I had an amazing experience at TPR this month. Jason and I were out to teach the December eSSentials Class, and on Monday night before the BBQ I rode Fidus down to the bonfire. Where it’s not my intention to wax poetic, it was an experience that touched me on a number of levels. This was my first time on a mule, and only the second time I’ve ridden in my life – the last time being almost 20 years ago.
I was scared, and I don’t often have circumstances in my life that scare me. This did and it gave me an opportunity to face my fear, talk myself through it, and have a truly enjoyable experience. In life we can sometimes miss the opportunity because we are scared to take it. Even though I was scared (and trying to maintain credibility with my students – so of course I was hiding it!), I got through it and the sense of pride I felt was tremendous.
Peter talked softly to me and explained all the ins and outs with Fidus. How to mount, turn, speed up, stop, dismount, hold the reins, balance…there are many things to think about when you are riding! Peter has been my teacher for 13 years, but knowing the Morgan Methodology so well has made me a little immune to his phenomenal teaching skills. Being in a new situation where I didn’t know what I was doing, and having Peter teach me again took me back a decade and reminded me again why he is such an incredible teacher. He didn’t make me feel stupid, he took care of me, and he nudged me forward to the level he knew I could manage (which exceeded what I thought I was capable of). I see him do this with his students all the time, but last week it got to be me again. It’s hard to describe how meaningful this was to me.
We rode through the dark woods to the bonfire, and when I got off Fidus my legs were quivering. I was having trouble standing – both from nerves and muscles that hadn’t been used that way in a long time. It was scary enough that I silently toyed with the idea of not riding back. Again, I had the opportunity to muster courage and push through something I knew I could do. This was so reminiscent of being a rookie recruiter. It can be terrifying – but so incredibly rewarding once you accomplish it.
Upon our return, Peter had me unhook the saddle, take it off Fidus, and put it away. Boy those saddles weigh a ton! I’m not one for a lot of manual labor, but again felt a sense of pride that I could do the work required to enjoy the experience. We forget sometimes how important doing the work is to feeling the sense of accomplishment. When we were all done, Peter told me to go over and thank Fidus for the ride. I moved in close to him, rubbed his ears and thanked him for taking care of me. The most amazing thing happened! Fidus turned his giant head and nuzzled into my chest. It was as if he understood my words and my fear and my gratitude, and was saying you’re welcome. He lifted his head and put it on my shoulder while I talked softly to him and let him know how much I appreciated him. I have never connected with a 1200 pound animal like that.
I’ve been to the ranch several dozen times, but last week was an experience I will remember forever. I can’t wait to ride Fidus again in February.