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

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Leader Has A Plan

A leader has a plan. How many times have we heard that? How often does it fail to sink in and truly have an effect on our play sessions?

And it's not just about having a plan, but acting upon that plan. I'm pretty good at figuring out what I need to do - at least in broad strokes - to get where I want to be. I am not so good, however, about planning out the steps that take me through those intermediate milestones to the final goal.

I need a plan. I need a plan that is fairly consistent so I don't have to think too much. I need a plan that is consistent and gives me visual reference to my progress. I also need accountability for sticking to the plan so it becomes a positive habit.

So here is my grand plan: It's time to do something with my horse every day. The initial goal is going to be thirty sessions in thirty days. Weather is no excuse as I have a covered arena in which to play and ride. Some days will be designated undemanding time or just bonding sessions. Unfortunately the fluctuations in my workload will impact the amount of time I can reasonably spend with Cricket. Regardless, I will do something.

My basic plan includes the patterns, the self-assessment sheets and the Parelli 10-minute Tips. I'm also going to revisit the books that came with my Patterns program. If I remember correctly, in the very back they have an overview of what to do if you have 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 1 hour or more than 1 hour. I want a basic plan that can expand and contract but remain fairly consistent.

The Parelli Patterns are essentially a plan in a box or "play sessions for dummies." Not only does it give me something to do but a map to record my progress. I took my maps and laminated them and then mounted them on a a tri-fold presentation board. Turning the board lengthwise, so the sides fold up and down rather than out, I mounted each patterns map on the board. I can fold it closed, secured with binder clips, and put it anywhere I want. I started following the patterns a few months ago but it fell apart with Cricket's returned headshaking and my total emotional breakdown. But the slate is clean and we're starting over.

The self- assessment sheets, according to Carol, are supposed to be "living documents." Something you keep with you and utilise to measure your progress with your horse. It's not about sitting at the kitchen table thinking, "yep, I can do that . . . and that . . . and that . . ." So I'm going to print them off and put them in a binder that I can keep at the barn. Each session, I will pick a few tasks and see where we are on them.

Finally, I will have a repertoire of "ten minute quickies." When work or other commitments steal more time than I prefer, I will have something I can do to build my relationship with my horse.

I have some organizational things to do this weekend so I have the rest of my life ordered enough to spend the time I want with my horse. How does the saying go, "failing to plan is the same as planning to fail?"

So Monday is the start day. We're beginning with the L2 Online patterns but the goal is everything at the very end of the 22' line. This will better prepare me for the L3 and L4 patterns using the 45'. For riding, we're starting back with the L1 Freestyle patterns but the goal is to start using the Carrot Stick and weaning myself off the reins. My accountability will be right here. Except that I have no real Internet access on the weekends, I'll post each day's activities and results for the next thirty days.

Here's to having a plan!


Tina said...

Something that's really helped me is printing the self-assessment sheets 1/4 size (4 to a page) and laminating them back to back - online and freestyle, liberty and finesse is how I did it. You could to the ground savvys and riding savvys together, I suppose. I keep it in my back pocket and use a sharpie to mark off what I've done. I actually ALWAYS have it in my back pocket and pull it out while in line or waiting for a train or whatever. Good way to really get the tasks in my brain.

I also copied my maps at 50% and laminated them all together in a big clump so they'd hang on my tack shed door. I like them smaller better.

Good luck with your plan to have a plan. I know that's one of my big issues, too.

Lisa said...

I'm pretty excited about what I could accomplish in 30 days of consistent play with my horse. My main focus is going to be riding. Cricket is pretty solid in her groundwork and I want to try and keep that fresh and short to tune her up rather than bore her to death.

My ultimate goal is to get my confidence to the point where I can finally ask her to canter freestyle. It may take more than 30 days but this is at least a step on the path.