Looking back on a crazy year, I’m learning to to take a different approach to people who aren’t on the same page.
It was a year for the books, wasn’t it?
Gosh, from vaccines to politics (or are those the same topic now?), crazy weather patterns and just plain worldwide nonsense, it’s been a struggle to come up for air and find some common ground and breathing space.
The horse world is really no different. All of us who enjoy our equine friends—be it for work, recreation, performance or no real purpose besides joy—are all predisposed to feeling and behaving certain ways about certain things. We’re just a bunch of people thrown together under the common desire to sit in a saddle, and expected to get along. Some people were raised with certain horsemanship and animal husbandry methods as a foundation. Others take bits and pieces from different influences and constantly modify their personal take on what works best.
This blog often addresses our world’s silly controversies: To blanket or not to blanket? Do your spur straps buckle on the inside or outside? Do papers on a horse really matter? And please tell me why, again, are you selling that horse? They spark interesting conversation, plenty of learning opportunities for me, and sure, the occasional backlash.
I guess the biggest thing I’m moving forward with from the past couple of years is to have a little more feel and empathy for each person. To the cocky kid who thinks he knows it all: well, we all know he doesn’t. But if he gets himself in the right state of mind, he has all the talent to go on and be every bit as great as he thinks he is.
To the rider who seemed to have discouraging show after discouraging show: feel encouraged to keep entering if you crave it.
Those who haven’t run their own businesses won’t understand it until they do. Those who haven’t been hit with unexpected emergency vet bills don’t know what it’s like to sell a kidney to save a pony. And that’s okay.
Sometimes I see a horse that travels under saddle with a limp, and I think, “Oh, what a bummer, that horse is crippled.” But then, I wonder about what my own shadow looks like at times, and how sometimes I have to drag my hip across the yard in order to catch a colt. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be working. It doesn’t mean I’m unhappy or need to take the rest of my life off. It just means I need to do a little maintenance to keep myself serviceable, sound and strong.
Rodeo, ranching, backyard horses or the performance world—we are all riding down the same trail. We can gain as little or as much as we choose. By the example we set, we are all teachers. By choosing horsemanship as our path, we are all students. And by feeding alfalfa in Texas, we are all broke this winter. I can’t expect my employees to know what it’s like to hold the pressure of all my expectations, commitments and endeavors on my shoulders, much as I didn’t understand it myself when I worked for a trainer. I can’t expect everyone to see what I see or think like I do, because they don’t (thank goodness!) And if I learn to think about a situation more like that, I hope to become a better student, employee, employer, teacher, example and friend.
All I can say is, I’m going to attempt to approach people a little more like I do my horses—with some feel, timing and the understanding that everyone has an individual reality that shapes their perspective. Even if they try to paw my head off or pin their ears when I suggest a slight change, I’ll try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
After all, we don’t know who might have been hit with an unexpected vet bill this very afternoon, or may have written a check for a load of hay.