The more I learn, the better things go with my horses. But I can’t help but think back on some of the ways I worked with my horses, some of the big things I missed, some of the ways I failed them. I feel guilty.
It’s something I hear a lot while teaching: “I just didn’t know better.” It’s true, we don’t know what we don’t know.
There is nothing we can do to change the past. And just like looking back on history, we can’t judge people of the past (including ourselves) for what the did not know. We do the best we can until we know better, and then we change, adapt and do better.
I try to pay it forward to every horse and rider I see. I try to direct riders onto better habits than I had, because I know the damage those habits cause. I try to show a little more grace to people who are lost and judge them less. If they seem to be totally on the wrong path, I try to remember I used to have absolute certainty I was on the right path and it was others who were wrong. I try to show more understanding, give more time and give the benefit of the doubt to horses who seem to just be resisting, because I remember many times when I didn’t know a horse was in pain.
I’m not here to tell you how to feel, but I am here to tell you that you can think of guilt as a positive sign of moving forward, of being able to empathize with other horses and people, and to find a happier outlook.