Worry about Horsemanship?

Half-wit, I will conclude. Things to worry about:

  • Worry about courage
  • Worry about cleanliness
  • Worry about efficiency
  • Worry about horsemanship…

Things not to worry about:

  • Don’t worry about popular opinion
  • Don’t worry about dolls
  • Don’t worry about the past
  • Don’t worry about the future
  • Don’t worry about growing up
  • Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
  • Don’t worry about triumph
  • Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
  • Don’t worry about mosquitoes
  • Don’t worry about flies
  • Don’t worry about insects in general
  • Don’t worry about parents
  • Don’t worry about boys
  • Don’t worry about disappointments
  • Don’t worry about pleasures
  • Don’t worry about satisfactions

Many years ago I read this in a letter that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his 11 year old daughter while she was away at summer camp. It brilliantly shows that author’s sense of humor and love for his daughter along with a healthy does of life advice but what always stuck with me is that part where he says she should worry about horsemanship. As a young woman I wondered why he would include that in a list of things to worry about. I completely understood worrying about courage, cleanliness and efficiency but horsemanship? Was he just being humorous? Maybe it was an inside joke between the two of them, like calling her Egg. I mean cars had already replaced horsepower in people’s daily lives and horses just served pleasurable pursuits by 1933 when the letter was written.

As I grew into a more (ahem) mature woman I understood the brilliance of his advice on a deeper level. One by one over the years I have ticked off all the items on the list of things to not to worry about and I have felt freer and freer with every thing I have let go of. But the horsemanship problem persisted. I could understand me worrying about it, after all I am an equestrian. My relationship with my horse is important to me, if I had a good relationship with my horse I was bound to do better at horse shows but why would that be good advice for anyone else. Maybe his daughter was big into horses. That had to be the answer.

It wasn’t until I had a daughter of my own that I fully understood the horsemanship advice. Good horsemanship requires that you take your partner’s feelings into consideration. It’s not meeting someone 1/2 way, it is fully committing to going 100% to them. It’s being sensitive enough to read someone’s emotions without saying a word. It’s caring enough about those emotions to want to help them work through them in the most patient and gentle way possible. Anyone who has ever tried to force a frightened horse to do something knows exactly how this works out. It is being firm with your boundaries and learning to stand your ground. It is being aware of your surroundings. It is understanding your effect on others. It is learning to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward. It is that deep understanding that when you don’t put the time and effort in you will miss your mark and have no one to blame but yourself (ouch). It is learning patience and dedication and taking care of someone else’s needs before your own. It is learning to value and care for the things in your life if you want them to last. There are so many life skills that one picks up over a lifetime of working with horses but the baseline is always working to improve yourself. I understand now that you should worry about your horsemanship because life and horsemanship are lifelong journeys of learning to be and do better.

You can read the entire letter here http://www.openculture.com/2013/09/f-scott-fitzgerald-tells-his-11-year-old-daughter-what-to-worry-about.html

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Published by TheMindfulEquestrian

Horse lover helping horse lovers.

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