|Gong Fu: Skill
that Transcend Mere Surface Beauty
Dec. 8, 2009
Gong Fu: Skill that transcends mere surface
The phrase, Gong fu, originating in the
Orient and regarding martial arts, would
seem to fulfill the dreams of every
horseman. How incredible it is to feel a
thousand pound animal under you, powerful
and majestic, desiring to obey and please
you! A stallion has incredible grace and
power, and, when harnessed and given
direction, displays breathtaking beauty.
This is what we should all be striving for.
Xenophon writes that we are to “Ride the
horse in such a way that it will be pleased
with itself and want to create a proud and
delightful appearance.”** Horses at play are
marvelous to watch. When they are just
having fun, how incredible are their
displays of exuberance. All we have to do to
unlock that charisma is let the horse enjoy
itself while with us.
To that natural beauty there remains one
thing to add: skill. Alois Podhajsky writes
that “The object of classical riding is to
train the horse… to be brilliant in the
movements.”*** The horse can only be
brilliant when he is balanced and powerful.
With training, the horse can then reach his
full potential. Then can we, with the
slightest cue, unleash a beautiful power: a
horse whose neck is truly clothed with
So, to attain Gong fu, teach your horse to
balance himself and to have fun. Then will
the majesty be observable to all who watch.
* Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman
** The Art of Riding by Xenophon
*** Horse and Rider by Alois Podhajsky
November 20, 2013