Our life experiences are usually the best teacher. In addition, our lives often amaze us by teaching us valuable lessons in the most unexpected ways. When we think of education, we usually imagine formal academic institutions such as schools and colleges or important adults in our lives such as our parents, grandparents, and older siblings. While I have, indeed, learned a lot in formal learning environments as well as from my parents and other adults in my life, one of the most productive learning experiences was learning horse riding. The horse riding experience was an eye-opener because it taught me learning comes in all forms, and I also realized the lessons acquired through one particular experience are relevant to other aspects of our lives as well.

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Like other members of my generation, I grew up surrounded by technology. While my parents encouraged me to embrace new technologies, they also believed one should experience the nature in some way. Such experiences do not only allow us to take a break from technology-intensive lifestyle but may also provide valuable physical exercise. I have always been fascinated by animals, thus, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity by expressing my interest in horse riding. My parents agreed to let me join the local horse riding club that also provided riding lessons to the beginners.

My horse riding lessons didn’t have a pleasant start, and some of this had to do with certain characteristics of mine as well. First of all, I didn’t have much patience at the time and wanted to learn horse riding as quickly as possible so that I could ride the horse without the company of an instructor. I was over confident I will learn horse riding quickly and as a result, I would not pay close attention to the small details in the instructions of the instructor. My second mistake was treating the horse just like any other transport vehicle instead of a living being. While I did have control over my behavior and approach to horse riding, I could not control the outcome. Not surprisingly, my horse riding skills were slow to develop and a lot of it had to do with poor bonding with the horse as well.

Reality eventually catches up with us and I realized I had to take horse riding more seriously if I were to become a competent horse rider. I did not only start paying close attention to the words of the instructor but also became more committed to horse riding. I used to skip some scheduled riding lessons but now I started attending all scheduled lessons. In addition to coming to the riding club regularly, I also started spending more time in practicing riding. I forged closer friendships with fellow club members who often provided me with valuable riding suggestions. But arguably the most important change I made was to treat my horse more respectfully. I realized communication doesn’t take place in verbal form only but also nonverbal form. My horse may not be able to talk to me but he does observe how I treat him. The animals are often more sensitive and more skilled observers than what we imagine them to be. My horse responded to my positive changes in a likewise manner and became more cooperative. Even my instructor noticed it was easier for me to approach the horse than before and the horse would seem more pleased when I rode it.

The horse riding experience was an eye opener for me as to how I made significant progress just by changing my approach. As I thought about it more, I concluded the lessons learned from the horse riding experience are also relevant to every day personal and work life. The most important lesson was the importance of strong work ethics. A new skill requires hard work and patience to master. Being impatient and looking for shortcuts not only lead to disappointments but also increases the time it takes to master a particular skill. The second lesson from the horse riding experience that is relevant to everyday life is open communication and treating others with respect whether they are family members, friends, or even strangers with whom we go to school or work with. When we treat others with respect, they want to respond in the same manner. And this is not only applicable to human beings but many species of animals as well. The third lesson from the horse riding experience was being open to all kind of learning opportunities. I joined the horse riding club to learn from a certified trainer. While I am grateful to the trainer for his professional approach to teaching, I also learned from the fellow riders. One of the advantages of learning from the fellow riders was that some of them were my age and sometimes they would have better understanding of the mistakes I was making because they had also made those same mistakes. The fellow riders also offered me tips they had discovered accidentally during their own learning phase.

It feels like ages ago when I first joined the horse riding club. But my memories are still clear as if it was just yesterday because the lessons learned during the early stages of horse riding continue to benefit me. My social skills have improved and I have more friends because now I understand the importance of open communication and treating others with respect. In addition, I also perform better at academics and sports because I am willing to invest more time and efforts in mastering the basics.