Should I back off, try harder, work more, change course, or just wait longer?
How do you know if you’re doing too much, not enough, just need to relax and wait it out, or do something different entirely?
Those are questions I ask myself every day, and anyone I respect will admit they don’t always know what to do themselves. The last time I thought I knew what horses needed with any certainty, I shortly after found myself hurtling through the air onto the frozen November ground. Laying there watching the palomino colt run back down the hill was a good wake up call, and the long, limping walk from the middle of nowhere back to the barn gave me plenty of time to consider what I didn’t know.
I no longer consider myself a trainer of horses, but an asker of questions. An experimenter. An investigator and changer of my poor habits and developer of my strengths. The truth is I don’t know what to do lots of times, but many experiences of going over horse’s threshold has taught me that a good rule of thumb is to stay under it. How do you get good judgment? By having bad judgement.
How do you know what to do when things aren’t working out? You experiment, you observe, you think, you watch, you wait, you try again. My secret is I don’t really worry about it working out anymore – I know it will, in the horse’s time. All I have to do ask the right questions, come from the right place inside myself, and just give it my best. If it doesn’t happen today, it will happen some other time, or next year.
I’m not so worried about whether it will happen anymore because I’ve seen miracles happen with horses enough times to know they can get over our garbage and thrive despite us.
As Carlos Castaneda said in one of my favorite quotes of his, “ A warrior knows that he is waiting and knows also what he is waiting for, and while he waits he feasts his eyes on the world.”