Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The “I Can’t Club”

For thousands of years there has been a prolific club offering memberships throughout the world to anyone who wants to join. It is the “I Can’t Club”. Under the bylaws club members are required to make “I can’t” statements with conviction and then think up as many excuses as possible about why these statements are correct. When it comes to horses here is a very small sampling of things I hear quite often:
I can’t find time to work with my horse.
I can’t sit the trot.
I can’t get my horse to stand still for mounting.
I can’t slow my horse down.
I can’t get my horse to go (especially into the canter).
I can’t get my horse to back.
I can’t get my horse to move or turn to the right.
I can’t get my horse in the trailer.
I can’t get the correct leads.
I can’t keep my horse calm on the trail.
I can’t find the right horse, trainer, saddle, bit, etc. the list goes on and on.

Even though there may be truth to these statements for the people proclaiming them, there is no reason to believe these are unchangeable situations or problems without effective solutions. However because of the fervor with which these “I can’t” proclamations are spoken it can sure hinder a person’s progress toward living the horse dreams they desire.

Let me make an analogy with the law of gravity. Everyone is subject to the force that pulls every object to the center of the earth. In a similar way, members of the “I Can’t Club” are prisoners to the downward pull of defeat. It is easy to become ground bound and even the thought of quitting the “I Can’t Club” seems impossible.

Often my job as an instructor and mentor of those who come to me for horsemanship training is to give them faith that there are many possibilities to change their current situation and practical solutions to overcome difficulties they are having with their horse or their riding skills. In other words not only do I give horse lovers physical strategies and techniques that will work with their horse, I seek to motivate their minds and hearts as well. When a person discovers some confidence in their knowledge and skills of horsemanship the relationship with the horse will change dramatically.

When we think about the law of gravity it seems impossible that a 190 ton mass of metal could rise against gravity’s pull and stay in the air. Practically speaking our mind says, “It can’t be done!” However, we all know it can be done by using the principles of aerodynamics. I do not completely understand the principles of aerodynamics, but because I have faith in those principles I can enter an airplane with full confidence that it will fly. Because of my belief I am no longer ground bound. Similarly when we discover horsemanship principles which work from the horse’s point of view and we give ourselves over to believe and follow those principles, the “I can’t” statements no longer prevent us from moving forward. You can start to turn the “I can’t” testimonies into “I can” when united with knowledge, patience, practice, and support.

Here is a small example of what I am talking about. (Although I want to qualify before you read on that I do not think this student is a member of the “I Can’t Club”. Rather this is a testimony to the change of thinking from I don’t believe to I do.)
“The lesson yesterday was simply magic!!!! I can't tell you how excited I am. I was serious when I said that I felt like crying. I never in my wildest dreams thought my horse could drop into a LOPE like that. A comfortable, relaxed lope!!!!!!!! I am still thrilled about our progress. He was so smooth!!!!! The first time you told me to canter, I almost fainted but I told myself that if you think we can do it, then we can.
I can't wait to do it all again this weekend. I am feeling good about being able to do it again but won't be upset if it doesn't go well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

As you can tell from reading, this person not only believes that she and her horse “CAN” do it now, she is also being kind and patient with herself and the horse if they have a minor set back. I know they will continue to progress in a very positive way because of her attitude, dedication and persistent to be the best she can be for her horse.
Another one of my five year students who has taken a lot of lessons, clinics and camps from me was propositioned with training some horses from another horseman who has been watching her progress over the last couple of years. She was quite surprised and said, “What?” The man replied, “Don’t you have the confidence in yourself?” He went on to tell her she doesn’t realize how good she is....

I can’t express how proud I am of this horsewoman, she has accomplished a lot in the last few years when we look back to where she began. She has a lot of reasons to believe she “CAN” namely the results that she is getting with horses. They always tell the truth. With an “I CAN” attitude and a little more encouragement I have no doubt this young lady can achieve anything she sets her mind to with horses.

There is nothing wrong with believing in and acknowledging your abilities or lack thereof. It becomes a balancing act between being too modest or too arrogant. Being able to project the confidence of “I CAN” without becoming egotistical produces a person who is not only teachable but approachable. The greatest horsemen have superior confidence while maintaining an attitude of humility. Both horses and people will respond to this authenticity.

