I’ve some prior posts that explain some things you might want to read before continuing… such as My Way of Helping, Exploring (1) and Exploring (2). Those posts help to further put things into perspective on what I’m trying achieve for myself with horses and why I ride/train in the way I do.
Here I am with Z, exploring. I bought her after Dear One’s death with the clear intention that she would be a Great Experiment. She would put me totally out of my comfort zone which was re-training, traditionally trained horses that were stuck (i.e. behind the bit, on the forehand, lack of ground manners etc…). I had never dealt with a horse that young or with one that had no riding experience. One friend felt I was definitely not thinking straight when I bought her.
Yet, after Dear One’s cruel loss, I wanted to be taken out of my comfort zone. When you take on a new challenge you don’t always do things perfectly or right. Actually, there is a very good chance you will simply mess it up! This was my clear intention, so what seems to confuse people is when I make mistakes and admit it. Yes, amazing as it is, I do not have all the answers. LOL!
There is an interesting people dynamic – people are not comfortable with others making mistakes. They feel a need to immediately correct them, offer advice and help them “get it right.” We are a culture where we don’t want to be humilated (who does!? not me) and shamed because we goofed up. With the help offered, there usually isn’t any reflections as “so what did you learn when that happened?” or “what would you now do differently?”
What I’ve loved about this experience with Z is having those mistakes! I think though to some it may appear I don’t know what I’m doing – which is a conundrum because I know and I don’t know at all the same time which makes it very exciting overall to work with Z. Knowing that I was working over a problem that I’ve never had to deal with before and would have to come up with a new solution for it — is the only way to learn.
JMO but in the horse world (both on the net and off) it is very dangerous (professionally and personally) to admit to another horse person that you don’t know the answer. Or that you goofed up. Or that you got it wrong. There is a huge backlash that happens and the person who is brave enough to admit it ends up getting castigated. You can easily see this on Youtube when someone posts a video that isn’t quite up to Olympic riding level!
You will find a lot of horse people boasting on the internet but you will find little humility.
This Admit-No-Wrong culture in horse riding and training works against the learning that needs to take place if you want to further your education. You must have the guts to admit: “wow that was a real screw up!” and then decide how you will approach that problem differently next time. And there may need to be a new approach the third time, and the fourth time until you get it right.
You may even forget that knowledge, revert to some old ways, and have to re-learn it. It’s why I love blogging as when I go back and re-read I say, “oh, I remember that moment, I need to keep that in mind now when we are doing A-B-C.” Although admitting your errors in public may not be what you want to do unless you are very brave or stupid – not sure which I am 😛
This is why experimenting (putting aside the danger of doing it if you don’t know enough about horses to begin with) seems so dangerous to some horse people. They fear it because it speaks to their own insecurities, wondering what they are doing wrong, and if they can snow others to believe that they are doing everything right.
If I’m doing it wrong imagine the shame! And there really is an element of public shame (both on the net and off) involved in not being right when you are riding/training your horses.
Riding instructors rely upon this human behavior to keep you in their barn, dependent upon their information and assistance. Horse trainers rely upon your guilt and worry over getting it wrong, to sell you a horse that is completely inappropriate for you (but gives them money). Sometimes I wonder if the horse business doesn’t revolve around shaming and guilting people more then it does about joy, enthusiasm and love?
And internet “friends” love to whip you in their long, running commentaries that become as meaningful and helpful as a pile of dog poo.
Shouldn’t working with your horse be based out of love and joy? Shouldn’t it be a give and take of understanding? Should we not be able to forgive, because our horses’ do so willingly, even when we do the stupidest behavior?
You won’t mess your horse up if you move your hands from the frozen position above the pommel that the horse riding instructor told you place them when you were learning to ride 10 years ago. Yes, YOU CAN MOVE YOUR HANDS! LOL!
Partnerships, whether human-human or human-horse, will include mistakes. And it’s those mistakes that provide the learning tools you need to deepen your understanding of yourself and the horse. If you can admit your mistake and learn from it, you can experiment, which make mistakes, that you will need to understand, forgive and try again.
I do know that crossing the threshold of 30 and then 40, now approaching 50, I give less of a damn if I make a mistake. And those mistakes, warts and all, are often documented in this journal. It may make me appear less in the eyes of the Horse World, but I have given you my thoughts on why I do it and why I experiment deliberately in ways that make mistakes.
There is method in the madness 🙂
Or maybe I’m just tilting at windmills. 😛