There is a continual problem in Horsemanship today, where we cling to the “masters” of ages gone by - sometimes only obeying those things said over 300 years ago, and sometimes just 50. Our obsession with them holds reason - they were brilliant with the information that they had. They produced mostly sound and safe horses with limited or even zero scientific knowledge.
Humans have a tendency in general to shy away from change. A phenomena known as “cognitive dissonance” - originally an evolutionary benefit to protect us from dangerous new ideas - now holds us back from releasing ideas we once thought were correct. So we cling to whatever is presented to us which most confirms what we already believe, and vehemently shut down the rest as “preposterous.”
People believed that there is an “alpha” and a “beta” in wolf packs. The “scientist” who proposed that theory has publically denounced it, and yet we cling to it. Just this weekend I was telling someone about how I thought the human female pelvis is wider than the male’s. When she told me this was false, I could feel the dissonance alarm bells ringing in my head - “IGNORE. DANGEROUS CHANGE OF THOUGHT. RETURN TO SAFE ZONE.” But I couldn’t, because then I would be wrong.
One idea that really helps me is to think about “exhaling” false beliefs. The thought of just gently allowing them to slip away I think helps me release them without panic, as it will immediately be followed by an “inhale” of new knowledge to fill that space.
To return to my original point - how disappointed would those masters be, who promoted listening to the horse and trying to follow what little we knew about him, if they found out we were simply sticking our heads in the proverbial sand every time we were presented with new knowledge? I’d imagine very disappointed. That to me is the difference between the teacher/student relationship, and the dictator/subject relationship. The first teaches you how to think and learn - the second teaches you only how to be. If those masters were true teachers, the greatest gift they gave us was the firm belief in learning all we can about horses, and applying it as best we could. Not holding our reins in a specific position. Not waving a carrot stick or pulling their nose around to our boot. Just to listen. And learn. And improve.