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October 31, 2023 1 Comment
I didn't make this up, but I love it...
Recently I interviewed a mentor of mine named Linda Parelli. Years ago, I worked directly with her and then gradually found my own path but the knowledge and experienced gained in that time shaped a lot of my teaching style.
Today she's still out there, impacting the world of horses and their wonderful owners. I'm grateful for her enthusiasm and energy for the industry. In the interview she gave me another gift to share with you today.
Lean in and listen closely, it could completely change the way you think about your experience with your horse today, and tomorrow too!
Here it is. There are three types of experiences we have with horses. Learning, practicing, and performing. It's important to know which mode you're in. Learning is hard, practicing is boring, and performing is pressure. Don't mistake which mode you're supposed to be in and watch all the drama fade away.
Learning is hard. It's supposed to be, it's normal that way. It's natural. No one ever said it would be easy. But it's not pressure. If you feel like you're under the gun while learning, it's because you've shifted into a performance mindset, trying to be perfect. Learning is NEVER perfect. It's ugly. It's hard, it's funny, silly, weird, and absolutely vulnerable. I watch some students enter my clinics with a "show my instructor how good I am," mindset and struggle for the first day. Their horse doesn't perform as well as they hoped. They put so much pressure on themselves to be good that they fail to learn what is being taught. It can all be avoided if they'd allow themselves to shift back to a learning mindset.
Practicing, or polishing, what you've learned is boring. It's supposed to be. Most people don't practice what they learn because they feel like it shouldn't be boring. It should be fun. But the hard truth is, it can be fun, but usually isn't. Practicing means repetition. With enough rewards, it's more fun, but it's still repetition. It's still drilling and polishing, and cycling through one task over and over until it's cleaner, smarter, better, safer, etc. Practicing is extremely important. Without it, you never really grow with your horse. You might gain head knowledge going to clinic after clinic but won't get any closer toward your dreams of lying a horse down, or riding on the beach, or experiencing tempi lead changes and piaffe. You'll flounder in the basics forever, until you begin to value, good old fashion practice.
Performing is pressure. It's when everything you've practiced is ready for presentation. Don't try to perform in a learning environment. Don't try to perform in a practicing environment. Leave it for the big day. Do your best and when it's over, record where the holes in your practice are so you can go back tomorrow and practice them some more. Celebrate the good stuff. All of these stages should include an enthusiastic outlook, full of optimism, and creativity, and rewards for both you and your horse. Allow yourself to feel the pressure of performing without breaking down. It can be fun, but it can be daunting too. People who perform often get used to the feeling of performance. You can too. But remember, if you don't feel the pressure anymore, you may be missing the heart of the performance, which is giving your best. Your absolute best. Pour your heart out! It should feel like pressure in some way or another.
Now... when you're thinking of signing up for the next clinic. DON'T think how everyone will laugh at how little you've practiced. You're not in performance mode. You're in learning mode. Think about how you're okay being vulnerable, you're allowing knowledge in, not showing off. Ironically, everyone loves students, especially open minded students who are willing to share their weaknesses in order to learn. Feel free to be a student.
When you're in practice mode, and your mind wants to wander, and you wonder if you're doing it wrong because it feels slow, or you think maybe your horse is going to hate you because he's frustrated with the reps. Relax, it's meant to be boring. Embrace it. Reward often and keep polishing that stone till it shines.
When you're in performance mode, shine your brightest, knowing, there is no real failure, just opportunity. You only fail if you don't try. So, keep trying. If you find yourself being hyper criticized by the judges, that's normal. It's part of the game. Hopefully, you find arena's that are not too critical. But don't let the criticism define who you are. It's just feedback. If I told you today, you're not ready for tempi lead changes, it's just feedback. If you take offense to that and crawl into a hole to avoid feedback, you'll miss one of life's biggest gifts.
So, take advantage of every stage. See the value and label the mode you're currently in. I guarantee it will change the way you experience today and tomorrow with your horse.
Thanks for reading. Shout out to old mentors and saddle off and ride!
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