One of my motto’s in life is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I apply this to my professional life, my personal life, my relationships, and my horses.
If I study the same way for my exams, and repeatedly get C’s, it is no ones fault but my own, and I should probably begin my preparation weeks in advance and with a different strategy.
If I get only five hours of sleep and still wake up exhausted and tired, I have to find a new strategy for an earlier bedtime.
And if I repeatedly shift my weight to the right while riding my left lead and my horse swaps behind, it is no ones fault but my own.
We live in a world where the minute that something goes wrong, there must be a reason. And for our horses, it is no different.
You have a bad ride, and instantaneously think that your saddle doesn’t fit, or the chiropractor needs called. Your horse refuses a fence, and you immediately think that he needs his coffin joint injected. Or you just can’t get that transition to the canter, and immediately add draw reins.
We live in a land of constant change. A constant need for things to change, and change quickly. It is almost the antithesis of the insanity clause. Because if the definition of insanity is that we repeatedly do the same thing and expect different results, than the definition of sane must be that you change your strategy or your plan and expect the same results. Right? Obviously that doesn’t make sense.
I have been thinking about this a lot, and what exactly complies the definition of sane in the sport of riding.
In this modern era, we have become so good at trying to change what isn’t working – or finding the flaw in our training – that we tend to over react to the slightest thing. A bad ride. A single refusal. A few rails. Tenseness.
And we reach out to a new trainer, a new veterinarian, or a new forum online and demand “fixes” or “answers.”
It is the inverse of insanity, at least by definition. It is a constant change.
But it is possibly a form of insanity in itself as well.
This sport is not linear, and we rarely see exponential growth. I have written before of the plateaus that we reach and how they can be followed by the dramatic crash. And how it is so hard to ride those waves, and still find passion for the sport after the crash. And some of that can be chalked up to insanity.
We repeat what we are doing, and little things go wrong in our training and are left unaddressed. Or maybe our horse is truly experiencing back pain, and needs the reflocking of a saddle or an adjustment. We ignore the slight disruptions in an otherwise pleasant ride, and carry on. And this leads to the resentment of work from the horse and rider, and the crash that follows.
But another way that I have seen this occur is by changing what does work. It is the inverse of the insanity – or what we always call the sane.
It is having a perfectly sound horse, a perfectly good trainer, and a perfectly good plan, and changing it for no rhyme or reason.
We have a perfectly sound horse and a perfectly good ride, and yet something goes wrong. We forget that the horse is a living, breathing animal, and that his opinion to things may change. It is not always due to pain, and it is not always due to poor riding. It may be merely due to him waking up on the wrong side of the stall.
And yet you see the bigger name, the brighter lights. The new therapeutic, or the quick fix, and you reach for that – hoping for instant and immediately gratification. The change is what you crave, thinking it might be the answer to all of your “problems” that aren’t in fact problems at all – but simple growing pains and adjustments as you develop yourself and your horse.
And I think in 2017, in this modern era of riding, that this is what we see the most often. Not the insane – not the repetition of the identical and expecting different results, but rather the opposite. We as riders change too quickly. We make adjustments to our plan too rapidly. We want the quick fix and the rapid improvement.
And while this might be the opposite of the insane, it makes it no more sane. Remember that.
Not all of the time – but perhaps sometimes – sticking with a plan and knowing that the results aren’t immediate is the best plan. And that is the sanest decision you can possibly make.