It is hard to speak publicly about my own work. I can read the words I write and interpret from them a kind of vanity which is not there. It is not so much my pride in the work but rather a simple kind of confidence that has come overtime and with a lot of experience.
There are no longer mountains to climb or approval to seek. So in this, there is neither hope nor fear in the work. I work slowly and rest in a kind of peaceful contemplation of the horse. My main ambition is to educate riders and horse lovers in the incredible power of kindness and lightness. This is a mission without end.
There is a texture to the experience which can only be called a deep affection and gratitude toward the horse which is in contrast to the attitude of my youth which was very different. Gratitude also arises from wonderful people who are gracious enough to support the work over the years Gratitude and affection also comes from the fact that the horses have both saved and made my life so very joyful.
This comes up as a deep sense of responsibility to share my experience not just with my students and my friends but the whole world There are other people who might see my work in a less than favorable light and because I am a public figure of sorts who especially decries what is occurring in the horse industry, turnabout is to be expected. However, I always wonder why kindness and gentleness can be so objectionable.
That said, I do not ride or work for their approval nor for the approval of my students. I am more than willing to accept any criticism fair or not. Happily accepting all blame, I only seek to reflect and grow, because my work is only for two; my horse first and myself second. This third project of sharing with the world is just my way of trying to make up for any harm done by my own ignorance.
Talking of such things is important not to win praise but to state what has in my life proven to be a most productive attitude. One is never free of mistakes and when teaching in public or private, to point out such errors in judgement is to be forthcoming and is a most useful thing for any student of the horse. Instructors, trainers are not perfect and we should own our errors publicly and privately.
I see my own errors as not just for my own learning but it is good that these errors become an example for others to learn from too. It is important for teachers to be authentic and that I most certainly try to be, for good or ill. There is little value in a horse world made up of gods. There is no shame in the words, “I don’t know” or ” I am not sure” but there is great harm in the pretense of certainty.
We all need to improve our practice. Because you can do everything does not mean you know anything. If you can do it all then the only question worth asking is “how is it being done” and the only response to that must be kindness and lightness. Yes, this question is one worthy of all levels of riding.
Elite dressage is worse than useless dressage if being elite is the armored defense.. Mastery is not an armored elite but a humble student. Its only proof is when the student (whether a horse or a human) can stand on its own with confidence and joy. Openness is the only path which makes sense and being able to say “I have made a mistake” is the best prize that a teacher can give oneself and a student.