• Henk Jan Vroom

Dancing a waltz with your horse!

Anyone who has ever danced a waltz knows that it is almost impossible not to let yourself be carried along to the rhythm of the music. The music makes the dance and even if you would try, you would not be able to go against the movement of the music. And then there is also your dance partner, who will struggle considerably if you move against the beat.

I myself am the type who sits at parties nervously next to the dance floor, hoping that no one will notice me and ask for a dance. But the reality is different! For some years now I have found out that I have a good sense of rhythm and am also keen to learn ballroom dancing. I was once asked to attend a dance competition and I thought it would be a fun experience. After the show, I was unsuspectingly sitting on the side when people flocked from all sides to the dancefloor. And you may have guessed it: I was also asked to give it a try. After some faint apologies that I don't have a sense of rhythm, I stood there with nodding knees to do the first steps of the English waltz ... a long story short: I took dance lessons, turned out to have a sense of rhythm and even loose enough hips and soon came home with the dance degree "silver". Nowadays I no longer dance, but when I am on my horse I sometimes imagine myself dancing a waltz again and the horse is my partner.

By swinging smoothly in the movement of the horse, you can accelerate or shorten the rhythm, without major rein or leg assistance. And when, like in the Rumba, you make a sideways movement, the horse naturally starts a half pass. In the system "Skala der Ausbildung" that we use, the subject of rhythm and balance is already discussed in the first phase "Der Takt". In order to achieve that balance, there must be no tension in both the horse and the rider, caused by fear or physical discomfort.

In my sitting lessons I work on the rider's position, core stability, but also on removing unconscious blockages. Often these are learned habits from old instruction books, or the habit of giving an unconscious leg aid with every stride.

If the conditions for Takt are met, this rhythm will automatically occur. The horse searches for the stroke that belongs to its own physique and starts to swing. And there is also a bonus: the horse will relax (Phase 2 of the Skala is "Losgelassenheit") and looks for contact with the hand (Phase 3 of the Skala is "Anlehnung").

Many of my students started riding seriously at a later age and, like me with dancing, are fully committed to it. Frequently they appear to have a lot more feeling than they thought and experience rapid growth. Every day they enjoy dancing with their horse, just like I enjoyed the tango, the waltz and the quickstep on the dancefloor. And we are not even talking about the chachacha, the tango and the rumba!

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