Tips on Replacing Judgementalism with Bonding
Do you get frustrated when you are around other horse people, such as when you’re at your boarding stable, or participating in equine events with friends and/or strangers? Do you see poor horsemanship in action and you know a better way? Well here are five words that will help remove the stress that other horse people are causing in your life:
Let Them Have Their Thing
Yup – the next time you see someone being dragged away from the barn by a horse with no manners; the next time you find yourself wincing at someone getting a bad lesson from an alleged instructor; the next time you see someone bouncing in the saddle and using their reins for balance . . . let them have their thing.
DISCLAIMER – PLEASE READ: this is not about cruelty and animal abuse. If you witness animal cruelty or abuse please report it to your local authorities.
What do want to do with your horse? Do you enjoy training, competing, trail riding? Whatever it is, we can assume you have chosen it because it gives you joy, even passion. Your horse is important to you! When we look around our equine environment, we see other people who are somewhat or maybe even very much like ourselves – their horses are important to them, too.
Ask yourself: is the real reason you want people to do things your way because you need justification from others to validate what you’re doing? Get rid of that notion now. The only person you need validation from is yourself, and if you’re so sure that you’re the one who’s doing it right – well then, there you have it.
Harmony isn’t getting everyone to agree with you, it’s getting YOU to agree with you. Giving our time and attention to what we don’t agree with is like stealing from our own joy. It will cause us to be out of harmony with ourselves – like listening to the radio and suddenly the signal becomes distorted.
Whatever we give our attention to in this life increases, so we need to give it wisely. If we give our attention to something negative, we will increase negativity. If we give it to something positive, then we increase positivity. Furthermore, negative energy is like a wall blocking positive energy, and remember horses are supremely sensitive to the energy we give out. We owe our horses our best energy.
How much time does your horse spend thinking about how that other person is riding that other horse? . . . . exactly.
Let other riders have their thing because you have something more important that deserves your attention: YOUR thing.
Oh, and by the way – there’s a good chance that everyone else would like YOU to agree with THEM. We’re all lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER – This blog post is a pep talk for the author; I have been guilty of judging others and need to follow my own advice more than anybody. I’m not holier-than-thou, just older and more experienced and know that judging others has never brought me one minute of lasting happiness or success.
It's like eating an entire chocolate cake in one sitting. It's fun and delicious at the time, but the next day you feel like shit.
When I was growing up, judgmentalism was an acceptable, even admirable quality with some members of my family. Negative comments about friends, family members, and strangers were an entertaining part of daily conversation. There were right ways to behave and wrong ways to behave. Right ways to dress and wrong ways to dress. Right political beliefs and wrong political beliefs. Right religions and wrong religions. Right ways to do things and wrong ways to do things. (OK, there is only one way to load a dishwasher – my way – but never mind about that right now).
Of course, many times the “right way” may very well be the best way. We know that jerking on the reins and hanging on a horse's face is not the way to go. But getting emotionally involved in how other people do things, especially when it has no effect whatsoever on us, is an exercise in futility. Whenever we spend time judging and resenting someone else, we are letting them live rent free in our head.
This doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye to everything going on around us. We can, and should, be an influence for good in this world, especially when we see an opportunity to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, like animals.
But when we "love thy fellow horse owner as thyself" everyone benefits. Here are some tips on taking care of others with kindness.
1. Be friendly. Smile, say hello, make eye contact.
2. Always carry uppermost in your mind the thought that other people are also seeking success and joy with their horses. Maybe the best way to help them is to leave them alone; that’s OK. But if you are practicing #1 and the day comes when they do need something, you have established a safe place for them to come to.
3. Check your arrogance at the door. Being a know-it-all is disrespectful and pushes people away. None of us knows everything there is to know about horses.
4. Don't gossip about other riders at your barn.
5. Find common ground by asking people about themselves and their journey with horses. In my experience as a photographer, just asking a couple of simple questions like “What is your horse’s name?” and “How long have you had him?” can open the floodgates to a conversation.
6. Many horse owners are thrilled to find somebody who feels like a kindred spirit. Be generous, listen to their story, be a friend, even if only for the short times that you see them.
7. If you think you can help someone, then go ahead and offer up that help. Notice I said “help” not advice, as in “I had a similar problem with my horse, if you would like some help, just let me know, I would be happy to spend some time with you.” Ask permission first. Unsolicited advice is disrespectful of others. (see #3 above)
8. Last but not least, be an example. Nurture yourself by focusing on and increasing your positivity - be happy, generous and confident and people will seek you out.
"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." ~ my mom
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