Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Use Your Mirrors - Part III

Horses are kinda funny. Mom and I talked about the whole project horse deal and decided it would be best for me to just spend that time and energy on McKinna, as noted before. Especially since I'm joining Pony Club and will have ratings to occupy my time (since I am incurably competitive).

So what happens?

Mom just *happens* to be looking at Craigslist (which she never, ever looks at), and just *happens* to see a posting for a horse nearby who's basically exactly what I'd described. Young, Appendix, cheap, good personality, no vices, ridden on trails.

I mean, come ON. Seriously? Why is it that just when you decide you don't want a horse, ONE FALLS IN YOUR LAP?

We emailed the folks -- I couldn't pass it up, and I did some calculations and I can definitely afford it if I work enough hours (the deal is that this second horse is all mine: I buy it, I support it, and the like). Still haven't heard anything back from them. Which is definitely going to be a rule on the How To Sell Your Horse Series -- if someone emails you about your horse, especially less than an hour after you post the ad, CHECK YOUR EMAIL.

If they never respond, I won't be heartbroken. I figure either way I'm in a good place. If they respond, I get a horse for a screaming deal and sell her this summer (theoretically). If they don't respond, I'll just shove all that money in savings and buy a horse sometime later. Win/win!

Not much to update on the McKinna front. She's doing well, I miss riding, etc etc etc.

On to the third and final part!

Okay, remember how I said you need to leave your problems at the door to have consistent emotions? That's really, REALLY important. If you remember this one concept, it can help you make or break your season. If you can get your band to understand this concept, boy do you have it made.

Think of it this way: your negative emotions are like rocks you carry around with you. Stressed because you have a big test tomorrow and you didn't study? Rock. Had a big argument with your parents last night? Rock. Your best friend's cousin's dentist's daughter was flirting with the guy you like? Rock. You're just having a plain awful day and nothing seems to be going right? Rock. You're really tired, and you'd rather be at home than at stupid rehearsal? Rock. Work sucks? Rock.

Imagine carrying all those rocks around on your back while you're trying to rehearse. Or ride your horse.

You will never be effective if you carry those rocks with you while you're trying to get something accomplished. How on earth do you think you could march your show and play your instrument with forty pounds of rocks on your back? How do you think you could conduct with that much weight on you? Could you effectively work with and ride your horse if you were weighed down by so much stone? No. And if you can't drop your emotions, you are crippling yourself in the same way.

I don't care if you want to pick your rocks right back up again as soon as you're out the door -- that's fine. But you MUST leave them behind when you step onto your rehearsal field, when you step into the stable. Both large groups of people and horses are so sensitive to things like that, and I promise they will be able to tell if you can't separate the crap of everyday life from the time you spend working with them.

It can be really hard sometimes. I've had to run rehearsal knowing that my wonderful, amazing Golden Retriever was going to be euthanized the next day because of his cancer. I've had to smile at my band and speak inspirationally to them when I'm on the verge of a breakdown because I'm overwhelmed with schoolwork. I've had to ride my horse when I'm having such a bad day that all I want to do is curl up in bed and sleep. But it can be done, and it's worth doing.

If you do it right, you get to the point where you don't have to work as hard to drop it at the door. For me, the barn is a safe haven now. I step out of the car and automatically take a deep breath as I walk into the stable. I can feel myself calming down and relaxing as I meet my horse, and 99 times out of 100 it puts an instant smile on my face. No matter what's going on, I know that while I'm out at the barn, I'm in control; I'm enjoying myself and the partnership I have with my horse. Even if I'm frustrated with something else, I am able to let that go when I ride, simply from force of habit. Much the same, I find that sometimes I would go into rehearsal having a bad day and knowing that I needed to put that aside for my band -- but by the time rehearsal was over, I was actually having a good day.

Your horses and your band will KNOW if you've brought emotional issues to the table. It complicates things, it raises tensions and it's unfair to you and your band or horse. No matter how hard it seems, you need to leave your rocks behind: drop it at the door. Fake it if you have to. Pick everything back up again as soon as you leave if you have to. But to achieve the consistency that you need for a positive, amazing relationship, your emotions must be consistent and tension-free.

Leave your problems at the door.

Drop your rocks. It's liberating, I promise.


ORSunshine said...

While I get your post, I'm not sure my almost 14 yr old daughter will. Many, do you mind writing a more indepth explanation for a young teen? I want her to hear from someone else why being emotional (ie, teary) isn't good for you or your horse. I'm just mom, so what do I know, right?

I'd appreciate it!

manymisadventures said...

Sure thing. I'll do my best -- it's not something I'm super experienced with (unless you count tears after getting angry, ha) but I understand the general feeling.

I will do my best. I'm off to Pony Club camp for the next three days, so expect it sometime over the weekend.

Anonymous said...

I find that I don't consciously have to drop things when I arrive at the barn (I'm not sure if I ever did). In fact, if I'm having a particularly bad day/week/month, etc. I will go hang out with my horse...even if it's just pulling up a pile of shavings in her stall and watching her. Or spending a few minutes brushing her before tucking her in for the night. Doesn't matter...it's the unconditional friendship, love and understanding from her...and the knowledge that for those moments, nothing else in the world matters. It's like true love...it's just the two of us in the room, no matter if there's 20 or 2000 people around us.

MyLittlePony said...

orsunshine - hi I'm Many's mom. :) What emotion do you think is creating the tears? Fear? Frustration?

Many, I bet if you think about it, you could really relate your experiences with frustration/anger to being overly emotional with some other emotion.

Leah Fry said...

I, too, find that if I'm stressed or had a bad day, just being with the horses is very calming. Grooming them is kind of a Zen thing. I have seen the result of NOT taking your advice. I can get away with it with Jaz, cuz he's kinda one of those little lalala ponies that doesn't let much get to him. Poco, on the other hand, is a barometer and, as you say, a mirror. I call it "clearing my agenda."

Have fun at Pony Club camp. Take pix.

mugwump said...

zqlacwyHave to add. When I was riding with the Big K we had a standard phrase. "Go throw rocks."
We would holler at each other whenever somebody was losing their temper, or just getting drug down intoo a useless fight with their horse.
The point was, we literally would get off our horse, tie them up, and go throw rocks.
Five minutes of pitching rocks out of the arena made for better footing, and a better temper.
Then you could attack the problem with a peaceful mind.

manymisadventures said...

Go throw rocks -- ha! That sounds like a great idea. Constructive and calming.

Grooming always works for me...I've made a post about that before, actually, how much I love fussing on my horses. It's just soothing, to me.

ORSunshine said...

Sorry I didn't get back sooner to this. Had a spectacular system crash.

Many and Pony- My daughter doesn't want to hurt Charlie. She then cries out of frustration she says. To me, it seems like it's because she isn't getting or isn't doing what I'm asking. I've told her that when she's in the arena, I'm not her mom, I'm her instructor. I've also told her to not be afraid of hurting Charlie as he's essentially a "leather coat". If I say give him some leg, she NEEDS to give him some leg as he can be dead sided. Tears happen then. She doesn't want to hurt him. (She's barely squeezing), she cries because she "can't". It's not anger based. (I cry when I'm so angry I'm going to blow and then you better watch out!)

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