Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What kind of training prospect am I?

Of course, the next step from thinking about God as a Trainer, is thinking about myself as the Trainee. Again, comparing humans to horses, you could compare yourself to a wild horse, a green horse (just barely started) a young horse in training, a horse that is coming along nicely, a show horse, or a schoolmaster. One thing that is important, is to realize that even the finished old schoolmaster horse, the one that can teach young riders so much and so well, is never "perfect." They still have bad days, or feel tired, or just don't feel like working at the moment. The difference between them and the green horse is that the schoolmaster has a long history of a trusting relationship, many years of painstaking care put into it and its development, and a lot of thought over the years has been devoted to how best to strengthen, challenge, rest, tweak, excite, and reward, the schoolmaster. The green horse has only a tiny bit of training, and is just starting to realize that it is going to keep on learning new things and being asked for different efforts. The green horse is not even sure yet whether the Trainer is worth trusting or obeying.

Horses have different personality types also, similar to humans. In training, there are 2 chief ways in which a horse will resist the process of training, depending on its personality and the situation. It can either resist openly (leaning on the bit or the leg aids, kicking, bucking, rearing, biting, are some examples) or it can suck back, (i.e. dropping behind the bit so as not to contact it, being over-reactive to the leg, staying far behind when leading, etc.) It is usually easier to see the open defiance and fix it, but the sucking back type of resistance is much more subtle and tends to cause all sorts of performance problems. I have noticed this in humans too - open aggression/rebellion can be a lot easier to deal with, simply because it is so hard to ignore its presence, whereas passive aggression/quiet resistance is often not even noticed by the person harboring it. It is hard to fix if you can't see it.

One thing I like about horses though, and where they are different from humans, is they are so much easier to deal with overall! Of course training a horse is a lot of work, and excellence is something to pursue your whole life, but horses are much easier to train than humans! People are a lot more complicated, but the same basic principles do apply to how we are to treat humans. Then it is the human's choice how they will respond...

Whereas horses will usually respond very well to truly good trainers. Horses (and dogs, and many other animals) are extremely good at reading people. They know right away if you are pretending, even to yourself. They need transparency, kindness, absolute consistency, and an appropriate amount of emotion. I suppose one reason why I and so many other millions of people love animals and need them in our lives is because of how they inspire us to adjust and be more real, so as not to "betray" their willingness to try for us. And it is betrayal of a sort when we require them to perform for us while giving conflicting signals or, for example, trying to love on a horse when you are really mad at it (or someone else) - that will not make it feel good - the horse will see right through the facade and get insecure and nervous.

There have been times when I was really depressed or upset about something and I went to play with Mira (or other horses, or dogs I have trained) and tried my best to be "up" for the animal. I have found repeatedly that the only thing I should do is be open - grimace at something not alive, stomp your foot, cry, or whatever, and get it over with quickly. Then I just work on entering into the animal's world. Animals are so good at empathy, and usually after a couple seconds, when I am able to focus on the animal, just feeling their empathy and presence makes me feel MUCH better. And this way the animals don't seem to stress at all. They just accept what I am feeling at that second. But trying to "jump in" without having recognized the emotions I'm feeling has never worked.

The cool thing is that God is perfect, so He always knows how to relate to us, and He is always honest. We might not hear Him, but if you ask He will be very transparent... which is a somewhat scary thought, but He is love, and that is what will shine through, even when He has to use tough love!

There are so many aspects to good animal training as related to God, and the same principles also work perfectly when switched over to children. How many parallels can you come up with?

Oh, and right now my image of myself if I were a horse, is a youngster who wants to learn but is still just a bit afraid of the Trainer. I have a tendency to try to be perfect so as to avoid any necessity for even the most gentle correction - in other words, I tend to be behind-the-vertical , tense, and thus lack rhythm & proper alignment, not to mention a steady connection/communication. As God works on me, our relationship will get less like shortwave radio and more like a telephone. :-P

When a horse relaxes and starts to really trust in the Trainer is when they start really achieving the goals of training, and they get closer and closer to the high levels of performance which will make them so dynamic. And, I do want that! I used to fret about how I was not doing enough to be close to the Trainer, (and sometimes still do!) but more and more I am reminded that it is His responsibility to do the Training. All I need to do is trust, like, relax, and obey the Trainer. That adds up to loving Him.

I hope someone has enjoyed this last couple of articles. I do not usually want to overwhelm my readers with long-winded articles, so I hope to post more fun pictures and videos for y'all soon. But I wanted to share some of what I keep learning more and more about lately. If anyone wants chapter-and-verse references, or clarification of my clear-as-mud writing, feel free to let me know! And if you have more thoughts on this topic, I'd love to hear them!



preservative_ said...

Wow! Those are some good insights. Thanks.

N said...

This is cool. Keep doing posts like this, the thinking kind. I like to think.

L said...

Wow - a comment from each of my brothers! ;-D Glad you liked it...

Lori Schmidt (LoriProPhoto) said...

Hi L

I am sorry I have not been keeping up with your blog but wil be trying to catch up and be a more regular visitor.

Todays post is wonderful and soooo true. I have always said that a horse (or dog or cat etc.) is very forgiving, they dont hold grudges for long if you treat them right. I really enjoyed reading this and will be going back on your previous posts too.

Thanks for your visits.