A few months ago, the Savvy Times editors asked us to say — in 150 words or less — how the FreeStyle Patterns have changed our relationships with our horses. I submitted our story and Rocky and I were among those chosen! (Savvy Club members can view the issue in the vault.)
Here is what I wrote:
My confidence has soared
Regina Preciado, Grass Valley, CA, U.S.
Rockstar never liked passenger sessions. As he withdrew, I lost confidence. I compensated by asking even less of him, which made things worse. But during a game of extreme Touch It involving a tree, a hula hoop and a chihuahua, more engaged than we had been in weeks, I realized Rock felt my passengering as a lack of leadership. Boring! Unsafe! Pointless!
Everything changed with Follow the Rail. The instant I aimed my belly button at a barrel with a strong intention of getting there, Rock’s ears swept forward, and he stepped out like drum major. He flowed through each corner, and I don’t think I lifted him back to the rail more than five times in twenty minutes. Our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been; my confidence has soared. He’s even started offering some Liberty. Now I have to watch that DVD so I can keep up!
It boosted my spirits to see that today. I’ve been on deadline for a 3,000-word cover feature for a trade magazine along with planning out the workload for three concurrent documentation releases for one of my software clients, and have not played much with Rock this week. I was dwelling on my “failure to commit/dedicate” rather than noticing that I invented a new-to-us game and rode bareback (with pad) on Monday, spent undemanding time on Tuesday and Wednesday, spent undemanding time on Thursday and hosed the blood off a gash he somehow acquired on his left hind, AND played with and rode Sterling naked bareback (look Ma, no pad!) on Thursday as well.
Not that long ago — not even as far back as a year — I was so depressed I didn’t drive the 20 miles to the barn for entire weeks at a time. Now just because today I just waved at him from fence, I think I’m neglecting our relationship?
It’s hard to quiet the insecurities about what I do with my time whenever I am doing something that is neither legitimate work (billable or self-marketing) nor playing with horses. The current refrain — which I am fighting with positive affirmations — is I’m too lazy/uncommitted/unfit/unfocused to play with my horse, I’m horrible, Pat and Linda play with 73 horses a day, forming a deep and meaningful relationship with each one, and still have energy to play guitar, eat bon-bons, prepare a healthy meal, make love, and get a full night’s sleep every single day of the year, and I claim to call myself dedicated? I’m a fraud!
Why, no, I never exaggerate, why do you ask? I am reminding myself that my schedule has always had times of overload, my relationship with Rocky is better than ever, and that even though the best way to progress with horses is to go be around them, I am still me and sometimes that means bingeing on the materials late at night even when I don’t make it outside all day. Rocky isn’t comparing our time against some arbitrary chart. Most of all… remembering Linda’s advice to tell myself Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! until I actually do.
In the meantime I have caught up on the Savvy Club forum, read more of Bill Dorrance’s book True Horsemanship Through Feel, explored Share Parelli (and my, is that still in its “excuse our mess we’re barely in beta” phase, but the enthusiasm is irrefutable), and attended a yoga class in a lovely studio. Both class and surroundings exceeded my expectations. I have also blogged, which is how I fully install the lessons learned into my cells; for me, an experience is not complete until I write it down, so this journal is indeed an integral part of my journey.
And I visited Broughton Equestrian & Care Center at Baccarat Farms, where among other things like boarding and lessons and training and animal communicating, they care for special needs horses and help rehabilitate them emotionally, mentally, and physically. In the olden days (like last year) I’d have looked at its grounds and trails and ponds and thought Wow, those Other People know how to trailer their horses places, get them left-brain, and have fun exploring and swimming. But this time I thought Wow, how cool! I’ve got to learn to trailer this summer, or at least to befriend someone who trailers, and ask Debra if I can bring Rocky to play sometimes, for a day use fee, I’ve always wanted to swim with horses! I wonder if they ever have play days here!
It’s even more beautiful in person, but here’s one picture:
Now to read the rest of the Savvy Times online before I go to bed. Nothing like horse reading to clear one’s mind before another day of writing for a living.