Having A Plan

One of my mentors (Warwick Schiller) has a saying “Stick To The Damn Plan” which he abbreviates STTDP. He emphasizes the importance of perfecting basics and taking as long as it takes. He tells a story about an intern who was a dancer. She shared with him that in the dancing world, beginners want to take intermediate lessons, intermediate dancers want to take advanced lessons, and advanced dancers want to take beginning lessons. We were talking one day while he was helping me with one of my horses and he told me I’d reached the equivalent of a black belt. “Huh?” I’m not a black belt I thought, I’m a long ways away from being good at this stuff. That was when he said, “just because you are a black belt, doesn’t mean you are done learning or practicing, it means that you are ready to accept that you need to work on perfecting your basics.” Those words made a huge impact on how I saw myself and what I’m doing with my horses. I realized that I am the advanced seeking the basic lessons. All this time, I wanted to reach the top and do the fun stuff that everyone else was doing. But when you do the advanced stuff without the basics being perfect, eventually you and your horse start to unravel and fall apart. The mare I was seeking help on, could do a lot of things poorly. He had me start from the beginning and fix each piece, one at a time. Initially I thought it was going to take forever to fix the problems I created, but to my surprise it took a fraction of the time. I spent a few months doing nothing but simple, basic exercises. He (Warwick) hadn’t seen my horse in a few months and when I returned for the next piece of the puzzle, it took him a few minutes to recognize the horse. Her attitude, body and athleticism changed so dramatically that he didn’t recognize her! With the basics being pretty good, we were now working on more advanced maneuvers with very little struggle. I had my doubts that going slow would be faster, I no longer doubt going slow!

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