This couldn't have come along at a better time, and not just because I'm starting to fray around the edges and shoe-tying is among the first skills to decline (or so I'm told). I happened on this video as I was also listening to Healing Shine: A Spiritual Assignment by Michael Johnson, my new favorite horse writer. If you're a horse person and haven't read or heard anything by Michael Johnson, well...shame on you! You're really missing a good bet for getting some sage advice for the price of a book (audio, in my case) that might change your approach to horses for good.
Anyway, I was listening to Johnson talk about working through his issues with his roping horse, Shine, and of course I found it appealing both on a general horse-lover basis and because so much of it applies to my own trials with Zips Meal Service over the past five years. You don't need to be hooked on a screwy, too-smart horse to appreciate his cowboy stories, but it sure helps.
This morning I got to the part where he's hearing voices in his head--the author, that is (we don't know what the horse has going on under that forelock, now, do we?)--and realizing that what everyone has been telling him ever since he left the wing-cover of his old-time, "knock 'em down and teach 'em respect" uncles is that there's only one thing a horse needs. That's you. He needs you to listen, to understand, and to not expect miracles unless you've installed the Miracle 2.0 app on your iPhone. They sure won't happen in the roping pen or the show ring or the cross-country course.
I'm not going to spoil the book for you if you haven't yet read it (GO! NOW! ORDERING INFO HERE!). It's the kind of stuff that makes you want to whisper, "Tell me more, Pa. Tell me another story" as the lights go out and you cuddle into your bed, and I wouldn't ruin that for the world. But I will say that what Mr. Johnson has in common with the video above is that he vividly makes the point that the simplest thing can often be best done in a way different from the way you've always done it. I have a t-shirt that says, "Just because we've always done it that way doesn't mean it isn't incredibly stupid". Like the day my daughter watched me hauling water buckets to dump and slopping yucky horse-snot water all over my jeans and said, "Why don't you just put it in the muck cart like Cindy does?"
Or the day (mind you, I'm 50 years into this project) it occurred to me that if I wrote the name of the horse and the dose on the lid of each supplement container on the shelf, there would be fewer screw-ups. Or the day I realized I wouldn't have to take the medication jars under the light and use a magnifier to see the expiration date if I just wrote it on the jars in big magic marker numbers as I bought them. Or the day I thought, "Gee...Zip might be less likely to nip Pinky on the butt if the shoer did Pinky's trim in his stall out of harm's way."
Duh and DUH!
So maybe next time you go out to mess with your horse (or dog, or child, or other training project) you'll think about how to tie your shoe the right way, and maybe you'll have one of those flashes of brilliance that leave you grinning for an hour because it was such a simple thing and it made such a huge difference.
PS: I got the audiobook from the Hoofprints catalog. Patronize my friend Gina. She's nice, and it's such a simple thing.