Today I went to visit the class at the Parelli Center here in Florida and spent an hour with them talking about their breakthroughs and realizations. We ended the class with a great question and answer session.
As the result of one question I was able to tell the story of how I helped a student at our Colorado Center make a breakthrough. She took part in our weekend Parelli Games days and everything went wrong. She was upset, frustrated and now felt stuck. She was afraid of things going horribly wrong again the next time and wondered what she had done wrong.
In talking with her I found out that she’d had great expectations of what the day was going to be like – she’d do the tournament tasks with her horse, have a lot of fun and really be able to show how well things were going. But the opposite happened, everything fell apart and her horse went crazy.
So I told her what was wrong – she had been expecting the best and when things went wrong she didn’t have any strategies to automatically put into action. She needed to do the opposite – instead of visualizing how perfectly and positively everything was going to go, she had to imagine everything going horribly wrong and in great detail. She was shocked – how was that going to work?
Simple. First of all you won’t be taken by surprise, and best of all you’ll know what to do if things start to go awry. You see, you have to think about what could go wrong and then mentally rehearse what to do about it.
That’s what Pat and I do. We think about the situation and then prepare for it. We mentally prepare for every single stupid thing that could go wrong and by doing that we know how to avoid it or address it quickly before it turns into anything big. Most of the preparation is done way before we get there – we work on ourselves and we play with our horses with the destination in mind and an awareness of all the potential problems along the way.
I once heard the expression that a straight line is nothing but a curve with a series of three degree corrections. Same with horsemanship, you’re constantly setting it up, fixing it, preventing it… it’s not like sitting on a train and expecting to arrive at the destination without exerting any effort! That’s why it’s called riding and not sitting… and it’s also why the pursuit of true horsemanship is an art. That’s why this is way more than riding, way more! It’s a mental, emotional, physical and philosophical journey of self discovery and growth. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE this journey. Every day I wake up and feel a sense of excitement about what I might learn today.