Allowing Yourself to Make MistakesThe gift of knowledge is one of the most valuable items that you will ever receive. It matches nicely with any horse or piece of tack that you already own. It is hard to bottle or gift wrap, but it is something that can be shared and that can be absorbed mentally, emotionally and physically. With the right kind of knowledge there is almost nothing that you can’t accomplish. There are other tools and gear that may make the journey easier or a little more comfortable - but knowledge always seems to be the most sought after tool.There are many ways in which a person can obtain knowledge. You can read about it, talk about it, or even watch it. However, nothing can beat hands on, get down and dirty, school of hard-knocks experience. During the year I come across many very knowledgeable individuals in the horse industry - or at least they appear that way. They have all the right words, they know about the techniques and the philosophy. But when it comes down to the application there is often times a glitch in the transition. People all learn in different ways, but when it comes to horses, hands on experience simply cannot be beat. Someone once asked me, “How is it you always seem to know what decisions to make? Your decisions always seem to be the right ones.” I replied: “Good decisions come from bad decisions, and I have made a lot of those.” Fear of Making Mistakes.One of the most common things I see with my clients is the fear of making a mistake. They assume it will ruin their horse. I often joke: “It is a buy, sell, trade market...you can always sell the horse if it goes wrong.” What I mean is that your horse is one of your greatest teachers and sometimes in order to learn you may have to struggle and make some tough decisions. But in the end your horse can be pretty forgiving and as you get better, so will the horse.
It is always interesting to see some of the reactions of spectators at my clinics. They normally come with a bit of knowledge and are at times surprised to see me let some people struggle at things. They ask, “Didn’t you see that?” “Aren’t you going to fix that?” What they often miss is that the person needs to take time to learn, just as the horse does. I really try to stress that in order to truly know what is right, you must also know what is wrong. If you always just try to do it right, how do you really know the difference? There is a chance that you may have been doing it wrong all along and just didn’t know it because you never had anything to compare it to.How do you really know?One instance where I really see this concept work is when I am giving a riding lesson on seat position. Most of my students that have had other riding lessons are shocked when I tell them to ride like a “sack of potatoes” and fall out of position - just after I had helped them get into a good position. It is like they had committed a crime. But then, the light bulb comes on and they learn to correct themselves. This is very different to someone hollering “heels down!” or “shoulders back” every five minutes!
I invite all of you to reach out this month and give yourself, or someone else, one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive: the gift of knowledge. The answers you are looking for may be just down the road, in the next town, or right behind your stall door. But no matter where you find them, just enjoy the journey and don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes. NWHS
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