The Magic of Equestrian Musical Freestyle
Passion, Practice and Beautiful Bonds of Love and Trust
My husband and I recently moved to the Northern County of San Diego, CA. In addition to its beauty and wonderful weather almost every day, there are a number of attractions like the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, the San Diego Botanical Gardens, its proximity to many beaches and parks, and spiritual centers like Yogananda Gardens in Encinitas, as well as the Deepak Chopra Healing Center in neighboring Carlsbad. We have many new rich possibilities to explore here.
Another nearby beautiful town, Del Mar, has fair grounds that host all kinds of interesting events. We recently attended our first musical freestyle equestrian event there. In a big tented, open-air arena, we witnessed about sixteen competitors. The first eight were vying for a $1,000 prize and the other eight were competing for a $5,000 prize.
Anna Buffini decided to give her “best friend” and 18-year-old partner, Sundayboy, a new chapter, retiring him from international competition. As a sendoff, the pair performed their final brilliant freestyle dance. Photo by Donna El Haber, 2017. All rights reserved.
I know very little about the training or required dance steps for this sport, but I felt thrilled to see riders and their horses having so much fun in the ring doing what they had spent so many years practicing to earn a prestigious spot among those horses and riders who can compete at that high level. The horses were all magnificently groomed and adorned and the riders all looked so dashing in their helmets and riding apparel.
With each one, there was the anticipation of the music, how well they would work together, and how smoothly all would go. I liked the presentations best that chose more dramatic music and where the horse took flight for a bit and let out all that reined in energy.
The position of the neck of the horses, along with their precise dancing steps cannot be easy for them. And yet each seemed to be enjoying the spotlight, their time in the ring and their time with their riders. During different segments, my eyes welled with tears because my soul was filled with such emotion and joy at what these teams had accomplished together. I felt so deeply grateful to have been there in that beautiful arena with my husband, witnessing the beauty and exquisite expertise of what can only be accomplished with so much hard work, dedication and love.
Communication between equestrian freestyle performers and their horses seems effortless and their bond so deep. There is so much trust and love that flow between them. Photo by Donna El Haber, 2017. All rights reserved.
I could easily glimpse a little of what it must have felt like for the rider as I took some musical freestyle classes with my dog Socrates, who has since passed. We only performed in class, but on the last day when we all performed our routines, it felt so good when we were having fun and the routine was going well. It was uplifting for both of us. I recall that my mother, who has also since passed, was there and was beaming with pride for her granddog.
What was amazing to me during these performances is that I did not see or hear the riders ever talking to their horses. The music was loud, but I think there was more of a silent communication. Much must have been done with the reins, but it was so subtle that I didn’t see any overt signals. In canine musical freestyle, you often see competitors gesturing very clearly for the move they want the dog to perform. With this seamless kind of movement over the course of a five-minute program, I could only imagine the amount of work and dedication that it took to arrive at where they were.
What brought the tears to my eyes was the beauty and charm of so much coming together in the moment – the music, the elegance of the horses, the grace of their movements, the choreography and so much more. But perhaps what always affects me most when I see animals performing with their guardians or professional riders is their ineffable connection. It is the invisible ribbon of trust and love that flows so effortlessly between them and the clear foundation for the magnificent artistry they create together.
I almost love best of all the finale of each performance when the music stops, the applause begins and I can see the rider stroking or hugging and kissing the neck of the horse. Then that love becomes visible for a moment. It is so sweet and tender and fills my heart with gratitude because I know everyone in the audience wants to also be stroking or hugging the neck of the horse that just performed so beautifully as a way of saying a collective “Thank You.”
Those attending the Del Mar National Horse Show – Equestrian Freestyle Evening of Performances witnessed years of hard work and practice and deep connections between riders and horses that coalesced in magnificent performances of elegance and grace. Photo by Donna El Haber, 2017. All rights reserved.
I was recently listening to a wonderful segment of Esther Hicks channeling the wisdom of Abraham at a workshop given on July 9, 2011 in San Francisco. Towards the end of the workshop, a woman came up who had been training horses for many years. She felt something was going amiss in her work and she wanted Abraham’s guidance on how to enable her work to flow more smoothly and for her to have more success with the horses she was working with.
I loved their interaction because the infinite wisdom that is the collective consciousness of Abraham turned the discussion around completely. Rather than training horses to get them to do what their riders wanted, Abraham shared that the trainer needed to decide who her true client was, the rider or the horse.
What Abraham also shared was to begin first attracting in a positive vibrational way the horses who really wanted to learn and do the kind of work their riders wanted them to do. If her work continued to be trying to get horses to comply with riders and do what they really did not want to do, then she would continue to feel that she had lost her touch, the horses would not be learning or following guidance as easily, and her work would feel far less rewarding.