Here at Infinity Farm we are riding in a rut- literally a rut runs along the rail of the arena. The first definition of rut in the dictionary is “a sunken track or groove made by the passage of vehicles.” Most arenas have ruts. Every week I do Zamboni work to the sand, but a rut is always just below the surface.
That rut is how I know we are riding in a rut figuratively. The second definition of rut in the dictionary is “a fixed, usually boring routine.” One rut defines the other.
Some riders tell me in a self congratulatory way, “My horse hates arena work.” They imply that the view from a dressage saddle is tantamount to watching paint dry. To tell the truth, when I look at a trail literally- it seems to fit both definitions of rut as well.
I don’t think it is where we ride so much as how we ride. Horses and people are creatures of habit and gravity encourages our default position to be one of comfort and familiarity. At the same time, horses and people are creatures who bore easily.
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” – Frank Zappa.
This week in my lessons I decided to shake things up a bit. I took the reins and steered my students out of our usual rut. Initial resistance gave way to progress!
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein.
The best riders I know manage to keep their horses (and clients) interested by being creative and fresh every day. It takes energy to be creative, but soon the combination of the two become a positive, self-sustaining circle.
In diversity and unity, both Zappa and Einstein came from a foundation of knowledge to say that creativity makes all the difference. If creativity was so important in their worlds, then it must be doubly important in our world- partnering with the spirit and grace of horses.
The time change this weekend heralds in the dark months when plenty of smart animals hibernate. Or at least ride that way, in ruts deep and frozen. It’s the time our horses really need us to crash the rut; you could get a trainers input, crank up the music, cross train, or just elevate your riding conversation above repetitive small talk.
Let deviation and imagination be our new winter rut!
Anna Blake, www.AnnaBlakeTraining.com
(Photo: Pam and Saphir, free-styling their way out of the rut.)