Saturday, April 26, 2014

The journey doesn't end, it is ever-evolving

Recently, someone responded to a message in a way that intimated they thought I was under delusions of grandeur about my horsemanship abilities.

Not an expert for sure, just willing to keep trying to be better.
Good gravy, no. Obviously, they have never read this blog wherein I frequently highlight my foibles, faults and faux pas and where many of you ever-so-kindly remind me not to be too hard on myself.

All the steps we take, especially the ones that go backwards, are part of the journey towards being a better horse person but there is no ultimate finish, no golden carrot of perfect horsemanship. There is only the next thing to learn and the next "Aha!" be it with Calabar or Lena or any other horse that might cross my path.

Calabar has probably taught me the most but Lena has offered her own version of the world as she knows (and prefers) it. Using Calabar tools on Lena won't always work. In fact, they rarely work. Going over a jump is a great way to get Calabar to have fun and relax so we can go back to (as he says) "dumb" trot work. To Lena, going over a jump  is a horrid form of torture to be rushed through as quickly as possible so we can get back to more fun things. Like cantering big, lazy circles or running barrels.

Learning is hard and sometimes frustrating but without the willingness to question what you're doing and try new things, it is hard to improve or grow in anything you do. Some people have a hard time with this, hate getting out of their comfort zone and facing a little risk. Steve recently came back from a work trip where he suggested some of the other programmers learn a new version of a programming language in order to update one of the systems. They looked at him like he had three heads.

I sometimes feel like I have three heads--all of them telling me to do something else--when I'm working through something with the horses, but that's actually the best part. There is always more to learn, more they can teach you, about everything. How to ride is only part of it. Your energy and the way it impacts those around you. How to listen. How to treat mystery wounds and sporadic ailments that appear out of nowhere.

Even my grand-horse has given me lessons. Forrest recently moved to the big pasture and has been instrumental in teaching me more about herd dynamics. He is definitely a lover, not a fighter, and is luckily faster than the horse in charge of the small band of four (now five) horses. My attempts to show him how to send "Go away" vibes towards that alpha horse have so far resulted in Forrest hiding behind me, but there is hope he will learn and the observations have been valuable to me in any case. Apparently, I'm a little scary. Who knew?

Forrest trying to squeeze into Calabar's paddock
Figuring out the best path forward, being willing to try, to keep evolving my skills, my relationships with my horses--that is the only real goal worth pursuing. Anything else, like someday actually looking like I know how to ride, is just icing on the cake. 

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