I Can't  ~Steve McClure (Reno)

Seems everybody is in a “rush”. Modern living demands we pack as much into our day as humanly possible. Everything is structured to minimize downtime and achieve goals whether imagined or real. Everyone is on a fast track to some destination

Whether it is sports, a career or the newest machine to quickly and efficiently cut your lawn, the race is on. Sabermetrics tracks every detail of a professional baseball player and to save time and increase performance some athletes turn to artificial methods to boost their stats.

Such pressure is bound to leave some on the sidelines (literally). Eventually all of us succumb to the inability to take it to the next level. The phrase “I can’t” is uttered and we are at least in our own minds “a failure”.

To the Western mind when you to fall to the ground you have lost. To get knocked down is a failure. In Aikido you are trained how to roll up from a fall and start again. There is no disgrace or stigma to losing your balance as long as you use that energy to rise again both physically and mentally.

Of course we all must realize our limitations. Typically, as well as correctly, a teacher should never ask more of a student than they can do. I had an instructor some years ago that would never allow the phrase “I can’t” to be used. He would say “Don't say I can't, say I am unable to do it at the present time Sir!”  He simply wouldn't tolerate it.  He expected you to at least try and certainly not give up. Maybe success wouldn’t happen today, tomorrow or ever but it was the attitude that counted and that can take you a long way. You would be surprised how often that methodology produced positive results.

I think it is the same for our work with horses. Everyone wants that DVD that guarantees success in thirty days or expects those memorable breakthrough moments with their horse on a regular basis. But that strict adherence to schedule doesn't always work when there are two “brains” involved. Horses have good and bad days just like we do and sometimes it doesn't take long to realize that no matter what your plans for the day are, your horse just isn't in to it.

It's also important that we do not ask the horse to do more than they are most likely be able to do. A horse may respond to that request by becoming frustrated and just shut down. If you work on the moves needed to perform a technique the concept can be more easily understood when they are put together.

I just like to sit on a horse and I try to give both of us a rest when we have been successful or felt the “flow”. It gives me a chance to clear my mind and get back to employing what hopefully is best for both of us. I was taught that horses don't learn from the application of pressure but from its release so the rest is a reward for good work done.

It's not always what you want. When my grandchildren say they “want something” I tell them “there is wanting and there is having. It's two different things!” and it's true (don't worry, they get plenty). I am not saying just to settle for things but try to appreciate the positive things you do have.

I don't think horses ever say “I can't!”. I think they express frustration when they don't know what you want or you aren't attending to their needs. I stick to basics, build on them, move as well as encourage stillness and try not to “rush”.  Remember, it's the journey not the destination.

~Steve McClure (Reno)

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

Insights by Steve -- Saddle Tracks

Insights by Steve -- Harmony and Horsemanship

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