“When in doubt, don’t check out!”
Julie said this today half-jokingly, but there’s some real truth to it! Having a plan is absolutely key to your horse seeing you as a leader, and that means all the time… even when things go wrong. Those of us who were lucky enough to get horseback riding lessons when we were kids learned to sit up straight, keep our heels down, look where we’re going, etc. etc. What most of us were NOT taught was how to anticipate problems, understand the horse’s perspective, read body language, and build our horse’s (and our own!) emotional fitness for handling scary situations.
So, think about how you can continue to lead your horse even when your ideas about how to deal with a problem differ. How can you turn a mistake into an opportunity to learn? A spook into a chance to build trust? A misunderstanding into increased communication and responsiveness? Good leaders do all of these things all the time! They aren’t perfect, and neither are their horses, but somehow they use every bit of trouble to forge a better partnership and go forward positively.
And it all starts with not checking out! Be present. Be aware. Be thoughtful. Look for win-win solutions.