As I suspected, the comments from the Part 1 article are beautiful!
People instinctively know how to maintain the bond. You have to dedicate time in between tasks to either treat, groom, praise or rest the horse. A great horse trainer tries to balance training and bonding. You have to keep the connection and reward it constantly. In my book, "Leadership and Horses," I talk about the 50/50 training to bonding ratio, and how important it is.
And... I also suspected from the article, there wouldn't be many, if any, comments about how to make progress while maintaining the relationship.
Wait: "Aren't they the same thing?" "Isn't, maintaining the bond while making progress, the same as, making progress while maintaining the bond?"
Answer: Yes and No.
It's fairly easy for us to think about how to neutralize an already stressful environment. In other words, when we notice we're putting too much stress on the horse, we back off and take a little more time. But what about those who aren't making a lot of progress? What about those who look back over the past year or two, or five, and notice that what they're doing with their horse today is almost no different than what they were doing years ago? What about the personality that reads up on all the coolest horse ideas, watches all the videos, but fails to walk out the door and work toward it? What about progress?
Of course the scary thing about progress, is that it can screw up what you already have. Many of us have put hours and days and month and years into the relationship. The last thing we want to do is screw it up. Ironically, good old 'Father Time' will screw it up too... even if you don't try for progress. By making the decision to not make progress, we're making the decision to allow mediocre and complacent behavior in our horses and in ourselves. So I always say; "If you're going to screw things up, try to screw things up the way you want them screwed up. Be direct in your thinking and clear in your goals. This way, you have some semblance of control over your future. And then, as you begin to make progress, allow your natural, reward oriented personality to shine. This will keep the relationship in tact."
So the answer to how to make progress while maintaining the bond is two fold. Number one: You have to have goals! Clear direct goals! Map out your goals and dedicate time to them, even if they screw up what you already have. That map, must also indicate logical next steps. Not just dream like visions, but more like a pathway to get to those visions. Do you know the next steps forward in your journey? Do you know how to make progress today?
And number two is: You have to reward the socks off your horse before, in between, and after every single task you do.
Recently, I was speaking with a Mastery Coaching student (check it out here) who asked me if she was being too rewarding with her horse. From the outside looking in, I saw a beautiful relationship. Her horse is sweet, calm, willing, happy. Truly, a great partner. What I told her, is what I tell everyone. "You can never be too rewarding! But... you can easily be too complacent in your goals! You can easily settle for what you have and forget about what's possible. You can forget to dream a little."
That is why each of our Mastery Coaching students go through a special, personal, goal setting workshop with us. Knowing the goals, helps us keep them accountable to progress. It also helps us map out specific strategies and techniques to work toward those goals. Each person is different, so the support mechanisms have to adjust slightly too.
What would it be like for you, to have support on a regular basis, ensuring you make progress and keep the relationship of your dreams? What do you dream of doing?
Cantering on the beach! Following a trail up the mountain! Driving a herd of cattle across the plains! Winning first place at the dressage show or jumping show! Becoming the trainer that everyone looks to for advice! What is it, that you wish to accomplish?
Comment below and also check out Mastery Coaching to find out how we can support you in your dreams with horses! If you're willing to consider coaching, but unsure, you can try it for free. check it out!