist, is the art of relaxation. This means detachment, serenity, enjoyment of the work for the sake of beauty, unconcern with success or failure, praise or criticism. In this sense – power of total concentration of the mind on the senses – the relaxed rider can become the central pivot of the movement of the horse, an integral part of the horse, and all his reactions will be so immediate that they will elude the eye of the most observant spectator. Total harmony of movement between the two bodies is the essence of the art. But the first thing the rider must learn is complete mastery of technique and it is only after years of application that he will discover that he has developed not only the ability to follow effortlessly every movement, but also to feel every impulse of the horse flow through his whole being. Towards this end he must learn to meditate whenever he is given the opportunity to relax, to loosen excessive mental or physical tension. No valuable work can be produced without thought. The rider who has learnt to observe himself will suddenly discover that he has completed without conscious effort the picture which he had visualised as the ideal and that riding has become his whole being instead of a matter of legs, reins, seat and spurs.

Udo Burger, The Way to Perfect Horsemanship

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