Karen Rohlf has a concept called “Search and Enjoy”.
The idea is that you search… search… search… and then enjoy. When you’re enjoying, you’re doing just that. You’re not telling your horse anything. You’re just enjoying the feeling that you’ve found together.
In the beginning, you can search for a while… but as you go along, your time searching should become shorter and shorter, and your time enjoying should become longer.
I’ve been focusing on this a lot recently. I’ve found that in the past, I’ve often been okay with searching for far too long… or not searching skillfully (i.e., floundering instead of searching)… or not enjoying it once I do find it. I also realized that I almost expect to end on a good note… but also to find that good note just before I end the session. I don’t spend time enjoying that good note. Most of my session with my horse is okay, and the last couple of minutes are really what I wanted the whole ride to feel like. Why wasn’t I spending more of the session or ride there?
I also brought into this layer the intention of enjoying the searching process. So, search and enjoy doesn’t just mean that you’re miserable while searching and you enjoy once you find it… it means you enjoy the search process, and then you REALLY take time to enjoy the enjoying.
I found that my horses were much happier this way, and that we had so much more fun! I enjoyed the session more, the searching was done with clear intentions to search skillfully and then find a space where we could enjoy. If I realized I was asking for more than they could realistically find to enjoy, I lowered or changed my expectations. This created a lot more enjoyment and a lot more clarity in my sessions… my horses were definitely thankful.
Again, just a little something to play with…