Have you recently hit a brick wall with you training? or maybe that little stumbling block is taking longer than expected to resolve. Everyone can suffer from periods of disillusionment in their riding, where things feel forced and we seem to fall out of ‘flow’. Much like you might experience writer’s block or creative stagnation, our relationships with our horses can often undergo periods when it all feels a bit too hard and we lose the joy of life.
Most of us will remember that early spark that got us hooked on horses, the intoxicating happiness that surrounded our every trip to the barn and constant curiosity at how we could discover ourselves through devotion to our new furry friends. So how do you rediscover that excitement and enthusiasm when you’re just not feeling it?
Karen Rohlf suggests it’s about keeping the big picture in mind – that we often lose sight of the forest for the trees in our quest to progress our hobby, gain the next rung on the competitive ladder or continue coming up with enjoyable and engaging activities for ourselves and our horses.
Often we get the feeling that our development in horsemanship is (or if it’s not it should be) linear – a straight line from knowing nothing to knowing everything – and that can be dangerous because there’s often a lot of detours required along the way. Both we and our horses are individuals, which necessitates some room for variation in the general direction (that much is obvious). It can also be hard to identify at times, whether our latest stumbling block is a problem with the foundation we put down earlier in our training, or an advanced problem (that doesn’t require the same root-cause analysis and ‘back to basics’ approach).
Rohlf suggests a couple of ideas that may appeal to those of us with office jobs, used to implementing little structures to get us through the awkward bits at work (you’re talking to a project manager who implements IT systems in large corporates for a living):
- Create yourself a mission statement – our’s is the happiest horses on the planet, but maybe you’re interested in something different. Use your mission statement to clearly articulate your objectives and why it is that you do what you do with your horses, what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Keep it high level and don’t get too bogged down in the detail. Karen’s mission statement of her organisation, Dressage, Naturally is:
“Creating stronger partnerships and healthy biomechanics through combining the principles of natural horsemanship with the art of dressage.”
Make sure you know what you mean by words like ‘natural horsemanship’ and ‘dressage’ too.
- Get your priorities straight – Rohlf has a number of priorities, like relaxation or correct biomechanical movement and these need to be identified, then ordered in a way that makes some sense: no use working on correct biomechanics if you haven’t spent at least some time on creating a winning partnership and developing mental and emotional harmony
All this will help you to outline in your mind’s eye the bigger picture – kick back and take the 10,000 foot view once in a while, so that you can enjoy returning to daily routine with a renewed sense of security in your purpose.
Images from Horses for LIFE
[Not missing the forest for the trees] Horses for LIFE
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