Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Balancing Learning with Doing

So for those who don't know me personally, my boyfriend, Evan and I bought a farm this past May (cue fanfare!). While that has been very exciting, these first few months haven't left much time for horse-play. 
Our new place!

So, yesterday, for the first time since we moved into our new farm, I got to ride my 5 year old American Bashkir Curly, Lilah on our own property. It was certainly an invigorating experience, riding my horse on my farm! But, it also left me feeling the need to do more. You know, to dig out the dvds, to take more courses, to study more, to be better for my horse. And, while this is incredibly admirable and normal for those of us who follow the "never ending self-improvement" mantra, it can also be paralyzing to actual improvement. 

So, how can the act of learning to be better at horsemanship actually hinder improvement in horsemanship? I know, it does sound crazy! But, here's what I have discovered to be true (at least for myself):

It is easy to get caught up in the mindset that we don't know enough to be effective or to get to where we want to be with our horsemanship. Sometimes, this is reality and sometimes this is in our head. When it is reality, a lack of skills and knowledge drives us to seek out other answers. When it is in our head, a lack of confidence drives us to focus on learning more. On face, these two situations are not necessarily a bad thing as they both lead us to the same result: more knowledge. However, the hindrance comes when we are in process of learning which can cause us to become aware of how much more we do not know, which in turn can cause a greater lack of confidence. Likewise, learning happens outside our comfort zone, and it can feel pretty awkward and embarrassing to practice what we are trying to learn, which again, can hurt our confidence. Pretty soon, it becomes easier and easier to hide in the house rather than actually go out and trying some of these things with our horse! 

Sometimes we perpetuate the cycle with "retail therapy", which can make us feel really great at first. We feel like we are progressing.We think to ourselves, "I'll just buy this new rope, and then, when it comes, then I will be fully equipped to go out and try this new thing with my horse." 

Now, don't get me wrong, as Pat says, a
ttitude, knowledge, tools, techniques, time, imagination, and support are the keys to success. So, I certainly don't want to de-emphasize the importance of good equipment, but the point is that each one of these keys can aid in our success or be excuses for not getting out there and doing things with our horse. I'll be the first to admit, I have used almost all of these as excuses. (I'm too busy, or not creative enough, etc.)

As with all things, we need to find a balance between learning and doing. We will always be our harshest critic. But your horse is not going to judge you for giving it your best shot and using the skills and knowledge you have in that given moment. Doing, practicing, being with our horses is the only way we are going to get truly better with horses. No more hiding behind the guise of learning, it's time to get out there and do it. Yes, we are going to look silly at first, but we will learn, and when we come back to our dvds and courses, when we know better, we can do better. 

Savvy on!


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