I find it a real challenge to be particular. There, I have said it. I've outed myself. While we are at it, I find it a challenge in other areas of my life too. Sometimes I can be really particular about a certain thing, and then I can let it slide as I take my eye off the ball. For many things, the consequences are minimal. Failing to be particular with horses however, is a totally different kettle of fish.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines particular as 'Insisting that something should be correct or suitable in every detail; fastidious: she is very particular about cleanliness'. I think this sums up some of the misconceptions that can surround the word. It can convey at times, more then a hint of nit picking prissiness to it. Maybe my experiences of people who embodied this quality have not been that positive, but clearly somewhere along the way, I picked up a prejudice against being particular. Now don't get me wrong. I am more then aware of the necessity of being particular. Its just not something that comes very easily to me.
However, it is dawning on me that without developing this quality and being able to embody it at all times with the horses in my life, things don't go as well as they could do. Which leads me to the question, why is it so important to horses?
I think the most obvious answer is that to be particular about what your horse does requires that you have to be totally present and aware. You have to see that change in weight or subtle change in expression. You have to have a crystal clear, high definition picture of what it is you are aiming for too. How can you be particular if you dont know exactly what it is you are doing?
When we are being particular, each and every time, we are saying to our horse 'I am here with you and I see everything.' On top of that, you are also conveying the strong sense of always having a plan and that you can be relied upon to know what to do.
Being reliable in this sense is a high order skill and without a doubt it is one of the key ingredients in people whose horsemanship I greatly admire.
So, for the past few days I have been really committed to upping my game with regard to being particular and this is what I've found.
The horses really love it! Their expressions are softer and full of thought and interest in what we are doing.
It's made me more aware of the fact that being particular is just a skill like any other and the more I practise 'being' it, the easier it becomes to maintain.
It sharpens your focus and senses and most definitely helps me to quit on a really good note. I think that is because my aim for each session is far clearer. I've also found that my ability to change my approach in a heart beat has improved greatly too which has suprised me. Being particular for the benefit and good of the horse has nothing to do with being fixed and pedantic.
I learnt many years ago that the lessons never end with horses. The past few days have definitely felt like another layer of the onion has been revealed and reminds me that old lessons that you thought you'd done with, often revisit you with an amazing opportunity to dive deeper.