We went riding today, out between the hedgerows, wending our way down leafy corridors. When the path opened out to hillside, we galloped, wind in our manes, until suddenly both horses veered, right, past the scattering lambs, away from the route we had planned…they were excited and fractious, tossing their heads, anxious to be moving forward. We gave them their head, they know these ways more than we do; each startle, each twitch, is a memory. They led us deep the woods, down a bridle path that was new to us, and as we went we tried to work out where this was leading, which track it would connect to, how close we were to the road, to the village. As we talked, relaxed, at the rhythm of horse and hips, we discovered how our mental mapping diverges.
She sees landmarks, fragments of experience; that hay-bale that shone in the sun, spooking the horses, that sign that says “Slow! Free range children” just at the edge of Faulkland. A pointilliste network of loosely located reference points.
I seem to focus more on the hills, and the curve of the valleys, and a sense that our starting point must be more or less “that way”.
As we rode we learned, about the landscape, and about how we learn the landscape, how each of us finds our way. We drew our maps in the air between us, made the learning visible.
All around us the brambles, the grass, the birches, kept up their slow movement through the earth. And the horses found our way home.
This is a response to Ellie Lighthouse’s thought-provoking post on mapping learning. Thanks, Ellie!