Courage to Leave the Comfort Zone

"The Soft Feel," article and photos by Par Karlberg

Stepping out of one’s “comfort zone” takes courage.  World wide, riders are all working with the same animal species.  With the horse as a common denominator, no matter what country of origin, shouldn’t riders be more similar, than dissimilar?   Yet, even among horsemen (and women), in the same nation, there are cultural divides that can be difficult to bridge.   Facing the challenge of cultural understanding (or misunderstanding) requires personal risk.   My hat is off to Swedish Rider Par Karlberg.   Riding a horse on loan from Pete and Sharon Melniker, Par rode in the Buck Brannaman clinic, in Bozeman, Montana.   Par wrote about his experience in an article, titled, “The Soft Feel,” published by the Swedish horse magazine, Hastfocus.

Buck Brannaman is the focus of Par’s article.   My horse, “Jemima,” as a four year old filly, appears in one photograph.  

The article begins (rough translation by me), “Untie your ropes and let’s throw some heelshots!  Buck’s instruction makes me a little nervous.  I have never been especially good at throwing the lasso and I’m distinctly different from the others, who seem more or less to have grown up in the saddle with the lasso.” 

“I am in Bozeman, Montana in the middle of a Buck Brannaman clinic, surrounded by fellow riders, who all look like they come directly from the nearest ranch…   I’m right where I want to be.”  (end quote)

Photo closeup of Nancy Fetter's authentic Vaquero style.My friend Nancy Fetters also appears in the article (photo right).   Par comments on her traditional Vaquero style of dress and equipment.   At the other end of the spectrum, Par notes my English tack.  He comments, “Betty lives in Montana, but rides dressage … She bases all her riding on Buck’s instructions.”  Par also asked me about the conflict between dressage and this Western style of horsemanship.

Par’s question about “conflict” surprised me.   Should there be a conflict?   Based on what?   And, why?   Par’s question also brought back memories of wrestling  within myself and between the two cultures.  His question also made me aware of how much my expectations and approach to horses has changed.      

While my interest in dressage may be an anomoly among the lassos (and my lassos strange in the land of dressage), for me there is no longer any conflict over philosophy.   My understanding of dressage is enhanced by what Buck teaches and studying dressage makes my horses better to rope on.  I still have much to learn, but my horses and I benefit from both cultures.   What could be better than that?

Four year old filly Jemima, ridden by Betty Staley.

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