Insiders Guide: Open Mind – Open Possibilities
'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results’*
Jen: You’ve likely heard this one before. It applies not only to life in general, it also applies to horse training, riding, and coaching.
It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine, whether it’s going well or not. You’ve probably also heard and maybe even said to yourself at some point “This is how we have always done things.” This type of thinking lends itself to us doing the same thing over and over. You carry on as usual on the same path. And get the same results. Which is great if they work but…
This is where progress meets limitation. In training a horse we need to embrace the fact that every horse is different. Just like people, some horses are timid, others are assertive. One method does not work for all horses. Same for when we are coaching our students. Expecting them to do something just because others do it based on the same instruction is non-sensical.
The enemy of progress is being steadfast in your viewpoint. And the cure for steadfastness is curiosity. I don’t mean recreating the wheel just for the sake of it; after all, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom and knowledge out there that became that way for a reason - but being curious in general can lead you to discover how to approach a situation in a different way.
When you open your mind and have a curious mind set, you are open to learning something new.
It can be one new thing you try, and you see an improvement; a difference. You now have something useful for that horse and maybe for other horses too. Maybe what you tried does not work – so move on.
This is how you get different results and learning progresses. It’s the trickle effect of learning that turns into a wide river of knowledge, where you’re not limited to one path, instead you have opened yourself up to an abundance of paths.
I believe that you need to be consciously aware to be open to this type of learning and the more you do, the more it becomes a life habit. There’s high reward for the horse and you as as a rider, coach, and trainer.
Sharon: “Frustration begins where knowledge ends” is a quote attributed to Clinton Anderson. My day job is training people and this statement plays out for me in the training room (or on the Zoom session) as much as it does when I am riding/training my own horse. Knowledge can be the enemy of learning – once we know something it’s as though our brain says ‘yes, got that. No need for any new information’. Yet when we are faced with a situation that our knowledge can’t answer, if we don’t have the open mind it can lead to frustration which is no good for anyone, person or horse.
When I feel I have hit that brick wall with a person, I become curious and ask for their frame of reference. I am open to discover and learn. It’s the same when working with my horse, instead of forcing what worked on other horses, aim to be open to consider other ways to achieve a result that the horse can accept willingly. I consider myself a life-long learner and with the horses, I lean on Jen to help me!
Kids have the edge on adults in curiosity so let your inner child out and be curious.
*Quoted from Rita Mae Brown, in her 1983 book "Sudden Death” This quote is often mis-attributed to Albert Einstein.
Pro and Non-Pro articles written by Jen Jonas of Jonas Performance Horses (Pro) and Sharon Jones of Be A Better You (Non-Pro). Together, they are J&J Reining Inc. Both Jen and Sharon are believers in continual learning – if you’re not learning you’re not growing.