Before I came to Pippsway I understood that balance was important. After all, if I want to be a good rider it makes sense that I be able to hold myself in balance whilst my horse moves beneath me. Otherwise I will be reliant on reins, stirrups and gripping actions; which is not only massively uncomfortable for my horse but means that as soon as anything goes awry I will be on the deck, and rightly so! What I didn’t realise is that working with our horses requires much more than just balance of our bodies. It also requires balance in our mind and our emotions.
I've been learning to walk the fine line between self confidence and ego. Every time I have been schooling and something has been going well, the very moment I have felt pleased with myself the immediate result has been the horse disengaging from what we are doing. It has been instant! It transpires that horses have no time for ego! Feeling happy with my horse is great but being conceited will not be tolerated. The challenge is of course that in order to be considered worth following I must be decided, determined and have self confidence. Slipping into my ego can be all too easy to do! Thankfully horses are wonderful teachers and are quick to point out when I have made this mistake.
Horses are also very sensitive to our energy. I've found that if I want them to be interested in working with me then I need to be grounded and centred. I cannot turn up at the yard with my energy all over the place and expect a positive result! I also need to ensure that my energy is strong enough for them to listen to me.
I’ve learned that I need to be aware of my emotions and that there is no fooling horses. Horses can see us with such clarity, both what we are showing on the outside and what we are feeling on the inside. They are light years ahead of us in the awareness and sensitivity stakes. If what I am showing on my outside doesn't match my inside, horses are uncomfortable in my presence and don’t trust me, so I have to be authentic.
So my goal is to find the Golden Mean, that desirable middle point between excess and deficiency, in other words balance in every aspect of myself. Pip has taught me that the healthiest way to achieve this is to be a witness, not a judge. To be aware of what I am doing and how I am doing it, but instead of falling into frustration and losing self confidence when I make mistakes, because I am judging myself too harshly, I should simply bear witness to what I am doing and then make any necessary changes. This way I can always be on the path to self improvement, and a closer bond with my horse, whilst being kind to myself and my horse. It's a whole new way of being, a real challenge and I'm absolutely loving it!