“All sciences and arts have principles and rules, by means of which one makes discoveries leading to their perfection. Horsemanship is the one art for which it seems one needs only practice. However, practice without true principles is nothing other than routine, the fruit of which is a strained and unsure execution, a false diamond which dazzles semi-connoisseurs often more impressed by the accomplishments of the horse than by the merits of the horseman. From this comes the small number of well-trained horses, and the paucity of ability one sees at present in the majority of those who call themselves horsemen.” – Francois Robichon de la Guérinière
Riding horses has made me a better person, that is, more effective in living. I have discovered over time that effectiveness in living, like mastery in horsemanship, unfolds on the basis of certain laws and principles. The principles exist independent of human influence; they are natural, not man-made and you have a basic choice with respect to them: cooperate intelligently or flail your efforts vainly against them.
You can, as Guérinière noted, work without reference to them. You do so, however, at your own peril. Practicing without an awareness of the underlying principles, or theory of the subject at hand reduces your efforts to routine or rote. You may produce something which convinces the uninitiated of your prowess, but what you create will be a hollow shell of what could otherwise have been the genuine article. This is a large part of the reason why we have the world we have today.
As I said, this is as true in living as it is in riding. I’ve sought to elaborate upon many of the principles which govern my life through this blog, in hopes that you might find comfort, challenge or inspiration in one or many of them. These principles are no more mine than the body, mind and heart I am privileged to inspirit, though they must be “owned” in the sense that they are personally recognized, acknowledged and applied specifically in relation to the choices which shape your life and the world at large.
I would love to hear from you either via comments to this post or email as to which principles have made the biggest difference in your life. You’ve no doubt recognized them through the years, those “aha” moments which registered in your heart and mind, but remember that is just the first step. Acknowledging what you recognize clears the way for realization. Failing to acknowledge, that is, to articulate in specific terms what you recognize, produces a state wherein the recognition dissipates into the mists of your yesterdays.