Parelli member Jennifer Snitko recently sent us this great blog. Incidentally, Jennifer also won the 2012 Social Media Rock Star contest! So congratulations to Jennifer, and now, let’s get to her blog! Take it away, Jennifer:
In the sun, a late November day spread around me. The day after Thanksgiving. The unseasonal sunshine echoed the warmth in my heart that family and friends, thoughts and memories, ideas of future and lessons of the past had lent to me over the holiday. I sat on a worn piece of barn wood railing that surrounded a large, agricultural outdoor arena. And I was watching horses.
It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?
The horses were of all sizes, shapes and colors. Some were mules pulling large carts, some were drafts hitched in teams of twos and fours, some were minis trot-trot-trotting along on clippity little feet. There were sorrels and palominos and paints and greys. There were saddle horses trotting and cantering.
This was an auction. One of the biggest in the eastern portion of the United States. Tack, equipment, carts, carriages, horses and baked goods all for sale within twenty minutes of my house.
Was this a horse lover’s dream, a horse lover’s nightmare, or simply one more opportunity to open the doors to learning, stepping forth boldly, and saying, “I will take this for what it is and see what I take away.” There is potential in everything, I told myself.
One of the most important lessons that I have learned through the Parelli program is to remember to have the courage to observe the actions and inactions of horsemen and women around me that don’t participate in life with the same set of principles that I do. I find it important that I know why I choose what I choose. And to know this, I need to experience the things that are NOT what I do, how I think, or what I feel. The true perspective of personal choice comes through experiencing opposites. How do we know what our light is without sifting through the darkness first? As I sat there on that roughened seat, I made a conscious decision to not turn and simply walk away from the eye-popping situations playing out before me.
So I sat rooted to my seat, reaching deep for grace and calm, reaching for that space of non-judgement which I was not always able to hold on to with the grip of my whole heart. I watched as people wrenched horses around by their mouths, never giving them the release that teaches, some were punishing ‘unruly’ animals, with intention, some in a state of ignorance. I watched as horses got run around to the point of utter exhaustion so they would look calm going through the auction ring later on. I watched as western performance trainers yanked their mounts into ungainly spins and then tied up their legs to lay them down…all to the applause of the crowd. I watched as a horse went so right-brained about his environment and the harsh hands of its rider that it chose to leap the arena fence and dump the person on the other side rather than linger there. I watched as a young, dominant palomino ran bucking around the arena with every stride, watched as it dumped its first rider, and then got punished by its second rider who lost his temper and beat the horse with a leather strap about its flanks and shoulders and chest. I listened to a woman behind me who said, “That horse DESERVED it!” in a loud and knowing voice.
With my principles firmly intact, I turned to the woman and asked, “He deserved it?”
“He was bucking!” she replied in disbelief. I said, “I’m sorry ma’am, but that’s just bad riding…” Silence fell. It was my one outward statement of the day.
I walked up and down the auction barn aisles looking at horses who had somehow ended up here, numbers stuck on their hips, eyes glazed over, going inside, going introverted and not wanting to come back even for a friendly thought, a touch, an offering of kindness. These were the ‘dead broke’ horses. I took in the ones that paced and wove and jittered nervous lips and rolled their eyes. I watched the fear and the intimidation, and the spurs jingle jangle jingling into the sides and bellies of horses frothing at their mouths, heads high in the air, not understanding. And I watched their humans not understanding either.
I did not sit there at the arena’s edge, nor walk those shedrows to judge ‘the other side’. After all, I bought my miniature horse, Gimli, from that auction three years ago today. What I did was come there to watch what I now consider to be antiquated material. People reading from a history book that is outdated by a hundred years. I came there as a student and teacher both (don’t we all play both roles?) who has come across new material and wants to compare it to the old stuff. After all, inspiration for what you are doing does not always come from what you are doing. Often it comes as a result of seeing what you DON’T want, and turning wholeheartedly in the other direction.
What Parelli does that is so unique is to take something unformed and reveal what is inside. Like a sculptor chipping away at a block of marble, we reveal the art within our horses. What we do not do is force marble to try to become wax.
When I got home from the auction that night and scrolled through my Connected wall on Parelli Connect, phrases repeated themselves over and over…”I love my pony!”, “…so proud of her…”, “Thanks to Parelli….” The happiness of the students who have discarded the old text books and courageously turned to something new and different flows off of their tongues and into the air and onto the page and into the universe of energy. The dichotomy between what I witnessed with all of my senses today, and the pride, love, respect, and honorability of the horsemen and women that I know from my time spent in this community was immense.
Every chance I get, I observe, remember, and compare. But I will not curse that darkness that I saw today. Instead, I will remember to light my own candles and let them burn burn burn… One horse, one human at a time.