Once you know something, it forever changes your perception. Over the last 6 months, my perception has changed. I learned about a horse’s back and neck muscles. I got a better understanding of what engagement means. I learned to see when a horse was lifting the base of his neck. I was reminded of how vital the idea of forward is. All these things that I learned changed how I train and how I see horses.
I see more faults, both in my training and in my education, than before. However, there have been huge improvements as well. I see (at least partly) when a horse won’t engage his hind end, but I have also learned how to help him reach farther underneath himself. I see Jackson’s lack of muscle, but I also know how to help him build up that muscle.
It is a bittersweet knowledge that I have gained. On one hand, I can use that knowledge to improve myself and my horse. On the other, I am unable to fix every horse that I see. All these things that I have learned have, in a way, made me more accountable. I can no longer exist in blissful ignorance of certain faults that my horse has.
True, this is a good thing. I saw how Jackson would often raise his head, stick his nose out, and short stride with his hind legs. I then set about teaching him to carry himself better. In the end, I will have improved myself and my horse, but I also raise the bar for myself and for my horse. To be happy, I find I demand even more than before.
I will leave you with this cliché, “With great power [knowledge] comes great responsibility.”