The Problem with Perfection


Lots of us riders are perfectionists. It isn’t a bad thing to want to get things right.  We want the best for our horses- the best care they can have for their health and well being into old age. We want to be the best riders we can  so that their work is easier and more beneficial.

Lots of us were raised by parents who wanted the best for us and sometimes showed it by acting as if nothing we did was good enough- or that is what we heard.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get things right- unless our critical side is the loudest voice. That negative back-talk can suck the joy out of riding pretty quickly.

Horses have a simple approach to life. They don’t think about your Olympic dream or your physical shortcomings or the stress you feel at work. They do think about green grass while they are eating it, or how good a dirt bath feels after a run. They live in the moment, and then they get over it and live in the moment again. Horses have the enviable freedom of knowing they are perfect already.

For humans, our view of perfection can be a frozen and limited place, usually a line to fall short of. However- art is easy and possible in questing, spontaneous moments. String a few of those moments together and it might be better than perfect. It could verge on brilliant!

On a good day there is a gift we can give our horses. We can help them glory in the physical feeling of their body- strong and balanced- moving fluidly with a rider who asks with kind leadership and rewards with generosity.  In return, we can be carried weightless- in a place above past regrets and future worries. All we have to do is let go of our mental meanderings and join our horse in the present. There is a quiet ecstasy in paying attention.

Ram Dass isn’t quoted nearly enough in horse blogs- he says, “Be here now.” I am sure he meant to add that it’s the rider’s shortcut to better-than-perfect.

(Photo: Brisa, effortless perfection.)



Anna Blake

2 thoughts on “The Problem with Perfection”

  1. It really is an art form, isn’t it? Some days we want to rip up the drawing we made, other days it’s not half bad. Dressage is a quandary in that it attracts us Type A folks but then we get too wound up when we can’t be perfect. As long as we’re a good team with our equines, we’ve made art worth experiencing.

  2. This reminds me of music. I must have learned harmony somewhere, but I don’t remember when or how. I just sing harmony. Oh, how I want to be able to do this with my horse!


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