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October 21, 2019: Learning Takes Time

My area of specialization is not neuropsychology, though I wish it was. I think that in this respect, I missed my calling. Back in the days of wagon trains, I did not realize that I had cognitivist leanings, and that my interests and experiences were like the wind on my back, pushing me in a forward direction.

Nevertheless, I have figured out a few things that most likely are neurologically related. Perhaps the most important is that actual learning takes time. My examples here are self- and horse-related. Self – I have been doing some interesting things with the horses lately – quite a bit of exploration in the area of body awareness. I’ve been putting body wraps on them, and

Alys and Hrimmi head to arena with Tyra following
Alys and Hrimmi head to arena with Tyra following

doing portions of the agility course. I’ve also set up a smaller agility course in the front yard.

On Sunday, a student, Nikki, came over, and I had her watch me work with all four of the horses. I did pretty much the same thing with each of the horses, with variations upon a theme here and there. I put the wraps on front or rear legs, had the horses do carrot stretches on the gymnasium mat, asked them to do panther walk at liberty using the flag, and then, agility in the arena. It culminated with a session with Tinni, in which I did carrot stretches and agility work.

To the one-time observer, it may have appeared as if the day’s sessions were a bust. The horses, when doing agility, were seemingly lackluster. Seemingly. Raudi didn’t seem at all interested in what was going on, that is until I started tossing bucket lids and having her chase targets. Then she came to life and did a portion of the course with considerable enthusiasm. Tyra tripped over the poles, that is until I focused on working in unison with her – then she and I marched in near lockstep together. Hrimmi was still thinking things through. Tinni moved really, really slowly. No wonder that Nikki’s attention turned in the direction of her dogs, which were in her car.

This was just a single afternoon. Yesterday I took Tyra and Tinni for a woods romp. Pete and I rode Raudi and Hrimmi, respectively. Today, Pete and I went for a hike and took Hrimmi up to the bench. I rode Raudi on our trails and ponied Tinni. And I took Tyra for a ride on the lower trails. I also did body awareness work in the front yard, this before doing agility in the Playground of Higher Learning. All I can say is holy crap. The horses were all focused both on the trail and in the playground. It was like we were doing a dance. And they all did really well going over the pole.

What they all taught me is that learning isn’t an instant fix, not with them and not with me. I, for instance, rearranged some of the obstacles in the arena, and I raked away the leaves so the horses could better see the pole. I also, in backing over the poles, paid more attention to where my feet were.

I think one reason why they all did so well was because I struck a balance between exercise and body awareness work.

What’s most important here is that I now fully realize that learning is incremental. It does not happen fast, or quickly. It’s a slow process that takes time. This is something that I will keep in mind and tell those who in the future might watch what I’m doing.

Next: 292. 10/22/19: A Conversation with Hrimfara Fra Lough Arrow II

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