“You need to do less sooner; you’re always doing too much, late,” natural horseman Ray Hunt said.
This simple principle applies to all arenas of life, even something as elementary as arriving on time. If I allow myself adequate time to get to work, class, church or a meeting, then I stay relaxed throughout the process. I am able to meander, to drive below the speed limit, to notice the vast, cerulean sky. When I am running behind, however, then I must restrict myself to tunnel vision, calculating the quickest possible route to my destination.
The concept of doing less sooner bears further weight when in the context of preparation. This coming summer, I will be studying with four-star Parelli professional Nita Jo Rush, who is located near St. Cloud, Minn. Over the past few months, I have invested time preparing Savanna for her first significant trailer ride. I aim to have Savanna relaxed for the four-hour trip. She has struggled to be confident in horse trailers in the past, so I have intentionally set aside time for her to find comfort in the trailer.
Thanks to the generosity of a woman at my barn, Savanna has had the opportunity to ride in a trailer for increasing lengths of time this spring. She eats her breakfast in the trailer when my family does chores on Saturdays so she has the time she needs to learn that she can trust this “metal cave on wheels,” as Pat Parelli calls it.
Another detail regarding my upcoming journey to Minnesota has been finding a trailer available to rent in which I can bring Savanna to and from Minnesota. A few weeks ago, before I had found a trailer, I voiced my concern to my sister about how I would transport Savanna. She hesitated for a moment, and then she looked me in the eyes and said, “You’ve got to problem-solve. Don’t just freak out.”
That was it: simple but profound. She reminded me exactly what Pat Parelli says about how we aim as horsemen to be lateral thinkers and puzzle-solvers rather than direct-line thinkers. We must give ourselves enough time to make sense of the task before us. The same goes for our horses. We aim to teach our horses to think rather than react, but if we consistently ask them to respond off of our heavy and late communication, then we will stagnate at mediocrity. We aim for excellence with our horses, so we owe them timeliness and lightness in communication.
“Focus gives you feel,” Pat says. “Focus and feel give you timing. Focus, feel and timing give you balance.” All of these moving parts work together to create harmony. We must not be late, neither in life nor with our horses. When we give ourselves and our horses enough time to respond appropriately to pressure, they find comfort in partnership and begin anticipating our thoughts.