Having a sense of progress is important, but it’s easy to miss the small, everyday markers of progress if you are attached to what progress should look like.
Being able to notice and appreciate progress in training involves:
- Total acceptance of where you are currently.
If you are desperate to change or escape your current position, you are already fixed on an outcome. When we’re fixed on an outcome, we’ve already created a mental model and how and where we think things should be, which colours our perception and observation, and prevents us from seeing the subtlety and nuance of day-to-day changes.
- Letting you and your horse be new every time you meet
I mentioned this a few blogs ago, but letting yourself be new means that allow yourself to meet the training session and see what presents. You don’t have ideas about what’s going to happen. You don’t presuppose that your horse is going to respond in a certain way. You don’t presuppose YOU are going to respond in a certain way.
This extends beyond the mental and emotional to the physical also. You don’t label your weak side or bring the story with you about your stiff left shoulder or how your horse always drops to the inside on the right rein. None of it.
You let you and your horse be completely new every time you meet.
Every thought we have has a corresponding motor pattern in the body. Our thoughts play out in our physiology. If we have habitual thoughts, we are consistently expressing habitual patterns as part of a sympathetic reflex response and creating ground hog day scenarios as a result.
Let yourself be new.
- Observation without judgement
The brain learns through consistent and repetitious failure. We make a decision; take an action and we observe the consequences of that action. Our unconscious brain then tries again in an attempt to bring the outcome of our action closer to our original intention. In this way, every action we take is a success; every action we take is making us clearer, more efficient, and more in line with our original intention. Every repeated “failure” is a “success”.
Judgement has not functional purpose in the learning process, other to pull you into the workings of the emotional brain and limit your capacity to truly take notice of what’s happening.
There is no right or wrong, good or bad. There is just “how far from our intention did that action take us?” and “how might we get closer next time around”?