Rocky yet again played the perfect family pony this weekend, patiently lugging all three of us around (one at a time) as Dan and Jan learn and I re-learn how to trot comfortably. Dan felt better sitting the trot than posting, while Jan and I prefer to post. Hm, how interesting.
I find that explaining things to Dan and Jan helps me clarify what to do in my own body, not just in my own mind and emotions. They are clean slates, fresh wax, no previous horse experience to unlearn or ancient fear to overcome. And Rocky likes them.
Good thoughts for the weekend:
- Patterns are everything, because Rocky needs a purpose and I need a plan.
Whether from the Parelli program or just stating aloud what you’re going to do — weave through the cones then figure 8 at the barrels then half a rectangle then direction change then halt and back up at the bridge — a pattern gives you and Rocky both something to accomplish and feel complete. I told Jan “It doesn’t matter if you zigzag around the entire arena twice, backwards, as long as you keep your belly button pointed at the cone and you end up there.” In saying it aloud to a newbie, it fell into place in my guts how to engage the power of focus, how not to nag the horse, and how to balance consistency (repetition) with variety (new challenges).
- I am better at this than I remembered.
Without the irrational fear I finally let go of — when? October? — I am much better at posting and convincing Rocky that Big Trot is more fun than Evil Trot and Easy Trot is even more fun than that. If I persist through the first awkward minutes, we both get smoother. Letting go of any need to be at any particular skill level riding has also lifted a pressure-stress I didn’t realize was so strong. Becoming creative with obstacles in the arena, and having music on the P.A. system (I love this place!), has made it more fun for horse and human.
- Teaching others is how I transition from classroom to laboratory.
I’m more interested in getting out there and doing, rather than stuck inside reading and watching, when I have buddies to share it with. Teaching is an added bonus as it keeps me completely engaged and helps me strengthen my weak spots so I can Be A Good Example. I think Rocky felt the goodwill and joy all three of us humans were emitting on Saturday, because he stayed mostly engaged and entirely patient.
I should note that I am in no way setting myself up as an instructor, and Dan and Jan both know this is the novice leading the newbie. But it’s so much fun to share the love of horses and the journey of horsemanship, I can’t possibly require friends to study Parelli intensively like I do, nor am I going to say “sure go ride the pony” without teaching them how to communicate with him.
I am worried that he might be getting ouchy in the front again, but if so, it’s too subtle for me to be sure. With the new storm it’s going to be even more difficult to tell as we will continue to be sporadic in how many times we get to move.
Certainly though it’s time to move more — to make the obstacles much more challenging and to do our patterns all at the trot. Both of us need to get our life up if we’re going to make it through the rest of the winter doldrums.