Saturday, January 19, 2013

Choose Your Battles

As the oldest of three girls, my parents were a bit tougher on me than my sisters.   Like most families, the rules started out a bit more stringent and then as the years and siblings progressed, the rules became more relaxed.  I suspect we just wore my parents out and they didn't have the energy to enforce the rules with the same vigor with my younger sisters.

I can't remember the exact situation but I remember asking my Mom to come down hard on my sisters for something they had done.  After all, she would have gotten after ME for it, why not them?  After she reminded me that SHE was the Mom and I was not, she gave me a philosophy that I use with my kids to this day.  She told me, "Choose your Battles".

The general concept of the philosophy is this -- there are many battles to choose with your children.  For the most part most are not worth fighting.  Things like hair length, some clothing choices or the various ways a teenager exerts their independence from their parents are just not worth fighting.  You are only going to win so many battles with your children so save the effort for the ones that matter.   A happy, healthy, and productive adult is the goal and spoil of the war -- save your battles for what will you get you to that goal.

I have used that philosophy raising my children and today during my lesson I realized I need to also use it in my riding.

Because my knee is still weak from my knee replacement, I cannot ride for more than about a half hour.  For this reason, my instructor is riding Golly for about a half hour before I get on for the last half of my lesson.  This has been great both because Golly is getting the benefit of responsive and quick riding and I am getting the benefit of watching the conversation and learning.

I noticed that she was able to get his inside hind leg stepping deep under and pushing.  However when she did get the deep pushing inside leg, his outside shoulder was pushing out more than it should have been.   She was getting the inside "bend' but seemed to be sacrificing the straightness of the outside.   This baffled me because she is too good of a rider to not notice the shoulder push.   After pondering it a bit I asked why. 

She confirmed what I was seeing -- with the increase in the correct bend on the inside he WAS pushing his shoulder out more than it should.  But it came down to the lesson my Mom had taught me many years ago.  There are so many battles you can fight at once and sometimes to achieve the end goal, you need to compromise.

It makes sense.  Golly is early in his dressage education.  (Although it doesn't seem like it since we have been working on this for a few years... but hey... dressage takes time!).  If he is trying hard and responding to the request for the inside bend and thrust from the inside back leg, it is likely that he may overwork it and push his outside shoulder out.  As long as its not too bad, its fair to compromise on this a bit.  Otherwise it could be confusing to a horse that is trying.  There is a fine line with this of course -- you don't want him to develop a bad habit that will be difficult to fix later.  But some compromise is good!

Think of it from his point of view.... "yeah... I got this bend down.... look at me! I'm awesome!   Hey, why are you asking me to straighten on the outside?  How am I supposed to do both?  Dang, this woman is NEVER satisfied.  I'm just going to quit trying."

You and I know he CAN actually do both but he doesn't know yet and may not have the muscling to do so perfectly. Let him have the chance to feel good about himself on his success and THEN move on to the next challenge.     Choose your battles!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to get feedback and hear about your journey-- please share!