Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Day one, the demo
We arrived early in Santa Fe on Thursday, early enough to claim a nice parking spot and stall for Amigo and Smokey. Carlos, the manager for Challenge New Mexico (a therapeutic riding center and our host location for the clinic), was wonderful, helping us back into place, unhook our trailer and get set up.
Now of course we can unhook our own trailer. But I've long ago come to a place where if someone is willing to help then I'm willing to accept it. When I was younger I might feel I needed to make a point of doing it myself.
I'm so over that.
Slowly people arrived and the demo got underway (the full clinic really would start on Friday).
Now if you ever have a chance to take part in a clinic with Mark Rashid - whether as a rider or an auditor - you absolutely must, must, must take part in the demo. Because this is no ordinary demo. This is not some guy riding around on a horse showing how he can do a bunch of cool things with a horse. In fact the one rule at the demo was we could not ask anything about horses. No conversation about "I have this horse..." or "a friend of mine has this horse..." or "let's say, just hypothetically, you had a horse that..."
We were all taken aback by these ground rules, but abided by them, curious what else we could possibly talk about.
This demo was about understanding energy and space.
Mark showed, through a series of exercises, how controlling the space and controlling the energy (or perhaps, more accurately, merging the energy) you could change just about anything.
Along with controlling space and working with energy we learned the importance of intention. At one point I was trying one of the energy exercises (where we push against resisting individuals) and nothing was happening. He came over and said "Now move them." With that intention in my mind, along with a sense of energy and control of space, they did, indeed, move when they hadn't before.
We, as people, are like concert goers with ear muffs, compared to horses when it comes to feeling energy and intention. Our horses have nothing muffling their senses, and I imagine that to them, who readily read energy off a herd or just each other, we must be a jangling mess. I suspect that when they encounter someone who flows, clearly and consistently, it must come as a tremendous relief.
The demo wound to a close and we stepped out into the cool night air from the indoor arena. We drove back to my father's house in the East Mountains of Albuquerque (where we were staying) filled with wonder. This was already like nothing I'd expected. So much of what I was hearing were things, philosophies, really, that I needed in my non horse life even more than in the saddle.
The next day I'd be able to ask every horse question I had, and Smokey, never very good in an arena, would step into a new place, with me on his back.
And there we would begin to find our way.