This evening I was talking to a friend about horses, training, and how we are perceived by others. Specifically, we discussed to what degree we care about how we are perceived by other horsemen. I would like to think I don't care. But I do. It would never expect someone to think of me as a really good horseman... but if one were to think of me as incompetent, now that would bother me very much indeed! What I discovered in admitting that truism is that my ultimate goal as a horseman is to be competent. To be able to get the job done. What is my self assigned job as a horseman? Catching the cow? Running a clean barrel pattern? Jumping the oxer? None of the above. My job is to have a horse that guides willfully. A horse that is soft and light, happy and relaxed; one who drives from behind and gives their face; a horse that lopes and jogs and stops hard and fast when asked; a horse whose body I can bend and flex and send in any which direction I please. My self assigned job as a horseman is to create a finely tuned partner. So why does it bother me so much to think that someone would perceive me as incompetent? Because I am. Because I can not and have not yet been able to create or maintain a horse that is all of the above.
So the next obvious train of thought would be, how do I become the horseman I want to be? Experience, time, lessons, clinics, DVDs. These things don't fall out of the sky. I have to invest in and further my education. The problem with that... I'll have to write about next time!