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Can Bruce Lee teach us about horse training?

So at the start of the year I choose a word for 2023, along with some friends. With the idea to help guide you and encourage some reflection of where things are going. My chosen word is “flow” and yeah, been doing little else this busy year.

Ironically but not so surprising, not much reflection.

But finished reading this book chosen with this theme in mind (and because Bruce Lee fascinates me a LOT) this weekend: Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee by his daughter Shannon Lee.

As a way to reflect a bit on the read and as I do with almost everything in life: relate it to horse training, I’ve made this post. So. The book is a mix of a lot of things but mostly Shannon Lee is trying to illustrate her fathers teachings and approach to life through stories from his life and career. So both a bit of a memoire book and somewhat of a self help book. It’s an easy read and sure is a bit much sometimes but as a long term armchair philosopher I really liked it. Maybe not much new is said here but how it’s said suited me at least. Not sure if the foundation is that you actually have to like Bruce Lee to like this book, but I don’t think so. As the titel indicates the phrase “Be like water" is the theme of the book. A phrase associated with Lee that is often used to describe a certain mindset or approach to life. It suggests a flexible, adaptable, and resilient attitude, one that is able to flow around obstacles and change shape as needed. The idea is to be fluid and responsive to your environment, rather than rigid and inflexible. Appealing in these days of very binary thinking in the world.

And something so very relatable as a horse trainer or any animal trainer for that matter. I can relate most things to horse training. So heres some key principles and concepts associated with “the way of water” philosophy as I understood it, put through the horse trainer filter.

Adaptability: Just as water can adapt to different containers, horse trainers should be adaptable and flexible in their training methods. This means being open to trying different approaches and techniques, and adjusting one's training methods to suit the individual horse.

Fluidity: Water is a flowing, constantly changing substance, and the way of water emphasizes the importance of embracing change and impermanence. Rather than clinging to rigid beliefs or fixed ways of doing things, we are encouraged to flow like water and adapt to the ever changing circumstances of life. I mean as a positive reinforcement trainer trying to operate in this world with the thought of “if you want to change behavior, change the environment” this two above both speak a lot to me.

Non-resistance: Water is a substance that flows around obstacles rather than resisting them, and the way of water encourages individuals to adopt a similar approach. Instead of fighting against obstacles or difficulties, individuals are encouraged to flow around them, find creative solutions, and seek to understand and work with the forces at play. To see mistakes as information is a good way of starting to find a solution and well in line with thinking in terms of a positive reinforcement trainer. What do we do when things go wrong?

Harmony: Water is a substance that naturally seeks balance and harmony, and the way of water encourages individuals to cultivate a similar sense of balance in their lives. This means finding a harmonious balance between work and play, between action and rest, and between the various aspects of one's life. Probably the part I personally struggle with the most when it comes to my own life and by the look of it something most of us find hard. Balance is a word I throw around a lot and I simply low this flowy aspect of it. Doesn't matter if we talk about balancing our horse physically or mentally or balance between exercises: to be able to transition between theses states and enjoy also the transition.

As a whole I find this book very inviting. Instead of TELLING me what to think or how to approach something it is more encouraging me to think for myself. If you ever heard me talk about independent know I love that part :D Well...enough of Sunday reflections for this time. If you stayed along all the way down here...maybe this book is for you. For me no real difference between how I want to approach horse training and how I want to and try to approach life so in that sense, of course Bruce Lee can teach us about horse training.

Have you read it? If so, did you like it?


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