Cong. To follow, to obey.
In Everyday Tao, when it speaks of following, it speaks of following Tao. To me, the horse IS Tao, so we must follow the horse. Seems self explanatory, right? If we don’t follow the horse, we work against the horse. Follow with our hands, follow with our seat, but I’d like to discuss an unconventional way to follow your horse: In a full on gallop! I’m not talking hand gallop, I mean Run, Forest, Run!
I realize this is a joy that some may no longer get to partake in. Some never have and never will. However, it is one of the most exhilarating experiences one can ever have.
When you let go and let the horse take over you are putting 100% trust in that 1200+ pound animal between your legs 1) not to dump you and enjoy the rest of the ride herself, and 2) not to fall flat on her own face resulting in both of you having critical injuries.
To some of you, this may not sound like any fun at all, but I can be an adrenaline junkie and the first time I tried it, I was hooked.
But the adrenaline isn’t what gets me. It’s that thing that happens when you come back to a walk and your horse realizes what just happened. They are so used to being cooped up in a rectangular box (no so much for the Eventers), being told where to turn, when to stop, when to go, how fast to go, where to put this foot and that, what to jump, how high to jump, HOW to jump, all the way down to how to hold the bit in their mouth. When you let go, and trust them to just have a little of their own fun with you on their backs, I’m telling you, they appreciate it.
I swear, mine thank me in their own little ways. Their walk changes. They hold their heads different. I might even get a nicker. They have a sense of pride. I haven’t met a single one who didn’t enjoy it.
In Tao, following is about trusting ‘The Way.’ I like to make a point to follow my horse on occasion, and let her know, I trust her way.
How do you follow your horse?
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All ‘Tao of Horsemanship’ entries on this website are inspired by the book “Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony” by Deng Ming-Dao.