Late last year, I took a couple big career steps and jumped out of my comfort zone. If things have seemed quieter around here, well, they are. As spring came along, I started up on more regular riding and was even quasi thinking about maybe taking ZB on a couple field trips (schooling show? xc? i think yes!) and then oh yeah apparently the entire world shut down.
|let's learn about water!
Well, most of the world. My state and industry have been minimally impacted, which is good and bad. (How does it feel to drive by all those "stay home, save lives" signs when you're an essential worker providing essential services? uhhhhh kinda like shitty cannon fodder tbh).
My barn never shut down (though they did implement additional safety precautions) and I've been able to ride pretty steadily.
|how can any horse be this cute
I've definitely made some more conservative choices even for my super safe baby horse (I guess she's 7 now buuuut baby mare for life <3.) The last couple years have been a marked transition for me--moving from a "rider" mindset to a "trainer" mindset, so even with careful choices and choosing to keep my feet on the ground some days or limit barn time other days, I find that our progress and training really didn't slow down.
|operation: look where your feet are going you adorable moose
|one of her favorite things
I'm fascinated by the sheer amount of ideas and concepts we can work through even without a full time program or a more "conventional" approach. It's driving home again and again that riding every day and drilling concepts is 100% for humans, not for horses.
It helps that ZB is the actual best horse of all time but it's so freaking cool to watch her learn and attack new concepts with aplomb because every outing, every topic is light and positive and thoughtful. She believes she can. She wants to try. No one has ever shut her down or fried her or told her she's not good enough.
I've spent so many years trying to train the horse first and build trust second. I built some useful mechanical skills for myself in terms of learning how to ride through behaviors but I think long term, I missed out on a lot more.
Going forward isn't the answer.
Pushing through isn't the answer.
It has so little to do with teaching the horse, either. The horse is there. It can already horse pretty damn well. It's going to continue horsing with or without you for the rest of it's life.
It's not the feeling you get when you put your foot in the stirrup.
It's the feeling you bring when you set foot in the barn.
It's never asking them "why won't you do this?" and always asking yourself "how can I be calm, clear, and fair about this?"
It's being the kind of person that a horse wants to canter up to in a field.
It's building trust, day in and day out.
I always thought the lessons we learned form horses were about self discipline and training and understanding what it looked like to chase a passion and have a vivid interest in life.
Those things are good, I think.
They're a shadow of what we can learn though.
The real lesson is who we become when we learn to hear what they say.