I say that like it’s some kind of epiphany but I suspect you already knew it.

Learning means making mistakes and making mistakes can erode our confidence and then we are looking at a nasty little loop – not a nice happy training loop but one where learning becomes less and less reinforcing so …. ahh… you probably guessed this too … we seek less and less of it.

Let’s look at two specific examples.

First up: Training

Using positive training to teach your dog (or horse) something you haven’t previously trained before can be frustrating and disheartening. How can you even learn to learn what to do? How far back do you need to go to get help and figure out a plan? In my No More Excuses class (in which the golds are ALWAYS brilliant people I instantly adore!) someone always finds taking a class easier than doing the work on their own. Well, DUH. Of course, it’s easier someone else is making the splits and telling you what to do. The thing is though, no matter how good their program is you will end up (if you want to internalize the learning anyhow) making adjustments and tweaks as you learn more and look at your own partnership. Finding a way to get enough help, but not too much help is challenging. One of the best-structured programs I know is Hannah Branigan’s Zero To CD program. It has progressive plans to move skills forward in specific areas – skills, motivation, confidence, chaining and ring routine. So a trainer working in the system can pick and choose what to work on in any session. Help and support are available but it’s not a cookie-cutter approach. I don’t do obedience and have zero interest in showing in obedience but I love the progressive and thoughtful approach. It makes learning fun, achievable and easy. And as the wise Emelia Johnson Vegh points out easy doesn’t mean you cheated. So when an easy path appears take it!! Learning is hard – but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

Becoming Anti Racist (Anti Ablest and Sexist too)

This is hard. So hard. Not that you, or I, are overtly racist. But doing the honest work to sit and look at our beliefs, our institutional processes and the historical systems that have built such deeply rooted and often hidden racism is hard. So hard. Letting go of ablest and sexist language – even realizing we use it is challenging. We make mistakes here too – but knowing how to navigate those errors is difficult. The last thing you want to do is cause pain to someone. Taking a more active role in some capacity might be something you’d like to do yet figuring out what that might look like and how to be an advocate is tough. The continual stream of injustice on our social media feeds and news is exhausting. There is often guilt around the privilege we hold. I have invested a lot of time and money over my adult life grabbing any opportunity to explore justice issues and intersectionality. This past year I have invested hundreds of hours on these issues. I teach them, I work hard to live them and now finally I am ready to host a seminar with a tiny group of people who want to spend time doing the HARD work of learning and exploring with me. Unlike more antiracist education I have kept the price point to $19.99 and am limiting the sessions to only 15 participants. I want to help people, help you, understand the big picture issues and distill them into practical applications that will make a difference to your life. The first (and perhaps last – good old imposter syndrome reminds me perhaps no one will sign up) is Tuesday April 20 – you can read more, or sign up to join us here!

Learning is hard. But together we are stronger and we can learn, and grow, and flourish. Thank you for walking beside me on my journey and letting me share my learnings with you.