Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

The connection between horse and rider

By Robin Shen

This summer, Tack n’ Talk Blog interviewed Robin Shen about his road to enlightenment in horseback riding.  He talked about how an “Enlightened Rider” would lead by example, and see the horse and rider as a single, cohesive unit.  This month, Robin delves further into this relationship between horse and rider.


At first glance, a great deal lies in between a horse and a rider. From Saddles and pads to reins, bits, and bridles.  But in between a great horse and rider there is something else not so easily noticed, and that is a private conversation. Although it is more evident when absent than when present, when you finally notice it, it takes your breath away.

It’s a conversation whose sophistication was forged in a furnace of discipline. A shared suffering of early mornings and late nights filled with frustrations, privations, and disappointments. The horse and rider journeyed along a path filled with injuries, setbacks, and conflicts.  But they traveled together and though a specific destination was never reached, the long road in which their relationship began as strangers, then became friends, molded a relationship where a private code of movements were defined, developed, and put into practice. And struggle slowly diminished until there was nothing left to see but two minds with a single purpose.

And the more they honed their craft, the less the casual onlooker could notice so that eventually it became that well kept secret, held between horse and rider. Yet so much is spoken in that elegant dialog flowing between the rider and his gracious host.  If poetry is the most perfect form of communication, then no truer cliché could be made than a horse and rider in harmony, is literally, poetry in motion.

When the poetry finally happens, it’s clear that there is really no need for a saddle other than to protect the back of the horse. And there is really no need for a bridle other than to provide definitions. For when the horse and rider reach for each other in that silent world of action where everything means something and nothing means nothing, then the old saying finally comes home; when the tack is removed, all that is left between the horse and rider is the truth.


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6 Comments»

  Sage By Nature wrote @

Bravo! Love this; beautifully written, and it speaks volumes in a short space.

  Robin Shen wrote @

Thank you for your kind comment. I’m glad you liked it.

  Barb wrote @

Exceptionally written piece! Not only did it explain a connection between horse and rider…it had a connection between author and the reader! Very well done!!

  Robin Shen wrote @

Im so glad this piece made a connection for you. Thank you for your kind words.

  libby keenan wrote @

Brilliant as always Robin. Cheers. Libby ps. in lessons I often remove the inside rein . Students freak out until they realize if legs, seat and mind are in the right place there is no need for the inside rein . I will refer this article to them. Thanks!

  Abigail wrote @

I absolutely adore this piece, very beautifully written. I have been having family problems for four plus years, the only time the negative emotions where gone was on the back of a friend’s horse ( the friend just happened to be who was counseling my parents ) this horse’s name was Joleen. I fell in love with her, and we developed a relationship that caused us to trust each other to the point that she played with me like a horse with it’s friends in the wild. Everyone else thought she was being stubborn, that she wouldn’t listen to me, when clearly we where working with each other, not me commanding her. My mom was thrown while riding her, and suffered from a severe concussion. Everyone has recovered and now the friend is selling Joleen, I’ll never see her again. Also while this friend was getting Joleen ready for someone to look at, one of her elderly horses was down, after getting her beck up and leading her to the stall, the older horse fell on her breaking both legs at the knees. Everyone is okay and recovering but is this a sign I should go after my soul horse?


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