Trusting the Process

If there’s one piece of advice I’ve heard most often lately, it’s probably this one: Trust the process.

As a chronic worrier and control enthusiast, trusting anything in particular doesn’t come easily to me. I recognize that I have a tendency to give up on things when I can’t jump directly from “starting out” to “end result.” And since I stepped out of the world of more traditional horsemanship and into the world of natural horsemanship, I’ve had to adjust to some pretty major shifts in thinking. Like, for instance, I would’ve never dreamed that I’d take my third ride on my green-broke horse as a half-day trail ride. Up a mountain. In a rope hackamore. But after having been through the process of training her myself in her groundwork, and then watching 3-Star Parelli Professional Terry Wilson start her under saddle, and having seen techniques that were sometimes counter-intuitive to me turn her into a different, more confident horse… I was finally ready to trust to process.

Sure, I might not know what I'm doing, but my horse looks awfully good!

Terry is a big believer in the power of the trail ride. He’d only put a handful of rides on Juno before taking her out on the trails near his property, and it was plain even to me what a positive effect it had on her development. After my first two rides on Juno, both in Terry’s round pen and neither of them terribly inspiring for me — in the sense that they revealed to me what an awful rider I am — I was certainly ready for something different. Terry thought a day on the trail would be just the thing; he’d ride Juno to begin with while I rode one of his lease horses, Jane, and if all went well we’d switch and I could ride my own horse. Terry’s wife Lvonne and our friends Laura and Bridgette joined us with their own horses, so we had a pretty decent-sized group, and the weather was beautiful, cool and overcast.

Terry and Juno leading the way

We hauled in to West Fork, scraped the previous day’s mud off the horses and got everyone tacked up, then we headed right out on the trail. You wouldn’t have known that Juno had only done all of this once before — and on that occasion they’d had to turn back after only a mile or so, because Juno’s unshod feet were a bit sore on all the rock. This time, Terry and Juno went right out in the lead, and she didn’t flinch away from tight horse-high vegetation, bridges, or even the singing cowboy on her back. (Hey, everybody likes a good Canadian sea shanty.) In short order, Terry proposed that we switch and I get up on my own horse for our first trail riding outing together.

We covered eight miles and six bridge crossings. We rode near the front of the pack, in the middle, and all the way in the back, but it was all the same to Juno. She naturally prefers to give the other horses plenty of room, so there was no need to constantly remind her to keep her distance from the horse in front of her, and she didn’t feel the slightest urge to rush home when we turned back. She was, in short, the perfect trail horse, and gave me the gift of the most enjoyable trail ride I’d ever experienced. And though I’ve suffered all kinds of confidence and fear issues when it comes to riding horses, when I was out there on the back of my own horse, in the middle of the wilderness, I didn’t feel even a moment’s worth of fear or doubt. Even though I’d had a bit of an emotional explosion just a few days earlier, I trusted Terry, I trusted my horse, and I trusted the process that had brought us to where we were. I trusted that it would keep taking us further.

Me and Juno, trailblazing!

Progress is often an uncomfortable thing. You don’t know yet what to do, or how to do it, or whether you’ll ever get it. You’re outside of your comfort zone — sometimes way outside of it — and sometimes you’re compelled to take risks to keep moving forward. That doesn’t mean you have to take up daredevil riding or do something that’s unsafe for you: it just means that you might need to put your pride on the line or sacrifice your usually zen-like emotional state for awhile. But with the right knowledge, the right attitude and the right support you can do things you never dreamed you’d do — even if it’s just taking your horse on a trail ride.

Terry Wilson is a 3-Star Parelli instructor living in Pagosa Springs. He teaches lessons and clinics all over the US and Canada, and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of his knowledge and general awesomeness by booking him for a clinic. Also check out his website and his Facebook page! This post is a follow-up to The Long, Dark Horseback Ride of the Soul; if you haven’t read that post yet, you might want to have a look. You know, just to see what I’m like when I’m a bit less emotionally balanced.


23 thoughts on “Trusting the Process

  1. Pingback: The Long, Dark Horseback Ride of the Soul « Red Roan Chronicles

  2. Trust and patience take great courage.

  3. It sounds like a Zen trail ride. Awesome.

  4. That’s the way (uh-huh-uh-huh) I LIKE it (uh-huh-uh-huh)

  5. Wow, looks like a beautiful ride!

  6. I can certainly testify to Terry’s “general awesomeness” after spending two weeks under his tutelage.

    Congrats again to you, Mack.

  7. What an amazing success story and example of trusting the process even when it takes you into new territory. I feel like yelling, “TADA!” That’s Terrific, Amazing, Delightful, Awesome! Those adjectives apply to you, Juno, Terry and the whole experience. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Thanks for keepin’ it real, Mackenzie. I sometimes struggle with the same doubts, but am learning to trust in the process and my mare. :)

  9. I am soooo happy for you and Juno! Sounds like one of those awesomesauce days :-)


  10. Nice Blog Mackenzie – I loved it! It’s so near and dear to my heart with what I’m doing now with Beauty. Nothing like being out on the trail on our trusted friends – stretching our courage. Way to go! Arlene

  11. That is one good-looking horse! It’s nice to read about another control enthusiast =) working past issues and surrendering to the process. I’m not there yet, but it’s throughly encouraging to read about.

  12. I definitely need to learn how to trust the process (and the horse)! I’ve had those Zen-like trail rides, but on the same day you posted this, I was on a ride that really made me question why I ride at all. Nothing terrible happened, but it was so far from calm and peaceful that I am questioning everything – myself, my horse, and the training methods we’ve been using. Seems like the only solution is to just get back out there and ride…and your post makes me want to keep trying.

  13. Pingback: Horsey Yoga and Nagging Doubts « Forgetting To Breathe

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