Hey Everyone,

This week there’s been a thought of, what is the purpose of pressure? Now a consideration like this could be applied to a variety of situations, learning environments, and life circumstances. We can apply this idea of purpose in pressure to our rides on horses, but also how pressure is applied in life. We can be on the receiving end of the pressure or the one dishing it out. The questions begs the answer of what is the outcome of the pressure. Does the pressure create a diamond from a lump of coal or fine wine from a winepress? Or do we allow the pressure to unravel us in an unproductive fashion. If we apply pressure, is it effective for the desired outcome? All pressure is nuanced and should be! The end result should be something unique and have quality. We are all in a place of either receiving, applying it, or both! We had the opportunity to ride Monday – Friday this week in the arena for the majority of each day, and let me tell you, the pressure was on!

Des and Shayne came out with an agenda for Brenda, Jenna, and I to apply some pressure. They turned up the heat in the arena and put us to the test for two days. The pressure begged the question, have we learned over the last couple of months? Can we work with skill and quality at pace? I would say it was a reality check that we all needed, because each of us felt every piece of the pressure hitting us in a multitude of areas. We realized some areas of our riding happened with quality and others were a complete failure. In this case, our teachers were the ones pressing us to see what came out. We all know, that when you are pressed, the true picture always shows. Our picture was not one that was meeting I think anyone’s expectations in some area or another. The list of expectations not being met is a laundry list, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some good parts working for each of us. That’s not to be taken from a point of discouragement, but rather with understanding that there’s more work to be done, to produce the desired outcome. and meet expectation. We all know that with horses and life, it is a never ending journey. We all go through seasons of pressure which should later produce the thing you were contending for in the midst of the pressure. Were you contending for personal growth, spiritual maturity, stronger relationships, more educated horse, show partner, or less anxiety in the saddle? Or were you not a contender at all? Did you allow the pressure to misdirect you off the path set before you? We have an active choice every day to choose what we want to have on the other side of pressure in our lives. Much of the outcome is determined during the period between the initial pressure and the end result. Well this begs the questions, does a diamond become a diamond overnight? Does fine wine ferment in a month? Are all lumps of coal and all grapes going to become diamonds and wine? No. Unlike these two examples, we have an active role and choice to contend for the diamond and fine wine in our lives. The space of contending for us this week was found in the next three days after the active pressure let off.

For me, I spent the next three days collecting my thoughts over the months of watching and learning from Shayne & Des. Then I added that to the ups and downs to the two previous days rides and came to a place where I had some ideas of how to get closer to that fine wine ride. At the beginning of the week, I didn’t have good turns on my horse Rocks off of my legs only. They were inaccurate and especially to the right, we didn’t have much going for us. I also had zero backing off of the seat only. We really struggled with leg yields right to left. He just wasn’t committed to the soft feel in the way that was acceptable for where he was at. He needed to be more committed to it in order to carry himself through every maneuver. I’ll also add in that Des decided to put a ton of poles in the arena which are Rocks least favorite activity. I committed Rocks and I to get better about being on the same page for as many of the steps of the ride as we could manage. I chose to hold us both accountable, carrying pressure from Monday and Tuesday into Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The process created a more creative and dynamic ride with a pursuit of a certain feel in the saddle and expectation of outcome.

The highlight for Rocks was that we turned his anxiety about going over poles into direction and getting with me, rather than what was going on underneath his feet. He has gotten decent about his ‘slow walk’ and allowing me to place his feet with my legs. We worked that slow walk over every pole pursuing quality with every step. By the end, rather than scooting off after the poles, hopping over them, or quickening his stride, he realized it was about the slow walk, not the poles. Once his focus was redirected to what I was asking for rather than his environment, his perception of his surroundings changed. He was able to place one front foot over the pole and leave the other behind it and stand like that until I asked for the other foot to come forward. The ride that day, carried to the next, where he picked up almost where we left off, and his confidence increased. We were able to trot and canter poles without trouble and go right back to the slow walk without him unraveling. He finished the week with a better feel, better turns, and more confidence. Contending for him and I amidst the pressure while maintaining direction with purpose. produced more steps on the journey to the diamond hoping to be made.

If you notice, to have purpose amidst pressure, you have to have reflection, decision, and be willing to contend. When we have these building blocks in our lives, we gain a framework to stay on course to transform coal into diamonds or grapes to wine. First you will be put through the winepress and then there will be a period of living in the in-between space of what was and what can be. In the hallway of decision and contending is where we work towards refining the pieces of our lives. We choose daily to take up the correct path before us and not get pushed off the road. When we are doing the pushing, like in the case of me with Rocks, I want to help him reach his best too. Our lives are two fold, we are pressed and what’s within us comes out. What comes out, is how we press others towards their upward call. Choose your path well and let that pressure push you forward.