Saturday, September 25, 2021

My Mama Don't Want Your Advice

 


I saw this onesie at a store last month and it cracked me up. My Parents Don't Want Your advice. There have been times this last week that I wish I had a shirt that said, My mama don't want your advice!

Let me back up for a moment and clarify two points:

1. I often ask for advice on this blog, and I'm thankful for your input. This does not apply to the blog.

2. I am guilty of what I'm about to describe.

When you train at a public park, you're going to run into well-meaning people who see you struggling and want to help. Unfortunately, help is often a distraction, and it almost always leads to a worse outcome. I'm not sure why that is, but every time I've taken someone's advice--I'm not talking about trainers, but random people who show up-- it got worse. It could be that it interferes with my natural method--which to someone on the outside might look "wrong". When I feel pressured to try to adopt their advice it makes me see it from their eyes--and not my own or my horse's. It interferes with the communication going on. I start seeing where we should be--and not where we actually are. It's frustrating, and it happened to me twice last week, setting back our progress.

Today the park was pretty full, and I shared a spot with a young woman and her horse. She backed her trailer up to the round pen right as I was going in. I started to feel the dread well up in me. Is she going to offer advice? Is she going to judge my methods? I mean, I think my methods are pretty solid, actually, but different horses need different things--and different people have different ways--and each horse and person is--for lack of a better word, different. 

Well, she didn't...because she has better manners than me. I have been that know-it-all person before offering help when it wasn't asked. I look back and cringe!  Please God, strike me moot if I ever go to offer unsolicited advice to another horse person.

Again, this advice comes from a good place and I in no way want to suggest it doesn't. It's just that it's not helpful.

We switched places and I went into the arena while she went into the round pen. As I was leaving, I saw her trying to load her horse, but she wouldn't get in the trailer. I didn't look at her, but walked slowly by, just in case she asked for my help. She didn't. She took her horse back into the round pen and started working her. As I drove off, I could see clearly, she was there to teach that horse to load properly, and that was all part of her plan. I was so thankful that I had kept my mouth shut.

Now, as I say this, I remember a time I did need help loading a horse, and a very nice man came over and gently asked me if I needed assistance. I had probably sent his group some imploring looks before he finally felt comfortable asking. I was very happy he did and accepted his help. Obviously, this isn't a hard and fast rule. It's delicate.

When we get past all of this elementary school training, and we've reached that greater plateau with our horses where we're doing all sorts of fun things on them--it is easy to forget how important the struggle was in getting there. It's also natural to want to share our many lessons with others who are back where we started, but this has taught me a valuable lesson that I hope I carry with me from here forward--Mama's Don't Want My Advice.

Here's my only video of Tumbleweed today. He still comes to me when I call him in, even though he knows I'm taking him off to work. That is something I never got from Leah or even Beautiful Girl. I've only ever had it with my first horse I raised from a weanling, Tanner, then Cowboy, Epona (so far), and Tweed.  The others will stand for me when I come and get them, but they're not going that extra mile to come to me. 

He had been way out in the pasture grazing when I called him in, and by the time it hit me to video it, he was almost there. It says volumes to me about his willingness and connection, despite whatever mistakes I've made.

15 comments:

  1. I should add that today was a short day. We were only at the park for an hour. I decided to mix it up a bit, and since he was so good, reward him.

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  2. Oh I surely am guilty of that! Back in the day I was a little too free in offering my advice- and it makes me cringe to think of it now! We are all at different places in our horsemanship journey, some of us learn the hard way and some of us are blessed with excellent mentors. I was well into my 30's before I had good mentors. There were times, however, when I was able to help people, especially with trailer loading.
    I love the soft look in Tweeds eye, he's obviously pretty happy with his life.

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    1. No doubt, it is hard to know when our advice is needed and might help, and when it is interfering with someone and their horse just working through it the way they need to work through it. With age comes wisdom. One example from last week is when we were doing bridge work. Tumbleweed had been on the seaside bridge, and he began to think every bridge, even the ones he had been over 1000 times, were really Seaside bridges in disguise. He had gone over the seesaw bridge twice for me, because he just trust everything I ask him to do. However, when he realized the bridge was going to keep doing that, he decided it was not safe and he did not want any part of it. Which when you think of it, is actually a smart survival mechanism. But anyway, we were at another bridge, and a well meaning, kind person was there with her older, well-trained horse, and she saw that my methods weren’t getting him over the bridge, and offered help. My method, was to ask him to come onto the bridge with me, then when he gave me any kind of a try, I would let him relax. Her advice was to push him forward from the ground, which I have done before in other situations, with really good results. At that moment, I didn’t feel like it was the best thing for him, because I did not want to raise his anxiety level. But after a while, I gave in and tried that method. It did work to get him across the bridge on the side portion, but the next day when we went to the bridge again, he completely shut down there. So, these things are fluid, and I really just need to work with him by myself, in our own way. Now, when I get advice on my blog, it is a completely different scenario, because my horse isn’t right here, and I can think about it, and incorporate these suggestions as needed. It’s the difference from being in the heat of the moment versus being removed and analyzing what we will do next.

