In Sally Swift’s book Centered Riding 2 Further Exploration she presents an exercise she calls the “Capsule.” There is an illustration on page 99 with the caption, “Imagine yourself in a ‘capsule’ with energy from your center radiating against the sides and filling it up.”
Near the end of her discussion of this exercise Sally Swift says,
During this imaginary Capsule exercise, you succeeded in balancing internal and external awareness. This new expanded awareness can give you better control in several ways when you ride.”
I have found the image of an energy bubble to be very effective. If you were taking a riding lesson from me, I would start by telling you to visualize building an energy bubble from your center that encompasses you and your horse. Then I would tell you to fill that energy bubble with waves of energy that go from your center, bounce off the wall of the bubble, and go back to your center.
If you want your horse to go faster, point the nose of your energy bubble out toward where you want to go, and have the energy waves be short and fast. If you want your horse to slow down, pull the nose of the energy bubble in like a wall in front of the horse and have the waves be long and slow.
Once you were comfortable using this image, I would have you change the path of the energy waves inside your energy bubble. Instead of having them go from your center to the wall of the bubble, and bounce back to your center, I would have you send the waves from your center out to the wall, have them bounce back to the horse’s center, then back out to the wall, and back to your center.
I experimented with a student and had her switch back and forth between including the horse’s center and not including the horse’s center in the path of the energy waves in her bubble. I could tell which way she was doing it by observing how connected to her horse she was, and how well she was with the horse’s movement. There was a visible improvement when she included the horse’s center in the energy wave path.
This is actually the first energy image I shared with a student. I had been experimenting with images of energy myself, but was not willing to talk to anyone else about them yet. I had a student who lived in Los Angeles. She would come to Colorado every few months for her business. When she was here, she would arrange to take a few lessons from me. Her horse being in Los Angeles, she would borrow a friends horse for the lessons.
In one of those lessons she said her horse bolted with her almost every time she rode, and it was becoming not fun any more. The problem was, the horse she borrowed for the lessons was so quiet and laid back, she didn’t feel like she could learn what she needed for her horse.
I told her about the energy bubble, and said, “When you are ready, fill that energy bubble with short fast energy waves, sending the nose out to the other end of the arena streaming those short fast waves out there with the nose of the bubble.” I also told her, “When you are ready to slow down, pull the nose of the energy bubble in like a wall in front of your horse, and fill it with long slow waves.”
The horse took off, she shrieked, and at what seemed to me to be the last possible second, the horse stopped, and they calmly walked back to me.
As we left the arena, my student told the horse’s owner,
You need to do what ever you need to do to get Joe to tell you about the energy.
I received an email from that student several weeks later telling me she had ridden her horse in Griffith Park and it was the first time in a very long time she felt like they were partners.