I’m sitting at my office (ok, it’s not really my office, but it is the most scenic space in the whole house), and the loan chicken, “Lone Star,” is pacing back and forth in front of the window. Occasionally she pauses her porch patrolling to stop at the window. Lone Star cocks her head back and forth, looking in the window. Tap Tap Tap. She wants in. I should probably get her some more feathered friends.
One of the little grey kittens, who is not quite so little anymore, bends low, creepy cat walking toward my silly chicken. He and the other grey kitty (I call them Romulus and Remus) came to me from a most unpleasant situation. They are the last of their litter and did not get adopted out. I’m not surprised. They’re both a little awkward still, although we’re working on things.
Tooga dog stands guard, surveying the land. He looks good. I mean really, really good. His coat is thick and lush, he’s got good meat on his bones, and although he remains the very lithe dog he has always been, that constant visual reminder of his state of “not optimally healthy” is long gone. Cecelia glances at me once in awhile with her soft honey eyes.
Coca, a stunningly colored black and white paint mare, lolls through the grasses somewhere on “The Six,” a pasture for my four broodmares due this spring. They are bred to a double registered Cremello stud. I’m excited. I take a brief pause now and again to look out at the land, at the dogs, the cats, the chicken and Coca. To really look at it and see it for all of its details. I take a deep breath and remind myself of the ideals I use to help each of my guests who visit with us at Maverick Horseback Riding. Sit up straight. Focus on the details of what you want, what you’re asking for. Be positive in the face of an obstacle. Don’t harp on the possible negative outcomes of the process of approaching the obstacle itself. Look past it. And don’t forget to breathe. Ever. Suck it all in and then some. And when you’re done with that let go of all the tension. Be where you are. Right now. Nowhere else.
It’s funny how a horse yogi life teaches you so much about presence. About actually being in a space at a given time. It is so easy for us to slip into the matrix of social media, TV shows and general interneting. I don’t pretend to understand the challenges of man throughout history. How could one pretend to understand such things? I do understand that man’s current challenge is a big one: Be Present. See the world for all its details. In a society that bombards its people with 15 minute specials (and a stream of even briefer videos, posts, pictures and announcements), it can be challenging to train the brain to pay attention to much at all. My years researching the neuroscience of language development keep pointing me to this horrible conclusion: People are being trained to tune out. Let that sink in.
As my horseback riding classes continue to develop to meet the needs of one-time riders and regulars, I find myself turning more and more to conversations about bigger-picture ideas. This is not my soap box. Ok, maybe it is just a little bit. I say this in joking tone because it is my soapbox, but it’s also my chance to talk to people about ways of thinking that actually improve rider performance. I mean come on folks, are we really going to make pretend that the big fight you had with your family member doesn’t impact your experience here at Maverick Riding? Or that the nagging voice inside your head reminding you over and over that you could fall or the horse could kick you doesn’t somehow alter the outcome of your ride? Folks who come to ride with Maverick’s do so for the very fact that they’re looking for a responsive experience.
At the close of one stage of life in the course of Maverick Riding (it’s birth: a process that took five years starting August 6th, 2012), I knowing sit on the frontier of a new, exciting stage. Growth. For five years I have grown as a person, while slowly manipulating the details of Maverick’s dynamic approach to horsemanship lessons. Learning how to ride a horse well requires understanding the horse, what it takes to keep him, and how to approach life (and riding) with confidence, poise, and a focus on good health. I’m excited to move into our sixth year serving the Greater Austin Metropolitan Area. I’d like to thank those of you who’ve helped me reach presence, and share the presence of the amazing animals who make this company so unique with my guests. Thank you for reading, riding and rolling with the punches by my side.