Days Since Jean-Luc Came Into My Life
Jean-Luc forever changed my life May 7, 2017. Today makes 99 days that we have been in each other's lives. Since getting together, I have made sure to go out to the barn and spend time with him at least 3 days per week, and usually closer to 5. Yesterday I also turned 28, so it seems like a fantastic time for goals and reflections.
So, what exactly have Jean-Luc and I achieved in less than 100 days? Actually, it's quite a bit.
4. Make New Horseback Riding Friends - This goes without saying that since I joined the Randolph County Riding Club I have made several dozen new friends, many of whom are down to ride just about any time. I even have made two friends, Allen and Dolly that I can call up just about any time and they're up for an adventure. I am so thankful to know these people and have them help me along the way.
5. Learn to "Gait" - This clearly is going to be an ongoing process, but thanks to some help from friends, dozens of youtube videos, and determination, I'm really proud to say that I took my pacey TWH and taught him how to properly move his body. The next steps are to work on holding the gait, and speeds, but looking at where we started and how far we've come, I'm impressed with our progress.
6. Take The Best Care Possible of My Horse - This is on going for all horse owners for sure. I believe we are constantly learning new things and better ways to take care of our animals. Since owning Jean-Luc I have learned so much and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.
7. Volunteer for the Endurance Ride - This is one event I have wanted to help with for years. The level of learning that takes place anytime I volunteer for events like this is outstanding. Just hanging around and listening to the way people work with their horses and their perspectives is worth the time. So glad I helped this year and can't wait to do it again in 2018.
8. Secret Goal - No details her, but someday I'll share.
9. Find Myself & Regain Some Confidence - Since Jean-Luc has come into my life I have been forced to become a more confident person and find myself again. I'm happier than ever, and I attribute that to my "therapy sessions" with Jean-Luc. Prior to Jean-Luc, some things in life had really done a number on me and my ability to be a leader. With Jean-Luc in my life, I have regained some of that back only to discover a new ability to focus more on smaller goals that lead to larger pictures. My confidence returns a little more every time I ride or just spend time at the barn, though if this were a scale of 1-10, I'd say I'm hovering between a 4 and 5 right about now.
As for what we'll accomplish in the 100 days, well those goals still need to be written. They absolutely involve working on our herd bound issues and working with feeling secure while it's just the two of us. That issue alone is my biggest annoyance at this point. In the coming days I also hope to do more trail rides away from the barn (maybe three more before winter), and if at all possible I hope to be able to audit either a gaited horse class or one on competition trail riding.
In the words of our beloved Capt. Picard, "Things are only impossible until they're not!"
Fridays are great days for reflections. This week Jean-Luc and I accomplished a few really great things:
Three simple goals that really had a lot going on behind them, most notably - confidence. That simple little word has been the spur in my heel for our success to date. I know this. I ride often ride alone, and I never wish to do anything that would put me in a bad situation. My personality tends to keep me overly cautious, and that is a good thing.
However, the other day I was listening to an interview with Monty Roberts on the Horses In the Morning Radio Show. Monty shared a story about a woman who knew her horse hated dogs. He could not stand dogs. He was terrified of dogs.
This woman came to his clinic and Monty had one of his trainers inspect the horse, then hop on the horse in a round pen. Because he's Monty, he just so happened to have friends with herding dogs available to run around the horse controlled via whistles. The horse did nothing.
Monty then asked the woman to get on her horse. As you might guess, the horse started fidgeting, moving around, and fussing. Monty asked the woman to get off and then asked her about her own fear of dogs. SHE was terrified of them, and thus so was her horse.
I have heard it over and over that horse are psychic, they can read your thoughts, they can feel your emotions. So, as a solution for the issues I was having with Jean-Luc I did something I hadn't actually tried yet, I tried riding Jean-Luc as if I were the trainer, showing my inner-self how silly I was being. If you think this sounds like a head trip, you would be correct.
When I got out of my car all I did was pretend that Jean-Luc was not my horse. Instead, I imagined I was a trainer that came to the barn to help "some poor lady" who had clearly bit off more than she could chew. This "Lady" was fearful. I knew better. I would anticipate antics and pay them no mind. I would push this horse to do as it was told because, as a trainer, I wanted to prove to "this lady" that her horse could do exactly what she asked.
Like I said - total head trip, but it worked. That weird little thought in the back of my mind, switching from "poor little lady" to "bad ass trainer" has really helped. Also, there's something in the fact that I don't look at Jean-Luc as "mine." I think, in some ways, the delicate nature lifestyle by which is the previous owner allotted him made me timid when working with him. Until last week, I saw him a little bit of a wimp (sorry bud) but isn't at all. In fact, he has a lot to give. Until this week, however, I hadn't really asked for it.
