Tuesday, April 5, 2011
"A Mind Like Still Water": Information
I loved this chapter, Information, in Whole Heart, Whole Horse, by Mark Rashid. I've been reflecting on it the last couple of weeks as I work with my horses, and I've decided, in my mind, this is THE most important part of being a good horsewoman.
I remember back, when I was taking lessons with a wonderful trainer, and she'd taught me a number of what I thought were hard and fast rules about working with horses. In fact, I followed them to the tee or, at least, thought I was following them to the tee. Then, slowly, as we rode together day in and day out, I saw that she was often breaking her own rules. I'd ask her why she'd done this or that thing and she'd point out something the horse did to make her think she needed to do something different.
It hit me: there are no hard and fast rules.
This Chapter is all about letting go of our expectations and prejudices, becoming like still water, and allowing the situation to be just what it is, no more, no less--like a perfect reflection off that still water.
After ruminating on this, I've come to think our advice is often wasted. Someone presents us with a problem they have with a horse, and we want to give them answers, but we're not there. We're not the ones taking in the thousands of pieces of information the horse is giving out which, when put together, may require us to do something absolutely different and even contradictory.
[***addendum later in the afternoon same day as original post. I'm thinking good advice is never wasted--it does sometimes give people a different way to look at the issue. Also, video can be very helpful--as can direct instruction. That second pair of eyes can really open up your own.]
His example is the horse who goes nuts to get to other horses. The solution: take the horse over to the other horses. Goes against everything we're told to do, doesn't it? And sometimes, truth be told, that would not be the right answer. However, it was for this horse.
This is what I love about working with horses--the challenge to develop Misu no kokoro--a mind like still water. (Not a bad frame of mind to exist in, huh?) No one knows more about your horse than you (if you're willing to look with new eyes). It's a completely dynamic and ever-changing relationship. The horse you have today is not the horse you had yesterday. Likewise, the person you were yesterday is not the person you are today. All the good you did. Gone. (Sorry) All the bad you did? Gone. (Congratulations.) The horse will take you where you are now.
Kind of exciting, isn't it?