Photo Credit: alice10

Picture a Dark Room

Lights out - and you are standing in the center. You cannot see a thing. Your outstretched arms indicate that there is space in front of you. Although you can walk around and grope into the space ahead of you, the darkness prevents you from knowing which way you turn.

During my most intense schooling period, learning to ride was just like being in the Dark Room. There I was, in a bubble of "darkness", which represented the new riding skill I was trying to find. All I could do was grope around, trying to discover the elusive "feel" that I somehow knew was there.

Luckily, as horseback riders, we have instructors guiding us, showing us, describing feel, and giving feedback. So in that Dark Room of Learning to Ride, I did have my instructor pointing me (sometimes literally!) in the right direction.

I remember the first time I found my first "feel".

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It was like reaching ahead in the darkness, and discovering a door in front of me. The initial incident was like I'd opened the door and taken a peek inside. The lights were on! I could see!

And then I stepped back abruptly into the darkness. Finding that feel the second time was once again an elusive undertaking. Admittedly, this time, it was easier to find the door. Instead of turning around myself in unknowing circles, I had a better idea of which way to step, and soon enough, there was the door and then the room with the lights on.

And so this was my progress through the learning process of riding. As I learned which way to move, I was able to achieve a feel sooner and easier and one day, with efficiency.

There were more doors to discover!

Then came the second door/skill, the third, the fourth. I realized that there were so many doors - unlimited actually - that I could source out. Interestingly, listening to different instructors opened other doors. As the years progressed, opening the old doors became a simple task, while finding new doors was just as challenging as finding that first so long ago.

Then came the day that I discovered doors behind the doors! Yup, that's right. I'd discovered the layers of learning that resided beyond the initial stages of each skill.

Every movement you learn as a horseback rider has infinite levels of understanding and ability.

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As you become proficient at one skill, you realize that there is ever more to develop. The skills interweave and intermingle. Becoming better in one area suddenly translates into improvement in other areas. Unbeknownst to you, your sitting trot improved while you were working on hind end engagement!

And so it goes. You learn, you realize what you don't know, and you learn some more. The path is long and wide and ever developing.

And THIS is what makes horseback riding such a strong parallel to living itself!

Do you have a similar story about the learning process in riding?


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Do you want to keep reading? You might enjoy:

When Do You Start Riding Your Horse? This question was being posed to me by a very respected and horse-wise mentor one day long ago, early in my riding development.

What you Ought to Know About Instant Gratification in Horse Riding: There is no such thing!

It’s All About Listening: Where it all began for this blog.

Ride Backwards, But Ride Effectively! Although the rider had developed the correct “look”, the horse was telling a different story.

One Comment

  1. When you start riding (or any other life skill you may want to substitute), you don’t know what is ahead. It is a leap of faith and a large dose of courage together with a thick layer of humility that will show you the door. Not everyone is brave enough to open this door. The difficult part, I find, is that there are so few beings to share the path with.
    Thank you, Kathy, for highlighting it for us.