In the equine industry, mistakes can be irritating at best and deadly at worst. As humans, mistakes are inevitable. With that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and assume that all of you (and me!) have made a mistake when working with horses and have probably dealt with undesirable consequences. Mistakes can range from forgetting to close a gate properly, to feeding the wrong food, to being too emotional in the saddle. The list goes on.
Few things can compete with coming home from the barn feeling like a failure. While that may seem a bit melodramatic, it's realistic for many of us. I recruited a few horsey friends that have shared this feeling with the rest of us. Learn from our mistakes. Live. Learn, and let go.
1. Mini On the Loose!
I left my mini tied up to the horse trailer and went inside the barn to my tack trunk, even though I know he can't be left tied alone because he panics. I figured it was only a second or two and ran in, came back out, and he was gone. He had broken his halter and was running free at the county fair. Anyone who knows him knows he is impossible to catch. Some guy who had cows grabbed a grain bucket and got his attention and someone else roped him from behind. Lesson learned...treat little man like a dog and walk him with you everywhere.
2. Admitting Our Mistakes.
One of my biggest mistakes or problems: I always compare myself to others and I always try to be better than them. I try to have better tack, better riding, etc. It's just an overall problem. I of course have made many other mistakes, but that is what I'm dealing with most right now.
3. MY TURN.
I had just gotten a gig cleaning stalls in exchange for riding time. I had searched for a similar position for months before landing this spot at a nearby barn. My lease horse was intelligent, patient, and knowledgeable. She was trained in Dressage and could take me over my first jumps. The whole package!
Within my second week of working stalls, I woke up to a text...in tiny black letters what I read sent my heart into a fit: One of the mares had gotten out of her stall overnight. Thankfully the barn doors were closed, but she had pooped throughout the aisle and wreaked havoc on the hay stash. Great. The worst part was it was all my fault. There was simply no one else to blame. So what did I do next?
Well, I apologized profusely while contemplating how absolutely stupid I was. How could I forget something as basic as doing a gate check? My trainer was more than gracious in letting me keep my position with her. That was fortunate for me because I was able to improve myself for next time. Live and learn, guys, live and learn.
The reality of the situation, however, is that the repercussions of the mistakes we make aren't always as constructive as this one. And for that reason, it is absolutely necessary to do whatever you need to do (pray, take a moment to relax, listen to music, etc) to make sure you are working at the barn with a clear mindset. There's usually countless things going on at once, so the ability to remain focused and really pay attention to detail is invaluable. It's a skill that flourishes from practice, so never be discouraged if you happen to slip up. Many great horsemen and women have done the same!
If you learn one lesson from our mistakes, let it be this: never stop trying. Do not stop correcting. Do not stop practicing. Do not stop improving. Mistakes are inevitable, but that doesn't mean failure is your ultimatum.
At the end of the day, if you only do one thing, do this: acknowledge your mistakes and come back to learn from them. That's the lesson.