What is Lightness?

“What is lightness?” I am asked. My answer is that it is a way of riding in which you don’t feel pressure, and after careful training, neither does your horse. You ride balanced on his back and do all kinds of things with no more effort than thought and slight movements. “You think it”, “they do it” or “balance and signal” are the mottos of riding in lightness. It’s the way old reining masters rode, the California Hackamore and spade bit vaqueros.  It is the horsemanship of the Iberian bull fighter, the rejoeador. In lightness is the secret of the horse whisperers who ride Roman on two horses backs while four other horses gallop alongside, doing circles and going over jumps with no tack nor harness. It is a type of horsemanship that is millennia old and it is based on understanding the language, limitations and attitudes of horses. If you put ground and liberty work together with French classical equitation and a lot of imagination you will be pretty close to finding true lightness and harmony with your steed. Experience counts a lot, open mindedness helps, but the real key is the good fortune and blessing of finding a mentor. These are people who pass down wisdom and techniques garnered through the ages from their mentors in turn. Mentors have knowledge that they have suffered to learn and are willing to share with pupils who are going to work to achieve results. I must say that I have been blessed with a number of these mentors and I often have not thanked them enough. So if you are out there still, here is my deepest thanks, and I honor you, and praise your patience, and forbearance and guidance and knowledge.

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