Aiming for Progress

Today’s Tip: Ask for a little bit of progress at a time, don’t expect perfection right way. Read on for today’s example and how we went about getting a little progress!

Yesterday I made you promise to hold me to getting out there with the horses – I did it! And it was A-mazing! Ok, well, the ride itself was “nice” but getting out today was fantastic.

The amazingness of today actually began at lunch time. So outside of my horse-related goals, I’m also trying to get a little more exercise. We’re doing a wellness challenge at work, plus I seem to have “padded the edges” a little over the winter. I’m not joining any kind of Jillian Michaels’ boot camp an time soon, but it I do try to take little steps in the right direction…literally and figuratively.

I work in town, but on a large piece of property that includes some prairie and wooded areas. I haven’t really explored much, so today I laced up my tennies and headed out. All I could think was, “This would be a great horse trail!” but it was still great to get out in the fresh air and sunshine.

As soon as I got home this afternoon, I threw some barn clothes on, grabbed my “mud weapons” and attacked Classy. Despite a very thorough grooming session on Sunday, he was once again a total slob. I didn’t have another hour and a half, but we got most of the chunks scrapped off!

By the time I got on, the sun was starting to sink below the trees, so we skipped the saddle and just set off to accomplish a few small tasks. In case you’ve missed the memo, I’ll mention it again – it is seriously muddy here. That means no riding anywhere that involves dirt. Sadly I don’t have an actual arena, so no well-drained footing either. That left us with the driveway. Basically think about it as round pen work…without the “pen” part of the “round pen.”

Mostly things went really well. He was staying on the bit nicely, he was fairly level-headed, and he had a nice consistent rhythm to his walk. Tonight, however, presented a new task to overcome – the long part of the driveway!!

Even though I said he was “fairly level-headed,” that’s all relative. He still kept looking down the driveway like the bogey man was going to come out from behind the trees at the end of the driveway. One time I pointed him down the driveway to see how far he’d go (hoping we could do some “gait” work, meaning do something faster than a dog walk). Yea…that wasn’t gonna happen. He took one look and stopped with that feeling beneath me that if one branch swayed in the wrong way, he would be gone.

We continued to work on our other exercises, but every few circles, we’d head in that same direction. We’d get a couple of steps, and then we’d come back to the open part of the driveway. I would have been really easy to say, “You’ve been done this driveway plenty of times, you look down it waiting for me to come home and feed you every day, there is nothing to be afraid of, so GO!” I actually do tell him that sometimes… Today’s work was probably more effective in the long run, though. We were just aiming for progress. If we went farther than before, we’d met our goal. After meeting several of those little goals, we called it a day. Aim for progress, and not perfection, and you should be able to attain something every ride.

After our ride, we did take a walk (with me on the ground) out to the mailbox so we’d have a little step towards the, “Driveway? What driveway? I’m just walking along where you tell me to.” attitude that I’d like him to have one day!

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