Live In the Moment
Last night I tossed and turned once I went to bed. I was fretting about the weather mostly. How heavy was the snow on the roof? What would I do if it snowed another foot? How was I going to get the driveway open? Did I have enough hay for the Boys in case we got snowed in? What if the power went off?
Finally, I surrendered to the creed of just putting it all in the hands of God. I certainly wasn't going to be able to do anything about the weather, so what was the point in worrying about it?
That's worrying, not planning. Planning was deciding to stack some hay in the barn so I didn't have to cart it across the snow. Planning was going to the gas station to get the cans filled with diesel for the tractor. Planning was making a trip to the feed store if I was short on grain--I'm not. Planning was making sure my shelves were stocked with food.
All that's fine, but how much time do we spend worrying about things we can't control? And that translates over to riding and training our horses. Unlike us, they live in the moment. They do not spend hours of their time figuring on how to avoid taking a right lead canter, bending in a corner, or going on the bit. We're the ones who do that for them.
How much better to get on with the same pure sense of the moment our horses have. Instead of being locked in a rigid pattern of "This is what I am going to do today," we would be far better off letting the day, the horse, and our own physical state guide us in our work.
Training needs to be adaptable, now only in goals, but also in technique. Perhaps the horse simply will not offer a good canter depart. You'd planned on training shoulder-in that day, but in the warm-up, you start to discover that your horse is not cantering off the aids. Time for a change of plan. You need to address that "hole" in your horse's training instead. And then, what if the standard, basic techniques you've been taught don't work to fix the problem?
Time to open up the "bag of tricks"--the most valuable set of tools I've ever gotten from the riding masters I've worked with. As Lockie Richards always used to say in every lesson I ever took with him, "Feel it?" Why won't the horse canter? If we can eliminate a physical issue--not always easy--then what else is wrong? Is he falling on his forehand? Dropping on a shoulder? Being lazy? Does he need more rein support? Are you sitting in an effective position? Has he dropped his quarters in so he can't strike off? Is he straight? Would he work better from a more forward trot? A more collected trot? On a circle? On a straight line?
"Feel it." Be in the moment, responding to what's happening as it happens, not just a theory.
It takes forever, as far as I'm concerned, to learn how to ride and train. I was lucky enough to have some fantastic trainers in my career who taught me all kinds of ways to improve my horses. And yet, I still don't have all the answers.
But one thing I do have is the confidence to try to figure it out. And it all starts by remembering to ride "in the moment," responding to what's happening at that moment, not worrying about tomorrow's ride.
Now, if only I could apply that to the weather.....