So, here’s the question – how much do the people around you really see you?
It’s not a criticism, it’s being human. But, I find it interesting, and it’s why my bouncing around the world, works.
I arrived to teach a lesson recently, a very teachable, enthusiastic, focused young lady. I’ve taught her a fair amount – 3 times a clinic for 4 or 5 clinics, so I know her well. This time, she had a new horse. She was riding around at the beginning, letting the horse amble on a long rein as we chatted, I asked her, what’s changed? Uh, she replied – new horse? No, no, I said, something in you?
Nothing – no difference, just a new horse.
Something is different. New gym?
More time studying?
Hmmm…. Something is off, something has changed. New car? Change in driving? New bed? New desk and computer layout?
No, she kept insisting, nothing is different.
I wasn’t convinced, but figured that what ever it was, the answer would come. And it did – 5 minutes later…
Oh, OH, OHHHH…… Oh?
The doctor has diagnosed asthma, a tightening in her breathing. There you go, – that’s it. She’s always had a pattern to round her shoulders, but there was a shortening through the front of her body, a holding, a lack of breath is a good description.
I was teaching recently, in an indoor arena. They had hung a couple of plastic hawks up, to try to keep pigeons from nesting in the rafters. The funny thing was, the horses didn’t notice the new hawk… Until, on a vile, windy day, there was enough draught to make the hawk “fly” and move on the wind. Suddenly, every horse was head up, ears up, noticing the bird. It took a waving red flag before they noticed that something had changed….
I asked her, for our next session, to use her new asthma pump before she got on, and, would you look at that – she sat straighter, softer, with a more relaxed, easier way than before. And – look even more – look at how her new horse lengthened her neck, opened her chest, reached into the rein and started to breathe deeply through-out her whole body.
Now, this young rider is lucky to have a very good instructor who pays proper attention to detail, and a dedicated Mom who is often there videoing. But, they didn’t pick it up…. Because they couldn’t. They see her every day, they don’t see the gradual, millimeter by millimeter change because it’s not in our human make up.
Have you ever heard the story of the frog in the pot of boiling water? A frog is sitting in a pot of cold water, and slowly, bit by bit, the water is heated. It’s so gradual it can’t really be felt, until suddenly the frog is being boiled in his pot of water…. I know it’s happened to me in reverse – you go to soak in a lovely bath of hot, steamy water, and by the time you get out the water is lukewarm, but you don’t notice at the time. Any situation can change so slowly that you don’t notice. Think of how tatty the paint work of your house, or your favourite pair of jeans can become, without you seeing the change?
Something that I often suggest to people is to take a good, clear, side on photograph of their horse. Put it away in a drawer and don’t look at it for 6 months. Take another, new photograph and compare them. Again, we don’t notice our horses developing (hopefully for the better) when we see them every day, but compare where you were 6 months ago? Easy.
How about you do the same for yourself? Take a video, or a series of photos. Compare them to what was, or wait a few months and take some more. It’s not only your instructor’s job to see what you’re doing. They see you too often sometimes, to notice the tiny changes. I’m in the lucky position of having a few months between visits, so the changes are there to see, but, especially when it’s something major, like being diagnosed with asthma.
Do you notice what changes? Are you aware of what you do outside the arena that impacts on you and your horse?