How often do we notice those little 1% improvements? The horse settled just a little, the horse is breathing a little more, the horse is not rushing off as much.
I point these improvements out to my students as often as I see them, no matter how small, because I want them to develop an eye and feel for how improvement works- it doesn’t happen all at once, it happens in little pieces. So often after announcing an improvement, I am met with the ”but”-
“But he still isn’t bending”
“But he still isn’t listening”
“But he still is too fast”
And so on
Or even worse, sometimes people write off the improvements entirely and chalk them up to accident
“Oh I don’t think he’s relaxed, he’s just finally tired”
“He just did that because the horse in front of him did it first”
“He’s yawning because he’s bored!”
It’s amazing how much the human mind grabs onto every problem and holds it in its clutches like a treasure. It’s amazing how the human mind sees in black and white, the problem is either there or not there, but struggles to see the gradients.
To guide our horses toward our goals, we have to be flexible, and we have to be sure our goal is even possible being their goal- if we’re worried about bend and they’re worried about safety, we are not operating on the same wavelength.
One thing at a time, one small step at a time. Keep your eye on the long goal but don’t miss the little improvements, even if it’s just one good step, one breath, one little change. That’s what a path is made of- a bunch of little steps taken.