As a riding instructor, part of my job is having faith in my students and letting them step out and do things independantly. I have always found this pretty easy to do,as I tend to have a large amount of faith in my students ability to rise to the occasion. I have seen pairs succeed that I was told would be a total disaster. I have seen these students continue on with those same horses and succeed in areas I would not have imagined possible. But for some reason, it's been a struggle to let my horses do the same.
A large part of my teenage years was spent riding the unstarted horse I recieved for my 15th birthday. I learned tons about training, and I really enjoyed watching my silly 2 year old transform into a steady eddy school horse and 4H State Fair Competitor. Sadly, though, I had a hole in my riding education. I went from a pretty uneducated backyard rider to training. I learned how to hold my horse together, how to manage the direction of his feet, and keep him supple and forward. But I didn't learn to let him go. I found security in my reins, which at times I really needed! So now, a few years down the road, I'm working on filling in that gap. For a while, my training philosophy was based on a lot of input, I wanted every step to be planned and executed the way I wanted it. Now, I'm working on treating my horses like partners. I want to help them perform the movements I ask for but allow them to start taking more responsibility for their actions. This means sometimes I go faster than I want, or in a less than perfect bend, and sometimes not even the direction I was planning; but these are all learning opportunities. I'm able to encourage my horses to be more willing and independant by not being afraid of their mistakes. I'm raising my expectations of my horses, and it's cool the way they rise to the occasion. It's my challenge to be clear in what I want and to stay out of their way. It's their responsibility to try to the best of their ability.
It's definitely been a challenge, and I know this isn't the last hole I'll have to fill. The rewards are worth it. I'm having fun letting my horses do their thing, and I'm learning a lot from them.