Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Courage and the Great Divide

Yeah but what it takes to cross the great divide
Seems more than all the courage I can muster up inside
Although we get to have some answers when we reach the other side
The prize is always worth the rocky ride

These are lyrics to one of my favorite Indigo Girls songs, The Wood Song. This song always comes to mind when I'm faced with life's adversities.

Another song lyric comes to mind, this time the Rolling Stones . . . You can't always get what you need; But if you try sometimes, well you might find; You get what you need. I guess it goes along with "when the student is ready, the teacher appears."

My recent audition experience has been a huge learning experience for me. When I received my results I began asking some questions. What that has lead to has been unbelievable. Following are a few excerpts from an email exchange between myself and Linda Parelli.

Re the cantering - I think what I'm hearing is that it's the transition that is most difficult. And if so, here are some constructive strategies:

1. Play approach and retreat with the canter but in the trot. Go to a faster trot and then back off, then a little faster again, then slower. Repeat until you feel balanced throughout.

2. Think of the canter this way: it is a change of gait, not a change of speed. A lot of people speed up into the canter instead of sitting back and moving their body in a different way.

3. Trust is everything. Your horse has to trust you and you have to trust your horse.

Wow! Just putting the idea in my head that cantering is not about speed is relaxing. I know this isn't new but it helps confirm some of the strategies I already had in place to help with our cantering difficulties

I do want to tell you that taking a LBI to Level 3 and 4 is not easy. You learn a heck of a lot more about psychology when a horse does not offer to move its feet very much!

I sort of felt this in my bones and it's nice to hear Linda confirm it. It helps me relax and not feel so inadequate

And now for a few hard truths:

I think that one of your main issues is that you are too careful. I know you've kind of said that, but this is an area that in some way has helped you but in others is holding you back. It affects your leadership because you appear afraid to get it wrong or upset your horse. But when your horse trusts you, they realize when you make a mistake and accidentally tap them, or you push them a little too hard because then you immediately back off and play Friendly. Does that make sense? I think you need to risk a little more.

I don't think I'm afraid to upset Cricket but I am afraid to be wrong. It's my ego. And I've allowed it because of the compliments I receive on my groundwork. It's not helping and I need to move past it. I'm still learning and I need to have permission to make mistakes.

From what I see, she trusts that you are not going to hurt or kill her. I think you have respect issues. I've spent a lot of time reframing the word 'respect' because so often it makes people think of smacking the horse, I don't know why. Of course you cannot smack respect into a horse. [W]hat's going to change for you is your expectation of her. You'll become more particular and yet equally or even more friendly and happy with her when she tries to respond. She'll get some things wrong or overreact at times, but laugh it off. It will become a game.

Hmm, that makes sense. I can see where I've allowed Cricket too much latitude in the name of softness and I've sacrificied the responsiveness.

What I saw in you was a lot of attention to detail. You are very correct in how you apply things, lots of feel. What you're missing is the 'spice', and that is what is going to take your savvy in those few L2+ and ++ areas up over the top.

I think this goes back to the fear of being wrong and too much emphasis on soft. Keeping Cricket soft does not mean making her limp!

If you are too soft and subtle too soon you do not improve their emotional fitness and tolerance for the human relationship and environment. That level of subtlety is Level 4, 5+. So it's great, but there's a hole in the foundation then.

What an eye-opener this was! I've been so excited about how easy Cricket would do certain things that I failed to see how we didn't have the real communication down. This is going to take a lot of thought. I don't want to loose the subtlety of our communication but I want to ensure that it comes out of the proper foundation.

I am so amazed at how this entire event has unfolded. I am extremely grateful to Linda for taking the time to personally address my concerns and questions. She's given me some insights and suggestions and it's just what I needed right now.

Sometimes I ask to sneak a closer look
Skip to the final chapter of the book
To get us where we are this far, yeah
But the question drowns in it's futility
And even I have got to laugh at me
No one gets to miss the storm of what will be
Just holding on for the ride

Here's to the ride!

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