When I teach, I often talk about the balance of two seemingly opposite concepts. I talk about the balance of drive and draw when doing liberty work. I talk about the balance of forward energy and self-carriage in dressage. I talk about the balance of relaxation and responsiveness in jumping.
The more I think about it, the more I notice that riding, and life in general, are both made up of this constant balancing act between the opposite sides of hundreds of different coins.
As a professional in the horse world, I have had to learn the balance between hustle and flow. There were definitely times in my earlier career when all I did was hustle. Sometimes there are days and even weeks when I feel like I still constantly hustle.
But now, I noticed the moments of flow in a way that I couldn't appreciate in my younger days – those priceless minutes in a training session where I see a horse grasping a concept and happily applying that understanding to the questions I'm asking. I notice those days when the chores all go smoothly, all the staff and horses on the farm are content, and I feel prepared for the next day's events.
It will never be all flow, and it doesn't need to be all hustle, either.
As an ambitious young rider, I was full of drive. Most who know me would argue that I still am. But I've learned to balance that drive with an openness to possibility. And I credit that openness for the countless opportunities that have landed on my doorstep. Sure, my drive sent me down the paths that led to those opportunities, but if my head had remained down and my feet had never stopped moving, I would not have seen the possibilities in front of me. Some of those opportunities looked nothing like what I thought I was moving toward, but openness allowed me to explore them and recognize their value in my life.
To make it as a professional in the horse world takes a certain amount of determination. It's certainly not the easiest path. But determination can become hard-headedness if one isn't careful. It certainly does for me sometimes!
The balance between determination and flexibility is what allows anyone with a goal to continue moving forward, and at the same time, gracefully endure the inevitable bumps in the road along the way. I am certainly not always graceful, but I would say I am far more graceful and flexible now than in my earlier career.
Every time I teach a lesson and I talk about the need for the balance of opposing concepts or practices, I am reminded of the same needs in me. Because when I attend to those balances, that’s when I find the most ease of movement in my life.