Friday, December 7, 2012

Mind: Blown

Pat Parelli and friends

I’m sorry I didn’t post on Monday. I wanted to, but I was suffering the aftereffects of a weekend spent having my mind blown.

My friend Marianne and I attended the Tampa stop of the Parelli Horse and Soul Tour Dec. 1-2. We spent two days perched on uncomfortable bleachers, trying to absorb all we could from each session. Sessions included information on the Parelli program’s Seven Games, “Horsenality” (personality types of horses) and rider biomechanics, as well as “spotlights” featuring Parelli-trained humans and their horses and a couple of “horse makeover” segments in which Pat or Linda Parelli worked with an individual and her horse to overcome problems they were having. We saw some remarkable examples of horsemanship, both on the ground and in the saddle. I won’t go into all the details of what we learned, but I will share with you three concepts/lessons I took away.

Para-Olympian Lauren Barwick 
Lauren is paralyzed from the waist down
“Where knowledge ends, violence begins”
Pat Parelli said this in one of our first sessions and it was easy to see how this is true of more than just horse/human relations. When we don’t understand someone or something, we can become afraid. And when we’re afraid, anger and violence too often follow close behind. The more I learn about horse behavior, particularly my horse’s behavior, the gentler I can be with him, and the more he will trust me. The more I understand other people, the gentler I can be with them as well.

Playing the Sideways Game at liberty (with no lead rope)
“Let the horse make the mistake”
Instead of micromanaging the horse, trying to prevent him from doing the wrong thing, allow him to make a mistake. Then correct him and teach him the right thing to do. (Parelli pointed out that micromanaging is really like nagging.) This really struck me because I know I sometimes micromanage Tank. Ask, wait, correct if necessary. That’s it. Don’t ask, ask, ask louder…

I easily see how this can be applied to how I deal with myself and with others. How do I feel when someone nags or micromanages me? I do this to myself all the time, because it seems like I have a pathological fear of making mistakes and doing things “wrong.” I have to remember that making mistakes is necessary for learning. I need to relax about them, allow them to happen, and then learn from them without browbeating myself in the process.

Linda Parelli with Hot Jazz
“Use lateral (not linear) thinking to problem-solve”
Linear thinking follows a step-by-step process, essential if you’re putting something together or cooking a complicated recipe, for example. Lateral thinking uses creativity and an indirect approach, like when you’re brainstorming ideas or actively problem-solving. Lateral thinking is essential when working with horses because every problem that comes up is different because every horse and human partnership is different. If you ask a horse to do something, and he either doesn’t do it or freaks out about it, you’ve got a problem that needs lateral thinking.

I’m not very good at lateral thinking. I’d rather know that if I do X then Y will happen. So often I do X and Q happens and I’m not sure what to do next. Maybe I should try B or Z or even 7? I want to develop creativity and flexibility in my thinking, both with my horse and in the rest of my life. (It’s easy to think of other situations that need lateral thinking—perhaps motivating a teenager to do something he doesn’t want to do?)

Last weekend reignited my passion for playing with my horse and building a stronger partnership with him. I always enjoy my time with Tank, but now I can’t wait to get to the barn. In fact, that’s where I’ll be this morning! Trying out my knowledge and lateral thinking, and letting him (and myself) make mistakes. 

Has anything blown your mind lately?

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4 comments:

Cheryl Gebhart said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend. Anything that reignites your passion is a good thing.

I'm not very good at lateral thinking either - I'm not even sure how to get better at it.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

It was great, Cheryl. And as far as lateral thinking goes, I don't think I even consciously realized what it was!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

What a neat thing that you got to do. I like how you are thinking about all the areas where you can apply what you learned. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Kathy M.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Kathy--You're welcome. It was truly an awesome weekend. It's easy for me to see where some of the lessons I learn at the barn can be taken out to the rest of my life--I just hope I explain well enough that others can profit by them, too.