The most radical thing we can do as riders is to set aside all of our plans and accept the horse entirely as he is.
Set aside our timelines and ambitions.
Accept the horse’s physical limitations and mental learning processes.
The truest test of this is how you ride when things don’t go as hoped. Maybe the horse came out of the stall and is having an off day. Or perhaps, as you push up the levels, you start to lose the quality of the basics. What then?
Many hold onto their plans and use force–hence why letting the horse set the pace is an act of surrender.
It took a few horses to learn this lesson. During my JR/YR years, I was often behind the curve, which put timelines and ambitions in the driving seat and considerable pressure my horse to perform. By the time I realized it wasn’t going to work, I was aged out. The next horse did what I asked of him, but he preferred to schmooze in the cross-ties rather than prance in the arena. Once I fully accepted his personality, he was able to find a rider who adored everything about him, I breathed deeply, relieved that it no longer felt like a square peg being forced into a round hole.
The bottom line is that you cannot truly have a harmonious partnership with your horse if you are still holding onto your plans and ambitions.
Which is it– is your plan more important than your partnership with your horse, or have you made your partnership your priority? How deeply do you accept your horse?