The best part of teaching is continually having to find ways to present material so that the students discover the correct answer on their own. The toughest part of teaching is having the patience to allow students time to search for the answer. This process can be quite funny in that it reveals who the “student” really is… the teacher!
With the horse, I’m always trying to set up situations that encourage the horse to discover the answer for itself. All I have to do is keep searching for the best ways to set up those situations and hope that the horse achieves even a little piece of the desired outcome. The bigger picture is creating a horse who is a willing partner and who can think for itself.
By discouraging the horse from making wrong actions, I leave a huge open door for the correct choices to be explored. When the horse begins to search and think about what I may be asking of it, everything becomes really soft and quiet. The horse becomes more balanced and connected, and this relaxes both its physical and mental states. The horse builds more confidence, and it learns to trust me during the tougher, unforeseen challenges ahead. This creates a very intuitively engaged horse who becomes excited for new challenges and really enjoys the mutually beneficial relationship.
One of the toughest aspects of any teaching experience is finding the sweet spot of engagement. If you ask too much or never engage a horse in a meaningful way, they begin to shut down, glaze over, and tune out. If you do not ask enough of other horses, they respond by finding other things to stimulate their minds or by using everything a rider does against them.
As a teacher, I struggle to teach my students about my own personal breakthroughs. That is the fun of teaching, though. When you see your students’ faces look as though you were from another planet, you know that more thought needs to put into the next attempt at teaching them. It is like running a little experiment over and over, refining it each time till more and more people start to grasp the idea sooner with actual positive results. That’s where the horse and the students are actually my greatest asset in refining myself continuously. As a teacher, I am humbled by and grateful to everyone who allows me to continue to teach them. Without you, my own refinement is not possible!