I've written about managing your expectations before (see article) but that was quite some time ago. The chances of that same message coming up in front of you is pretty low so I've decided to write about expectations again. Specifically, I'd like to highlight timelines you could expect to achieve something.
Just before, however, it's important to remember this concept:
High expectations don't lead to results, they lead to frustration. Low expectations don't lead to results either, but they do take off the edge of frustrations when you don't get what you want. When I'm teaching people about horses, I attempt to instill both high and low expectations. Remember this line: "High hopes, low expectations, and most importantly... high standards." Having high standards ensures the most basic parts of your communication with your horse stay intact regardless of environmental pressures. It's your job to keep those intact, not your horses job. Hold yourself to high training standards and everything will start to work out eventually. What are those standards? I have a simple formula for that. CB4! It stands for...
Connection: Every day ensure a connection and take the time to get it, even if your horse doesn't feel like connecting. Even if it means you have to take more time than you hoped for.
Boundaries: Never let your horse step on you, or pull away from you. Don't let him travel on a line that you didn't choose while leading him. Don't let him walk off without you first suggesting it. Don't let him lean on the rope or reins. Don't let him be sluggish on your cues in the saddle.
Bonding: Every day, balance your training with the same amount to down time and bonding time. Give back as much as you ask for.
Bravery: If you notice your horse is bothered by something. Don't skip it. Make a program to erase the fear and build in respect and confidence. Even if you can't tackle it immediately, make a note and start on the task tomorrow. Don't wait, hoping it will just go away.
Basic Skills: Ensure daily progress to the simple, yet mostly neglected tasks, like sideways training, yielding to soft hand pressure and leg pressure, transitions with quality and smoothness, backwards on cue, and stand for everything.
Now lets get back to timelines. If you focus exclusively on a particular task and don't get carried away doing trivial things month after month, here is what you can expect from a professional standpoint and then what to expect from yourself.
The table below is an estimated timetable for some common tasks. Each horse and each individual varies enormously. However, these averages should give you some peace of mind if you feel like you're taking a long time to get something.
Have you ever felt like you or your horse just aren't getting something? Feeling like you should be past it by now? Relax... If you focus exclusively on any particular task you will get there. Having a little grace toward yourself and your horse will take off the edge of feeling frustrated. The next obvious thing is to hire some professional help to speed up the timelines so you can enjoy upper level horsemanship sooner. That's what we are here for and that's what you can expect in our Mastery University. Check it out today!
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