It feels like light years away, but mid-October I was on the road again heading South for yet another trip to Parelli in Florida. My first stop was the First Parelli Rendez-Vous in Jacksonville, which was a great event for and by students. What a fun 3 days! Thank you to all of you who showed up for Saddle Savvy workshops in the Parelli Saddles area – it was great to be able to share the savvy with such a dedicated and motivated crowd!
Next I spent four weeks coaching the Fast Track under the leadership of John Baar. I have known John for many years and we spent many months together during our University modules, training with Pat and Rob McAuliffe. I had helped with courses on the ranch for short periods in the past, but this was my first opportunity to spend a whole month coaching a group of very motivated students, most of which want to become Parelli Professionals in the future. And the first time I was going to spend time under John’s watchful eye. It was exciting and a little scary at the same time. After all, John was now head of Faculty and a 4 star instructor (now a 5 star). I have been teaching in the field for several years now, but I rarely get the opportunity to reach this type of student, and at this level. Most of my students enjoy Parelli for recreation and safety and few are beyond Level 2/3. So this was a whole different game! We had 48 students, of all walks of life, countries, experience levels and personalities to contend with. On the faculty coaching team, I knew John and Berin very well, but everyone else was new to me, so we had to get acquainted and learn to work together as a team very quickly. Talk about learning to adjust to fit the situation and being present in the moment!
Every day I was teaching, and yes, every day I was also learning! How to set up students for things to come, how to come up with a plan, work the plan, and change the plan to fit the situation! How to deal with emotional students, frustrated students, right brain students, dominant students, shy students and bold students, scared students and not scared enough students, often all in the same day! It was a constant test of leadership, teachmanship, teammanship, flexibility, emotional fitness, people skills and focus. My biggest challenge was demos – they are definitely out of my comfort zone. I can’t help but fear things won’t go well and I still worry about not looking as good as when I’m on my own at home. Menina, my lovely and very smart LBE, takes full advantage of this lack of leadership and is usually happy to help prove I don’t quite have my act together – making for very spectacular and memorable demos, but not quite helping my confidence grow in this particular area! Put me in front of a group with a topic and without a horse, I’m great. Ask me to demo with a horse, not so great (it’s the ego thing, I know…). John made sure I got a few good lessons out of the experience and did not get bucked off in the process, and while he might have seemed a bit harsh to some, I trusted him enough to be able to swallow my pride, not take it personally and soak in the learning. I knew he meant well, thank you John. After all, I have been trained by Pat – please check your ego at the door before entering!
I really loved my experience on the Fast Track and have already volunteered to do it again, as I am sure it will help me become a better teacher in the field. I enjoyed getting to know the students, seeing them evolve and make changes over those intensive four weeks, and helping them being the best them they could be! Thank you for being part of my journey and I look forward to seeing you again!
I was then given the opportunity to extend my stay to be a student again at the Foundation Station, now headed by Kalley Krickeberg (click here to see a fabulous demo by Kalley at the Rendez-Vous). It was exactly what I had wished for. Funny how things end up working out just as you think you have reached the end of your dream… I learned so much in three weeks that I could not even keep up with what to write down as notes. Basically, I reached a new level of conscious incompetence about some very simple (but not easy) Level 1 concepts! Leading, haltering, catching, stand still and the Seven Games have taken on a meaning and reached a new plane of awareness and importance. Watching her coach students with young horses and colts, and then participating, has been mind blowing – and I realized I could start over with all my games! There is so much room for improvement, even in my high level horses. As David Lichman (5 star instructor) said in one of our weekly meetings, Kalley is taking the foundation principles and concepts to a whole new level. It has already made such a huge difference to my feel, timing, and understanding and to my horses, and I have only just begun. What a great place to be, totally uncomfortable and somewhat confusing, but isn’t it exactly where the real breakthroughs happen?
Last but not least, I had another opportunity to observe Walter Zettl teaching Linda and other top students, as well as audit Linda’s Game of Contact course. Actually being able to do the two events back to back help put some of the pieces of the Finesse puzzle together very nicely. The Game of Contact is the process; Walter’s lessons start to show the product (although they are also a process… OK, it’s confusing, but that’s exactly how I feel). And then, a couple of days before the end of my stay, Linda offered ME a lesson, which I shared with Nita Jo Rush (4 star instructor). That was exciting, and scary at the same time. To be with Linda in such high level company, and THEN, Linda’s apprentices also showed up with Allure, West Point and Hot Jazz in tow – yikes! I felt quite a bit out of my league. Menina, true to herself, first showed me I needed to be a much better leader, but after a rough start, I managed to collect my butterflies and find what my horse needed from me. Thanks to Linda’s masterful teaching and unconditional support, we got some very nice results at the end.
I came home with my head full of new ideas and knowledge, my heart full of gratitude and support, and my soul full of inspiration and connection. I now have enough information for the year to come as I am now trying to become consciously competent at this new level, and get the message to my feet. New Year’s resolutions? You bet! I resolve to be the best me I can be, to seek never-ending self-improvement, and most of all, I am learning to do it with a little bit of fun!
Happy New Year to all!