What Dr. Strange Can Teach Us About Riding

If you are keen on the Marvel franchise, then I’m sure you’re pretty pumped about Dr. Strange coming out this weekend. I got to see it last night and absolutely loved it. Of course that has nothing do do with Benedict Cumberbatch in the leading roll, not at all *wink wink*. Anyway, the main premise of the movie is that this arrogant control freak neurosurgeon hurts his hands and can no longer practice unless he can find a way to heal them. He ends up going on a journey to Nepal to learn how to tap in to the power of spirit and energy in order to make his mind heal his body. He meets the “Ancient One,” a master of energy manipulation and she teaches him the ways of the mystical and martial arts.

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How do horses factor in to all of this? There was a great deal of time and patience involved in Strange’s journey towards mastery. In the beginning, Strange’s analytical mind gets in the way until he learns to let go and surrender. He’s overwhelmed by the incredible displays of power that she and the other students perform so effortlessly, and can’t look past his disability. “How can I possibly get from where I am now to where you are?” he asks the Ancient One. “How did you learn to knit ligaments back together and repair a damaged spine?” she wisely replies. He thinks for a moment and says “Studying and practice, hours of it.” Strange suddenly understands that this knowledge and power could actually be attainable.

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Then there’s the token super hero montage sequence when Strange gets his outfit and advances his training. The one scene that really impacted me was when he is taking part in a synchronized Tai Chi like session in which everyone else in the class is creating perfect circles of sparking light and energy in the air with a soft meditative gaze. Meanwhile, Strange is the only one that seems have trouble with the movement. The best he can accomplish is a shaky circle with a few embers fizzling out here and there. It struck me that this is exactly how I feel in a group lesson, or when I’m spending time with upper level riders. How could I possibly get from here to where I want to be?

Studying and Practice. Sticking with it, being willing to be the new guy in the group. Mingling freely and often with geniuses and masters of the field. And most importantly, accepting that you are going to look ridiculous at first and nothing will look like it’s supposed to. You unlock your true power when you play the long game, showing up to do the work and do the next right thing everyday.

Happy riding, may your horses be super!

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