The following are study guide notes for Solo Schooling by Wendy Jago. For non-equestrian subscribers, read these coaching/motivation notes with your non-riding goals in mind. Substitute the horse for a coworker, family member, teammate, or your passion, sport, advocation, etc.
Part III, GROUNDWORK; Chapter 9, “Getting What You Really Want,” discusses the strategy of using the Dreamer, the Realist, and the Critic to achieve your goals. My goal is to have harmony with my horse, Monarch, and for us to develop as dance partners. The strategy of clarifying my goal from these three perspectives makes the goal achievable. The Dreamer keeps me motivated; the Realist gives me the tools to develop steps to reach my goal; and the Critic allows me to dispassionately evaluate my goal & my progress.
How to achieve my goal of developing harmony & dance partner using the 3 perspectives:
Dreamer- My horse greets me in a friendly manner; we groom, tack up; and I mount. Our connection is strong; the communication is subtle. The warmup tells me where we need to release tension & relax. I drop my left ankle, grow tall, breathe, and he releases his right jaw, steps under his belly, and focuses into my seat, breathing, & intent. Communication becomes intuitive. Our dance is effortless, fluid, graceful, and expressive.
Realist- I use groundwork to establish a partnership of trust and connection. This can include: horsemanship with rope & halter, lungeing, and liberty rituals. As I groom & tack, I assess my horse physically and mentally. I mount with intention, communicating with weight & breath. I use the warm up to develop rhythm and relaxation. We begin at walk & trot. As my horse’s muscles begin to warm-up, I put the focus into my body: where am I holding tension? I breathe into my tightness, asking my body to release, balance, and follow my horse’s movement. When my muscles have relaxed, his muscles have warmed up, & he is relaxed, I change my posting rhythm to tune Monarch into following my rhythm. We play with different tempos. With rhythm & communication established and my body suppled, I develop my horse’s suppleness with poll flexions, neck bending, changing directions, and some lateral work. I will then ask Monarch how forward he feels. If needed, we will work on getting him hot to a light leg. When he is supple and forward, we will develop rhythm and relaxation in the canter. We are now in tune.
I let go of my left brain and develop a dance. With my right brain, I listen to Monarch and feel the rhythm and flow of the movement. I see directional lines in my mind’s eye and feel movement in my kinesthetic right bright based on what we are doing and how that will flow into a new movement or direction. I need to stay intensely focused on what Monarch is telling me and how my body feels to keep the flow. If something doesn’t work out, we will keep moving. I will take note of what didn’t work, but we won’t stop to drill. I will find another place in the dance to do it again with more preparation, intention, and/or balance. All movements will be performed with joy, moderation, and gratitude. We will rest & stretch often. I will refocus myself and my horse after each rest break. We will end on a positive note, eager to do it again tomorrow.
Critic- Developing a strong connection after so many weeks off may take my horse a week or even a month. (It takes as long as it takes; make haste slowly). In the course of our dance, we may have set backs. I will give us the time to reestablish any elements of the pyramid that may need to be redeveloped. I will need to be aware of my body, especially how lightly I give aids and how he responds. If his response is not immediate to a light aid, we need to go back to basics to reestablish “Yes.” Beautiful movement must arise from subtlety. I also need to be aware of his body and give him the preparation he needs to balance. The dance flows from balance. During the dance, I have noted where the difficulties arise. When I am quiet and alone, I can reflect on the difficulties, deciding how to develop my body, my horse’s body, and our understanding to improve our fluency.
If you feel comfortable sharing, please post your thoughts to the following exercise: from P150 “Ask your dreamer, your realist, and your critic what you want from your riding.” The chapter notes may assist you in developing your ideas.
This post was inspired by Wendy Jago’s book, Solo Schooling. Here are the study notes for Part III, GROUNDWORK; Chapter 9, “Getting What You Really Want.”
p145 Practicing these skills and strategies will have a “whole person spillover.”
- know what you really want
- think outside the box from the perspectives of the dreamer, the realist, and the critic
- ensure goals are achievable
- relate today’s schooling with tomorrow’s; chunk goals into achievable steps &
Improvise when today’s schooling takes an unexpected turn. You own your riding- not your horse & no one else.
P147 Be wholehearted in your learning; embrace your frustration & disappointment, not just your success & enjoyment. (Learn from mistakes; be creative to solve them. Turn the critic off!)
p149 Thinking Outside the Box:
- Dreamer- first role; imagine, wonder, explore, PLAY with ideas
- Realist- second role; develop strategy by asking: how, when, what
- Critic- final role/LAST; only use to evaluate effectiveness of plan, don’t evaluate you or your horse
P150 Ask your dreamer, your realist, your critic what you want from your riding.
p151 Well-Formed Goals Test with these questions:
- Is it stated positively?
- Describe your goal using your 5 senses.
- Is it within your control?
- What exactly will be involved in achieving it?
- What could you lose that is currently useful or important to you?
- Can you afford what it will cost, in terms of money, time, & your of self?
p152 Keep on Track: Chunking
Make smaller steps that put you on track to achieving your goal- chunk down.
Evaluate where you were then and now- chunk up.
Look at things from a different perspective- chunk laterally.
p155 Owning Your Riding
These processes produce clarity & confidence. Clarity simplifies communication, (with horse, family, trainer).