Pat Parelli opened the gate and nodded for two-star Parelli Professional Anna Hill to follow. Anna’s hesitations grew as she thought about riding Rosie outside the round pen. That day marked the unpredictable little mare’s first real ride. “Not going to happen,” Anna thought. “That’s a big, open field. That’s twenty acres.”
Anna collected herself and dared to follow Pat, recognizing that despite her lack of confidence, she had a responsibility as Rosie’s leader to do what was best for this horse. Pat and Anna hooked onto a group of riders, and soon after leaving the round pen, Anna and Rosie rode comfortably through the pasture. Pat then led them to an open cow field where Rosie’s cutting instincts came alive. She surpassed Anna’s expectations.
According to Anna, students often lack confidence in themselves. They get caught up in thinking, “’I’m too old; I can’t do that,’ ‘We’re not ready for that’ or ‘That’s too far out of my comfort zone.’”
When we run into challenges, we need to pursue solutions to our problems rather than allow ourselves to get stuck in hesitation or lack of knowledge. “Don’t be too afraid of doing the wrong thing where you don’t do anything,” Anna said.
One of Anna’s long-time Parelli students from northern Minnesota didn’t think she would ever be able to play with her horse without a halter and rope. When Anna finally convinced her to participate in a liberty class, she “did six hours of liberty, and her horse didn’t leave her once,” Anna said. “It was amazing.”
Another of Anna’s students owns a Percheron-cross gelding, and the first time he jumped barrels, the student couldn’t believe what her horse had done. “She was almost crying because she just didn’t think it was possible,” Anna said.
Not only do we possess great dreams, but we are capable of achieving them. Whatever we hope to do with our horses, let us believe that it is possible and work every day to make it happen. “Don’t try to get it right today,” four-star master Parelli Professional David Ellis said. “Set it up today to get it right tomorrow.”
Students tend to either shut down the possibility of their dreams, or they fail to seek out the information needed to reach their goal. “How are you going to solve it if you don’t do anything about it?” Anna asked.
We have a fifty percent chance of being right and a fifty percent chance of being wrong, so “you might as well try to be right,” Anna said. If you don’t get the desired response, then you say, “Sorry, pony! I chose the wrong one,” and do it the other way.
“People are afraid to make mistakes,” Linda Parelli said. We need not be afraid, though. “You’re experimenting, and you’re trialing things, and you’ve got to try something, and then you deal with whatever the result was,” Linda said.
Each of us desires unity with our horses. We set our eyes on greatness, so let us not allow lack of confidence keep us from reaching our dreams. Our horses will have grace with us as we learn, and they will give us the freedom to embrace our imperfection. We will stand with humble confidence in the face of challenges, pursuing horsemanship with gentleness in our hands and expectation in our hearts.