The first time I rode with my teacher, I didn’t know what balance was. I was pulling a lot, and fighting with my horse. Of course I wasn’t aware that I was doing those things. I only was aware of what the horse I was riding wasn’t doing.
It took me years to register and really understand what she meant. To understand just how much I was pulling or kicking, even when I didn’t think I was, and how much that stiffened, discouraged and imbalanced my horses.
It’s always been important to me to keep a learning frame of mind- but in this instance I just didn’t know what I didn’t know- there wasn’t anything in my head like this for this information to “stick” to.
I didn’t realize how messy it looked, how little I really knew and how far I had to go.
I still have so much to learn, but I think about this whenever I see folks whispering or plainly criticizing someone they think is being “bad” to their horse – that firstly, we rarely are aware of our own faults (we don’t know what we don’t know), and secondly, anyone dedicated enough is capable of change.
Seeds can be planted, but they take their time to grow. And sometimes the process of growing is ugly- some very tumultuous changes might happen before the good.
And let’s not forget that sometimes our definition of good, soft, or right, is not the horses’ – that we are good at getting dogmatic and not always listening or feeling. So before we criticize others, their riding or handling, remember- anyone can change, and we are good at missing our own flaws.