“Think of riding as a science, but love it as an art.” – George Morris
There are many technical details to think about while on a horse, especially in the hunter ring. Creating a good ride often involves breaking down and analyzing each detail about the course and how the horse will react to it. However, a course can be analyzed inside and out, yet can still be lost if it lacks one thing: beauty. Winning hunter rounds are beautiful. Horse and rider move as one, flowing gracefully around the course as if it is the easiest thing on earth. This mesmerizing winning ride can only be achieved by letting go of analyses and just feeling the horse.
Dancers are often told that to truly be great, they must feel the music and let go of the need for perfection. Great musicians give great performances because they feel when they are on stage; it is apparent. We would not have the same experiences while watching the ballet, or listening to a concert, if the performers were solely focusing on the technical aspects of their crafts. The work of great painters is often imperfect, yet so incredibly beautiful. Literature is often filled with run-on sentences and grammar flaws, yet the words still have the ability to pull us into imaginary worlds as if we are right there. These art forms all require immense technical skill and knowledge, but artists truly become great when they let go of rules and technicalities (to a certain extent, of course). Artists can invoke powerful emotional reactions from us because they are willing to occasionally break the rules, let go of the need for perfection, and feel.
Equestrian is considered a sport, rather than an art form. However, I think that there are many artistic aspects to it; at least in the hunter ring. Although highly technical, there must be an element of beauty as well. I also believe that truly connecting with a horse involves letting go, and feeling. Feeling the horse, feeling the jumps, feeling your own body. While the technical details are by no means unimportant, there must be an element of letting go as an artist would. For those are the rounds that score in the 90s.