With permission from Karen Rohlf, I am reposting this great article about learning and attitude published in the January 2013 Dressage Naturally newsletter.
We have all been faced with situations where we have felt out of comfort zone and the pressure of being watched. The attitude we set as a learner is an important key to being open to new things and to allow the learning process to take place. But it does take a bit of work on our part! Fear is often what prevents us from signing up for that great clinic or from showing up at the special event or the gathering - fear of making mistakes, of being watched, of not being as good as everyone else, of not being perfect or just of being in the unknown. We can't control what we feel, but we can sure take control of how we choose to interpret those feelings and the meaning we give them. The same goes for the time we spend with our horses and our progress through the program we choose to follow.
«If we want to be the best we can be, the path is not always one of
absolute ease and levity. But I think we can find joy, curiosity and
happiness there as well.» ~SH
Shelby reminded me that me that we met in a class at the Parelli Ranch in 2006. She rode a fancy Lusitano and we connected since I am very fond of the breed. From there, she has moved on to study with Karen Rohlf and is now an endorsed D,N instructor.
I hope you will enjoy the article! Geneviève Benoit
“The Problem Is Not The Problem...”
D,N Endorsed Clinician Shelby Hume has some words of wisdom for anyone
who has experienced the challenge of being in a lesson or clinic where
you and your horse are learning new things.
Happy New Year! I have decided to challenge myself with more writing this year. I don’t know what “more” means or will result in, and I don’t even know if my name and writing really know each other. But I always tell myself (and friends) “stretch and grow”! Still, I am fearful; I have always admired great writers (like Karen!) But, how does one start “writing”? What do you write about? How do you write? Talk about paralysis through analysis! So, I have decided to use some of my favorite quotes to shape my writing experience.
I find for me, there is nothing like a good quote to help me through the day or an experience. This one seems to match my new challenge. . . “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?” ... and I can picture Johnny Depp’s now infamous portrayal of the all-knowing swash buckling poetic pirate thinking this simple statement is so very applicable to horsemanship, life, relationships anything you can think of!
I don’t even really “like” the word PROBLEM. I would rather challenge or opportunity. But since reality may often find our minds creeping there, and in essence of using the true quote, we will stick with it.
Let’s look at it in the light of horsemanship alone (knowing the assimilations and applications are
endless). How do you approach learning a new “maneuver”? At first is one excited? But then, as we try
to proceed, are we willing to keep our attitude about the “problem” surrounded by a light of curiosity, determination, and happiness?
This can be very hard when we are a human learning the maneuver for the very first time. In addition, we are often riding a partner who is trying to learn the maneuver for the very first time. Furthermore we are in front of an instructor who we admire and value trying to do the very best we can and often times we are not comfortable with being uncomfortable in front of them. The complications and challenges are innumerable.
In theory this can be understood. In the moment it can be very hard to exercise. I think the following are some steps that would help any of us:
• Arrive as prepared as possible. Do your homework! (Both you and your partner)
•Choose a mentor that you trust and can have dialogue with.
•In the moment try to channel playfulness in response to pressure.
Remember learning was HARD when we were in school, things were not always “easy” and it seems the older we get, the less comfortable we are with that, and the greater fear we have of imposing unrealistic expectations on our partners. But, as long as we proceed with what is fair, reasonable and possible (where have we heard that?) don’t be afraid to roll your sleeves up and have some fun!
If we have not been down the path of developing a horse to the level of our dreams before, trust that it is not easy!
Even if someone has had the opportunity to ride amazing “school masters” the process of developing our own horse is a completely different experience and one I WANT to learn. We will be in new and uncharted waters for our horsemanship and as we stated earlier; often times for both you and the horse. So why would we expect this to proceed without a few minor “growing pains?” This seems unrealistic doesn’t it? I know the more I have considered my horse in this journey the more I can be certain of two things: I will make good choices in who helps us, and I always consider his welfare to the best of my abilities. That does not mean I sacrifice believing in what I and my horse can accomplish. Remember, a lesson or a clinic is a moment in time where you are out of your comfort zone, the experience of that lesson or clinic is often times one of more pressure and exposure then you typically experience in the comfort of your own facilities.
Going away from that experience and using the skills that were uncomfortable at that time but making them “your own” upon returning home is what will really build us as individuals. If we want to be the best we can be, the path is not always one of absolute ease and levity. But I think we can find joy, curiosity and happiness there as well. In the end, it will come down to how we want to focus our energy towards our own personal “sweet spot” in the frame of learning new skills. I cannot wait for the new year and what it brings!
~ Shelby Hume