Here at Kjrsos, we think of everyone who interacts with a horse in any way as a rider, whether you physically get on a horse or not. Some think of a rider as someone who gets on the horse's back. And those who don't ride, who are friends, students, facilitators of the horse might think that they don't need to know or understand how the horse's body works. Don't need to understand how he needs to move in a healthy manner. Or understand, what our influence is upon a rein and how that can change him. And that isn't true. If at any point you choose to put a halter on a horse and use a lead rope you are using a rein, and the effect of a rein happens when we are on his back or if we are on the ground. Just because you don't have a bit on the halter doesn't change the fact that as soon as we take a lead rope in hand, we can so very easily effect, disturb, limit the horse and his movement.
More than this ~ movement ~ is the defining expression of his spirit, his health, his awareness and his joy in being fully consciously alive. Thus your ability to understand movement defines your ability to understand your horse as nothing else does.
The lead rope & the rein, are in essence the same.
How to hold and use the lead rope to create the lightest of connections between human and horse is probably the first lesson any teacher should teach any rider, teach long before they mount on any horse. If you never intend to mount upon a horse, you still need to learn this lesson, because the work that you do once the halter and lead rope come off will also be affected by the experience of the horse when you had the halter on. He won't forget. That lesson stays and changes what happens between the two of you after that. The horse I think having a far superior memory than that of the fabled memory of an elephant.
Even when we are not connected by something physical such as the halter and lead rope, don't think that now you definitely don't need to understand how his body works and how you influence it. Because this most sensitive of creatures in front of you is always reading you. He is reading your body language, your emotions, your intent, your very energy and you, in turn, affect his.
Silly perhaps that we can have such influence, so easily, so unintentionally. But silly or not it is a truth and responsibility that as humans we must accept. And with that acceptance, that means that we need to understand this creature of movement, understand our influences, understand how to not limit the horse by our very presence, by our emotions, by our intent, by our fears. The energy that we give off, changes everything in the horse.
We also have a responsibility to understand how to bring health back to those horses whose bodies or spirits have been affected, limited by us or others in their past. And even if it is their spirits that are affected there will, in turn, be an effect on the horse's body, so if we want to help our horses, if we want to help them find health again we need to learn and understand what good health looks like. We need to understand how free-flowing powerful movement is a definition of his health of not only his body but his spirit as well.
Helping the horse to return to full access of his body is to allow the horse to be fully present, fully alive and allow his voice to exist once again. To limit the horse is to take that away from him, to take his voice away, to take a part of him away so that he is no longer whole.
All of us who engage with the horse need to understand all the lessons of the horse. Not just some of them. So don't think when you see the word rider, that this is not something that will not apply to you, just because you never plan to get on his back and as a rider don't think that you don't need to understand everything that there is to learn when we are not on their back.