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    2. I tried to go back and edit that last comment, but it came very close to deleting the whole thing. Blogger is not very user-friendly. I did not mean seaside bridge, I meant See saw bridge. I was also going to add that many years ago, when I first started working with cowboy, we were at a large barn with multiple trainers. He and I had a lot to work through, because he was not a trusting horse. My veterinarian told me that he was a very smart horse with a strong survival instinct. That helped me to think of everything in a different way. Anyway, there were always people offering advice. In those days, I tried everything, and I was back-and-forth at our local store buying gizmos and gadgets, the owner of that store gave me a really good tip one day. He said that there are an infinite amount of ways to train a horse, and I would always be receiving a lot of different suggestions, but I should choose one person that I really trusted at the barn, and stick to the suggestions / methods of that one person. I took it to heart, because it was getting way too confusing. I looked around the barn, at all the different trainers there, and I saw that the person who was getting the best results, and really developing safe, strong horses, was Sarah. I made a decision to throw my lot in with Sarah, and that mentorship remains today, even though she is far away. Since then I have also brought in other trainers, and people I really respect, including you. The people who gave me advice last week were good horse people too, it is just that when you are actually going through the moment, you really have to do it your way and trust your instincts. No one knows Tumbleweed better than I do, and he is still so young, I really want him to trust me. Forcing things doesn’t do much good when he can so easily shut down.

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    3. A lot of this comes down to me, too. I have to learn to protect Tumbleweed and myself when we are a team. I need to learn how to respectfully request my space.

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  3. Amen! These days I bite my tongue because I don’t know the whole story. Now with my good friends I might ask ‘do you want help’ and they know they can say ‘no’.

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    1. That’s nice that you ask. Very nice. Good way to handle it. Too many people want to jump in and “fix it” for you, and end up making more of a mess. It’s like the armchair quarterback syndrome. 😂 I’m so glad I allowed myself to identify this area of frustration, because I’m going to be ready next time and explain that, thank you, but I need my space to work through it in my own way. I’m always looking for the “least amount” of pressure. That’s just my personality. The bridge incident I wrote about above was that exact thing, I was searching for the least amount. It’s like watching paint dry for bystanders. I told the person I didn’t want Tweed to build up anxiety, and she remarked that he definitely did not look anxious, —which was the point of what I was trying to do, but she said it to mean I needed to put more pressure on him. At any rate, it was an intrusion into our work—right or wrong. But I will be prepared next time—and I’m sure there will be many, many, many more opportunities to decline advice while we’re working it out.

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  4. First of all I love that onesie! People like to give advice but I feel it's best to give it when it's asked for. I've gotten a lot of it over the years and some is good and some not so good. I'm sure people mean well but I'm in the business of minding my own business and don't offer up advice unless asked for my opinion. The best you can do in circumstances with "helpful people" is smile and thank them and put the advice in your back pocket and take it out later and see if it makes sense for what you're trying to accomplish. You should only do what you think is right and what you're comfortable with doing. And I think you've got it covered with the training aspects. So just keep smiling and do what you're doing.

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    1. That onesie was hilarious. There were others that cracked us up, too. If you need a good laugh, go onesie shopping.

      In the business of minding my own business—wise words.

      I like the idea of smiling and walking away, in most scenarios, and putting the advice in my back pocket. Having a young horse is an invitation for unsolicited advice, so my back pocket will be full. Tweed also has a big following of people who have seen him grow up, and they feel really close to him. One of my friends even offered to ride him for me when he got back from training. My eyes must have popped out of my head in shock. I was like, no…um no…no one is riding my horse except my trainer or me. He was younger when she made that offer and I wasn’t wanting to put miles on him then anyway. But I don’t loan out my horses, especially my young, future horse I expect to take me into my old age. Not to mention, I love her, but she has a completely different style with horses, and one that I don’t want to copy or have imprinted on him.

      Which leads me to another thought, maybe Tumbleweed is just so good looking, people want my horse! 😂 I think this is more about horse poaching than giving advice. Let me touch him, let me ride him, let me have him. No, no, and no.

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    2. Laughing here at your last sentence.....

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    3. 🤣😂🤣 Call me paranoid, but…he is a cutey.

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    4. I'm not gonna lie- I am tempted to steal Tweed....

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    5. 😂😂😂 I’ll be sure not to share my physical address with you so that you’re not tempted to drive 2,000 miles, take down our fence, and wrangle him into your trailer. 😂

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    6. He is pretty adorable and such a sweetheart! Good thing I'm on the other side of the country...just kidding.

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.