Do You Want To Dance With Your Horse?

Paul with Avanti

This article will be explaining how I came to dance with my horses on a regular basis. I was motivated to write this, because it explains how I “ran with destiny”, a subject that, as I learnt recently, is a very important part of interacting with horses. And, how dangerous it is, when you don’t!

One of the very first things about “Natural horsemanship” that really fascinated me, was the Liberty Dance. To me it seemed both highly dangerous, and “of an unnatural, even ethereal beauty”. Especially the dancing, performed by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, as can be seen here:


…seemed almost like magic to me, and both unreachable, like forever…. Or not?

When I got my horse, you may remember her, Avanti, we had no idea, but she came “equipped” with the most fascinating moves. Beautiful tail, legs, neck, and back movements, one could clearly see, she enjoyed displaying her beauty! But, she’d only display this, when SHE felt she was safe and she was completely confident.

Prerequisites:

I think, because horses are VERY fast, and VERY strong, you should probably be very careful in exploring this. (See also below!)

You will also have to be sure that you have a fully awakened 6th sense for your horse. If there is even a millisecond thought, that what you’re about to do, is not right, you must trust your gut feeling immediately, and back off!

Dancing together is like the strawberry on the cake. It is the flower of a developed relationship, based upon 100% trust, and harmony. I feel dancing can only be done, when both, the human as well as the horse, feel 100% safety, trust and confidence. And, most important, it must be, and REMAIN TO BE, fun for both!

So,
when approaching the pasture the Avanti usually comes over to me, and it turned out, it all started from there. The “each day – First contact” defines the development of the relationship. She probably felt, that I was worth going over to. And it is then MY task, to not EVER, let her down!

Our dancing developed out of walking together, sharing space, stumbling in the “dark” (this part from me!), and most importantly, seeing what Avanti was presenting me with. What she did, what she expressed, were the “tools” that took us one step further each time. But most important, she made, at one point, a decision, that I could be fully trusted. This is something one cannot ever demand, one must earn this, it is a gift, and it is a mystery too, because every horse is different. This is the prime key to the dance.

Dancing with a horse is about happiness, celebrating a relationship, feeling alive, expressed through connection and the body. My horse does not even care about me being a sportsman or not, I know this for a fact, because I am actually a bit disabled, caused by a lasting back injury. It’s not about technique and/or how many medals someone has earned. Knowledge however, can be introduced as a means of extra expression in the dance. This can be very important in exercising the horse, like KFH shows and teaches. But that’s not the reason for the dance. The reason is to celebrate Life!

Avanti-2bOne day, the magic of the first dance will be initiated by the horse, and not by me, and when we see it the dance can begin! I remember it like it was yesterday! But I had NO idea how to respond…
But, I did feel VERY safe and totally connected to my horse, when she suddenly started freely prancing in circles around me, I could feel her projecting power, expression, joy towards me, I had no other idea in my head, than to go with the experience. I saw her moves, her tail held high, her legs with beautiful high and round action, her curved neck. It felt almost as if she was in love with me, a very puzzling feeling, especially because I had not read about this ever, anywhere before. Then she stopped, and looked at me, with a “daring” expression in her eyes, like she was challenging me, “Come on you! Move your dumb ass, you!!!”

When I instinctively did a step forward towards her, she exploded away form me, leaving me covered with dirt particles, but she saw me not following, turned, raced back, and circled me a few times again, and this stuff repeated several times. All the time I stood 100% still, quietly observing her expressing herself, and suddenly before I realised it I had the notion to follow her when she ran off…

During the process, I remember I sometimes stopped chasing earlier, thinking about checking the pressure I applied by running after her. And then she always turned, and challenged again. She let me chase her round and round the paddock until I was totally exhausted. Avanti then finally walked up to me, stood very close beside me for a a while, I felt her body radiating energy and heat, she somehow noticed I was tired, then she snorted long and hard, and she gave me a very tender push, and then she walked away, like expressing “that this was good, and the end of lesson 1”, and commenced grazing…

This became “our game” together, for a longer period, almost daily, and when finally winter set in, and due to extreme wet pasture conditions over here, the horses needed to be stabled for longer periods, there was this every day dance in the paddock, which proved very good for her, to get her exercised, besides her daily turnout and the walks together. I grew even stronger physically too, I could keep up for longer with her!! So it was good for both of us. There was no real progress for some time, but that was OK for us both. I noticed signs from her, couldn’t interpret them, because the were just beyond my “event horizon” then.

But finally I grabbed the notion, that my body language, if controlled, could help develop something new. I then figured out (or was lead by destiny) that by turning my shoulders and using my arms, I could let her change directions… At one moment I was running behind her, and I turned my shoulders a bit to the left, whilst raising my right arm, contaning my always present red halter rope….

And she responded! WOW! The first times, because of my amazement, the dance fell apart! It was such a special feeling, and the first times I did this, I could not hold myself spiritually “together”, My mind ran off in amazement, instead of my horse, and the magic of Dance fell apart, like a butterfly on a strong wind, it was dispersed, like a spiders’ thread so delicate…

But my horse was very patient with me, and I finally could hold it together “inside”, and we finally completed a full 180 degrees turn, and set off in the opposite direction. Connected TOGETHER! Wow!

And now, at present day, we are developing figures together, circles, ovals, 8-ths… Of course, Avanti knows all of this, and I am her merely pupil!

So I’m NOT the teacher, it is the horse that teaches me!

At a point I could see the other horses looking at us, as if they seemed “interested”… They are owned by people who pursue other paths than I do, so I’m afraid, at present, I could only try this with my other horse, the 7 months colt.

Well, the first time I started with him, about 3 months ago, I got kicked. Auwwwww!!! This was a learning experience for me, because his “power and excitement level” was totally different than his mothers’. Consider me poking in the fire, not realising properly, when to stop poking, I created a raging fire! Hmmmm… Imagine what might had happened if a full grown horse had reacted like this relative small foal…

It was my own fault, He had not been angry, but simply overexcited, and I had to throttle back a lot with him. The power of the youth so to speak… But I was granted another chance, and recently I’ve restarted dancing with him again too, and so far, all is going nicely. He feels totally different, so I’ll have to develop myself with him all over again….

About the author

Paul Sloot

Born in Sydney Australia, I now live in the the north of Holland and speak Dutch, English and German. I'm married with a son and a daughter and am also blessed with 2 horses… I work 50% of the time as a fraud-inspector for the local government, and for the other 50% I am a photographer. You can view a selection of my work on my. Flickr stream.

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