As I put the halter on Butler and headed towards the fence there were a few butterflies in my stomach. It had been a while since Butler and I had worked on learning anything new. I was excited about just being out and spending time with him, and was hoping he would be as excited about learning something new as I was.
A few weeks back my friend, and exceptional horsewoman, Lauren Woodard had given me her book “Curbside Service – Change the Way You and Your Horse Think About Each Other”. I’d read it and was now ready to put it into practice. The premise for Curbside Service is, on cue your horse moves in next to the fence for you to mount. Remains standing perfectly still while you mount, and then waits for the cue to move off.
So here we were. I’d read the book, Butler hadn’t. Yet it seemed fairly straight up. We reached the fence and I climbed up onto the rail and turned around. Butler seemed to have this whimsical look in his eye that said, “Hmmm, I wonder what she thinks she’s going to do up there?”, and I swear I heard a little amused chuckle coming from his direction as he waited to see what was coming next.
And so we began our work. I heard Lauren’s voice in my head saying things like “Don’t move an inch, let the horse move” or “Don’t settle for okay, make it exceptional”. And that’s what I strived for, the perfect Curbside Service.
Now I knew it was going to take several tries as we figured this out, yet held the end result in my mind. And that’s where it all started to go wrong. There were times I got frustrated, and times Butler got frustrated. We even had a whole series of Butler doing the complete opposite of what I was asking. Sometimes because he didn’t understand what I was asking, and other times because he didn’t see the difference as to why he had to have his left side next to the fence when he was perfectly willing to give me his right side. After about 30 minutes we had an okay Curbside, yet they were more strokes of luck than skill or having actually learned something. And it seemed like a good point to stop for the day.
I shared my results with Lauren, happy that we had at least a few okay results even if they weren’t consistent. Lauren in her direct and experienced way said “You’re too attached to the result. Stay with the process.”
It was several more weeks before I had the chance to work with Butler again. In fact it was the night before Lauren was coming to Fire Horse Ranch to do a Curbside Service demo and she was going to fine-tune what Butler and I had worked on. I felt the push to give her something to fine-tune. To make a long story short, I tried to stack the deck and get a result, and again only got a mediocre result that I was certain we couldn’t repeat.
The day of the demo it turned out I was Lauren’s demo in front of the crowd that had come to see her. Rather than her showing how Curbside Service is done, she had me work with both Butler and Princess and coached us through the process. Then I realized where I’d gone wrong, and what she meant when she said “You’re too focused on the result.” It was all the little steps, the journey if you will, that took me and each horse from being two separate beings with different ideas to working in-tune with each other, and ultimately achieving a successful result.
Duh, I knew that! Yet in this case I wanted the result and lost sight of being in each moment as the horse and I learned together; savoring our small successes, and seeing our disconnects as opportunities to work on doing things better. I let go of achieving the end result as Lauren instructed us each step of the way. This allowed me to focus on being in the moment, working through the ‘disconnects’ as they happened and savor each moment of success. A far richer experience and we realized the end result much quicker and with more ease.
How often do we stay too focused on the end result, rather than harnessing the power of focus into each step along the way? How often do we arrive at the end result and realize it wasn’t really the result we wanted, damaged relationships, missed better opportunities, or end up alone because we missed the chance to be fully present each step of the way? Where can you shift your focus from the result to the journey?
Knowing where you’re going is important. Yet focusing your mind and heart on each step empowers you to be fully present, savor the small victories, change course when it’s needed, and arrive at your result with more ease and satisfaction.