Softer, Lighter, Slower, Less... This is what we took away from watching Laurie Hedlund's clinic this weekend. Softer, Lighter, Slower, LESS. Do LESS. Ditch your fixation on the destination and fall in love with the steps of the process. We tend to skip steps when our ego takes over or when we get a case of the "shoulds". I should be doing more. I should be farther along. My horse should be getting this. I should be able to do that. Each one of these statements takes us out of the present and puts an expectation on the situation that we may not be educated enough to expect.
Goals are great and necessary for direction. But the horse's learning process and your learning process combined are ultimately in charge of the timeline to that goal. The reality is, a true horseman is a lifelong student of the horse. The learning never ends. And in the end, the process of becoming a great learner and likewise, inspiring that same curiosity in your horse is what the whole point really is.
As a culture we are conditioned to look for the problem outside of ourselves. It's our boss's fault, our co-worker's fault, our spouse's fault - our HORSE'S fault. It's never our fault though is it? Hmmm. We have to be more willing to look into the mirror. We have to be more open minded. We have to get out of the boxes we are conditioned to think in.
Watching Laurie teach - her whole premise is to fix the rider so the horse can fix itself. Sound too good to be true? I watched it work wonders all weekend. Horses didn't get corrected. People became more correct. This wasn't shifting blame. It was taking responsibility. It was a perspective shift. Where you are now is no ones fault, really. Maybe it was your lack of awareness that brought you to this plateau or point of frustration you find yourself in. But once you begin to learn how to see - really see - yourself as you are: the sky is the limit. Your goals will be closer than you ever imagined.
I attended Laurie's clinic hoping to pick up a few tips to help my riding. Instead, I found a whole door of possibility laying open for me. I stepped through. I have enough awareness at this stage of my horsemanship to recognize when a new way of looking at things will touch everything I do with horses. This was one of those moments. I am so grateful. Never stop searching for better ways to do things. Your horse will thank you.