By Antonello Radicchi
Superfluous Equitation – Intentional Equitation.
“…there are enough superfluous things in equitation to bloat the ego of many.”
Everything is additional, everything is more, useless and damaging. There is an enormous difference between riding with a bit and riding without one. Riding without a bit leads you, step by step, towards the understanding of an essential equitation, moderate in its ways and suited to communication. Acceptance by the horse becomes irrelevant since there is no discomfort caused by a gadget that moves, presses and causes pain in extremely sensitive parts. Submission is not required. Chewing or movement of the tongue doesn’t create intermittence and shifting of points of contact. The movement of the jaw or simply swallowing is often fettered by overtight nose bands causing a discomfort so intense that I hate even talking about it. All these things form part of an archaic type of equitation, one which no longer finds a reason to exist.
The first rule of non-imposed stability finds its balance in comfort, in feeling good. Its direct attraction leads to collaboration, gratified by the sense of belonging, finding a real purpose in interaction between man and horse which is directly proportional to the rider’s ability to communicate. To succeed in showing the horse our intention and allowing him to share our objective will be a source of appeasement for him when the objective is reached in harmony of intent. These are the only means at the disposal of a rider who rides with a simple head collar. Naturally we are talking about active equitation. Feeling good in complex positions such as, for example, collection, extensions, piaffé, half-pass… requires, in addition to the horse’s perception of the intent, a gymnastic condition suitable to the creation of synergies which enable him to carry himself.
The creation and development of such bases obviously require, on the part of the rider, a profound knowledge of bio-mechanical notions which will help him to understand the functional needs of the particular horse. This “gymnastic” will require efficient communication because only through the progression and development of communication of intention can one ascertain the horse’s real potential.
More simply, each request requires a certain level of implementational understanding to be carried out. Even more simply put… you can’t oblige the horse to execute through “discomfort”. Unfortunately, here I will make many enemies. “Traditional” equitation, is, at the best of times, based on the degree of discomfort inflicted. This is clearly true if one accepts the scientifically proven fact that a bit causes discomfort even when it is inactive. That is to say that the simple act of putting it on, without using it, creates discomfort. In fact, the actual word used by the scientific community is considerably stronger than “discomfort”, but I’ll leave it at that not to make too many enemies here. So, getting back to the subject, pain is an integral part of training. Now, the idea can be accepted with more or less indignation (I myself use the bit... sometimes...rarely...almost never) but these are facts based on what the horse