Neu Perspectives

Putting it Together

woman loping a horse

Whether it’s assembling cheap furniture or training on a horse, the end result is gratifying when hard work and dedication are involved.

loping horse in roundpen
Photo by Ross Hecox

It helps me sometimes to make real-life situations relate back to my horsemanship when conversing with others. It simplifies concepts in my own mind and can make a complex process a fairly simple one when it comes back to something we all know and have been through. 

Whether someone is helping me work on lead changes, getting my horse to drive his hindquarters better, or simply to respond effectively to my body language when leading him, the breakthrough always means so much to me. My equine life is full of struggle. I care a lot about the end result, and in turn, I have to work fairly hard to find the desired outcome. It takes explanations. Illustrations. Demonstrations. And practice!

Not long ago, I celebrated Amazon Prime Day and purchased a bedframe with a headboard and footboard. Two days later, it arrived on my doorstep. The problem is, it wasn’t a bed at all, but a box of metal and hardware with a small sheet of directions in French. I’ve put together furniture before and was up for the task, but this one in particular seemed a bit tricky.

I was excited and went straight to work, allen-wrenching pieces together (only to realize they were upside down and had to be removed and installed again). My brows were furrowed and my brain was reaching. There seemed to be too many of some parts and not enough of others. The headboard was the bigger piece… I thought. Undo, redo. Done? My completed project looked a lot less like a bed than I had envisioned.

Frustrated, I checked my empty box one last time and—voila!—there was one more piece of paper stuck to the bottom. Turns out there was a printed sheet of directions in English after all. Much to my relief, once I understood what needed to be done, there were some minor changes made, and my mess of metal morphed into a bed.

After all that struggle, realizing that there was a better way meant so much to me. Had I built the bed correctly the first time, I wouldn’t have appreciated the end result when it all came together. I worked way harder than necessary on the wrong things, because I didn’t seek out the proper help. And after seeing my bed made the wrong way, backwards, and upside down, I felt incredibly accomplished (as simple as it might be) to see the end result be successful. 

Of course, it doesn’t take much to relate this back to my riding. Too often we focus and work so hard on things that take us away from the whole picture. Too often we don’t find the simple help we need and plunder on, using trial-and-error as our method for seeking success. But on the flip side, when something clicks between horse and rider, or between trainer, rider and horse, it can mean so much after the mental struggle. The “a-ha moment” is always glorious after working so hard at the wrong thing. We learn, we grow and we become more effective, efficient and wise when it comes to our animals. 

Once I finally learned the simplest way to build my bed, I felt as though I could build another one more confidently with less instruction. And once I work through a problem or a tough spot on my horse, I feel as though I have one more helpful tool for my toolbox should I ever encounter the same issue again.

Horses, cheap furniture or what have you, we sure learn how to appreciate the end result when we’ve worked hard to get there. You’ve got to have the right tools, embrace the process as best as possible, and seek help when it’s available.

Just be sure it’s in a language that makes sense, whatever that may be!

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