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Mis-takes = Learning

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When working with my mare Jazz there has not been a single lesson that has proceeded simply or smooth. However, we've encountered many wonderful opportunities in our Mis-takes. Yes, I mean Mis-takes! A mistake is something gone wrong, an error, oversight, blunder, slip-up or anything else you'd like to call it. But for us, a Mis-take has taken on new meaning.

Jazz has shown me there is beauty in what didn't work as planned, a silver lining to what felt like a black cloud of non-progress. She taught me that a Mis-take provides a wealth of information to explore and learn from if you take the time to notice. It provided me an opportunity to learn patience, open up to new possibilities and ways of doing things, learn to communicate clearly, and be comfortable in the chaotic mud of learning.

Learning from our Mis-Takes can be very easily transferred into any life situation by thinking of Jazz (my horse) as an employee, spouse, child, friend, co-worker, or anyone you are teaching.

Did I communicate the task clearly? In my communications to Jazz it becomes obvious rather quickly when I’ve given clear signals or not. She either gets it and does the task, or does something else because I've not communicated clearly. I tend to think I always communicate clearly, but in fact the level of clarity isn't up to me to determine. It is up to the receiver to tell me if I have communicated in a manner they could hear and understand. Seek understanding from the recipient before moving forward.

Have I trained to an appropriate level to complete the task? In preparing to achieve our goal of "safe trail riding" one of the preparations was to get comfortable with different obstacles we might encounter on a ride. Some of the objects encountered were scary to an emotional horse and created a little regression in Jazz's training. Tasks like standing still to mount needed revisited and touched up because of the exposure to the new stimuli. Just because I trained to one level doesn't mean it is cemented into a repeatable behavior when new tasks are added.  

Am I allowing for new possibilities or ways of doing things? Let go of doing it your way! There is more than ONE way of doing things and getting comfortable with that makes life easier. My goal was to have Jazz stand still for me while brushing and saddling her, and I've gotten upset when she doesn't. What I've learned is she is a horse that needs something to do, so she chews on her lead, moves her head around and watches me. There is nothing wrong in any of these things because she still does what I need, she stands still and doesn't move her feet.

Am I being a perfectionist? Just like when "allowing for doing things differently", I needed to let go of being perfect. A young horse in the learning process is not going to do things perfectly, nor will anyone learning something new. Eliminating the critic allows you to feel calmer and provides a better environment for the learning to take place. You will know the "perfectionist" is taking over when your patience wears thin.

Jazz and I continue to learn and grow together. It has been a bumpy rode littered with many "growth" opportunities. Many times I have felt like giving up, and I beat myself up for not having the skills to teach her. Realistically, if Jazz was an employee, I would have fired her years ago. Not because of her lack of desire to "try" but rather for the length of the training process, amount of time and money it's taken to get her where she is, and the emotional baggage that comes with her.  

But Jazz isn't an employee and I have made a conscious choice to keep working with her and build our relationship.  It helps having a friend remind me the issues are not due to my skill level or knowledge, but they belong to Jazz and are about her not me.  So I will continue to help her though the emotional baggage she most likely obtained at the hands of another human before she came to live with me. And I will trust my ability to move us forward on our journey. 

My experience has been that those who need the most help are the most grateful, loyal and in the long run teach us the most about ourselves and life.  

November 2007 ISSUE

Leadership, TeamBuilding and Personal Development using horses! 
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