Burdens, hardships, crisis and other negative situations will happen. It is simply a fact of life.
How we handle these negative situations, however, is our choice.
Sure, it is natural to complain when bad things happen, especially when things happen that we have no control over.
Does that really help though?
Every challenge that we face carries with it a lesson. Whether the lesson is patience and understanding that things do not always go as planned, or humbleness and understanding our own limitations, or resilience and confidence in our ability to persevere and continue on despite negative events, no matter how dark, every cloud has a silver lining.
Horses have a way of teaching of all kinds of life lessons, and looking for the silver lining and learning from challenges is one of them. There will be challenges along your horsemanship journey. Whether it is an abscess right before a big show, a prospect that you have high hopes for turning out not to be the partner you dreamed of, a ride in front of a big crowd not going the way you planned, or losing a beloved equine partner, there will be challenges. And while it is certainly not expected that you feel positive about these challenges, if you want to be the best horsewoman that you can be, you better find a way to learn from them.
Last fall I experienced a negative event, what many would even consider a crisis, with my filly Bandida, at a colt starting clinic with a lot of spectators. Bandida got a little troubled at the lope, and I was too fast and out of time with my hands in my attempt to get her pulled around and stopped, which made her feel like I was trying to knock her off balance. Things got western. Sheer determination-because I was NOT hitting the dirt in front of all those people-was all that kept me in the saddle. I am still not entirely sure how I managed to ride through it. Afterwards, I felt like I failed my horse. Honestly, I went to my trailer and cried.
Now, did I left this perfectly good crisis go to waste?
Nope! I recognized where I needed to make improvements. I learned from the situation. I stepped out of my trailer, and went back out the arena.
Now, was it easy? Nope. Mental toughness is about overcoming obstacles, staying focused despite adversity, and learning from situations to improve yourself. It took every bit of mental strength and grit I possessed to walk back out there in front of all those people! I knew that if I didn't, I would regret it. So I took a deep breath, and gave my best effort the rest of the clinic to stay focused and learn and improve and grow as a horsewoman. Luckily, horses are amazing and forgiving creatures, and Bandida did great the rest of the clinic.
It is your choice whether you make the best of what life and your horsemanship journey brings you, or if you choose to let negativity overtake you.
Which will you choose?
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