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Self doubt and open mindedness

July 15, 2018

Today I had a very meaningful lesson with my student Lisa. I rode her horse for longer than usual, because he was having some difficulty with the number of horses in the ring, and I was having difficulties getting him to relax.

At a certain point she suggested I lung him, which irritated me slightly since I didn't feel that there was anything going on that I was worried about. And also, because I started doubting myself a little, because I took it as a reflection of the fact that we didn't look very good.

I continued to work him and eventually I got him to settle down and produce some better work more worthy of his talent. I stayed on longer than usual and Lisa had only about 15minute left to ride. I sometimes have a dilemma about riding my student’s horses during the lesson because I am not always sure that is the most empowering thing for them. So I was quite surprised when Lisa summed up the lesson as one of the most meaningful lessons we have had together.

"You know" she said, it was really helpful for me to see that you have a hard time getting the horse where you want him sometimes as well."

And to see you taking the difficulties in stride and just continuing with the training until there is some improvement, without feeling worried about it or losing your calm, helped me to feel less self-critical about the difficulties I have at times. I realized there is no magic bullet and that riding takes time and is very dynamic. It's not as though all of the difficulties I have would be immediately solved if I were a better rider."

"So true“ I chimed in, happy for the opportunity to glimpse the emotional inner workings of my students mind. Now I suddenly understood her suggestion to lunge her horse. She was feeling out of control just watching me, and putting herself in my shoes was trying to come up with a solution she would have felt secure with. It wasn't me she was doubting, it was herself! And my insecurity (about my self-image…) led me to misinterpret her.

"And I see that it's possible to get through to the horse without getting aggressive with him, even when he seems a little out of control", she added. This made her very happy because Lisa loves her horses very much and always wants to do right by them.

For me this was yet another lesson about how we never really know the real inner world of others unless we are curiouse and open minded enough to explore it with them. It was a powerful reminder as to how important it is never to make assumptions about what is going on for our students, and how often we tend to do just that when teaching.


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