If you find yourself in the “I Can’t Club” from time to time, don’t beat yourself up. Instead surround yourself with people who believe “You Can”. Also seek out the kind of teachers or programs where they empower you with the principles and tools needed to accomplish that which you have been struggling with. Then believe in yourself and work hard. Listen to your words and if you hear the damaging little phrase “I can’t” pop out of your mouth replace it with “I can because I choose to……”

It is essential to be kind to yourself and your horse. As your knowledge and skills increase you will find yourself doing things you thought were not possible with your horse or at least the difficult things will become easier.

Dreams of Spring

Dreams of Spring
The hope of flowers blooming, tree leaves budding, the warm sunshine on your face, and some nice footing where it is safe to ride your horse is just around the corner. Everyone is looking forward to spring with great expectation and can hardly wait for the first signs like tulips peaking through the snow. Yes it has been a difficult winter causing conditions where we cried, “I can’t…..” ; you fill in the blank.

I am looking forward to my very busy schedule this spring, and like the rest of you I am hopeful that the snow will melt soon and not be replaced by more. I remember last April first when the young horses came for their training it snowed. I am putting in my request with mother nature that this will not occur this year. But I know that if the conditions are not favorable the people coming will tough it out like the gals did last year. I commend them for not giving up even when the wind and snow blew right through us. The “I can” attitude was strong even when it was difficult. Thankfully we had access to the Calamus Outfitters indoor arena, but it was still pretty uncomfortable.

We have five horses coming for the month of April for development and then a couple more coming for the four day clinic on April 1-4. Auditors are welcome for this clinic, we did have a few last year. This year we are also offering an Auditors Workshop on April 17th where you can come observe the training progress, ask questions, and learn foundational principles important to every horse’s performance. Erica my apprentice will be working with me again this year.

I will have a booth and do some demonstrations at the NE Horse Expo again this year at Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, NE. I will be using a horse named Hank in my demonstrations who I don’t know anything about other than the owner says he is as green as a Leprechaun’s Shorts. The title of my demo is “Starting Over with A Green Horse”. The times are Fri. 4:00-4:45; Sat. 9:00-9:45; Sun. 9:00-9:45.

Then I will also be giving a lecture on Yoga stretches and Exercises to improve your riding posture and seat on Sun. at 3:00-3:45 in the NE Room

I hope you will stop by my booth to visit, ask a question, register to win some prizes, purchase my book “Win Your Horse’s Heart” (Be A Better Horseman), or sign up for a summer camp. If you sign up by March 31st you will receive an Early Bird Discount of 10% off the instruction.

Speaking of Camps we are having a new type of camp this year for my alumni students. We are calling it “BOOT CAMP”. It will be held at Calamus Outfitters June 20-24. It is for the hard core student who really wants to work some long hard hours in order to move to the next level in their horsemanship skills. There are certain requirements of what you can already do with your horse so that we don’t have a huge gap of skill levels with the riders attending. So call Sherry to discuss those prerequisites if you are interested. If you do not meet the requirements not to worry, there is a camp for everyone.

The schedule for March - June
March 6-7 Private Lessons in Burwell (Preparing for Spring Show Season)
March 12-14 NE Horse Expo in Lincoln, NE (We will have a booth)
March 19-20 Mini Clinic and Lessons in Omaha, NE
March 21-22 Mini Clinic and Lessons in Lincoln, NE
March 28 Study Group in Broken Bow
April 1-4 Young Horse Handling Class, Burwell, NE
April 17 Young Horse Handling Workshop, Burwell, NE (Auditors only)
May 1-2 Lessons with Owners of Young Horses from (30 day training)
May 14-17 Women’s Camp Calamus Outfitters, Burwell, NE
May 21-24 Private Lessons and Mini Clinics in Omaha and Lincoln
May 29-31 Trail Ride Camp at Calamus Outfitters, Burwell, NE
June 4-6 4-H Clinic in Holyoke CO
June 11-14 Women’s Camp Calamus Outfitters, Burwell, NE
June 18-19 Private Lessons in Omaha and Lincoln
June 20-24 BOOT Camp Calamus Outfitters, Burwell, NE
June 28-30 Youth Parent Camp Calamus Outfitters, Burwell, NE

Call now to reserve your spot in one of the above events:
Go to my NEW WEBSITE for a full 2010 Schedule