On Achieving Goals

amywink January 7th, 2010

This past weekend was very hectic, with a family health emergency that resolved positively on Tuesday, and today we expect Arctic air that will drop our temperatures to the teens and twenties overnight, and leave us in the 40’s during the day– temperatures 20 degrees below normal.

This, of course, means no driving but I am still considering my goals for 2010. In December, I returned to Haven Hill for a lesson and it was wonderful to return and see all the activity continuing even in soggy conditions. After visiting with Marlene and Tom, Jerry and I went out for as much of a drive as we could in the slurry caused by recent rains. I hadn’t had a lesson in a few months, (since August, I think) so it was wonderful to get back and see how I’d improved after practicing more consistently this fall with Will. Jerry and I chatted about my progress and past and future goals for driving, which we had not really discussed in much detail before.

Since then, I’ve been considering what goals I achieved and what lies ahead. I consider our Anniversary Drive the complete achievement of my past goals for driving: we were able to enjoy fully driving at Agarita; Will was responsive and willing; I was confident and relaxed. The joy of that day remains with me still and I often look at that photograph and feel the warm core of strength and calm happiness I felt that day.

As important as that glorious day was, our first drive at Agarita was probably even more important because I was able to manage Will’s fear, work through his introduction to the new place, using my skills as a driver to work through his anxiety while never feeling the fear myself. I had worked long and hard to overcome my own fear, to calm that internal electrical jolt that I often felt when I started working with horses. That fear did not originate with horses but certainly materialized most visibly when I was with them–as if I was plugged directly into their own startle reflex. That fear tangled with the Ridiculously Rigorous Perfectionist who was unveiled during my lessons, and made for a . . . .well, a challenging learning experience. Jerry once said ‘Confidence, confidence, confidence” was the necessity for driving and working with horses. Tom says there’s no “I think” in driving (and interestingly, this is exactly what I tell my students about writing “I think”). Fear and Perfectionism make confidence impossible.

When I stopped feeling that electrical jolt, when my heart stayed in the right place and didn’t rise to my throat, when my body did not tighten, but remained relaxed, when my voice did not rise, but deepened to calm my horse (and when he listened and stopped), that was a momentous occasion. That was the beginning of our new work together, the moment when we became a team. That was the moment I achieved what was most necessary goal.

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I’ve been watching This Emotional Life this week on PBS. Extremely fascinating stuff about our brains. Also The Human Spark started last night and I was amazed by the wonderful cave carvings and cave paintings of horses shown early in the first episode.

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