The ingredients are the same. Seat, leg and rein aids, seasoned with a little whip and spur. But, the recipe changes from horse to horse and from day to day. How much of each to add and when?
A good rider understand the role of each ingredient. The seat can follow, it can drive, or it can still the movement of the horse. The legs support and further communicate to the horse to go forward, or to go sideways. The rein aids work with the seat and leg aids to regulate and define. A great rider intuitively knows the moment when each aid should be applied to best influence the balance of the horse. A good rider thinks; a great rider feels.
If you've never seen or tasted crème brûlée, how can you hope to replicate it? A clear vision of the desired result is essential to its recreation!
At first, you might follow another's recipe. A recipe is safe. It offers structure, and can teach you core techniques you can internalize and modify. You might apprentice with a master chef. Under his or her watchful eye, conscious competence is solidified through carefully manipulated teachable moments.
As you continue, you begin to notice patterns in each recipe. One always rides from back to front, generating the energy from the hindquarters and recycling it in the hand. You break apart the procedures. Inside leg or outside leg, at the girth or behind the girth? Inside rein or outside rein, giving or receiving? You begin to separate and recombine, and allow the horse to be your guide.
I had to create my own recipe for Decadance, and it continues to change from day to day. It's a constant conversation of seat, leg and rein aids, fluid and dynamic. I am now able to ride more actively forward and he steps up into my hand. He still has moments of tension, he will flip his head nervously in anticipation of restraint. I offer him freedom in front and counter anxiety with patience. When he settles, I take back up on the reins, while remaining elastic and giving. I am gradually increasing the work load, being careful not to over face him. The relationship comes first, building his partnership and trust, the ride itself is a distant second. The result? A recipe designed to create a willing horse!