Riders are just as blocked in "advanced" riding as we are in beginning riding.
Often more blocked.
Because each of us has to undo things we didn't realize we were stuck in, and we're far more likely to have attachments to a sense of accomplishment that is hard to set down.
Think about teaching a long time musician how to use their voice. Janis Joplin-- mastery! And how would you have had to help her deconstruct what she was doing in order to use that instrument in a way that would have lasted, had she lived, her whole life? Imagine the frustration she'd have projected onto you- "But this is RIGHT cause it FEELS good and it's selling tickets!" She would have had to be willing to step back from what she already knew, from what the world was rewarding her for, and be a novice again.
But in that willingness to be a novice is where mastery lives.
Craig and I have to do this every time we get on a horse. It's what makes it fresh, new, curious, and more and more beautiful every ride. I learn something new every day, and there are a thousand things I don't know, and when I find myself at a loss, I just say so. Then I go look into that idea or question more deeply, and come back to the next lesson with a new way of thinking about it.
What's holding us back is not a lack of information, but a belief that we have to have all the answers. We don't. We do have to improve the questions we're asking. This is true in music, true in horsemanship, true in painting or acting or writing.
Being a novice is the only right mindset for entering into mastery in any work, the moment you think you're a master is the moment that all your work becomes empty, flat, and lifeless.
If you thought you knew a bunch of stuff, those areas would be the areas in which you could no longer learn or grow-- you'd cling to your mastery and protect yourself from the clunkiness of trying new ideas and approaches that fill in the colors and brighten and enliven the work you're doing.
So when you come to study with us bring your informed mind, bring your experience as it is, and be ready to walk through to a place where you welcome the education of this day, right now, here.
What will be hard is not what we do, it's what you think about yourself and about other's impressions of you as you do the work. You have to be willing to burn your own ego and just do the work. Some riders have a lot of anger, "I am so stupid, I should be better at this" Some are comparison vampires "She's doing better than me! What's WRONG with me! Maybe you like HER better!" Some are victims "If you'd only let me do it this way, or ride that horse, or use this tack then I'd be okay" Some have authority stuff "You two should act THIS way, not THAT way." Some have status stuff "I should only have to ride this horse, never that one. I should only be working on charismatic movements, not beginner movements."
When we begin to recognize our own habitual resistances, when those 'knee jerk' reactions become a familiar voice in our heads, then we begin to see that even those 'character flaws' we all carry are just signs that something is challenging, something is unbalanced, something is a little frightening.
And we can then just have a little compassion for ourselves and do the work, and let the chatter of the mind run like the sound of the surf in the background. This makes room for breakthroughs, and with that open heart and open mind, the work becomes more and more beautiful, and more and more elegant, and the horses improve every ride...
As Craig has said so often...
But it's not easy.