As my great mentor, Glynn Braddy, often used to say to us: “Personal growth is rarely comfortable or convenient.” What a wonderful thing to remember when you’re feeling the growing pains as you try to improve yourself through horsemanship!
One time a student asked when he could expect his “problems” to be over, so he could start working on his horsemanship. Dr. Stephanie Burns was in the room and responded, “What makes you think that working on the problems is not working on your horsemanship?” What a great response. It led to a wonderful discussion about reframing your feelings and experiences. “For example,” she said, “don’t you think Pat and Linda have problems with their horses? The difference is how you think about it.” She turned to me and asked me to comment…
I actually think that all you’re ever doing is solving problems! Problems in communication, in trust, rapport, respect, impulsion, flexion, flying changes, trailer loading, piaffe, passage, slide stops, spins, liberty… It’s when we try to have something be perfect or have a certain expectation that horses have trouble with us, and that’s because we’re no longer in the moment. The horse feels us being somewhere else in our mind, our focus, feel and timing goes “off” and then we lose the horse in some way – mentally, emotionally or physically.
So how I think about my daily interactions with horses is with a sense of excitement because I wonder what’s going to present itself today as I try to make some kind of progress. I can’t wait to get in there and solve the problem of advancement, or to fix a lingering issue that I didn’t have the skills to deal with yesterday such as I told you about in my blog about my breakthrough with Allure.
In Pat’s ever-evolving way of training people to become the best they can be, he recently had his interns do some team-building exercises that test how you solve problems together. One of them is called The Spider Web, where we build a ‘web’ out of nylon cord with all kinds of different sized holes in it. The game is to get everyone on the team from one side to the other, and through a different hole in the web – you can’t use the same hole twice. And you also have to do it without touching the web and ringing the little bell attached to it or you start again!
I felt compelled to write this blog after just catching up on the comments from my last blog about Fran’s recent breakthrough with Crest (Ohio Blog) and I just LOVE hearing how committed you are to learn and growing for the sake of your horse.
Our horses are incredible teachers and it’s our responsibility to become incredible learners.
Until next time, stay natural!