Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cross-Country Skiing

Ok, so I know what you're thinking (well probably not, but it's just a creative way to start...ha), "what does cross country skiing have to do with horses and horsemanship? Well, I suggest going out and trying it, and you'll see!!

But until then, let me tell you my interesting connections...

The first time I went cross country skiing I was in middle school. The second time I went was last week. The third time was today. Since my mom passed away, all of these things that were hers are now mine if I so choose to take them. What's nice is, when I use them, I think of her. But alas, this is not a blog about my mom, it is about cross country skiing and it's connection to horsemanship.

I went skiing for the first time in a long time last Saturday, and was wobbly, couldn't get going very easily, couldn't stop very easily, and couldn't turn very easily. How did I get anywhere then? Persistence, and a good attitude. What are the three things that we keep reminding ourselves to be while studying horses, and through our lives? Be Positive, Progressive and Natural. Ha, I did that without even thinking! Yay! So I was just feeling it out the first time (well second really) to see if it was something I wanted to pursue. Turns out, even though I wasn't very good, I wanted to get out there again! But...the snow melted, and I had to wait.

You should have seen me yesterday waiting for the snow to start falling. I was pretty excited when it did! You know what that means...more skiing! So today, I went a little out of my comfort zone (but not too far!) and took my skis to the park own the road. I was a little nervous about seeing someone, and having them watch my fumble around, and about the hills...there are some bigger hills and curvy trails in the woods, and I still couldn't turn very can see where I'm going. Even so, I went.

I got to the park, put on my skis and off I went. The snow was perfect, the air was chilly, a wonderful day for a ski. As I went up and down the hills, twisting and turning through the woods, I was still having trouble turning. I realized I was looking at my feet...hmmmm. What do I tell my students all the time? Look where you're going! What was I not doing? Looking where I was going! I looked up, and surprise!! I turned without even thinking about it. Imagine that, you FOCUS where you are going and it's a heck of a lot easier to go there! Timing, feel and balance came into play also, and as I was going along I would try really hard to focus on my feel, timing and balance. But surprisingly enough, the times where I was just enjoying myself, and not focusing on those three things, but just focusing on where I was going, were the times that my feel, timing and balance were in harmony. Lastly, I grew up downhill skiing, and for anyone who has done both, you know the way you propel yourself very different. Sometimes I would find myself trying to move the way I would with downhill skis. I had to retrain my brain and my muscles to the new way and get the muscle memory going.

Now, if that's not similar to horsemanship, than I don't know what is. :)  What are the 10 Qualities of a Horseman? Heart and Desire, respect, impulsion, flexion, attitude/focus, feel, timing, balance, savvy experience. There are some major similarities there!

In the end, it seems everything can connect back to the principles we learn in Parelli. Can we strive to be positive, progressive and natural in every situation, and most of all, put the relationship first, whether it's with yourself, someone else, or your horse.