Notes on Equitation.
Kinesthetic empathy between horse and rider.
Any Horseman experiences kinesthetic empathy, when, even while standing still, is able to participate in the movements, feelings and ideas of the horse with the involvement of his senses.
Horsemanship is a kinesthetic art which perception is grounded and felt all over the body: the rider can “simulate internally” sensations of movement, speed, lightness and even a reconfiguration of his body.
The profound observation of a body in motion is the most important source for understanding the concept of kinesthetic empathy. When one looks at a moving object, such as an acrobat, the viewer experiences an “inner mimesis” through which it’s possible to feel the same emotions as they are observed.
These shared interpersonal dynamics involve the concept of virtual movement displayed in the “Now”.
Kinesthetic empathy and related concepts are particularly relevant when the horseman express himself directly through a new dimension favoring sources of purity as fluidity, rhythm and lightness, rather than responding to fixed dynamics as very often happens in modern dressage.
The “inner mimesis” belongs to a “collective” neuromuscular system capable of leaving threads, and refined traces closely associated with emotions. The tactile-kinesthetic empathy could have the effect of “reviving” memories of previous experiences over the same neuromuscular paths even contributing to the creation of new threads.
Riding is a kinesthetic art directly associated to dancing , involving the totality of body and mind where in a sense the observer is virtually “dancing along.”
While working with the horse, the horseman does none of the physical work himself but at the same time, in perceiving the performance, he can experience the rhythm, feeling the cadence of it as if the movement is happening directly into his own body. When attention is brought to the lines and the curves of the horse, it’s possible to feel the rhythm with the same intensity of emotions and the same sense of movement that is observed in the horse ……By doing so one can feel a sense of empathy that manifests itself in a new dimension by merging the states of consciousness of horse and rider in a plasticity clearly evident as both become aware of the same feelings, both becoming the one, no more distinguishable in space and time, forever …
These notes are dedicated to my “soul mate” Foster during his last lesson of which I was personally honored. I wish for my work with horses to continue creating feelings without space:
h. 04:15, 16th November 2011