Over the years I’ve interned and studied under many great teachers. I’ve studied hard and tried my best to please my teachers. But teachers aren’t always right, and the person giving instruction on the ground, no matter how well meaning, does not have to bear the consequence of injury, you do.
I always say to my students, “what I am telling you is just my interpretation of what I see your horse needs.” That means I could be wrong, or what I would do in that moment may not be right for you. You have to assess your ability, confidence level, and understanding of the instruction. There are many ways to work at something, and though you may need to push your boundaries, listening to your gut is an important lesson.
The past few years of trial, growth, and a handful of injuries have taught me a lot about rushing, riding green horses before you’re ready, and working on a set schedule. I’ve had plenty of time laid up from work with my arm bandaged up to think about what this means.
The phase of my life called “being a good student” is over. “Being brave” is done too.
The phase of my life called “listening to my gut and being smart” has just begun.
Now my interest is learning from my own instinct. I throw out pressures to ride a certain way, or to get horses going at any rate other than the horse’s and mine.
For every time I’ve been told to “grow a pair,” for every time I’ve heard “haven’t you ridden him yet?”
For every time I have had something to prove
For every time I cheapened my horsemanship and ignored what the horse needed just to get a job done or keep a client,
I remember it’s my career, my well-being, and my conscience on the line. Nobody else’s.
Now the only one pushing me is myself, and my horse.
I encourage you to do the same. Take all teaching with a grain of salt. Be a horse pleaser and a conscience-pleaser, not a people pleaser. Because after all, it’s only money, and it’s only time. What do you have without your health, your peace of mind, and your relationship with your horse?