The Good Student wants nothing more than to be skillful, so they study: they study with anyone and everyone who comes around. They practice at home, do what they’re told. They work hard. At times in tbeir lesson, they feel a small feeling creep up in their gut that this isn’t working, maybe their horse is getting more nervous, starting to fall apart. But the good student trusts the teacher, and does what they’re told.
The good student keeps practicing at home, noticing some areas are improving, but new, strange problems are creeping up. Maybe the one rein stops have stopped the horse from bolting like they were told it would, but now the horse is heavy in front, struggles to turn, maybe the canter is tricky now. Maybe the horse has lost some trust. The good student presses on.
The good student now rides with another teacher in town, one that everyone raves about. This one says your hands are wrong, your work from the last teacher is all wrong. So now the good student works hard to erase all the work they have already done, and the horse grows more confused. The good student looks to the teacher, the authority, for guidance, and assumes since they are learning, this person must know better than them. They’re a teacher, right? The good student stuffs their intuition down. Imbalance, worth, distrust grow like a vine in the horse, wrapping around every aspect of your working relationship and choke out the good you once had.
The good student finally comes to the place where enough is enough; and stops being a good student. Instead, they become a listener – listening to the horse first, listening to the words the teacher says and listening to the actions of the teacher – do they match up? How does my horse feel about it? The student becomes a Thinking Student; and learns they can say no, or leave. The Thinking Student learns how everything connects for their horse, and learns to decipher what’s good for them and not something they need to take home from a clinic.
The Thinking Student stops taking information at face value, and gains a feel for what helps and what doesn’t. The Thinking Student learns to prioritize their horse and themselves.