Please don't think I haven't experienced frustration just because I write about how detrimental it is to horses, mules, people and other animals. I have been there. I have let my frustrations overwhelm my decisions and I have made poor decisions as a result.
One time I got so fed up with the horse I was working with, I resorted to using a "running w" technique on the horse. When he would run, I would trip him up. He stopped running but I never forgave myself. And I know in my heart he also didn't forgive me. Sure I claim to be natural and positive-reinforcement oriented but I wasn't always that way.
At first I was just an ignorant teenager, making my horses do what I want. (Maybe I should have got a motorcycle instead.) One day, I got a horse that I couldn't handle and I found myself getting frustrated every single day. My passion for learning led me to some of the greatest horse trainers on the planet. I studied, I practiced, and I got progressively better. I thought I would never get frustrated again. But I did.
A few years after my formal education with horses I ventured out on my own to earn a living. It was here that I met the most challenging horses. Year after year I grew my business. People saw me as a wonder trainer. I was always good natured, skilled, kind, and patient and, somehow, still effective. Then one day I met a mule. And my journey into myself began again. What I mean is this... I thought I was done with frustration. I thought I had mastered that emotion. But looking back I see how naive I was.
In a nutshell. Here is what happened. I got hurt. That's it. I overstepped my own confidence and asked for something he wasn't ready for. He bucked me off, then for the next week I proceeded to "MAKE" him do what I wanted so he would be "perfect" for me and not ever do that dangerous bucking thing again. From the outside looking in, you might have thought I was measured and calm throughout, but I know I was burning up inside when he wouldn't immediately do what I wanted. Day by day he would make small improvements in his skill sets but big slides backward in his relationship with me. My frustration was costing me dearly. Eventually, he would lose too much ground and become one of those evergreen, untrainable animals. Gratefully I have always been connected to people who know me, love me, trust I'm doing the best I can and whole heatedly want me to succeed. That's what real support is. That's part of why we made the Mastery Coaching Group (check it out if you want that kind of support)
These people, challenged me to look deeper. To see how I was tense and upset and helped me reset my perspective. As a result. The relationship healed and as time passed, that mule and I could do everything together. The point is. Frustration, whether with an animal or another person, always destroys the relationship. Frustration is the enemy!
So how do you avoid frustration, or get out if you feel it?
Breathe, take ten, reset your perspective with the support of loving people. Be willing to start over. Don't confuse standards with expectations. People often make the mistake of having high expectations and when they aren't met, they get frustrated. Have high standards instead. Standards for yourself. For how you'll act if your goals aren't met. For how your horse will act in the end, not the beginning. Most of all, know that you're not alone. Even the best trainers and teachers in the world feel frustrated when things don't go as planned. How long you stay frustrated is the key. Stay too long you destroy the relationships around you.
Stay cool, and may the horse be with you!
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