Everyone knows, when you want to go somewhere with your horse, you look where you are going. We know how important it is to be focused when we work with a horse. I see people dutifully focused on the destination all the time. Their entire body and mind focused on that fence post, arena marker, cone, the other side of that twenty-meter circle with such determination to execute. It is what we are taught to do if we want our horses to follow our lead. It seems like a reasonable idea so we do it, and our horses dutifully follow along often enough to validate the theory.
I get it, but my horse is NOT already at that destination I focus on so intently that my entire body and mind are committed to THAT goal. My horse is right underneath me, behind me, or beside me. This strategy of looking to our destination works just great when our horse goes with us. But what if he doesn’t? That fragile thread that connects us breaks along with the harmony we, hopefully, seek. When we commit so fully to the destination we lose our ability to adapt to what our horse needs to move with us.
Determined focus on the destination takes us away from being right here, right now with our horse. To dance, we must go together. Do I need to be focused? Absolutely. Does it help to have a clear intention and destination in mind? Absolutely. But ultimately, it is not about the post, is it? It’s about the connection with my horse from one moment to the next. My focused attention and intention should primarily be my connection with my horse. My secondary focus is where we are going and how we are going to get there. Now I can use my focus on my destination with tact and subtly, ensuring that my horse is able to follow me there with ease and clarity.
We have to be careful what we focus on with our horses. Small things, like this bit of training wisdom to look where you are going and focus on the destination, can translate into an emotional tone that is intense and unforgiving. We might start to carry over all the stress and goal-oriented drive we have at work into the partnership with our horse. When we do that, we lose sight of the journey in favor of the destination. That rarely fosters harmonious relationships with anyone, let alone our horses, and can unintentionally cause the very ‘training issues’ or ‘behavior problems’ we think we need to fix.
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