Cherry Picked Learning

You can “learn a little bit from everyone,” but the philosophies of some teachers don’t mesh well with others. What you end up with if you aren’t careful is a confused horse and a rider who can cherry pick the pieces they like and often overlooking the basic, tedious elements that make up the big picture. Practicing scales for a musician isn’t as cool as a sweet lick on electric guitar, but you don’t get there without learning music theory.

When it comes to making progress in a desirable direction, it’s important to have all the basic steps in order before trying to climb up the ladder of progress.

It takes time I think for the rider to wrap their brain around the philosophy they’re following, the way a rider should carry themselves, and the results they should expect. You don’t get that by bouncing around to different clinicians.

I actually found the work I was doing with some teachers did not mesh with the work I was doing with another. It was a tough and actually uncomfortable decision to make as the horse community is small and somewhat clique-ish. I decided to stay with the teacher who’s work consistently left my horse happier, looser and with lovely balance.

While you can learn something new and interesting from different teachers, I sometimes wonder what horses think when after a new weekend clinic they are expected to change what we’ve worked hard to install.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to ride with different people – but I think it’s important to really understand what we’re learning. How does the new information I’m receiving fit into what I believe is right for my horse? Am I seeking a quick fix here, or am I seeking to improve my understanding of the bigger picture? Because horses can appear greatly changed at a clinic, and quite often go home to their normal behaviors and ways of going if the human didn’t understand and carry through what took place there.

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