I've been thinking about this a lot. What is savvy? What does it mean to be doing Parelli? A few specific events at the barn have triggered this thought process. Unfortunately I've not been able to work through it until now.
According to the Parelli's, you know you're doing Parelli when: you put the relationship first, develop in four savvies and commit yourself to never ending self improvement. Simple enough. So is the flip side true? If you don't put the relationship first, you are not doing Parelli. If you are not commited to self-improvement, you are not doing Parelli.
Pat defines savvy as "knowing where to be, when to be, why to be and what to do when you get there." He doesn't say anything about tasks or strings or certificates.
I board at a small barn but we have an arena that is used by more than just boarders. Almost all of them have some level of participation in the Parelli program - from curiosity to enthusiasm to dedicated study. There are two people, in particular, who's comments and actions have prompted this train of thought.
First, I was having a discussion with a L3 graduate about a local trainer. Though the trainer is not terribly normal, neither is he very natural. He has good timing but over-faces the horse and does not understand the value of rapport. He pushed a colt so hard he jumped some very high gates. In watching a video of the trainer, the L3 graduate made the comment "I'd send a horse to him." My reply, "I wouldn't." The L3 graduate further commented, "No, he's not great but he's better than most of what's around here, especially for the price." My reply, "Then I'd save up and send my horse off to someone else."
Second, someone at the barn was discussing trail riding. This person doesn't like riding around the barn because the horse acts "like an idiot." This person prefers to haul off the property because then the horse has to behave. This person is trying to take this horse through the program and is supposedly concerned with the horse's confidence and connection.
I guess I just don't understand. How can you graduate L3 and still be willing to send a horse to a trainer who could push that horse so hard? How can you be concerned with your horse's confidence and not realize how you push that horse through thresholds? Where is the savvy?
I know I've made tons of mistakes with Cricket. There are times I get mad at her. Like when she forcefully pushed my $3,000 saddle off the arena wall, into the aisle way. I don't always remember to start slow and allow her time to engage mentally before I push her to engage physically. I have so much room for improvement in my riding and I know I'm the main thing holding her back. And even though I forget sometimes, there is nothing more important than how she feels about being with me. If she won't catch me, I take care of the rapport. If she gets worried, I take care of her confidence. When she lets me know she's not okay with something, we slow it down until she is okay.
I want my green string. But not just as a token of "time put in." I want it to mean something. I want to know that it is a milestone in this incredible journey. I want it to belong to Cricket as much as it belongs to me. I want to get there with her, not dragging her kicking and bucking.
Savvy is not measured by strings, certificates or tasks checked off on a list. It is measured in the eyes and heart of my horse.