Editor’s Note: Amy Skinner is a regular guest columnist and has been a horse gal since age six. She presented an arena demonstration with fellow trainer and rider, Katrin Silva, at the Best Horse Practices Summit.
The author of The Middle Road and To Catch a Horse, she rides and teaches dressage and Western. Skinner has studied at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Spain, with Buck Brannaman, Leslie Desmond, Brent Graef, and many others.
Amy Skinner writes:
I sent in my first complaint to a company yesterday. I’m not one to complain, but I was frustrated enough with the runaround I got that when they sent me the “how did we do?” questionnaire link, I was ready to tell them.
It got me thinking. I get those types of requests for feedbacks in my email all the time and I have never filled one out until now. It was only when I was good and pissed off that I took the time to fill one out. There’s plenty of services and products that have gone just fine- not amazing enough to stand out, but definitely not bad or horrible.
That got me thinking about our rides. How often do we notice when things don’t go the way we want? Probably every one of us could say we notice everything that goes wrong. How often do we notice when things are amazing? Again, probably most of us would notice some of the time when things are going wonderfully.
But what about when things are good, not amazing, but definitely not bad? That would likely be the majority of the ride. We notice when the horse walks away from the block, but what about when the steady eddy stands quietly at the block every ride? Do we notice the good behavior that we’ve come to rely on, or do we only notice when it doesn’t happen?
Do we appreciate the normal, functional, small things that make our rides pleasant? It’s true we should always strive for improvement. But when we don’t acknowledge what the horse is doing right – the little steps, little achievements, little “not failures” – we lose gratitude, lose the whole picture, become complacent, and get stuck in a correcting frame of mind.
For at least one ride, make a practice of noticing what DIDN’T go wrong. You might notice quite a lot that is going right!
And maybe reach out to a company that offers you a product or service and let them know what they did RIGHT.