Who am I doing it for?
This thought occurred to me after a riding lesson in which everything had turned out just fine, but in which I also observed Alvaro being a bit tensed and stressed. We were doing only work in the walk, but me correcting him all the time made him start doing a lot of chewing while we were riding and I have mostly observed him doing this when he has felt stressed, frustrated or insecure. He was not asked for anything he couldn’t perform and we did everything nice and slow, but yet I couldn’t help myself but consider if this lesson really was for his sake or my own.
I have to confess. There are more sides to it. Not only do I find the academic riding interesting myself. I also know what it has done for horses. How it has made them move so nicely through their bodies and how it has strengthened them in every way – mentally and physically. I feel like that is a gift I need to give my horses, but of course I would like them to enjoy it with me. This is where the tricky part arises.
It has never been a secret that Alvaro loves riding without equipment and his trips out in the wild makes him so extremely happy and satisfied in a whole new way. I really have the feeling that those trips make him connect with himself and feel his inner being. Then I thought for a while… Should I just quit the academic riding and go with his feeling or should I continue even though I know that he prefers to do other things? I soon realised that I had to deal with a delicate balance in this case.
In my time with Alvaro I have learned that he doesn’t like to be corrected. He would much rather just do things his own way and it is no secret that it is pretty difficult to perform a nice traversade with no bending or roundness. On the other hand I have seen how Alvaro has started to relax in certain parts of the training in which he in the beginning has been a little tensed. I have seen how he has started to enjoy things that he didn’t enjoy in the beginning. I have even seen him offering exercises that he didn’t understood neither liked at first.
With all these things in mind I believe that we have to listen to each other and make space for both of us. I have to listen to the wishes of my horse – to give him freedom and allow him to do the things that brings him joy and happiness. The other way around he also have to trust my knowledge about what is good for him and I am sure he will find the joy there as well when he becomes stronger and understands even better.
We need to have a delicate balance, but first of all I need to listen to my horse if I wish for him to join me in my interests. It might take ten times as long to reach the goal, but we will get there soon enough!