We are already so far into the year, I can’t believe tomorrow is the 1st May! It feels like the trees shook themselves overnight and in a blink spring was here. There is blossom everywhere, dandelions and daisies are scattered all over the place and I know it’s time to try and drag my summer clothes out of hiding.
I feel like in the months since last summer I have made some huge progress, though it may not seem that way from the outside. “Did you pass that test yet?” Is the question I am asked, and the answer is “Not yet, we’re almost there”. Do I have my Level 3 yet? No, I don’t, but does that mean we are still “Stuck” in the same place we have been for years? No. Does it mean I haven’t worked hard enough or put enough time and effort into my horsemanship? No. Does it mean that I’m just not as good as others? Of course it doesn’t. Does it mean that I haven’t improved at all? Absoloutely not!
These are the conversations I have with myself, and every time I catch myself MSU-ing (Making Stuff Up), or doubting myself, I like to think of my knowledge and experience as like a loading bar on a computer. When you are downloading data for example, the screen can reach 99% complete before you see any evidence of the product you are trying to download. Do you get to 99%, close off your computer in frustration and tell yourself you can’t ever download anything, that you’re a failure and this stuff doesn’t work? Of course you don’t, because you know that the 99% is the step right before you get what you want. You know that if you are patient enough, keep doing what you’re doing and just hang in there, you’ll see results pretty quickly.
So why would your experience with horsemanship be any different? Tomorrow I’m preparing to go out and begin playing with my horse again, and start preparation for our second online audition. Those of you who have been following my journey will know that my last submission was unsuccessful, and even though for a little while at first I felt as though I had forgotten everything I’d learned, I soon reminded myself of the HUGE steps we have taken in the last 6 months or so. I am so proud of the try that my horse is offering now, I know that my leadership has, and continues to improve every time I play or ride. I also know where the holes are in the tasks I am working on for my audition, and best of all I know what to do to fix them. Additionally, my confidence in the saddle is SO far improved from where we were. I can canter without any issues, and on its own that is beyond huge. Still I have moments of indecision sometimes when I think about getting in the saddle, but I’m not afraid to admit that because I know that I am only human, and I know that the more knowledge and experience I gain, the more confident I will become, both in my ability to judge the situation and to make the right decisions.
Above all, the biggest improvements I have made as a leader are the following three things:
1) It’s OKAY to make mistakes. In fact, it’s imperative to your journey to screw up occasionally, because those are the moments where you LEARN. And not just in your horsemanship, like most other things, this applies to the rest of your life too.
2) My emotional fitness, and how to put the RELATIONSHIP first. When doing auditions in the past, I found it really hard not to be direct-line and I put my goals in front of my horsemanship. I’ve since learned that your HORSEMANSHIP is what’s being assessed, the tasks are just an excuse to showcase that! Talk about a BFO. The difference was this time, through each audition I set myself and my horse up for success, played to our strengths, and when I play back each video I was laughing the whole way through. I had FUN. I may not have passed the last time, but I did exactly what my horse needed on that day, in that moment, so the scores on the doors don’t matter, in my horses eyes, I WON. That is what will carry me through every audition from now on. I know that every time we play we’re closing the gap between where we are, and where we want to be.
3) OWN where you are. I am no longer going to use where I am to judge myself. It’s so easy as humans to compare ourselves to others (a lot of the time it’s great, that’s how we improve and are inspired), but if you start using your current position as a reason to beat yourself up? Major No No. It won’t help your journey, and it will make you feel like a failure before you begin. You are where you are, and that is EXACTLY where you are meant to be. Others who are on the outside looking in don’t know where you started, how far you have come, or how hard you had to work to be where you are. Look at what you have overcome, look at how you have grown as a person, as partners and be PROUD. The truth is, although we have goals, there really is no End Game. Once I have achieved my Level 3, then I will be in my Level 4 journey, and I will begin all over again in a new chapter. You CAN’T get it wrong, and you’ll never get it DONE!
If you are always waiting to be in a certain place before you feel good, e.g “I won’t be happy until I have achieved this”, or “I won’t be pleased until I have that”, you are postponing your happiness! Always pleased but never satisfied. Don’t forget it’s great to have goals, but although the future is important, life is only really ever about Right Here and Right Now. That’s where you make the future, that’s where your power is.
So I guess my message today is, be PROUD of yourself. You are in a fantastic place, look back at how far you have come and give yourself permission to Feel Good about it! Look at where you’re going and know that you are on your way there, but above all enjoy NOW, enjoy every step of the journey because before you know it, you’ll be on the next step looking back.
I no longer want to look back at my journey and think “Oh I did that, and then I finally achieved that and got this certificate and that string”, I want to look back and think “Boy, didn’t we have FUN that day. Wasn’t it great when we figured that bit out, and solved that puzzle, and made that video”.
The greatest achievements are in the little moments at the end of the day when the sun is setting, you just finished a session teaching your horse something new, they come over to you and rest their head next to yours and you hear as they breathe out “Thank you for doing right by me today”.
Your journey belongs to you, be proud of where you are, and OWN it.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. And as always thank you for following my journey and for being a part of it.
Love to you all.
P.s. I would just like to add that the support of Parelli instructors for me has been incredible. You have all helped me SO much, each and every one of you is amazing and you are all so valuable to me and Dillon, and to our journey. There are too many to name all of you, but you know who you are and you are all a huge part of my learning, and a part of my life as you each inspire me in your own ways. Thank you xx