The Second Secret of Perfect Horsemanship
There are nine secrets of perfect horsemanship. You know the first secret. (Click here to learn the first secret.)
The power and intelligence to achieve whatever you conceive is within.
Now it is time for you to take four actions.
1. Decide what and who you are.
2. Decide what you want to achieve.
3. Evaluate your horse's physical and mental abilities.
4. Determine the extent of your dedication.
Too often we deem ourselves not worthy of accomplishments, of attaining greatness, of reaching and grasping the golden ring. But we are all worthy, and you are as important and as valuable (no more and no less) as any other person in this world. You too have the power within.
To realize your power and attain your dreams, it is best to first recognize what and who you are. You have physical strengths and weaknesses; recognize them and determine how you can best apply the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses. Your physical form is going to impact your chosen path, making it easy to accomplish or difficult.
If you are 5 foot 2 and want to ride 17-hand Warmbloods in cross country completion, I have no doubt you can do it. But it won't be as easy, physically, as riding a 15.3 Thoroughbred over a hunter course.
Just because you have the power, doesn't mean you should choose the most difficult path.
Having determined "what" you are physically, who are you mentally? Are you a competitor, or a teacher? Are you a weekend rider who enjoys trails, or a serious student of dressage who thrives in the arena? Perfect horsemanship applies no matter who you are. What is important is that you know who you are and are comfortable with yourself!
Choose what it is you want to achieve. Write it down. Refine it and define it. Be sure you know what it is because you are going to achieve it. My daughter, at age 14 decided she wanted to ride in the AQHA world championship show. At age 15 she did. She competed, which was her goal. She did not win; she had never set that as her goal.
She achieved her dream and enjoyed perfect horsemanship as she defined it at the time. It was several years later that she made her goal the training of an AQHA World Champion. It took her several more years to achieve that dream, but, of course, she did. Her power is within!
You need to evaluate your horse's physical and mental abilities.
I teach an online course, Conformation and Selection for Performance, in which we "evaluate" a horse's conformation not for "faults", but for the way the conformation affects movement, which in turn determines what is easy for the horse to do and what is more difficult. A weakness for one event is often a strength for another. The student must suggest an event for the horse to perform based on his conformation traits.
Evaluate your horse. Don't ask a horse mentally and physically designed to do western pleasure to be an open jumper. While he'll jump, he'll never be able to excel and that is a failure on your part, not the horse's.
You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything. There simply isn't time.
Be selective in the perfect horsemanship you choose, for there will be a price to pay. The price may be in learning new techniques, in moving to another state, of changing horses again and again.
Willingness to pay the price is the measure of your dedication.
Your dedication determines your willingness to never give up your dream. You will never fail to reach your dream unless you decide you are a failure.
How can you be sure you know what you want and who you are? How can you be sure you know what you want to achieve, if you've been fair in your evaluation of your horse, and if you are dedicated?
The answer is in the second secret: follow your heart!
Your heart will never lie to you, and you cannot fool it. If you are following your heart you will feel good, you will be confident, you will understand and feel your power.
If you are not following your heart, you will know you are a fake; only talking about goals, not truly seeking them.
If you follow your heart, you'll never do or go wrong; you'll be on the path to perfect horsemanship.
Don Blazer is the author of Nine Secrets of Perfect Horsemanship, a book he wrote for his granddaughter who won an AQHA World Championship in Youth Trail (2008).