Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Monday, December 20, 2010

Perception and Progress

I have finally come to accept that, despite my perception to the contrary, I am actually making progress in my horsemanship.

Crazy talk, I know.

Perception is a funny thing.

The processes of perception routinely alter what humans see. When people view something with a preconceived concept about it, they tend to take those concepts and see them whether or not they are there. This problem stems from the fact that humans are unable to understand new information, without the inherent bias of their previous knowledge. A person’s knowledge creates his or her reality as much as the truth, because the human mind can only contemplate that to which it has been exposed. When objects are viewed without understanding, the mind will try to reach for something that it already recognizes, in order to process what it is viewing. That which most closely relates to the unfamiliar from our past experiences, makes up what we see when we look at things that we don’t comprehend. ~ Wikipedia: Perception
I create my reality with Cricket and with Bleu based on my past experiences and do not wholly entertain or understand the reality because I reach for what is familiar when faced with what I don't fully understand.

In and of itself, that is a powerful realization.  I think this is a particular challenge for "backyard horse owners."  Working with just one or two horses keeps you in a circle of particular knowledge and experience.  If "the human mind can only contemplate that to which it has been exposed" then the more limited exposure, the more narrow the contemplation.

What I have experienced with Cricket colors my ability to understand what she is doing now.  My perception inhibits my ability to be present in the moment.  My mind searches for a way to understand what's going on and draws conclusions and parallels from all that's happened before.

The only way to alter perception is to increase knowledge.  And not just more patterns, more techniques, etc.  Increase your knowledge of what YOUR horse is actually doing RIGHT NOW!  Don't rely on your perception.  Find ways to match your perception with reality.


Two weeks ago, when Ed filmed me cantering Cricket, I felt as if we were flying around the arena.  When I watched the tape, I couldn't believe how slow and relaxed Cricket appeared.  That alone has lessened my fear and insecurity about cantering.  Cricket's canter - the very same canter that felt like Mach 10 - now feels relaxed and slower.  The canter has not changed but my perception - now formed by new knowledge - is more accurate.


Tina said...

I love this post, Lisa. So very very true.

Parelli Central said...

Great post, Lisa.... Horses live in the moment, if we can learn from them to just do it once in a while, we have achieved a lot, since it's not human nature to do so.
I wish you and your family - two and four-legged - a Happy New Year!

Petra Christensen
Parelli 2Star Junior Instructor
Parelli Central