Exploring the Why

Valonia in a Miguel Ralao clinic two summers ago. Valonia in a Miguel Ralao clinic two summers ago.

I have never felt the need to talk excessively about anything, even horses. Perhaps growing up with two extrovert sisters forced me to look inside and examine early on. I recently watched an interesting story on CBS News all about personality traits that are directly linked to birth order. There have been studies that have shown that middle children are the most difficult to pin down. Furthermore, they are almost guaranteed to act as the opposite of their older sibling. The middle child attempts to cope with the fact that the older sibling gets all of the attention, while the youngest gets away with murder.

Due to the supposed lack of attention, the middle child can be secretive or has trouble expressing his or her own feelings openly. Lastly, because middle children feel misplaced at times within the confines of their families, they seek friends and outside relationships to fill that missing void in their lives. We also have the ability to read people well; we tend to act as peacemakers; we are independent and imaginative; and many middle children are entrepreneurs by nature.

So what? Speaking from a middle child’s perspective, I would have to agree with almost everything. Some people think I am extremely odd. Others think I am deathly shy. I have always been fascinated in examining situations and dissecting moments, which probably answers the question of why I always ate lunch by myself or spent an endless amount of time alone. I can’t help it. This is who I am, so get used to it, or stop reading now.

Obviously, middle children are not the only ones who want to dig deeper and evaluate certain situations. We are not the only ones stuck inside our own minds. I think as riders, we need to focus heavily on the why. Why is my horse reacting the way she is? Why is my horse twisting in his neck when I ask for this movement? Why does my mare have certain phobias? Why can’t I seem to ever get in right to this jump? Why won’t my horse load? Why, why, why?

I think it’s crucial to not focus solely on what you and your horse can’t and won’t do and start looking at your riding and your horse from a different perspective. Denny Emerson constantly tells his students and riders in general to be more analytical and to actually think about what’s happening. This goes hand in hand with being more present, but that’s another blog. Instead of asking your horse to do something, whether it be shoulder-in, leg yield, counter canter, you get the point, and you’re not getting results, try asking your question differently so your horse does understand.

Looking beneath or beyond issues that stand right smack in front of you can help your riding and your training immensely. I was not always an analytical rider, but I have forced myself to become more observant and to figure out the WHY. I don’t always have knights in shining armor waiting to be at my beck and call; instead, I have to figure out certain issues on my own. Stop dwelling on the negative and start pondering ways in which you can get results. Start examining your riding from a more scholarly point of view, and start by asking yourself why, and how can I solve this equation.

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