As riders, we have all been in a situation with our horses where we just aren’t sure how, why, or what something is as it is. This is frustrating at best and we commonly reach for what’s familiar. Hopefully, a helpful support network including a valued instructor, vet and farrier is available to help sort out and interpret the “information” the horse is providing; to help you see things from a different angle.
On a personal level, I have a horse that is the epitome of frustration, in that I frequently find myself saying “NOW WHAT?” This one horse has challenged my problem solving skills more that all the others combined! I have had to decipher various unsoundnesses, “heat” cycles, saddle fit, footing, rider issues, development challenges, and other weird afflictions. The list is endless! Someday, I hope to find the encyclopedia she has stashed in her stall so we can just get on with riding.
Overall, the last seven years this horse has helped me develop my problem solving skills and helped me learn how to identify variables and rule out information in a systematic way. She has helped me learn patience, and flexibility, and improved my horsemanship. I am always, always learning from her and when it comes together, she rocks my world; she is a blast to have as a partner!
As I mentioned, she has taught me flexibility. I continue to be amazed at the many ways that word applies to our equestrian endeavors. While I embrace the educational opportunities this horse has given me, I also fear what else she will throw at me. What will be the next speed bump on the path I want to take with her? After all, I have goals I’d like to accomplish too!
Recently, I was again reminded of the need for flexibility. I had been dealing with a problem that was part equitation on my part and acceptance on her part. Every time I asked for the left lead, for the first time in the ride, I had to address it. I figured it was a slow go because I wasn’t controlling my own movements well enough. I had a lesson last week and the real problem was brought to my attention. I had misinterpreted the CURRENT problem, assuming it was an old problem. Consequently, the solution was a bit different. My instructor helped me understand and execute an appropriate response and my mare responded as predicted, she accepted the work and our ride improved tremendously.
What I realized in that moment, was that I had been assessing the problem from a previous point of view; from where her training was in the winter. I was not evaluating the horse I was sitting on! It’s important to use history to help solve your training issues, but equally important to be in the present. Remember, everything evolves! It’s equally important to ride the facts presented, not the emotions you have about them. I was a little fearful of our issue being a new problem, and it resembled an old problem, so I subconsciously chose to address it as the familiar. Thankfully, I have instructors who haven’t that fear and can help me see the real issue at hand.
Keep an open mind, be flexible and explore a view that’s from an unfamiliar perspective. You might be amazed at what you’ll discover!