Monday, April 14, 2014

Manana Principle

*Note, I tried to get the "tilda" over my 'n' but had no luck.  Please, gentle reader, imagine it there.*

Within the traditions of the Vaquero style of riding is a guiding principle that is unique to the California region.  It is the Manana Principle.  Basically this is the belief that anything worth doing is worth doing right and it doesn't matter if it takes a day or three because there is always tomorrow.

Just imagine the old vaquero on his finished bridle horse decorated with silver sitting atop a coastal bluff.  His hair and his horse's mane blows lazily in the scented sea breeze as he looks down on the cattle grazing the coastal grass on the rolling hills.  The weather is temperate, again, and there is all the time in the world to move those cows from their early spring grazing to their mid summer grazing just a bit further in the distance. Oh, look, there is a golden eagle soaring on that warm ocean updraft.

Things are a little different here in the Northwest.

This past weekend Dan and I spent diligently engaged in the chores of the season.  You see, where we live we are blessed to enjoy the 4 seasons.  You have Summer, which is a glorious period of about 6 weeks followed by Get Ready for Winter, a period of crazy hustle and bustle paired with the accompaniment of the ever shrinking day. Winter then lasts about 6 months and is followed by Recover from Winter, which is another crazy hustle and bustle period that resembles all the Get Ready for Winter chores in reverse.

Living in an area with these lovely 4 seasons does not engender a feeling of Manana.  Instead it engenders a feeling of, "Holy crap, the sun is out, don't waste a moment of it!"  This rushed feeling is reflected in everything that I do.  This is the exact reason why ranches in the Northwest have bailing twine gates and pallet and tarp barns.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time to get things done properly.

But, there is a good lesson in the manana principle in both life and horsemanship.

When you slow down and breath and realize that though it may not be sunny and warm tomorrow, tomorrow will still come you don't have to feel so rushed.  Taking the time to do something right the first time is a better alternative than coming back next season and fixing whatever half done thing you did.

There are no short cuts in good horsemanship.  Though you may want to just twitch your horse to get the bridlepath clipped before the big show, taking the time to work with the clippers every single day is a better way to go.  You don't handle your colt's feet on the night before the farrier comes but every single day for a month before the farrier comes.  It is, essentially, the principle of working completely without deadlines.  The horse doesn't move into the two-rein because it is 6, it moves into the two-rein because it is ready.  There is no concept of 30, 60 or 90 days of training.  It is working with your horse at your horse's pace with no external time constraints.  This is a principle foreign to many of today's training packages.

I've always considered myself a person that works better under pressure.  I live for deadlines waiting until that last possible moment to feel that inspiration that would push me to set a new world record in essay writing or cram style studying.  I hope that as I have grown older and wiser I am learning that this is not always the best way to approach things.  The manana principle is not about procrastination or laziness.  It doesn't mean don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow.  It means don't do a shoddy job.  Don't scimp when doing something the right way will mean that you don't have to do it again next week.

Taking the extra time to do something right the first time is worth it but it is a very, very difficult thing to train yourself to do if you are anything at all like me.  I'm a multi-tasker.  I take pride in my efficiency and speediness with whatever I am doing.  Getting things done in record time has always been my goal. So, slowing down and doing something properly and with the right amount of concentration is difficult for me.  Taking the time in both my life and my horsemanship makes both me and my horse better tomorrow.

I especially notice this when I am working with my patients.  This time of the year we hold shot clinics where we will see maybe 30-40 horses in a day for shots, deworming, and health certificates.  It's a big job and we try and get through it as fast as possible.  What I have learned is to use my speed and efficiency with the paperwork and not with the horses.  The horses can tell that you are in a hurry and they instantly get their defenses up.  If I approach a horse to give it a shot like I'm trying to get it done as fast as possible it may decide that he wants no part of me.  When I see my patients start looking at me wide eyed and backing up I know I am moving way to fast and it's time to take a breath and spend some time scratching and saying hi to the horse.  It's the manana principle.  Instead of thinking about the 25 horses I have left to see I concentrate on the one horse that is in front of me at the time and give him my full and undivided attention.

So, I may not get as much done in a day as I would have hoped to but I'm getting it done better. Because, after all, there is always tomorrow to work on it again. Take pride in each and everything that you do in your life and in your horsemanship and take the time to do it properly.