Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Touch of Grey

"It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it."
-- Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974), British mathematician and biologist

I was kind of surprised, to say the least, when non-horse person Mr. Fry mentioned he had seen a story about the Parelli's on RFD-TV and found it interesting. Coincidentally, sometime in the next few days we were at a store called Vetline in Aubrey, TX, where there were free tickets to see them at the Ft. Worth Coliseum on Saturday, September 27. I scarfed up 6 tickets, enough for Heather, Nita and me, along with however many of our menfolk who wish to accompany us. Mr. Fry indicated he was interested; don't know yet if Jason or Jim will attend.

Like any other teacher/clinician/trainer who claims their methods are the end-all-be-all of horsemanship, the Parelli's have their critics. I'm not a blind follower of any of them, but I do believe I can learn something from all of them. I try to take the mind-boggling amount of equine information out there at face value, with an ample sprinkling of salt.

In a former life, I was married to an addict. What was he addicted to? Not that it matters, but everything. It would actually be easier to name those things to which he wasn't addicted. I loved him, so I did the whole Anon thing. Not only did it help me deal with his addictions, but I learned a great deal about myself. One reason I think 12-Step programs are so successful is their admonition, "Take what you need and leave the rest." They don't try to dictate or regiment people into a rigid set of tenets. This is empowering, and avoids that all-or-nothing mentality where the spiritual baby is at risk for being tossed out with the bath water. I have never felt comfortable within the confines of organized religion or politics, which says you buy off, hook, line and sinker, or you're an infidel, a flip-flopper, or at least a fair weather follower. I'm not saying or condoning that one simply choose a set of beliefs which allows them to act with impunity. I'm also not suggesting one ride the rail of non-commitment. There's right, then there's morally reprehensible or repugnant, and that just is, regardless of the name on the church or the philosophy one espouses.

I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I wasn't able to accept a set of beliefs the way other people in my life seemed to do. I will always be grateful to that 12-Step program for validation. I look at a philosophy, set of beliefs or method of doing something, apply what rings true and set the rest aside. If a time comes when a particular part of my mindset is no longer working, I reevaluate and replace the broken pieces. It's rare that anything has to be discarded in its entirety. I have finally learned to listen to and trust that deepest part of me that lets me know if something is true (empirically), right, valid, or applicable. One of the gifts and compensations of being middle-aged is that I no longer give much thought to what people may think of me. It doesn't bother me one bit if people think I'm a whack job.

The same discernment applies to dealing with my horses. Some of the methods put forth by the Parelli's -- or any other of the famous trainers out there -- ring true and make perfect sense, while others just don't.
It's never right to be unkind, cruel, or negligent. But I'm finding out there are all sorts of ways to get my horses to do what I want them to do. My horses couldn't be more different; some things work fine for one, but not at all with the other. Sometimes I have to start with one way of doing things, then am able to switch to something else as the horses and/or I become more comfortable, confident and capable.

I'm looking forward to learning everything I can from Pat & Linda Parelli.

PS -- I can't get the fonts to work right on this post, for some reason. It seems to have a mind of its own.


Chelsi said...

Wow, what a post. I need to come back and read this one over a few times. It really speaks to me and is something I need to come to terms with in my life. Not only is what you said very important, but the way you said it was so clear. Thank you. You have given me a lot to think about. I dont see shades of me, the world is black and white. I often have problems because there are actually a lot of grey things..... I never thought to question why.

Anonymous said...

Dont be late to the Parelli entrance! I got goosebumps! I like the connection they have with their horses, who are, admittedly, quirky, and not the least bit naturally mellow. They were problem horses. And if you think that Pat Parelli is just a cowboy, wait til he talks about the finer points of dressage. I loved it; i know you will too, because you love horses and you like people who love horses.

cdncowgirl said...

"... I'm not a blind follower of any of them, but I do believe I can learn something from all of them. ..."

Hallelujah! Total agreement. Although I'm a bit sick of the "Parelli Cult" that some people seem to project I do think the Parelli's have some very good ideas. Just like I think pretty much all the popular trainers/clinicians have some very good ideas.
The problem with the Parelli's is that 'cultish' attitude so many followers have.

I think their clinic would be awesome to see as it should be very entertaining due to the showmanship of it all!

ps - glad I checked your profile and went to your blog through it. For some reason everytime I checked it I came to the June 28 2008 entry. I was thinking "dang girl are you EVER going to post!?" lmao

Leah Fry said...

Lisa, I'll bet you saved the link to THAT specific post rather than just You have a lot to catch up on since June!

I have a hard time with people who are cult-ish about ANYTHING. There's a mighty big world and lots of ideas out there to be explored.

manymisadventures said...

Hear, hear!

I follow the same principle. I'll learn what I can, take what I think is worth something, and leave the rest.

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