Part 2 Confidence
“Fools Rush in Where Wise Men Fear To Tread.”
There is a great saying from Pat Parelli that sums up what I want to talk about in today‘s column. He said, “If you take the time it takes, it takes less time”.
In the traditional world of horses it is normal for people to get on a horse in their very first riding lesson, for them to be riding over jumps in a matter of weeks or even sooner. It is normal to get on a horse for the very first time and go for a trail ride. It is normal to fall off a lot. When the falls don’t stop, you begin to think that there is something wrong with you. But maybe there is nothing wrong with you, just your course of action.
Impatience is the enemy of mastery with horses and a confidence killer. In the traditional world it is all about hurry up, hurry up, and we end up dealing the same problems over and over again. There is nothing wrong with wanting the thrills that go with horses as long as you are prepared to take the chills that go along with the thrills? But it is much better to take the time to develop the skills that you and your horse need to truly enjoy those thrilling moments. I guarantee it will be worth the wait.
A true horsemanship master takes his time over the little things knowing that it is the little things that add up. There is no big action you can take to speed things up. Every training session is a preparation for tomorrow’s session.
When you rush in, there is a potential to miss a detail or critical step and unplanned consequences can occur. Accidents are the result of those consequences. We need to be focused and alert when dealing with horses at all times.
The Calamity Continuum
There is something I call the Calamity Continuum – Confidence, Casual, Carelessness. It starts with confidence. When you or a horse is confident you are actually on high alert when most people think it is the opposite. If you are not alert you soon slip into a casualness and less alert. Then if you are not careful you slip into carelessness or low alert status. That’s when the calamities start.
To get my students to be focussed and alert from the very first time they meet their horse, I tell them to think of their horse as a pet rattle snake. Just the thought of it heightens your alertness. Don’t allow yourself to be completely disarmed by your horse’s charm, because inside every calm horse is a wild horse and inside every wild horse is a calm horse. Which one do you think is the more confident?
To be safe around horses you have to learn to live in the moment as horses do and not drag in baggage from the past or be anxious about the future. Being 100% in the present helps you see and think more clearly and things are less likely to go wrong.
When you are truly in the present, you become more aware, are more perceptive and you feel more. This works wonderfully well for our highly perceptive horses and it can work well for you too.
This will help you when you are applying the ‘retreat and re-approach’ method when building your horse’s confidence or even your own confidence.
The Power of Natural Sequence
In nature there is a natural sequence of events from birth to death that must take place as learning takes place. One of the things that helps us develop confidence is communication. This helps us to share ideas between individuals. We use language as a vehicle to accomplish this. When we begin, whether it is humans or horses it starts with learning the alphabet, then words, then phases, then sentences and then stories. Unfortunately with horses we tend to try to go right to the finished product by trying to refine what we want our horses to do and end up repeating the wrong things over and over again. This is a confidence killer also.
There is a timeline for teaching horses and humans. You can’t expect humans to go to college before they have completed elementary school. Imagine how unconfident you would become if you were suddenly thrust into high school at the age of 7. But we do this all the time with our horses. The teaching of horses the basic foundation skills takes 2 to 4 years.
Pat Parelli has another great saying, “Do less sooner”. Then you won’t have to do more later to fix the problems.
I have been fortunate to have horses from a local breeder of curly horses, who understands the concept of natural sequence. Her horses are taught at the appropriate levels from day one. Where many of the horses I have received that have had traditional training methods can take up 100 or more hours to complete their foundation training and often arrive so unconfident that the taming process still has to be completed. Her curly horses take about 12 hours and the end result is a much more confident and wonderful animal to play with all because she took the time to complete the taming process properly. They come already to accept the human and confident to learn.
So take the time it takes.
Be sure to click on the ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ buttons to let us know that you have read today’s column. It is an honour to have you as a reader. I welcome any comments, questions or topics you would like me to discuss. I hope you enjoy reading about the wonderful world of horses and the impact that natural horsemanship can have in making it a better world for both horses and humans.
In our ‘Spirits in Unity’ program we believe in developing a trusting relationship and a true partnership with a horse before even thinking about getting on his back. He probably prefers it that way too.
Whether you are just a horse lover, have dreams of owning a horse someday, or already have one, I hope these columns will give you some insight into the true nature of these magnificent creatures. I hope you will find them both informative and inspirational.
May all your dreams come true,
Garry “Horsetalker” Meek