Something I often see from others and also experience myself is the tendency to look for perfection. It is the tendency to want everything to be perfect before moving on to the next step instead of daring to just experiment and try out new things. The reason why most keep themselves from experimenting is because of the chance of failing or not being ready for the next step. Why should we even be afraid of that? Why should we be afraid of failing or needing to go back? What is the worst thing that could happen? The worst case that comes into mind when I wonder about this question is that the worst possible outcome is that things will not work and that would actually be it. That is not so terrible is it?
Sometimes we tend to get stuck in the same exercises or patterns month after month because we do not think that every detail is performed with perfection and therefore we won’t move on because we think that we are not good enough or that we should do things perfectly to be able to expand. I know from personal experience that such a way of thinking can become rather boring in the long run because you simply will become mentally stuck on such small things that you actually want them to work TOO MUCH. Just because you dare to include something new and more difficult in your training it does not mean that you can’t keep working on your orignial project as well. Maybe there will even be a chance that experimenting with something new will provide you the missing pieces of improving your other exercises?
Challenging yourself and experimenting is a way of growing and evolving in your work with horses. Actually you NEED to challenge yourself to grow and become better. How would you ever evolve if you constantly did the same things over and over again without ever trying to jump outside your comfort zone and test what you are really capable of? In my opinion it is a not the right way to ask for total perfection before moving on because nothing will ever be perfect! It is like saying “I do not want to try to read a book until I know I can do it”. You will never know if you might be able to succeed if you never try even though there is a chance that you might fail – and so what if you do?
There is no harm in failing or observing that you were not ready for the step you tried to take just yet. You will be in time and maybe trying out something new and difficult will be the way for you to discover which details you need to work more on to be able to fulfil this next step of your journey with your horse. Take it as a lesson instead of a defeat because that is exactly what it is. Sometimes you will dare to experiment and conclude that you took too big of a step and other times experimenting is what will bring you further in your training and evolve your skills.
The past few weeks I have been doing a lot of shoulder-in and haunches-in training with Alvaro in handwork and suddenly I wondered that it could be quite fun to experiment with a pirouette now that our haunches-in worked okay and he was understanding the movement of the shoulders-in. So when we walked down one of the sides I asked him for haunches-in and then guided his shoulders inwards with my outside rein. What happened? The first time he followed me with his shoulders and lost his hindlegs. One more time. This time he gave me 2-3 really nice steps with both shoulders AND hindlegs into something that looked quite a lot like a little pirouette! Was it perfect? No, but to ever improve it we will have to start somewhere. Since then we have been playing with pirouettes in our training too, but only because I dared to experiment that day and see if that might be a possibility for us as well.
So what you do is the following… you dare to experiment! If you ever think “it would be fun to try out doing a pirouette” – try it. If you fail, thank your horse for his effort and try again. If you succeed, thank you horse and keep going. Simple as that!