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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET GOOD WITH HORSES? BY DON JESSOP

Don Jessop

The average new horse owner spends the first few years trying to get good at riding. But don't confuse riding for "good" with horses. Riding is the mere act of not falling off.
If those rides prove to be generally safe and fun, the average person rarely ever gets any better with horses in spite of learning competitive level balance and signaling. They most often continue down the "fun" with horse's path. I'm still speaking in averages and generalizations, of course.
If some of those rides prove to be hazardous, well... this is the tipping point. These lucky people get a different opportunity. A fork in the road, so to speak. They can continue attempting to become more proficient riders, or... they can give up. Or... they can decide to learn more about horses and how they operate.
This is where I meet my fellow horse lovers. At the fork and after. It's a rare few who are hungry enough to empathize and learn when everything is already easy. From this point, the path to becoming "good" can be mapped. Understand, these are still generalizations and averages. Anyone with a strong motivation can beat the averages. Also, "good" is defined differently by everyone, so I can only give you my take on it, and my observations of the average person's timelines.
I see a good horse person as someone who sees the horse in every moment. Not just a rider, but something much more refined. Someone able to read the energy, the alignment, and the connection, or lack of, in every situation. This same person has the ability to subtly shift those three things: energy, alignment, and connection or concentration. A good horse person will start to demonstrate positive shifts in a challenging horse within minutes. Then, over the course of a month, or a year in extreme cases, demonstrate a fully connected, energetically balanced, and athletically aligned partnership both on the ground and, most often, riding too. Anyone with heart can get one, or maybe two horses to this point over an extended timeline but taking any old challenging horse of any breed and getting these results consistently, is a different story.
To get to that level of horsemanship, takes the average person roughly a decade of constant education about how horses learn and think. About the six basic disciplines of training (stay tuned for next week) and about themselves as a leader. It's like a doctorate in any other field.
I've seen people reach this level in as little as three to four years with the right education and hunger for growth. And I've seen people reach this level in as long as twenty years or more, for other factors of delay. It's normal life that pulls at our timelines, so there is no hurry or pressure to be that good anyway. Don't stress about it. Worrying about becoming good ironically slows your journey down.
Now, let's be clear. At this level, by no means does that make a person a rock star horse person. In martial arts you get your black belt. Then, and only then do you realize that's just the beginning. It's the stripes after the black belt that demonstrate deeper learning. And trust me, it's the same with horses. Getting to the level described above is like getting your black belt. Now you're ready to deep dive. Now you're qualified to apply yourself completely as a professional and learn all about how much you never really knew.
I'm very familiar with this place in the journey. The place where you think you know what you need to know only to find out you don't know how big the ocean is. It's like leaving California on a boat and landing on Catalina Island, just off the coast and over the horizon, and thinking you know the vastness of the ocean. Trust me, we are just getting started. And...
That's the cool part. The mastery journey is just that, a journey. It's not a single destination. "Good" is relative, of course, and not necessarily important to define. Except perhaps, as a form of cartography. It's the journey that matters. It's the adventure that counts. It's the stories along the way of lessons learned and shared that bring life to us fellow horse lovers.
I want to share in your journey and share mine with you. Board the ship and sail with me for a while. Let's set our sites on the horizon and explore the magic to truly become "good" with horses.
Adventure awaits! Don

Don Jessop - Blog Welcome

Hi! I'm Don Jessop

With Mastery Horsemanship

I write to inspire, educate and encourage you on your horse and personal journey.

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