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Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Practicing.....

Below is an excerpt from an article NOT about horses, but fit so perfectly for a post I've been contemplating, I wanted to post anyways. 
I've taken out the references to the activity he is referring to and added in [horses] instead.  See if you can guess what he's talking about....
Start excerpt
I often get puzzled looks from folks when they learn why I started learning to [ride horses] in the first place.  People never expect the response that I first took an interest [in horses] because I love they way they smell (I am not the only [rider], though, who would offer this reason).  Whatever sparks your initial infatuation with [horses], though, you must periodically find new ways to renew and deepen your relationship with [horses] over your lifetime if you are going to achieve genuine success in your [horse] life.  This works much in the same fashion as a marriage; it requires consistent work to keep things on track and occasionally special effort to rekindle and revitalize the relationship.  The thrill of a new romance by its very nature must fade away.  I regard [] success not in the achievement of particular goals or accolades but in the week-in-and-week-out process of personal growth for the rest of your life.  When you look at [horses] this way, you can see that it can be a very serious business with profound spiritual and emotional overtones (on both individual and social levels). 
End excerpt

Does anyone have any guesses of what Jim Wood is talking about? 
Originally the article was about Fiddling.  The article is called "the Practicing Fiddler" and was published in "Fiddler Magazine".  As some of you may know, I have fiddled longer than I have ridden. 
I think his words apply to any activity that you stick with over the long haul, although I think music and horses are the two activities that tend to provoke the strongest emotional ties. 
I think that's why I'm at a loss for words when people ask the inevitable questions:
On finding out that I'm a fiddler:  "Are you really good?"  - whether or not I'm good is beside the point.  After playing for 16 years I'm not professional so I'm obviously playing for other reasons than "to be good".  In fact, improvement in my playing is WAY near the bottom of the reasons I play.
On finding out that I spend 4 hours a day at the stable:  "So you love horses?" - I have not idea how to answer this question.  It's like asking a couple that have been married for the last 10 years and hearing that they have a date night and saying "so you love your husband?".  It goes so much deeper than that and saying I "love" my horses doesn't even scratch the surface of my commitment. 
Horses, for me, are a daily commitment.  I do it when I don't feel like it, and I do it when I'm so in love with Farley I want to sleep in her pen.  I'm not married, but it's what I imagine married life to be - I have horses because a very long time I ago I fell madly in love with them.  Years later, I'm still committed to that relationship and even when I don't feel like it, do those things that will make the relationship work.  And sometimes, as I drive up to the stable, I have so many butterflies in my stomach for the sheer joy of going to see my horse, I can barely stand it. 
Here's the next paragraph of the article.  I'm not going to sub words this time, but I'm sure you can see how this also applies to the equestrian life:
Start excerpt
If you accept my proposal that learning to play should be an ongoing process, then the first and most important order of business must be to establish a solid foundation on which to build not only you instrumental technique but also your musical life.  I tell all prospective students that a successful start to fiddling requires a three-pronged attack.  First, find a really, really good instructor (which may take some time and effort, but do not settle for less than excellence) and go religiously to a weekly lessons.  (Given the choice, an hour is vastly superior to a shorter lesson period because you need time to review and analyze previous assignments and have time to go over something new for the next week; it is like tending a fire and then throwing on a new log.)  The second part of my three-part strategy is to go home and practice, practice, practice.  Every one's life gets a little cluttered now and again, and some periods will be more productive than others, but do all you can to prepare for your next lesson.  The more you practice, the more you will learn during your lesson.
End excerpt
The third prong of being a successful fiddler (according to Jim Wood) is to go and and play with other musicians as often and regularly as you possibly can.  I would liken this to getting involved with a specific sport, or being a part of a regular group of riders.
Some more information about Jim Wood:
Jim Wood is a five-time Tennessee Fiddle Champion who performs on a fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar with his wife Inge.  Their CD "Jim and Inge Wood in Concert: September 24, 2005" was given a rave review in the Fall 2006 issue of Fiddler Magazine.  For more information on recordings, concerts, and workshops, please see Jim's website at
The article from which these excerpts were taken from was first published in Fiddler Magazine, titled "The Practicing Fiddler", written by Jim Wood.


  1. Well, I certainly enjoy playing with MY Fiddle, too.... >g< but it's a little different in my case, I think.

    Also: he likes the way fiddles smell? Does that seem odd?

    When I was surrounded by lame horses a few years ago, I had to do something with my excess nervous energy, and so I took up walking marathons...and followed the same three-pronged approach. It works just as well for walking distance as it does for other activities. (But I don't actually like the way marathoners smell.)

  2. I loved your comment about "I do it when I don't feel like it". That is so true. In the cold, in the rain, in the mud, in the sun...Not only is it a daily commitment, for me, it's a lifelong comitment. I wouldn't know what's its like not to have that commitment. We have fortunate in that we haveall of our horses right here at home. Every morning and every evening begins and ends the same. Feeding and taking care of the horses feeds my soul. It keeps going when I am not feeling motivated,because I have to , it gives me an out when I have had a frustrating day and need to close out the rest of the world. My life revolves around their care and their schedule. My husband has a running joke. He tells people that take note of JB at rides or wherever, that he hopes I never have to choose between him and that horse because he'd likely be on the losing end of the deal! (probably not) but I hope I never have to make that decision because a part of me would die without my horses.Crazy? maybe but I'll chance it...


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