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Harmony and Horsemanship ~Steve McClure (Reno)

Recently I was listening to a song in which a portion of the lyrics were “keep your eyes on where the trail meets the sky." Although I enjoy the song as well as the artist, I must respectfully disagree with this particular premise.

Allow me to explain. There is an old martial parable in which the prospective student asks the Master, “how long will it take to earn a black belt?” The Master pauses and finally answers “ten years.” The student, dissatisfied with the answer replies “what if I train twice as hard as any other student?” The Master pauses again and replies “twenty years.” Truly bewildered the student asks a third time “how long if I train day and night only stopping to eat and sleep!?!” “Thirty years” wearily answers the Master. The student now completely exasperated pleads “Master, why is it that the more I promise to work the longer it takes to receive true enlightenment?” The Master pauses and finally replies “it is because when you have one eye fixed on the destination you only have one eye left to find the way!”

The moral to this story is that in every endeavor we must pay attention to where we are now. We must live in the present. Progress is often slow and difficult. If I think ahead too much then I may well miss a lesson in the now and that can eventually prove to be harmful to training and potentially dangerous. The destination will be eventually reached and you will probably discover that the destination was only one step. Many more lie ahead. This is a very martial arts idea. In the East, the journey is savored much more than the destination. In the West, this is normally not the way we live. We want our food and our cars fast and our life is always in that fast lane dedicated to reaching some imagined goal.

My particular interest is in applying this philosophy to my work with horses. One of my black belts is in the martial art of Aikido. It is a Japanese art which literally means “the way or art of harmony” or blending. What does that mean? Well to me and I am only a student of the art, it means to re-direct energy in such a manner that it becomes useful or at least harmless. This means that as I interact with a horse I try to keep a real time sense of energy transfer between the horse and me. It cannot be a conscious thing because that takes to long and you end up back in time like a DVR which is minutes behind. You lose the sense of now. The Japanese call this “mushin” or the “no mind.” Action without thought and that takes practice.

Without getting any more “Eastern” suffice it to say that I believe the practice at being in the now while paying attention to the various energies between horse and human lead to a more harmonious relationship. The more you learn the more you realize how much you don’t know. I know more about martial arts than I do about horses but in reality both don’t add up to much and that's fine with me. It is the journey that is to be enjoyed.

~ Steve McClure (Reno)

To read more by Steve McClure (Reno)--see below.

Insights by Steve -- Sherwin

Insights by Steve -- Hobbling

Insights By Steve -- Roping Practice

Insights By Steve -- Support

Insights By Steve -- Sensei

Insights by Steve - Harmony

Insights by Steve-Centered in the Now