Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You don't know what you don't know

My husband quotes the phrase "You don't know what you don't know" and if you stop to think about it for a bit, it is true. I especially see examples of it when it comes to what many people think about horses. Everyone has preset ideas of what is "reality" shaped by their own experience. If they have not yet experienced something, how can they say they know about something, especially if it is something they are deeply immersed in, like horses. One can have had horses for many years and love them dearly not knowing much about how they think about us. We know how we think about them and use them to ride, drive and do sport type things with them. We imagine they love us and are our dear friends, but do we really see how they perceive us?

I think back just 15 short years when I got interested in learning how to drive my horse. I lucked out and found an excellent master of horsemanship who could teach me, so I made weekly trips to his stables and took driving lessons and spent the rest of the day observing his training of other horses. I could stay and watch but couldn't interrupt him in his work until his day was done or he pointed out things to me as he saw fit. For a very long time, I was puzzled at what I was observing but was just happy to be around like a quiet mouse watching and soaking up, unconsciously many things that became clear to me later. Sometimes I would get a bit impatient and irritated that I wasn't being taught what I thought I should be learning. "Just show me how to hold the reins, sit, and use the whip so I can get on with it. "

I had no experience of driving (except holding reins on experienced driving horses for a few minutes riding along with friends who drove). I had owned horses for several years and trail rode quite a bit, but I had no clue whatsoever what it was that I did not know about horses. I had loved them all my life, read every horse book I could find, hung around horses and horse people as much as they would allow.....but still, I didn't know what I didn't know.

I liken my enlightenment to a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces. What I knew from decades of loving and being interested in horses was bits and pieces of the puzzle making part of the picture.
It wasn't until I had the guide of a mentor who could help me fill in the parts that eluded me, did I begin to see the picture as a whole. It was the parts about how the horse thinks about us that made the puzzle have sense in the whole.

I see so many people trying to learn about sport from the top down rather from the bottom up. One has to start with a desire to understand how the horse they will be working with feels and thinks about them before any bond can take place to work together and progress.

That will be my next post: "Working from the bottom up vs. from the top down"

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