“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him
find it within himself.”
In a previously life a was a nursing student, and at some point I saw this quote and jotted it down on a mini post-it note and stuck it on my laptop. Years have passed but this sticky little piece of paper has endured. Through several house moves and life changes, I could never bring myself to throw it out. For the last few years it's been stuck on a bookshelf in my kitchen (now supported by sticky tape as it no longer has the ability to adhere on it's own) in an attempt that maybe my children would read it and learn from it. Or so I thought. I've now come to realise that that's not why I've kept it. I kept it as I had no clue what it actually meant. Of course I understood the literal meaning, and I'm sure I thought I knew what the deeper meaning to this message was all about. Wrong. I now realise I did not have a blind clue.
I had an interesting conversation with someone recently, who although enjoyed one of the clinics, found herself frustrated by the storytelling that Buck does. She said she found herself thinking, "Oh why doesn't he just get on with it". Hmm, that got me thinking and my response would be this. Buck's stories are tales of his experiences over the years. They not only serve as fascinating stories in their own right, but if you really listen to him, they are parables to illustrate a point or particular detail of your horsemanship. If you do not listen, you miss the subtle nuances of his teachings.
Since this exchange I've gone on to think how many of us are in the room, or arena, or indeed in a conversation, but not actually present? How many of us think we are listening to someone or our horse, but we are actually humouring the pause in our own diatribe, desperate to start our own talking or doing again? How many of us are presented with a wealth of information or an experience and consciously or unconsciously ignore it?
I'm not talking about enthusiasm here, we all can get a bit carried away when it comes to talking about or doing something we love. I'm talking of a complete lack of respect of who we are with (human and equine) and also a lack of respect for ourselves. Why do we not value our own potential for development to actually absorb as much as we can, especially in a teaching situation. We are there by our own choosing, because we want to learn, we want to be better. Or do we? Or do we just want to be there, and expect our horse to try, when in reality we are not actually present, therefore not trying OUR best but expect the best from our horse?
This kind of horsemanship is really about pushing the envelope in our own ability. No one can do it for you. If you truly want to progress and for your horse to progress, you have to be present, you have to take in as much as you are personally able to, you have to go beyond being a mechanic, you have to WANT this.
To be present, to be open, to be able to give it a go, to listen, to walk away thinking yes I got as much as was able to take from today. To TRY.
To have respect for the clinician, the other participants, your horse and YOURSELF.
Yes this is a journey, and don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying you have to be an expert and think you have it all mastered before you begin. What I am saying is if you want to chase and hone the qualities it takes to be good with horses, feel, timing, precision, then you need to start by being present. Feel your horse, listen to him, experience the ride. Otherwise you will be so busy getting on with it, you'll miss both the journey and the destination.
So back to my post-it note. I'm finally beginning to understand what these words mean. I'm finally finding within myself what Buck is trying to teach us, and it really does have to come from us.
All of us learn differently. The 3 main learning styles are visual, audible and kinesthetic, and I appreciate that parables may not be everyone's cup of tea, however, if you dial in mentally at Buck's clinics, what unfolds across 3 days is a rich tapestry of life, skill and experience. Not just his or yours, but everyone's who is there, both human and equine. It's a bounty of learning.
It is exactly the same with the horses. Buck sets it up for them to find the answer themselves, he doesn't force them or do it for them. He also does the same with us, and his tales are just another key to help us unlock that door.. all we have to do is listen.
See you on the flip side xx