Years ago, one of the schools that I subbed at had a saying that it wasn’t “practice makes perfect”, rather it was “perfect practice makes perfect”.
I had a riding lesson earlier this week and it was awful. He doesn’t like to bend, and when we get into it he throws his shoulder out, his head up, and I lose him to the outside. What that means is that as I get to one particular corner, he won’t turn, and tries to mow me into the end of the arena.
Now to be fair, he’s broke to death and about the kindest horse I’ve ridden, so I don’t feel like I’m in danger, but as we are barreling towards the end of the arena my brain has panic moments.
My panic moments are really what screws me up – I start messing around with the reins and that makes things so much worse. I get focused on the end of the arena, instead of focusing on where I am at that moment and what I can do to change things.
So this lesson…. what we ended up doing was send Melissa and horse into the corner over and over ( and over and over and over) with my instructor explaining to me in various ways what I needed to do.
What I did was get frustrated. Like so frustrated I wanted to just stop and cry. I was like – I’m 49 years old. I’ve been riding since I was in diapers aside from the years I couldn’t ride when I was married. Why the f*ck can’t I get this well broke, well mannered horse to turn the damn corner??? So my instructor proved to me that I was wrong and that in fact, if I kept practicing and working I could do it.
You see, my corner issue comes from a lifetime of bad riding habits that I’ve picked up. Ones that were helpful to me when I was riding less broke horses, but really are just getting in the way of me being able to have a good ride now.
Much like life. I have some old habits that I’ve developed that were needed to keep me safe when I wasn’t. But that now are kind of getting in my way.
It’s hard to let go of old habits. Particularly when they’re ones that were developed to keep you safe.
However, if I want to enjoy the horse I’m riding NOW, I have to develop new, better, healthier ways of riding.
If I want to enjoy the life I have NOW, I have to develop new, better, healthier ways of living.
And this is where perfect practice comes into play. Practicing over and over – whether it’s on horseback or in life. Practice, practice, practice to change the old habit and replace it with a new one.
Over and over, until the skill is mastered.
Then a new challenge will present itself and I will start again with that one.
The wild beast – as you can see he’s a gentle soul and omg I love him.