It is amazing what they have taught me, and it has carried over into all aspects of my work and personal life. What have I learned? Patience, persistence, strength, the ability to ride through the rough times, devotion and true responsibility.
Patience and Persistence
When I began riding classical dressage, I was the most impatient person I knew. I wanted things to happen “right now,” never later. I learned that patience and persistence breeds success. In today’s world, where everything moves so fast, I’ve learned that it is better to slow down, think things through carefully and apply each lesson to the task at hand. That old adage, “Slow and steady wins the race,” isn’t false. Impatience caused me to make mistakes and spend more time at something because I was inefficient. Being efficient in business saves both time and money, but one can’t be efficient without learning from mistakes.
I’ve said it before. I used to see myself as a weak person. When faced with something that took physical strength, I would just give up immediately. But that cannot happen in dressage and riding a horse. A rider has to apply core strength to supply the aids from the seat and legs to move a 1,300-pound horse around while appearing to barely move. The belief that I was weak got me in a lot of trouble in this area. Can you spell “failure?” One day, while trying to open up a baby-proof cap on a Listerine bottle, I realized that, once again, I was giving up before I even got started. I summoned all my strength and opened the damned thing. This was something I was not only doing in my riding, but in my life! So, I started opening that imaginary Listerine bottle cap every time I needed strength. Can you imagine the success that has evolved from that – not just in my riding but in every aspect of my life?
Riding Through It
Horse trainers use an expression when a client’s ride becomes difficult – “keep riding through it!” I’ve heard it a hundred times while riding my horse. Riding through it is a function of good horsemanship. If you give up or get off in the midst of difficulties, you might win the battle that day but lose the war in the long run. Learning to be really good at something takes time and the ability to hang on during the tough times. Such it is with life. Think about it!
Devotion and True Responsibility
The responsibility of owning an animal is one that many people take lightly. The way they handle it shows me the level of devotion to which they will commit to anything. It takes true responsibility, in the good times, bad times, during sickness and even when we are short on cash, to make it happen. But devotion means remaining responsible at all times and doing what is right for that animal. Too many people are willing to discard an animal, which is totally dependent upon them, when it doesn’t suit their needs anymore. I wonder what will happen when their friends or life partners don’t suit their needs. Don’t think it is the same thing? You would be wrong.
Binkie and Fergy are gone now, but the lessons rhey taught me, combined with my ongoing lessons from Aramis, are gifts that I treasure.
Action Item: Tell me what your animals have taught you.