To my mind the old masters are not art; their value is in their scarcity.
Thomas A. Edison
I read that quote and had thoughts of a few people that I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from.
If a master is defined as someone who has acquired complete knowledge or skill of an art or a task, what am I a master of? I think I am a master of being able to find real masters, or getting them sent my way.
One of these people is Repay’s trainer, Richard. Richard is a master of this art of horsemanship. I know this from only one source…Repay. I can see it in her attitude, in the condition of her body, in her willingness to be with us. A wise friend once said ‘you can look at your horse to know if you have the right person helping you’ and she is so right (thank you Crissi!).
The more I learn about Richard, the more I feel a giddiness for my horse. It’s a strange feeling to have found this kind of treasure (thanks to my friend Leslie). It’s been 6 months since he has been working with her and it’s been mostly at the walk and trot, sometimes just sitting on her under a shade tree for 90% of the lesson. Varying from the arena to the trail. Developing quietness and flexibility. I’ve had her for almost 10 years and I’ve never seen her so at peace. The other day Richard said ‘she’s just misunderstood and never been ridden right’…which was such a revelation to me because I’ve been the only one that has ever really ridden her most of her life. I don’t take offense to that at all. I just wonder how I got here. It’s one thing to learn how to ride a horse but to train one? Maybe I thought that miraculously she came trained since she was rideable…and all that was needed was for me to learn to ride better and then we would go together? I am sure this isn’t news to a lot of people, especially people who grew up riding horses or owning horses that were thoroughly trained by a professional.
I’ve have been fortunate to have had some really great teachers helping me along the way that definitely got her to a place where I could do a lot more then I could ever do without them. I didn’t know what I was doing or couldn’t maintain that once I got her back home. I had just not realized how important it was for Repay to have her own teacher. I can’t teach her what I don’t know. Imagine trying to teach a kid calculus when you don’t know calculus and you are learning it yourself and the the kid would rather do other things. I would surely fail at that, as I have kinda of failed with Repay.
I often question ‘what am I doing here?’ Lately, as I lose my youthful courage, I’ve come to understand my goal. My number one desire is the same as hers. To stay safe.
People don’t believe me, but Repay is the Chicken Little of horses…The sky is falling even when I am not with her. I’ve been accused of making her like this and I would admit it if that was the case. I am sure I don’t help her because I am my own Chicken Little at times…but she can be out in the pasture grazing and a tree branch cracks in the woods a few acres away and she is off to the races all on her own. The sky is definitely falling in her world. If there is a new limb that has fallen somewhere on the property she will take days to walk by it on her own…she will run (like I use to run through the dark house when I was little thinking there was a monster behind me) as fast as she can all the way around the perimeter of the property to get back to the barn if the tree limb happens to be in her normal path. I watch her from the inside of the house, so I know it isn’t me giving her these ideas! It is such a relief to feel her lose some of this kind of reactiveness when I am with her, and really lose it, not just being obedient and holding it in, but losing that ‘save myself because no one else will save me’ kind of reaction that would build up in her if the conditions were right. Really learning to trust that I will save her from these terrifying things so that we can actually progress with both of our learning beyond where we have made it so far.
We all have our own periods of enlightenment on our path of learning, no matter what we may be learning. I doubt Richard will ever read this or really understand how much I appreciate him and his commitment to putting the horse first. He doesn’t succumb to the pressure of time to make his clients happy, for he does it for the horse and nothing else. If someone doesn’t like that, he just won’t work for them anymore. It’s like I have reached a place that is like I was running uphill a long time and now I am on the flat. It’s so much easier to just run on a flat surface. To let go of a time pressure (who instilled that pressure to begin with??!!) and just go with what ever needs to be done by someone who knows what to do (as evidenced by the results), is such a relief.