One of the hardest things to overcome in training your horse, is feeling like you’ve got to be ‘up there’ with the rest of them. When you succumb to the pressure of taking shortcuts or forcing something to happen, it never seems to work out for the best in the long run.
I have a couple of ‘rules’ to try and stop myself from falling prey to this human tendency.
- If I cannot show up with the right mindset for my horse, then I need to take a day off riding and horse training. This includes being too tired, because that can be a minefield, one minute you have patience and the next minute a short fuse reduces you to the epitome of what you know is the wrong way to train your horse.
- Always falling back on my intuition. If it doesn’t feel right then stop doing it (no matter who is giving me instruction).
I recently broke both of these rules. There are many horse trainers who won’t tell you about their negative experiences. This does create a sense of awe for their competence from us mere mortals. BUT really, behind the scenes, there are many negative things going on. The key to a good horse trainer is that there is growth from those experiences.
There are many people who like to give advice and who seem to be someone worth listening to. They may have a good level of riding ability or their horse is well trained. Many times, the advice that they give is useful. BUT, we need to put that through our intuition filter. Firstly, we don’t always know the background of where the information is coming from. The negative experiences have probably been omitted to make it seem like the process was more simple than it actually is. The more reputable the horse trainer, the more likely that you are not getting the whole story (and it’s somewhat understandable that people choose to omit parts so that the critics have less ammunition).
I’m finding that even though I believe in my own horse training abilities, and I have the desire to keep learning and growing, I can get side-tracked by self-doubt at times. Staying the course of YOUR journey with YOUR horse is a test of YOUR discipline to not let YOUR ego get in the way. Yes, I want to prove that I can do it. And No, I don’t like showing mistakes or negative experiences. BUT that is the way that we learn. It comes with the journey (even for high level riders and trainers). Perfection always has a price that comes with it – an inability to show your mistakes. So, in the spirit of showing imperfections and accepting our progress as good enough I am presenting our latest training efforts.
I started teaching Toby, the (cheeky) pony, the piaffe last week. I’ve had this on my radar for a while, slowly building up the ability to carry himself upwards and tuck his hind end underneath himself. He’s a smart little guy and l’m impressed with his ability to learn from me in this regard, having not trained the piaffe before. I have been repeating the steps with very gradual incremental parts to lifting his feet up over the week, and we built up to a couple of steps on the spot. I honestly have no idea if we are moving in the right direction with this. It does not look great yet. It’s a process. I am moving a lot on the spot and this is not yet easy for him. But here are the beginnings of something and I’m going to at least give myself some kudos for experimenting with something new (even with our fumbling along). The knowledge will come now that we have a desire to learn it.