Monday, January 31, 2011


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.....


  1. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Very nice - I try to do the same - have a plan but know that I can vary that or try something different if need be. I'm a bad worrier about the weather, and about everything else, but I'm working on it - trying to not look too far ahead and to leave things be that I can't control.

  2. Planning is the best antidote to worry. But I am a worrier too regardless of if I can or can't control things.

  3. If we could all learn how to live in the moment like our horses and stop worrying we'd be much better off. I haven't slept in a few nights and we're getting hit with snow again tonight and then an ice storm. Worrying is not going to stop it but...

    With the horses I usually have a plan that often doesn't get put to use. It always comes down to riding the horse that showed up that day and if necessary dip into the bag of tricks.

    Stay warm and I hope you don't get hit to bad with this storm.

  4. Sorry to hear that worry about weather is affecting your sleep. Although with the extremes of this year I can sure understand why.

    Reading your post I realized that I really don't ride with a goal for each day. I have my long term goal but each day I ride based on where my horse is underneath me at the time.

    If I have a preconceived notion of where he should be, it's only based on the last ride. I know there's no guarantee I'll even get that so I just wait to see what I have and go from there.

    I am not the quickest to accomplish things with my horses but my horses seem to be always happy and content with their work so I've just kind of stuck with my program as it is. I suppose you could say that I have confidence this will work for me and if it's not working I'll be able to figure out something that will.

    I don't know if this was ever some realization for me or if I just absorbed it somehow from the horses. As much time as I try to spend with them, I suspect they were my teachers on some level as they will continue to be. I know I'm never going to know it all and they don't really need me too.

    All they need is for me to know what they need as they need it. As simple as their needs are I think should be up to that challenge as long as I procede using them as my gauge. I don't know if anyone can really do more than that.

    Hope you are warm and safe and that the weather gives you a break soon.

  5. Very if I can just remember to do that:-)