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GOOD MOTION IS INTUITIVE

Once you have to think about motion, you have interrupted the motion. Here is an example. I was finished working on horses at a barn on a warm spring afternoon, when Mrs. Honey, the owner of the farm called out to me. She came out of her house with golf clubs, a bucket of golf balls, and a big smile, as she asked if I wanted to drive some balls. I told her I did not play golf, but I did take a few lessons as an undergraduate in college many years ago. ”Oh, come on, give it a try she said. All you have to do, is hit the ball as far as you can across that big lawn over there”. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained I thought. I took the club and drove the ball nearly 100 yards across the lawn and more. She couldn’t believe how high and far I drove that ball. She said” I thought you told me you didn’t play golf?” “ I don’t,” I replied. Much to her surprise and delight, I presented her with a challenge and some competition. Mrs. Honey took quite a swing, and with great precision, and execution, she drove the ball just short of mine.

She told me it was my turn next. Hesitantly, knowing my little experience as a golfer, I decided to think about how to hit the ball so I could repeat my previous performance. I stood square, hips directly below my shoulders, arms extended with slight flex of the elbow, knees bent, waist slightly flexed. I swung at the ball, and it landed about 10 feet from me and in to the ground. Wow, I thought that was pathetic. Mrs. Honey laughed and told me to try again. This time, I really concentrated, got in to my position and, whamo, the ball went 15 feet while the club jammed in to the ground and tore up the grass.

What was I doing wrong? I was thinking about the motion. I was creating the position, tightening this and that, and using my intellect to create the movement. Good motion is intuitive! Once I thought about the motion, I interrupted the motion. Thus, my first attempt was without a care in the world. I didn’t think about it, I just relaxed and let the ball fly.
 

Several months ago, I was fortunate to watch David O”Connor, Olympic Medalist, President of the United States Equestrian Federation and coach of the Canadian 3 Day Event Team, teach a dressage lesson to a rider. The rider was tensing her arms, her seat, and her horse was stiff and grinding his teeth. David was asking the rider to get the horse to step underneath with the inside hind leg. The rider tried to follow David’s direction. With really stiff arms, a stiff back, and holding her position in a rigid manner, the horse she was riding, was short and stiff as well. The rider asked David where to put her inside leg, how much flexion in the elbow, etc. to get the horse to move as David instructed. I heard David finally say, “Just relax”. Then the ultimate moment came when David asked the rider to dismount and David mounted the horse. David got on the horse and rode with no tension in his entire body. The energetics of motion flowed easily from David to the horse. They were truly one unit. The horse relaxed, stopped grinding his teeth and did everything David asked fluidly and effortlessly. David was relaxed, riding with ease and grace. I believe he was not really thinking about where to put his arms, legs, use of seat, while he rode freely. The motion came through David, not from David.


As in my golf game with Mrs. Honey, good motion must be intuitive. The more one thinks about movement, the more you interrupt movement. All movement should come through you, not from you, in an effortless and relaxed manner.

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