When it comes to working with my own horses (and really, we can expand that out to encompass life generally), I don’t set goals anymore.
I know that saying this can cause the odd person to mildly freak out and equate the idea of not having goals with being completely directionless.
For others who like to have clearly outlined plan, the thought of it might cause some hot sweats.
And so, when I had a question come in like the one I’m about to share with you, I thought it would be a good opportunity to outline how I do work and how that fits in with my overall training ethos:
“How do you fuse together listening to what your horse wants and actually making progress together? Or getting ahead with some of your training goals?”
First up, training or progress that doesn’t hold the welfare and concerns of the horse in the highest regard is not training or progress. Dare I say it but… we have normalized a lot of situations that are essentially abusive to the horse in the pursuit of human goals, and it’s not something that I am interested in participating in. It’s kind of like saying, how do I take into account what my partner wants but still have the relationship of my dreams?
Well, the relationship of your dreams should be mutually inclusive of your partners hopes and desires and if it’s not, you might as well be sharing your life with a carefully curated Instagram profile.
When I think about working together with my horse, I have an overall aspiration of the quality of feel and communication that I want us to create together, and my feeling is that once we have the foundations established, we can shapeshift into any direction that we wish. If I have something in mind that I would like to aim for- a competition, a clinic, a particular movement- then I can hold it in my mind without getting attached to it. After all, who knows what might make itself known between the place I am now and then that I couldn’t possibly have conceived of within the current position I find myself in?
The crux of it comes down to this. You can have your goal or an outcome that you are heading towards for as long as it doesn’t compromise what’s important to you.
What’s Important To Me is something that I am re-establishing every session. Communication & connection. These are my What’s Important To Me’s. If any training I’m involving myself in causes me to lose those then it’s game off until we get them back.
Because without them, it’s not progress or movement forwards for anyone. It’s just you ticking boxes on a theoretical timesheet that has nothing to do with the reality of what’s in front of you.
And ain’t no one got time for that.