This month enjoy a post written by Annemarie Meerkerk!
Annemarie is a dedicated student of the Parelli program and is visiting from The Netherlands. She has been here for four weeks and goes home at the end of February.
It has been such a treat to have an assistant with such a high skill set and character; making my days a little sweeter and a lot more efficient!
Take care of the little things because one day you will realize they were the big things.
Or as Emily Dickinson said, “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.”
I think most of us have heard this before: Level 4 is nothing more than Level 1 done with excellence.
But still, we cannot wait to get to Level 4! Or start our chosen specialization. I mean, in the end that is why we bought a horse right? To ride dressage and jump or even canter bridle-less through the sand along the beach….
We are looking for the BIG things. Until we realize that actually, the big things are earned, built and cultivated in small steps, with small things done successfully, and with quality every day.
So how do we take care of the little things so that the big things take care of themselves?
By making sure our foundation is in place.
The foundation is Level 1 all the way up to Level 4.
In order for us to do specialized things with our horses we need to have a partner that is mentally, emotionally and physically fit. Each level is designed to bring us to a new level of fitness in all areas.
In level 1 and 2 we are working on mental fitness. We learn about the 7 games, horse psychology, rope handling, and how to act “savvy”.
Level 3 is teaching emotional fitness to both the horse and human.
Level 4 is about building physical fitness.
Together the levels will give us a solid, all around foundation.
Remember, the horse can only be as good of a partner as we are. Work on yourself, play with your horse ?
Here’s another reason that your foundation deserves the highest focus and attention to detail: your entire specialization rests on top of it.
Ensuring that the foundation is built to the highest standards possible is indeed worthwhile.
Moving to the big things too soon shows us where the holes in our foundation are. Let me give you a example:
Let’s say that you are interested in jumping. You have set up your first jumping course and you get started. Not long after you find out that it is quite a challenge because you and your horse seem not to be able to ride a straight line.
Or (this is one of my own experiences) what about opening a gate?
I know that teaching your horse good yields, forequarters and hindquarters, is important.
But when you actually need them to open a gate, these fundamental skills rise to a whole new level of importance.
Although it is better to do something sooner rather later, you will have moments where you get surprised by gaps in your foundation and that is great. Challenges show us what we already have and how we can improve. Don’t feel bad about them, learn from them and work on them. You will see that you’re foundation will stand and endure the next test you and your horse will experience together!
Micaela Love, who I am currently studying with, and the inspiration for this blog, reminds me of this every day. She takes care of the little things, adding even extra care, and I can see how they evolve into the big and beautiful things.
And not only with horses, also with people. She makes me raise my standards with both horses and humans and I love her for it. THAT is good horsemanship!