Saturday, February 27, 2010

Emotional Fitness

This afternoon, my friend invited me to come out with her to play with her two critters at her new boarding barn. Silly me - I imagined a relaxed time watching Alyssa play horsey. Not so!

My friend handed her sensitive LBE Arab mare's leadrope to me and instructed me to go play with her. So, I led Vannah into the arena, swapped out her 12' rope for a 22', and then pretty much burst into tears. Hmm..

I've noticed for awhile that I'm having leadership issues. I also have had pretty significant performance anxiety. Put them together and it apparently equals tears. Now, I wasn't thinking any particular thoughts to provoke this, I was just trying to gather my thoughts to get started. When the tears started, I actually started to giggle and to think, "How interesting.."

I've just finished reading the book, The Tao of Equus and listening to the audiobook, Be the Pack Leader. Both books stress the importance of emotional congruence when working with both people and animals. So, I didn't try to suppress my feelings. Instead, I took a moment to explore them with Alyssa and then to regroup.

In a nutshell, I feel powerless and ineffective when working on a 22' line. Plus, I feel awkward when playing with someone else's experienced horse for fear that I'll annoy the horse with my clumsiness. I feel as though I'm in a fog whenever knowledgeable PNH folks watch me. (Forget ever auditioning for Pat!!)

It boils down the that fact that I've spent 6+ years *studying* Parelli Natural Horsemanship and during all that time, roughly the equivalent of 6 months of applied daily practice. I was in "Level 1 Limbo" for no kidding about 3 years.. (The red L1.) As an innate LBI, in all that time I've done way too much "thinking" and not enough time "moving my feet."

I now have the opportunity to move through the discomfort of "conscious incompetence." With all of my theoretical knowledge, I'm highly critical of my own performance. But, I now have a plan for a series of future play sessions:

Using the tool of "isolate, separate & recombine" I am going to turn over planning and direction to her, while I focus on refining my cues & body language. My friend's horse is playing somewhere in L3 Online and will give me clear feedback whenever I miss the mark. This will also allow me to work through my performance issues in a safe environment.

All I can think is, thank goodness that this has come up NOW, while I have time to deal with it before the Carol Coppinger clinic in May. Conscious competence, here I come!


inchwormwv said...

Sounds like you have the self awareness to spot, and the ability to think through these threshholds. That's a lot of savvy. I applaud you for your willingness to not only take this journey of never ending self improvement, but to share it on your blog, and to seek help from others and not stay blocked! Gold Stars!! Tenley

Naturally Gaited said...

Thanks, Tenley. I know that you've seen me melt down under the "pressure" of playing with my horse (Smokey) at a Parelli Tournement, and also before a lesson with Kelly Sigler! Now that I'm thinking about it, this has been going on for awhile. And remember when I tossed up my hands at the task you assigned me during the WV playdate? It is seriously time to address the issue..

Lisa said...

As a fellow LBI, I empathize with you. I spend way too much time in my head. I don't recogize my skills and talents and I'm far too wrapped up in everthing I cannot yet do.

A really helpful tool has actually been video-tapping my sessions. Not for any other reason than to see myself from the outside. When I was practicing for my L3 on-line audition, I just set the camera up and let it roll. I was surprised that some of what I thought was really bad was pretty good. It's helped me gain perspective on my abilities. Rarely was anything worse than I thought it was.

Hey, when/where is your Carol clinic? I love Carol - she's fabulous.

~ Lisa

Naturally Gaited said...

Thanks, Lisa. Recording myself has really surprised me too.

I'll be at Carol's L2/3 clinic in Bristol on May 15-16. I signed up a year in advance and am planning to take Guinness. I sure hope that we are ready. I can't wait!


Lisa said...

Oh I wish I could get up there and audit! I have a L3/4 camp with her at her place in Mt. Juliet the weekend before. I've been studying with Carol for about four/five years now - taking a clinic or two each year and auditing as much as I can.

Carol is a patient and wonderful teacher. I've seen her put a student on a 22' line for a safety net and I've seen her teach advanced students - sometimes all in the same clinic. No matter what, you'll be ready because we are where we are. Besides, I think of my lack of "preparedness" as job security for all the current and aspiring Parelli instructors. ;o)

~ Lisa

Tina said...

Realizing you have a problem is the first step! I had one horse teach me a LOT about emotional congruence, and it led to many tears and eventually greater emotional fitness for me. I suffer from some of the same maladies as you (perf. anxiety, brain fog, LBI-ness, etc) so I can empathize.

What a super opportunity for you to be able to work on your issues with a good horse and good friend! You'll have to keep us posted!

Naturally Gaited said...

Lisa, it would be great to meet up somewhere. We'll have to see if we can arrange it at a future Carol C. clinic! I'm really interested in learning about teaching naturally gaited horses to also trot and canter on cue. I would like Guinness to use all of his gears! :-)

Tina, I love your blog (and yours too, Lisa!). I just caught up on reading the entire thing. Please keep it up! I don't have Facebook for fear that it would take over my life..