If you’re like me, every horse you’ve ever met has taught you something. Maybe it’s just a little something. Maybe it’s a lot. And maybe that next horse simply confirms that you’re doing things correctly.
At least for that moment in time.
Because it takes a lifetime to learn almost everything there is to know about horses. You’ll never know it all. And, if you’re like me, you’ll change your mind more than once along the way. Maybe someone will show you a new technique…or you’ll discover that the “way that always works” suddenly doesn’t work with that one horse…or your own skills become proficient enough that you realize it’s not the method that was wrong, but your own technique.
One of the critical skills of the horseman is to have an open mind. An open mind, along with patience and humility, will get you far.
How many of us have learned the lunging dogma that one must stand in the middle of the circle while lunging, as soon as the horse understands the lunging circle? Yet, if you watch Philippe Karl’s DVD Classical Dressage 1, The School of the Aids, he will tell you not to plant yourself in one place, because you will bore your horse…
Robert Dover will tell you to ride from half-halt to half-halt. Steffen Peters will tell you not to, but rather to ask your horse to carry himself. If those two Olympians are in complete disagreement about the application of the aids, what does that tell you?
It tells me that there is no one right way. Every horse is an individual and so is every rider and so is every trainer. One hopes that riders and trainers continue to learn and that their horses become educated, regardless of their methodology. And we hope that the final test of whether the way works is what the horse tells us. And that our eyes and our minds are open when he does.