Art vs Sport and how this affects our confidence
How we view our time with our horses can have a huge impact on our confidence.
One key dimension which affects us is whether we view things as a sport, or as an art.
What is a sport?
Whilst there are elements of fun, play and amusement in the word and its synonyms, the main definition is “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.”
What is an art?
“The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture,…: “the art of the Renaissance”; Works produced by such skill and imagination. Synonyms include craft, skill, artifice, knack, workmanship.
I came across an interesting article about Fencing recently. Not building fences for our equine friends – but sword fighting.
Let me share an excerpt with you and see if you can see the parallels to the horsey world
What is the difference between fencing, as a sport and fencing, as a martial art? That is, between “olympic fencing” and Classical Fencing. Even in cases where there are few technical differences which is not the situation at the present time there remain substantial philosophical ones:
- The goal of a sport is to achieve mastery over others; the goal of a martial art is to achieve mastery of yourself.
- In a sport, winning is the end; in a martial art, winning is the means.
- A sport is most concerned with the product; a martial art is concerned with the process.
- In a sport, victory defines excellence; in a martial art excellence defines victory.
- In olympic fencing, the emphasis is on touching the opponent, in Classical Fencing, it is on not being touched
Does this ring any bells?
Let’s look at the first point:” The goal of a sport is to achieve mastery over others; the goal of a martial art is to achieve mastery of yourself”
So many people view horsemanship as gaining mastery over the horse. The focus is on control, “making” the horse do things.
Whereas when you master yourself, and your emotions, your ego, your energy – then your relationship with your horse changes significantly
And how does this relate to confidence? Control of any other living being can only ever be an illusion, the only being we can hope to control – and probably only imperfectly, is ourselves. Our unconscious knows this – so although everyone tells us we are “in control” and therefore safe, if we don’t trust OURSELVES, we do not feel confident.
Confidence is not about being in control of our horse, or our destiny – it is simply about knowing we are in control of ourselves…..
The second point: “In a sport, winning is the end; in a martial art, winning is the means”
What does this mean?
In sport, winning is the be all and end all – to win is what you train for, what you focus on – and what the money is aimed at. It proves you are “the best”.
In art, winning is a proof that for you, your process worked. It is a way to back up your process with evidence that for you (and your horse) it was effective.
An example of this is that a 20 metre circle, ridden well, is a proof that you can ride your horse with a uniform bend and a uniform step – ie that you have developed yourself and your horse to that level of craft and skill. There is no need to compare this to other people’s 20 metre circles – it is the comparison with your last effort that matters…..
In an art, what matters is not whose circle is more perfect – it is who has developed the skill and craft to create a better circle than the last time…
How does THIS affect our confidence? Well it’s a hard truth but there is probably ALWAYS someone out there who is a “better” rider than us – in some way or other! So we will never “win”.
However, we CAN improve – we can develop our skills, our abilities – and that is inspiring. IF we look at how far we have come, rather than how far away we are from perfection – that is much more confidence boosting!
The third point: “A sport is most concerned with the product; a martial art is concerned with the process.”
So an art is concerned with HOW we achieve things, not just WHETHER we achieve them. I might not be able to ride a great piaffe, or jump a high jump – but if I know I am following a good process to eventually get there – then I can feel confident in my skills and ability.
Sometimes life focuses us so much on outcomes and products, and we feel they are out of reach and that doesn’t help us feel confident
If we know we are on the path, or on A path where we are learning a process – then that leads us to feel MUCH more confident in ourselves, our choices and our learning.
IT is not about whether we are confident or not – that is not the thing to judge – it is more whether we know HOW to become confident…..and that is definitely do-able!
Point four: “In a sport, victory defines excellence; in a martial art excellence defines victory”
What an attitude shift: it’s not about being THE winner, it is about being EXCELLENT.
I can be excellent at haltering my horse, at walking, at flexions – I don’t have to be an Olympic rider to be EXCELLENT…
How does THAT affect my confidence?
Point five: “In olympic fencing, the emphasis is on touching the opponent, in Classical Fencing, it is on not being touched”
A 180 degree mindshift
A TOTALLY different mindset.
So what if, in horsemanship, the emphasis wasn’t on “overcoming resistance” but on never having resistance in the first place?
If instead of winning the argument, we didn’t have the argument?
What if, instead of having to be the winner, we just make sure we aren’t the loser – that we BOTH win, in fact?
If instead of thinking of winning, mastering the horse, controlling, and making – we think of creating harmony, a desire to be in harmony – so that the harmony itself is the reward and motivation for BOTH of us – –
Well that is a very different game
That is an art, not a sport
I like the idea of being an artist.
I have much more confidence in my ability to be an equine artist than an equine athlete….
And I find it easier to be confident when I think of mastering myself, using my “performances” to show how far I have come, knowing the process, being excellent in whatever I do – however small, and then changing my whole focus to one of being WITH my horse, rather than overcoming my horse
Can you think of other mindset changes that would help our confidence?
Share them in the comments!!
Yours, in Confidence