Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

What did *you* learn at the barn today?

So I’ve taught a particular lesson a few times over the last few days – one of the deceptively simple variety... hahaha but I’ve been sort of amused by the number of “life lessons” coming out of these. Which got me thinking...

Things I’ve learned at the barn (feel free to contribute! I know there are tons I’ve missed!):

- Live in the present. You can’t fix what’s past and if you focus solely on the future, you may never get there. (worrying about fence 12 is no good if you never get past fence 3! Alternately, retirement might be a nice dream, but if you don’t go to work today you’ll never get there.)

- Don’t look back. You hit the rail, whether or not it falls at this point is irrelevant. But by looking back you may mess up the next one too.

- don’t count on somebody else to tack up your horse properly. You’re riding, your responsibility.

- don’t jump anything until you’ve inspected the landing side.

- Always involve all relevant parties in the planning phases of a project. As in rider goes in thinking “we’re going to work on half-pass today” and horse goes in thinking “GALLOP!!!!” – guess who wins?

- Master the fine art of negotiation. Will help solve the above issue :)

- ride every stride. Autopilot will only take you so far, and rarely where you intend to go (see consult all relevant parties above :)

- keep your eyes up. You need to look where you’re going to get there.

- Not knowing how to do something is a perfectly acceptable (and necessary!) part of learning. Knowing how and choosing not to do something is less good. When I bought my first car I didn’t know how to drive standard (how very embarrassing to have to have your mother drive your shiny new car home from the dealership!). I stalled it. Often. For the first few days, n then I got better. That was fine, new skill just learning. Current car I stall about once a year – and every time comes with foul language and a quick look around to see who saw *g* That is not fine, because really I can drive it in my sleep. Stalling now means I was seriously not paying attention and/or did something very dumb. Same thing goes on horseback. If you have the skill, use it. Every time.

- be patient and calm – or learn to fake it! When working with prey animals, signs of anger or aggression significantly aggravate any situation. Treat your boss like a prey animal and soon he’ll be working for you.

- you can learn more from a bad ride than a good one.

- consider your body language. Do you angle your body towards the horse or away from? Look directly at him or down and to the side? How does the horse react when you’re tense/angry/upset? How does she know? You need to be aware of these things because your horse definitely is. When you can see you the way your horse sees you, you’ll have a much better partnership. Now sub “significant-other” in for “horse”.

- ever heard the one about getting back on the horse? Nuff said.

- green on green is rarely a good idea. (ok for adult students only, R rated, under 18 skip the rest of paragraph, etc etc: riding is kinda like sex, it’s much better if at least one partner knows what they’re doing!)

- admit when you don’t know what you’re doing and ask questions! It’s really hard to teach somebody who knows everything, so acknowledge to yourself that you’re there to learn and ask anything you need to. This is perhaps not the best philosophy if you’re the lead surgeon in a heart transplant, but for the rest of us... hahaha

- don’t let one bad moment ruin everything. Yeah that walk-canter transition was pretty much the antithesis of what they were looking for. So what? You can balance a 3 with a 9 easily enough! Let it go, and make the next move perfect! If you focus on “omg that was soooo bad” you’re going to ruin the next few moves too. Rinse and repeat.

- get your priorities straight: water, food, shelter, sleep, fun. In that order. Anything other than those are highly negotiable.

- smarts and skill win out over strength every time.

- speed kills: riding, driving, or drugs. Never a good idea to go faster than you can steer.

- approaching a jump from a different direction makes it an entirely new jump. The same can be said of most of life’s obstacles.

- jumping is dressage with speedbumps. Learn your dressage and jumping becomes easy. Roughly – sometimes the boring and the tedious (sorry to all the DQs out there!) are necessary to succeed at the fun and exciting.

- the greenest horse has something to teach the best rider.

- ride what you're sitting on -- just because she was a pro-star yesterday, doesn't guarantee a repeat performance!

- ride the horse you *want* to have; ask nicely and expect the good response - you may be surprised how quickly you get it.

- if you want to win the good grooming award, you’d better be prepared to get dirty.

- fake it! Make it look like you know what you’re doing and having a good time and one day it will come true :) We are what we pretend to be.

- take credit for flukes “absolutely I asked for that lead change!”

- and then quit while you’re ahead!

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