a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure (Merriam-Webster)
I had a bit of an epiphany a couple days ago. It makes perfect sense to me but let's see if I can explain myself.
I was reflecting on Carmen and our training progress. It all started because I was reviewing my goals for September:
Goal # 1. Walk, trot and Canter in every spot of the ring.
Progress: Fair. we've managed to work in every spot but it's definitely not consistent and I have not cantered the corners.
Goal #2: Work on a stretchy trot circle.
Progress: Very Good. I've learned to release with my hands and let her stretch out the base of her neck into contact. She's learning to reach for the bit and stretch out. She doesn't understand a huge release at the trot but she's getting it at the walk.
So in summary, I've made some progress but perhaps not as much as I wanted. But what I have made strides in is learning to read her and work with her on any given day. Which leads to my epiphany. I realized that I have been working with Carmen towards the goal of having her stop being so reactive to stuff. However, Carmen is an intelligent, sensitive mare. Reacting is part of her essential nature. In my head every time she would spook or gawk or balk I would be thinking "don't do that. I don't want you to be like that". In other words, I wanting her to not be herself.
No wonder we were at odds. The truth that hit me was that I kept waiting for her to be like Steele. Which is completely unfair (not to mention unrealistic). I recognize the irony that I deliberately bought a horse NOT like Steele and then tried to recreate him (albeit subconsciously). It was similar to guys that I dated in University. Many of them liked that I was low maintenance but didn't like my independence. They kept trying to change me. It felt awful. I bought Carmen because she was sensitive, brilliant and intelligent. That means that she is reactive and often 'hot'. I need to accept the hotness as part of who she was.
This realization felt simple and right. I don't know what it changed in me but she definitely noticed. Now when she's gawking and/or spooking I tell her "yes, I know that is kinda freaky. Let me worry about it". Since I accept this part of her I'm not longer riding as defensively. And because I'm less defensive she's spooking less.
She's more open to listening to me because I am truly listening to her.