Monday, May 4, 2020

Imagination is a Great Teacher

by Mary Gallagher

I’ve been thinking a lot about imagination, as I do my rounds at Freedom Farm. As I shared last month, I’ve been spending more quiet time doing a greater variety of things with my personal horses and trainees, and have been encouraging my students to do the same with their horses.

Without the pressure of upcoming shows, and with the necessity of quiet, more individualized activities, we are discovering and developing new avenues of purpose with our horses, making use of our surroundings to develop, test, and hone our skills and our partner’s skills.

With a little attention, we can easily find sources of inspiration around us, to get us going on a meaningful journey of discovering our oneness with nature. And with our horses, by mindfully cooperating, we can awaken the intelligence innate in both us.

For example: recently, I came across a student video from earlier this spring. I had asked my Hoof Beats students to do something creative with their horses using two parallel poles. It was a chance to connect different kinds of moves, on the ground and in the saddle.

They did not disappoint! I was impressed with their creativity, and how each student made their idea their horse’s idea. Over multiple viewings, I became fascinated with how my students developed ideas—discovering boundaries through practicing trust, patience, and balance—while holding the connection with their horse. They had to communicate their idea with leadership and a kind attitude, staying in the moment while reading the horse, cooperating, and being flexible.

Horses are curious creatures, ready to engage with interesting patterns and focused activity. You can see them connect with their student's suggestion, working out how to get it done. As you watch the video, notice how just two poles spark the students’ imaginations and engage the horses.

The positive attributes of connection, communication, and cooperation, made real through the students’ imaginative play and creative efforts, really does pay off in every aspect of their horsemanship. I hope you’ll enjoy the video and try some of these ideas with your horse!