Confidence - great if you're full of it, but what if you're not?
How do you project confidence when you don't feel it? Horses know when you're faking. How do you balance confidence with common sense? How can you maintain confidence while also keeping your mind open to instruction? It seems paradoxical... and is something I have to address (often) when working with horses.
One good thing is, (unlike most humans) horses live in the moment. They really aren't thinking "oooh - the last time we did that I heard a scary sound and jumped straight up in the air". If we think that type of negative thought however, they can absolutely feel it... get ready for the self-fulfilling prophecy. So it's our responsibility to show some self control... not always the easiest task.
"Horses need and respect leadership. The most essential aspect of our being the leader of the partnership is to have clarity of purpose, and to be decisive in carrying out our objective, even if we do not feel entirely sure or confident. We must make up our mind, put our program into the computer, and go for it! To fulfill this, it is crucial to get responses from our aids right now, today, however crude or inept we might initially be. Because only when we begin to get some kind of response (large enough that we ourselves notice it!) from each and every request will we then, through practice, gradually improve the way in which we achieve those responses. When we are hesitant, indecisive or irresolute, the horses either ignore us or quickly take over the decision-making role, which is seldom a pleasant or useful experience." Eric Herbermann A Horseman's Notes
Val and I had a very productive ride yesterday. While we're not flowing smoothly on the left hand, there has been a vast improvement. Nearly immediate response to my requests and just off of my leg. Interestingly, we were a bit sticky going to the right. I think we're about through this issue now (as does my trainer). Yea!
Off for an early morning beach ride tomorrow. The fates have conspired to open schedules and provide perfect weather. :)