MAKING OF THE CHAMPION
Optimal Performance Program Series, part 1.
Many people focus on growing their horse’s skills and abilities in order to, hopefully, have a real champion at the end of the process. People have different goals: some want to build up a dressage champion, others a jumping champion, and the other others a champion family horse.
The question is how YOU WILL FILL UP all the time between NOW and THAT MOMENT in which the horse is a champion?
It can be spent on feeling very good, or on feeling like a sh*t. I am not speaking only about not using punishment. I am speaking about the trainer’s attitude to the horse not producing perfect results on the way to perfection:
- You can focus on correcting the mistakes,
- You can focus on reinforcing better attempts (sill with the underlying worry in the horse that “I may be wrong” — remember that lack of reward can be a punishment!), or
- You can focus on deepening muscle relaxation of the horse inside the task, and trust (and see!) how thanks to that, by just keeping on rewarding NOT PERFECT yet RELAXED tries of your horse, at the end you don’t get the magnified *not perfect* exercise, but the wanted super-duper perfect exercise that seems to emerge out of nowhere when the horse suddenly relaxes and enters the ZONE, the FLOW.
We all know champions who are very insecure and self-aware. These champions never really manage to show their real brilliance and never really show off their true potential because someone on the way installed in them the feeling of that SOMETHING MAY BE STILL WRONG.
Of course, there is always something “still wrong”, and what is more – the more you know the more you are aware of all the details and aspects (and that they may be not entirely perfect). But, still, the real champion shows off up to his real potential, sometimes even exceeding it: he sings, he paints, he does the Piaffer, he trots… and even tunes the piano leaving some little imperfection remaining.
This imperfection makes what he does unique, and brilliant. This imperfection is HIS MARK on the job he does, it’s his signature. The best champions are aware of it, and they use it for their advantage, not for their disadvantage. They use it to mark their piece of art.
To me, no matter if I enter the arena with a 2yo colt or 15yo horse I treat them the same way: as if they were already CHAMPIONS in what they do. It’s not about patronising animal “you are good AT THE LEVEL YOU DO”, no it’s “You are a F*** CHAMPION!” — I never leave any grey zone for them to feel insecure, or not sure if what they showed was enough. It’s always more than enough, it’s always exceeding my expectations, it’s always more than I dreamed of. I leave all the planning, and thinking and structure-building for when I’m at home, when they don’t see and feel me to make sure next steps we take are even better. But when we are together they do only THE VERY BEST! — This is the feeling I want to give them. This is for me THE MAKING OF THE CHAMPION.
Optimal Performance Program: www.onehorselife.com/prodfuct/opp-selfstudy