I’ve had a phrase echoing around in my head recently, and I can’t completely remember where I got it from. I was convinced it was Mark Rashid, but I have googled and googled and can’t find it! Perhaps I’m probably completely wrong, and I actually heard it on an advert for toothpaste. Anyway, here it is:
“I wouldn’t start from there.’
Doesn’t sound all that promising, does it. But it did resonate; to me it means the place to start solving a problem isn’t always where you first think it is. To take a personal example, in the first few years of owning my lovely big mare Steffi, I was a big jumping fan. She wasn’t the most confident of mares, and it took us quite a while to get going. One problem that we struggled with for a LONG time was running out when she was overfaced by the height of the jump, or a spooky filler; if she wasn’t 100% sure she would nip out to the right at the last minute. I had a few lessons with some local instructors, and they all generally had two answers. One, just ‘keep her straighter’. Or two, to put up a guard rail on the right hand side of the fence, to physically prevent her going that way. Which was fine, but I didn’t know HOW to keep her straighter, and as soon as the guard rail was removed we went sailing past again!
After having a couple of lessons with a different instructor, I started to realise I had been trying to fix the problem from the wrong starting point. Steffi drifted to the right when not feeling confident because I TOLD her to; I rode quite asymmetrically due to an old shoulder injury, which I now began to realise meant that I took a much stronger hold on the left rein than I did on the right. Over time, she had begun to lean on this constant onesided pressure, over bend to the left, and effectively resembled a banana! Every time we approached a jump I held on to the left rein to try to keep her straight, and she obediently bent her neck to the left, drifted her shoulders to the right and around the jump!! Of course, fixing this problem was a lot more complicated than putting a guard rail on one side of the fence, but once I had relearnt how to ride straighter a lot of our jumping issues permanently disappeared. So, the next time you come up against a problem, can you work out where you really need to start?
With thanks to our guest blogger Amy Craske.