More than any tool or technique, good habits are what make great horsemen…
Sometimes we think that what constitutes progress and success are the moments of struggle during an individual session, when it feels like we’ve won a battle; but master horsemen know that the real war is with ourselves, and the accumulative effects of our own bad habits, day after day.
If we want a horse to be disciplined, and by that, I mean consistent in their responses, that requires that we be self-disciplined first; good habits are simply a pattern, a consistency in our approach built by daily self-discipline. Let’s look at an example:
For instance, if we have a pattern of always having our horse stand on a loose rein for a few minutes when we first get on, we will, over time, create a horse that appears self-disciplined; but what they are is really doing is anticipating our patterns and habits. Anticipation can work for or against us; if our tendency is to ride off as soon as we step on, our horse may well begin to anticipate that and start walking off as soon as our foot hits the stirrup. That horse doesn’t have a lack of self-discipline; we do.
Taking responsibility for our horse’s bad habits can be a bit of a blow to the ego, but the trade-off is worth it:
- Good habits may take the blame off the horse, but they empower us to become better horsemen.
- Good habits make us proactive instead of reactive; goodbye reactive fear or frustration!
- Good habits make us focus on what we DO want, instead of trying to correct what we DON’T want.
- Good habits mean we are developing a plan and setting ourselves and our horse up for success, instead of waiting to correct the failure.
Today, I’m sharing a PDF of a simple lesson routine that I give to students; I encourage students to make it their own, but it’s a good sample of how we can begin to be more deliberate and mindful with our habits and our time-management. Download or view it HERE
Take a few minutes to invest in your horsemanship:
- Sit down and write down all the problems you have, the behaviors you don’t want.
- Now, write down the opposite behavior, the behavior you would like to see, instead.
- What good habits could you build into your daily routine that would encourage that behavior? Write them down.
- Now write a sample training session and include your new good habits.
- Take it with you when you train.
- Re-write as necessary.
- Finally, remember that good habits make lasting changes over time; accept the smallest improvement from yourself and your horse.
Keep riding the spiral path,
I like to remind people that any wisdom we gain in the horse world is applicable in the human world:
We should stop focusing on what we don’t want, and start building what we do want; this becomes gratitude in action.