THANK GOODNESS for this topic!
I myself have been struggling with forum presence for three years now, ever since a long and hard battle with depression floored me in july 2009 and kept me busy since then. But even when after about a year I could focus on real life (read: horses
) again, I couldn't bring myself to actively post again. Even though I did try a couple of times, I couldn't bear the thought of writing all those long posts again as if I knew everything that well myself: I was struggling mentally with my connection with Blacky, Sjors and Speedy as well.
Actually last year I wrote/illustrated an entire book on horses with cordeos ( http://mandalapaarden.nl/en
- 140 mandala drawings you can color in of horses with just cordeos, no halters or bridles in sight!
) - and somehow felt like I shouldn't write about it over here as I hadn't been here for months and shouldn't spam the place with my own cordeo-book.
So I guess that 'feeling guilty' is another reason why people stay away once they've left?
Another reason was that I was struggling with my own part in horse training as well. As some of you know, before I made the book Mandala Horses, I wrote a book on tricktraining with the clicker an really wrote that as a catalogue of all the different training methods to teach tricks, from targetting at liberty to working with ropes around the frontlegs. Then add half a year in the forum of Alexander Nevzorov who thinks people who think of halters and foodrewards should burn in hell, let alone those writing about leg ropes...
In short: I was a bit confused.
Maybe that's another reason: AND is quite revolutionary, not just in the training methods but also in the amount of freedom it allows to the 'students'. Instead of saying 'This Is The Road To Heaven', it says 'Heaven looks like this and this, but if you approach it from another angle your heaven could me more something like this, and this is the road you can take, although that one works just as well, and the one over there is slightly longer but does have a very nice view, and...'
Today I talked with Frederieke, Speedy's owner and I told her how Speedy was bored, I didn't know any new exercises to do, how he didn't want to trot as it was too hot, and when I finally decided to skip everything and do a bit of chase the tiger, he was cantering and bucking after the tigerwhip... And how I was hesitating between using the cordeo and the halter as the halter makes him tense and I want him to know that it's okay, just as cues with the reins, and if I should use foodrewards every few steps that are okay or just let him walk with halter+reins for an entire round so that he can settle in -
And Frederieke said: It's so nice to hear you talk about training Speedy, because I often feel guilty for using foodrewards, but every time you talk about Speedy I always think 'What the heck, foodrewards are great: if my pony likes earning them and I like rewarding him with them, then what's the problem?!'
Apparently doubt and doom do inspire, but I guess every now and then you need some distance to see what really is your course?
And last week I guess I discovered a final reason why I didn't want to be on horse forums the past years: and that's because they reminded me of the fact that before I got depressed I had started writing a AND-training encyclopaedia. Of course that came to a screaching halt the same time as I did,
but every time I went to a horse forum the past years, it felt like a constant reminder: 'You didn't write the book'.
Last week for the first time in three years I thought: maybe I should take some time off next year and start writing the book. Then I suddenly thought: Nooo, why wait? Of course it will still take three more years to finish it,
but for the first time I felt like I threw off all the doubts ('is it up to me to write such a thing?') and just felt like having fun with a horse book again.
And now I'm buying pencils in all kinds of colors :aliehttp://mandalapaarden.nl/enn: and have started experimenting with illustrations while fiddling with the first chapters, erasing all the gloom and doom in what I had written before and letting in the light.
So now I'm here again. Not to spam a book that doesn't exist yet
or to spam everyone with the Mandala Horses book ( http://mandalapaarden.nl/en
: Buy One For All Your Friends!!!
), but I guess just to lounge around for a while. Might be gone again in a month, but apparently that's how it works for me for now. And that's why I'm extra super thankful for how the rest of the Admins and Mods maintain this forum!
P.S.: Another reason why people might leave after a while: Thinking back I remember that I always get very involved in a forum for months up to a couple of years, and then I start reading/writing less and then leave - not necessarily to another forum, but just not there anymore. Could be that I have gathered enough food for thought for that point in time?
And perhaps AND isn't that special anymore? At least in the Netherlands quite a lot of people have heard of the forum, and there are more and more people who ride/train with cordeo, even up to Haute Ecole movements. They all give clinics, demos and lessons as well, so there are much more places where you can go to to learn how to train/ride dressage at liberty. A bit sad for us frontrunners of the AND forum, but on the other hand also a good thing I guess!