Monday, December 13, 2010

Patience is not a virtue, it's a requirement

After reading Nuzzling Muzzles' inquiry on GaWaNi's recent injury (I think it was Nuzz, but of course now I can't find the reference), I thought I'd see if I could find one of his books. Unfortunately, I like to read these things in order and the man's first book is a coffee table book.

I don't tend to buy coffee table books, because we don't keep our coffee table clear enough to accommodate them and they are far too expensive for my budget these days. Someday soon, that will change.

So I went to the library. No go. Not many horse books in our little library. But I know something many people don't take advantage of. Inter library loan or ILL. If you live in a small community, it's the best way to find books like this. Major libraries have much larger collections and regularly lend out books to other libraries' patrons.

Here's some info from Wikipedia:
Interlibrary loan, or resource sharing, has two operations: borrowing and lending.
  • A borrowing library sends an owning library a request to borrow, photocopy, or scan materials needed by their patron.
  • The owning library fills the request by sending materials to the borrowing library or supplies a reason why it cannot fill the request.
  • If the item is sent, the borrowing library notifies the patron when the item arrives.
Loan requests between branch libraries in the same local library system are usually filled promptly, while loan requests between library systems may take weeks to complete. However, if an item is rare, fragile, or exceptionally valuable, the owning library is under no obligation to release it for interlibrary loan.

Anyway, I guarantee your local library has this service.

When I got the book I dove in and was struck immediately by several impressions. First of all the photography was beautiful. Secondly, it's kind of weird to encounter modern photos of someone in native dress (I say this as a woman who is 1/4 Yaqui and attends sweat lodges on occasion. but I suppose that's silly since I see people in cowboy hats all the time and never think about it much).

But most importantly, it was as if I was experiencing another dimension of the Mark Rashid clinic.

It's a bit like I finally have the cultural landscape to understand a place - why the doors are that color blue, or why everyone drinks tea instead of coffee. A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to 'get' this book. Now, I can actually absorb what he's teaching.

There are a dozen teachings in this book I could comment on here, but I'll focus on two.

The first, of course, is focus. I experimented with the approach GaWaNi suggests. He talks about your center, or rather the center of you and your horse together when you're riding as a point about six inches down from the horse's wither. He suggests focusing on this point to stop or move your horse.

This is a great deal like the breathing and energy exercises Mark talked about. Yet this description gave me a way to focus my idea of my center onto a single point. Smokey and I rode at my old barn the other day, taking in some arena time to work on cantering and turning and stopping (something Smokey has a hard time with in places where there's lots of excitement going on - like at a parade. more on that another time).

I did as GaWaNi suggested. I imagined that point in "our" body stopping completely and being tied to the ground as firmly as a concrete pillar.

It was very effective. Even when another horse entered the arena and provided some excellent distraction, it worked. But maintaining that level of focus was intense amount of work. It sounds like nothing, so simple, but I had to work very diligently to keep my mind in that place.

Later, when we were walking back from a short ride down the driveway - I go farther with him each time - I did the second exercise. I moved the point in "our" body without a single leg or rein aide. I just imagined, firmly, the point drifting from one side of the driveway to the other. Smokey followed the drifting precisely, at one spot he didn't want to (but look! there's the herd!), but I firmly - with my mind - pushed the point over. He actually stumbled a step, then drifted over.

It was an amazing feeling of connectedness, that feeling you have when you stop over thinking and merely do something with intense focus. You are wholly there, completely in that moment.

The second point was the title of this post. It's nearly the last line in the book, but it's so important I'm thinking of having shirts made with this on it.

When working with horses, patience is not a virtue. It's a requirement.

We were working on our turns in the arena at the canter and I kept this thought in my mind. We got a few turns in but it's still not quite there. Turns while trotting, that's now nearly perfect.

I know I'll work through this with Smokey, but it'll take patience. It seems to me that 90% of what I do with my horse is about being patient while being consistent. A lot like life, I guess.

Focus. Purpose. Patience. My new mantra.

Hope you've been riding...


Dan and Betty said...

Focus, purpose, patience. I like that. Another for me is consistent, patience, persistence.

When I get past my surgery and can ride again I'll try that focus point idea.

Thanks for sharing.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Yes, that was me inquiring about anyone's knowledge of Pony Boy's injury. I've seen a lot of clinicians, and he's the best of all I've seen. I haven't seen Mark Rashid in person, though. I'm sure he's a must for me to experience. I've read both their books.

Allenspark Lodge said...

"Horse, Follow Closely" was one of the first books I asked for as a birthday gift (after reading all of Mark's books at the time) and dearly loved all the pictures. I need to go reread it now. Yep, my horses let me know when that concentration fails - and it IS work - but so worth it!

Anonymous said...

He's the reason my younger daughter only rides Dawn bareback.

Some very good food for thought in your post.

Jan said...

Breathe, I have one of his other books: Of Women and Horses, which has essays by horsewomen and commentary by GaWaNi Pony Boy. It's a wonderful book. Wow- your work on moving the center with Smokey is amazing! And the statement on patience is so true, and good to be reminded of frequently. Thanks!

AareneX said...

On behalf of librarians everywhere >bowing< thank you for posting info about ILL. Interlibrary loaning is a godsend to small libraries!

I do like Ponyboy's Mark Rashid, he's all about common sense applied properly. Sometimes he seems a little bit "twinkle-twinkle-ding-dong" in his approach, which I think is partly marketing. A lot of his readers like that, and his readers pay the bills.

If you read all his work, you can see through the marketing into the really good patience !

I was impressed at the extent to which he watches his horses in order to know them better. After reading his books, I started watching my mares more closely, and paying attention to what they do when I'm not actively interacting with them. It's really interesting stuff.

morningbrayfarm said...

I've only now been taking riding lessons for several months, but I absolutely know that I'll never stop learning.

Focus. Purpose. Patience.

What a great mantra Winter!!!

Jeni said...

Focus, Purpose, Patience oh how true! I must find these books .. oh Library here I come.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I couldn't find anything on his injury. I hope he's okay. My daughter saw him and his horses once at a clinic/demonstration and was impressed. We've got the books but the library is a good idea. I'll have to check it out next time I'm looking for something.

Focus, patience and purpose. Great things to strive for while riding. Have a great Christmas.