With Horses Learning Never Ends
by Kim Roe
At 83, the world’s foremost cellist, Pablo Casals, was asked why he continued to practice four and five hours a day. Casals answered, “Because I think I am making progress.”
— Leonard Lyons
If I didn’t have to work for a living I would never have left school. I cried the day I graduated university; I just didn’t want it to end. I love learning anything new. Learning makes the world seem brighter and more colorful, especially if it has anything to do with horses.
Horses and horse people have expanded my horizons. I’ve met people I never would have met and seen places I never would have seen during my quest for knowledge. Some of the people have become very good friends, and I’m grateful that horses led us together.
Non-horse people are often surprised to find out that I still take regular riding lessons. When they ask me why, I often say the same thing Pablo Casals said in the above quote: because I think I am making progress.
The famous dressage trainer Reiner Klimke once said that it takes a lifetime to learn how to do dressage, and two lifetimes to learn how to do it well. This theme is repeated over and over by horsemen in every discipline – the more you know and learn about horses, the more you discover how much more there is still to learn.
This year I’ve been attending clinics in Oregon given by José Manuel Correia Lopes from Portugal. He said training a horse is like this: There is a mountain you need to climb; you can climb straight up, struggling and fighting through the difficult parts, or you can circle around the mountain, seeking out the easier routes. You will cover many more miles than the ones who go straight up, but you might reach the top faster, as the direct-route people might get stuck by some insurmountable obstacle in their path. What a great illustration of what we experience in learning about horses.
I’m thrilled to feature on our cover Jen Verharen of Cadence Coaching. She’s been a valuable asset to me and many of my friends in the horse business. Not all improvement in the saddle is done on top of the horse practicing riding techniques. Sometimes it’s our minds and our attitudes that need fixing. Jen can open doors in people’s lives that they thought were closed.
We also need to pay attention to what our horses are thinking. I’m pleased to introduce our new Trainer’s Corner contributor, Deanna Lally. Deanna’s article this month discusses the importance of getting into your horse’s mind instead of just working his body.