Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. – Henry Ford
I remember when I got my first pair of glasses. I’d just passed my 40th birthday and it was becoming difficult to read road signs when I drove, greatly increasing my stress level when exploring new places. At my husband’s urging, I trotted off to the eye doctor.
Once I had my new glasses I was amazed by the beautiful world and all that I’d been missing. I’d go outside at night and look at the stars, now visible to me in all their twinkly glory, and I realized how long I’d been living in the dark, so to speak. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re missing.
Education is like that. Learning reveals things to us we don’t even know exist. When in college studying poetry and literature (endeavors some folks might think of as useless) I could feel my brain expanding when hidden meanings or structures were revealed to me. Knowing there was more in a piece of writing than was visible on an initial reading made me more aware of the mysteries in life, and that increased my hope and joy.
Learning about horses and solving training issues with them is much the same. We learn the very basics first—those time-honored traditions that maintain safety and help us keep the horse under us when riding. If we’re passionate about riding, we spend years (and more years) going deeper into the mystery of horsemanship. This is when the magic happens.
When I hear the words “that’s the way I’ve always done it,” I cringe. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the traditional way of doing things, but sometimes there might be an easier or better way if we are willing to try. Keeping an open mind to new ideas keeps us growing. Sometimes letting go of the old way is the best way to make progress.
Too often we wait to seek out an education with horses until things are going terribly wrong and the horse has developed annoying or dangerous behaviors or when we’ve become bored with the whole aspect of riding. I urge you to start your education before this. Look around the equestrian world. What appeals to you? What do you wish you could do? What’s stopping you from trying to do something new with your horse? Yes, it can sometimes be hard or humbling, but that’s okay. Get out there and go for it!
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.