Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Learn by Doing

Learn by doing is the motto of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where both Brett and I (and my son Kyle)went to school.  I was a lit major so the motto didn't mean much to me... learn by... reading a book?  Writing a paper?  But, it was very applicable to Brett who started out as an architecture major and to my son, a computer engineer.

Even though the motto didn't mean much to me during college, it is completely applicable to our life now.  In many ways, we learned by doing at Aspen Meadows and have improved upon the model up here.  Brett built a Marriott chicken run and hen house at Aspen Meadows.  He built the Ritz Carlton up here -- the run and the hen house are both huge compared to what we had down south.

Lately, though, I've been thinking about the phrase in relation to how I learn when I ride.  I love taking lessons; having eyes on the ground to watch and correct is key.  Lessons also give me the tools to advance.  But, I don't really do my learning during the lesson.  I learn at home, on my own, feeling my way with my horse, remembering and applying what I heard and felt in the lesson.

It's like GPS.  When I am driving somewhere and I use GPS, I don't actively think about where I'm going and I certainly couldn't repeat the route without the GPS.  If I look at a map, get my bearings, and then navigate to the location on my own it is hardwired into my memory.  Likewise, when I ride, I listen to the instructions and apply them but I'm not really feeling independently how and when to apply the aids.  It is when I get back home and apply the lessons, that it becomes hardwired.

Lucy and I have been making great progress.  When I work with her on relaxation, I apply the lessons Sandy has taught me but I apply them when I feel Lucy needs direction.  This week, I've been working on my position.  Lucy and I have figured out how to get her to stretch and I really need some more tools to use before progressing much further with her.  But, I have plenty to work on with my own position.

Right now, I am focusing on my leg and my seat.  My legs need to lay against Lucy's side at the girth in constant contact.  Not squeezing, but there.  Lucy is sensitive so if there is daylight between my leg and her side and then I bump her -- on purpose or not -- it startles her and we lose the focus and frame.  I've been working on keeping my legs on all the time without squeezing.  I tend to lose one of my irons at trot and canter so I know that I am squeezing with my knee or thigh.  I have to stop that.

I'm also working on having a lighter seat at posting trot.  Instead of thumping her back with each stride, I am using my core to keep myself steady and just brush the seat when I come down.  Well, I'm trying.  That's the goal.

Brett has been spending time on his rides with Mufasa working, at walk, on balance and bend.  Mufasa is getting it and this morning they had a great ride -- forward and relaxed and connected.  They learned that by doing.

How do you learn best?


  1. "learning by doing" is a very popular phrase adopted (in english) by the germans. it's ironic. this situation does not exist in germany. you are not allowed to take any job that you do not have a certificate or degree for. this applies to what americans call unskilled labor.

    i recently found out you can earn a certificate proving you know how to trail ride a horse. i mean just go down the trail, not go through gates.

    this lack of learning by doing has affected me because no matter how much experience i have pulling horse trailers back home, i'm not allowed to pull a tiny one here.

  2. I actually learn best by seeing things... I can read all day or try to figure things out on my own all day and it just doesn't click until I see someone else do it lol. Lessons are very helpful, but sadly at the time I was taking lessons I didn't have a horse to practice on between lessons. I'm hoping when I start taking lessons on Chrome that I'll be able to practice between them and learn how to figure things out on my own. :)

  3. I totally learn by doing. I'm like you- in a lesson I get the idea but I need to take it and work with it to really get it.


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