Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Sacrificial Lamb

"You can be so stubborn, there's times I think you just like to fight. And I hope and pray I live to see a day when you say I might be right. And there's times I'd rather kill you than listen to your honesty. But you've always been a friend to me."
~Garth Brooks, "A Friend to Me"

Pat Parelli has said that the first horse a person brings to level 3 (and now level 4) is a "Sacrificial lamb" of sorts. That horse is the one that is put up against all our personal flaws, teaching errors, emotional fitness (or lack there of), and they help us become who we need to be as we learn.

I've been thinking about this concept all day since it came up in the lesson I was teaching this morning--one of my students inquired about something, and I explained that sometimes, though we do our best, the horse we learn PNH with gets to suffer some blunders for the sake of learning.

I had a learning day with Prin today. A big one. It's been an off couple of months for us, and I'm FINALLY starting to get back into my routine of "normality"--that is to say, being able to go to the farm and be positive, progressive, and natural, all at once. Since our freestyle is pretty much ace, I've chosen to develop and focus a bit more energy on our online, while of course keeping the balance with our other savvys. So--to our online.

I made an observation while playing yesterday that really was spark for some thought last night and into my session today. With regard to the circling game, Prin, though very light and responsive in her send, is not biomechanically correct. Breaking down the movement, my horse is not *really* using herself. She falls onto her forehand, and actually does like a haunches-in out onto the circle--her weight falls inward and forward, and her ribs invert toward me. The overall lesson she taught me yesterday was to be more particular about her zone 3, something that I put into practice immediately, and have seen some nice changes with already.

Today, I started out playing with some review of what we did yesterday with zone 3, which went alright. I recognize it's a learning process, and so grant her (and myself!) some room for improvement. We also played with strengthening and stretching her haunches using more vigorous and particular sideways, coupled with circling and slow, flowing backward S pattern. Also played with finding more refined communication with long lines (When did I get so clumsy with 2 reins?!) Though this all went "okay", Prin was erm...kind enough (?) to show me some holes in our online communication that are key to the holes in our communication in large area liberty. These are answers I've been seeking for quite some time, so I was glad for them, but at the same time, it was a bit difficult to stomach. Accepting self-inadequacy is not always an easy go, especially when one is looking to make progress.

I took some of what she showed me, put together a slip-shod plan, played a little until we found a good place to stop for the day, and I packed up, and headed home to think. At first I felt VERY inadequate and frustrated, thinking how badly I wished I had found all this prior to the 6 week hiatus, and how I felt like I was right back to where I was about this time last year: non-progressive, annoyed, and lost as to where to go next. But as I thought further, I realized this is not the case at all. The trend here is simple, I'm not AT ALL where I was last year with regard to HORSEMANSHIP...mentally maybe, and here's why--when Prin gets brutally honest, it's usually because she's telling me I need to move on, that there's more to be learned, and I'm stalling (and by extension, boring the snot out of her). Last year, it was just before I made huge leaps into finishing up L3. I think the trend is the same here--she's asking me to "finish what I've started" so to speak.

In understanding this, I realized how grateful I am to have Prin as my partner, and how essential it is that I finish L4 with her. I had toyed with the idea of finishing my levels with Crest--the superior athlete and learner by far, but I realize it's totally not about that right now. Such a patient, kind, and tolerant horse is HARD to come by, and Prin has stuck it out with and for me all the way. I need that friend and that partner with me to help me learn the final stages. So, as sappy as it sounds, I'd just like to take a chance to thank Prin. Thank you for being my Sacrificial Lamb, girl. I need ya more than I sometimes realize!

1 comment:

Lea and Eddie said...

=-) Sounds like you guys are well on your way to professionalism, even though it was hard.
Yay Fran & Prin!!!