Any of us involved with working with horses on a regular basis will have something that we are looking to improve. That “something” can provide us with varying degrees of discomfort; it might be that there’s a little stiffness in a particular movement or a lack of finesse in a transition. In those instances, it’s nothing that really rattles our bubble too much, we are just looking for a greater degree of ease and flow.
There are things, however, that we realise needs to be worked on or improved but we kind of avoid going there simply because it makes us uncomfortable, concerned or even a little afraid. I’m a huge advocate for making sure that all the steps leading up to the “thing” are good; for example, if you are having some issues in trot or canter, then you want to be sure that the quality of what you have prior to that (at the walk or trot) is working for you. Adding another layer of energy to something that is already imbalanced or lacks response means you are going to get more of what you already have, and chances are it’s not going to feel that great.
But there does come a point where the only way that things are going to improve is by doing the thing that needs improving. You can do all the preparatory work, but in order to improve or find balance in the canter (for example), you actually have to canter. Set them up, yes, but don’t avoid “going there” in the hope that dealing with everything BUT the thing that concerns you is going to magically fix it.
The same is true for matters of the head and heart. Once again, take the time to lay the foundations and set yourself up for success, but don’t let endless preparation become a procrastination tool that prevents you from really going to the place that needs the work. On a nervous system level, this calls us to step into a place of embodied discernment.
Am I in the place I am in because this is truly where I need to be, or am I feeding a default pattern that is keeping me here out of concern?
It’s not about throwing you or your horse in the deep end without the tools to cope. But it is about stepping things up when it’s time in the recognition that no matter how prepared you are, you will always feel uncomfortable going to the place that pushes your buttons.
And sometimes, discomfort is just your body’s way of preparing you to do hard things.
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