I have failed many times with many different things in my life. I have failed starting a business, I have failed friendships, relationships, jobs, etc. I have failed training dogs, training horses, failed as an dieter and an athelete.
But I was reminded today that failure is a part of life. And it is an IMPORTANT part of life. I watch clinicians/trainers/students/co-workers/bosses/friends who think they have all the answers. We KNOW that I have been guilty of that attitude as well, but the truth is, to get the knowledge and expertise they did, at some point they failed.
Failures come in all sizes but they are a reality that we should not only live with, they are a reality we should embrace. It is important, however, that our self-worth not be tied to our failures (or our successes) instead it should be tied to something much greater. For each of us, that means something different, but for me it means being on purpose and being a spiritual person having a human experience (thank you Dr. Dyer). Whatever that means to you, I hope you find it, embrace it and see failure as a way of getting there.
When I watched a Parelli video, he said 'in the old days I would. . .' and 'I used to think. . .'. These are the words of a man who has failed. And see where he is today. The Wright Brothers failed and failed and one day they flew. Those two men embraced failure as an opportunity to learn and they changed our world.
So my question to you, dear horse lover is, when was the last time you embraced a failure with your horse? Seeing as I brought the subject up, I'll pinpoint to you some of my failures and how I am embracing them. My hope is that my failures will help you learn more about horses-since I think that is my purpose (to be a learning faciliator for humans and horses). These are all recent and my learning process is outlined beneath each one (this is by no means a comprehensive list, I like to fail a lot).
When a flag was 'wooshed' at the Steve Rother Clinic, my young horse did a nice spin, landing me on the ground. Luckily I landed with two feet and was not hurt.
Result: I purchased some flag material to try and make flags (and other things) less scary.
I thought I could pick up Santana's training where (I thought) it left off and decided to put him in a shanked Columbian bit. I knew he had other issues and had even told the owner I would make a different choice if it was my horse. It was a horrible choice, much of the progress and trust we had made set me back. He also started refusing the bit and that is now a new bad behavior.
Result: I asked for advice, got him in a snaffle bit, discovered he needs teeth pulled, and went back to the basics. Things are going really well. I have done some reading on biting, so I will start at the beginning again.
A car door slammed outside the area and (again) Zapa spun. This time I was on the ground, but not standing up. After my bruised ego and my bruised interest in riding a green horse mended, I realized this horse is too sensitive to sound that I never did enough desensitizing for that).
Result: So I did some reading on the subject, got some advice from people I trust. I tried one of the methods (which involved tying him and making the sound until he stops resisting. It seemed a little drastic, but I tried it. I hadn't tied his rope halter tight enough, so the bottom slipped into his mouth and I had to stop and fix it, not completing the exercise (another failure).
I could go on and on, but to get better, I am going to make mistakes. It is a fact of life. I will lose my patience, forget (or probably not know how) to do something, or just click when I should kiss. Failure doesn't make you a bad person, a bad trainer, a bad horse companion, it makes you human.
Embrace your humanity by embracing your mistakes. Remember, it is only those who fail that will one day succeed.