So, yay for strange trippy head tricks. Now, to put some actual training and structure behind it. I learned this lesson from Mary Kitzmiller. She takes the idea of "move your horse's feet" to another level and really breaks it down. According to Kitzmiller, if you work out these 5 parts of your horse, every time you are with them, then issues like fussing while tied up, herd bound issues, and more all seem to dissipate.
Kitzmiller's 5 Sections You Should Train Every Day / Breakdown of Control Your Horses Feet Are:
So she asks herself each day, "What have I done today to work the horses ____." Of course, each exercise depends on where the horse is in their training. This to me makes total sense, because the exercises can all be different. It's a simple checklist and guideline to follow as you work with your horse. It isn't complex, and you shouldn't ever need to write it down unless you build out specifics. I am excited to see what comes from it with Jean-Luc.
This whole post is a very long way to acknowledge something that has been on my mind. The I still don't think we're "there" yet. Truth is, I haven't had a moment yet when I think he's enjoying our time together as much as time with the herd. But . . . now that I actually calculate things, I may be getting ahead of myself. Jean-Luc and I have officially been in each other's lives for 96 days. (Wednesday, August 15 will make 100!) I do, however, think we are close, and that fills me with hope.
The video at the beginning of this post is a terrible filming of the first day I thought Jean-Luc might actually be having fun gaiting around the round pen. It was the first glimpse I saw of his personality, outside of "please put me back on the field with my friends so I can eat things." Seeing that has made me hungry for more.
Rather than disparage that we aren't "there yet," I'll simply choose to be thankful that we have come this far in less than 100 days. It also means I will definitely do a write up next week about how both my life and Jean-Luc's has really changed in the past 100 days. Wow.
(Bonus Goal: I have begun negotiations with my horse husband, and opened up discussion about planning for a new truck!)
I notice bloggers in the equestrian blog-o-sphere post goals left and right. I love it. I'm a huge goal setter and believe wholeheartedly in the power of goal setting. Even Albert Einstein said, "If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not people or things."
Truth is, I am sort of a nerd about goal setting. I enjoy doing it both with my career and in my personal life. If done right, it means you're constantly pushing yourself to become a better person, and usually celebrating wins. Over the years I've come to value the skill of goal-setting, and realize it is a skill that many individuals struggle with because let's be real - it isn't easy.
The method that helps me find success in goal setting is one I learned while working at Snowshoe Mountain, known as the SMART Method. This method is decades old, but hey, "If it's not broke, don't fix it," right?
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
If the goal you set has these 5 characteristics, then it's likely a well-set goal that will yield positive results, no matter what. In other words, if your goal is specific enough to be able to measure an action that is relevant to getting you where you want to go, within a given amount of time, you'll gain valuable insight even if you fall short of the actual goal set. I enjoy setting goals in this way because it is designed to boost your confidence through a process that ensures you take the time to really experience how far you've come. You are able to celebrate what I call the "small wins," as you work your way to bigger ones.
Just like training a horse to go in a trailer, you can't do things all at once. The SMART version to teach a horse to load would be something like:
Over the course of one month I will:
A.) ... spend five days allowing my horse to stand near the trailer with the doors open for loading for at least twenty minutes.
B.) I commit to observing my horse's reactions, attitude, and other outside factors that attributed to my horse's fear of the trailer by writing them in a journal for each session. I will take special note of:
C.) I will then stand inside the trailer with a lead-rope attached to my horse for an additional five days, allowing my horse to consider walking into the trailer. (repeat part "B").
D.) I will ask my horse to step his front two feet into the trailer and back off the trailer for successfully 15 times for 3 days. (repeat part "B")
E.) I will then ask my horse to step all four feet into the trailer and back off the trailer 20 times for five days. (repeat part "B".)
F.) I will then stand with my horse tied in the trailer for 10-minute intervals 5 times, for three days. (repeat part "B")
G.) I will then stand with my horse tied in the trailer with the door shut for 10-minute intervals, 5 times, for 3 days (repeat part "B".)
Now, I am in no way a certified horse trainer. I am just slightly more insightful than some when working through processes. While not perfect, I believe this is a pretty solid set of goals that will generate a positive outcome if followed. The key is in celebrating the measurable success when it comes to the amount of time it takes for the horse to stand within 5 feet of the trailer or closer. As you may imagine, journaling in this way becomes real-time data shows you how long it's taking every day to get your horse closer to the trailer. If the time it takes is getting longer, then you know you need to adjust something.
Goals provide specific actions to strive for that are relevant to the purpose in a time-bound manner. The great thing about SMART goals is that they are flexible enough to allow for room to fail, meanwhile keeping the bigger picture in perspective.
As I said, I see tons of horse-related-goals set all across the blog-o-sphere, hopefully, this post can become a new skill in some of your tack boxes, and help you all get to where you want to go. My birthday is just around the corner and it seems like a great time to set a few SMART goals of my own! Because I'm curious, how do you decide what goals to set for your equestrian futures? Do you have a method to your madness, or is it all simply madness?
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.