Check Your Ego at the Door

Everybody has an ego. Even the most self effacing among us has a need for praise and accomplishment. It helps us to feel good about ourselves and the path we are on in life. But when your path involves another living creature, one whose communication options are fairly limited, ego has no place in the conversation. We have much to learn from our equine partners and they can teach us much about ourselves. The glare of that inward spotlight can be uncomfortable to confront. But to become truly a good horseman, confront it you must. You cannot allow your desire to achieve to overtake your desire to learn. Accolades won at the expense of true knowledge ultimately have little value.

We have an obligation to the well being of the horses in our care that extends beyond the creature comforts of shelter and nutrition. We have an obligation to learn to ride correctly, to develop feel, to keep our emotions uninvolved. This doesn’t mean we lower our expectations. It means we rise to the occasion, keeping always our horses best interests in mind. It doesn’t mean that we all must become Olympic caliber riders, it means we strive daily to improve our understanding, correct our position, become aware of our faults and pat ourselves on the back when we get it right. It is a process, and just like the training scale, each element must be in place before the next can be achieved.

Your ego will only interfere with your honest assessment of your skills. Self criticism isn’t fun, but it is the only path to improvement. If you check your ego at the door, your horse is very capable of telling you how little you really know.

Holy cow! This isn’t as easy as it looks!

Well, this is my first ever blog and it is really just a test. Using WordPress isn’t as easy or functional as I thought it would be so I’m not sure I will stay with this format, but for now I will putz along. Hopefully I can learn enough with this very simple theme to be able to utilize a more complex and interesting theme in a few months.

So my title for this post is not really about WordPress, but the revelations that a few of my students have been having while enjoying the opportunity to ride my 4th level gelding Weltson. He is a rather complicated soul, with a reasonable amount of talent. But it takes quite a bit of thought, feel and effort to ride him well. To ride ANY horse well these are the prerequisites. Riding is not about climbing up there and pushing a few buttons or combinations of buttons to achieve a caricature of  movement. It requires immense body awareness and control, very fine balance and the willingness to listen with all of your being to what your horse is telling you. Developing that feel is one of the most wonderful accomplishments a rider can achieve and it is a continuous learning curve, ever becoming more and more refined.

The single most important characteristic a rider must have to begin this journey is openness to criticism. The essence of a riding lesson is critical. The rider must be able to accept constructive criticism from the instructor, be able to look HONESTLY at her own positive and negative qualities, possess a strong desire to improve and the motivation to make it happen. Not at all easy.