Look closely at the picture above. Although there are many fun, beautiful elements of this photo, many critics can and will find the faults. My elbows are out instead of in. My horses front legs aren't together. My stirrups are too long. I'm not in the correct saddle for jumping. I should be wearing a bulletproof vest. The power lines upset the picture. The lighting is wrong. The list goes on and on...
In the horse industry, no matter what you do, or how good you get, you will always have critics. It's part of the world we live in. Even the best of the best, or what I call Masters in the industry, face enormous amounts of criticism. These are men and women who can do just about anything with horses. They seem to have the "Midas touch" with animals. Everything they do gets better. Every challenge they meet dissolves. But the reality is, the moment I point one of these Masters out, a flock of critics will come to my side with mind-boggling comments.
"His horse isn't on the vertical." They say."Riding on a loose rein is dangerous." They say."My favorite trainer is better than your favorite trainer." They say."Western is better than English." They say.The list goes on.
The point is... These comments are unavoidable. They are part of the normal checks and balance system of our social structure. The first time I realized how important it is to let go of negative comments and just move on in the direction of my own dreams, was years ago. I looked up a young singer on Youtube named Justin Bieber.
At the bottom of the video, there were hundreds of mixed comments. Nearly half were negative. People hate Justin Bieber. Yet, some people love Justin Bieber. He had over one million views and nearly four hundred thousand dislikes on the video. Did it stop him? No! Is he the perfect human? No! Do you like him? It shouldn't really matter to others whether you like him or not. What matters, is that he has guts. He's brave enough to beat the critics. And he's not the only one, either. Look at any top level actor, business person, athlete, or performer of any kind. They all have their critics. Yet, somehow, they all keep going! It's a powerful quality worth practicing. When I saw the harsh reality of negative comments mixed with positive, I realized, I couldn't let my life be dictated by people who frown on what I do.
"You can't avoid negative comments. Even if you're the best of the best. So let them go, and move on."
You can't avoid negative comments. Even if you're the best of the best. So let them go, and move on. Don't let negative comments about you, or about your horse, or about your training style, deter you from making progress. Don't let other peoples' voices keep you from venturing out. Don't get stuck inside your own mind, replaying the mentions of people who don't agree with you. Stop seeing all the negative stuff and start seeing all the positive stuff. You can shine! You can shine in spite of what all the others think about you.
Recently I wrote an article that generated nearly thirty thousand views in less than three days. ("Why performance riders hate natural horsemanship.") I had overwhelmingly positive comments streaming in about it, all day, each day, and for weeks to follow. Along with the positive, however, came the negative. Some folks didn't like my tone or my grammar errors. Others didn't like my picture. Many didn't like my approach. Some noticed how I left out critical information about their own styles of horsemanship.
See what I mean? You can't be perfect for everyone. So stop trying to be perfect for everyone. Let the world around you happen. Let the parts you can't control, go. Focus on what you can control. Follow your dreams. Become a leader! (you can buy the book that everyone is talking about - Leadership and Horses - by clicking the link)
Don't let a little comment knock you back a decade or even a day.
The only caveat I have in regards to this blog post is this. If someone says you are being abusive with your horse. Take the time to test if what they say has some truth. They may be wrong, but at least, take a look. The horse industry is riddled with people who just don't see the horse for what it is. They ride and train with confidence, but without a sincere understanding of the horse's condition in our world. Don't be one of those people. Be the kind of person that values the horse's experience.
Other than real abuse cases, let all the negative comments flow right over your head and back into outer space. You are more powerful than you think and... you don't have to be perfect.
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