If you ride horses, you have experienced frustration. Your horse doesn’t do what you want. He doesn’t load, doesn’t bridle, doesn’t stand still for mounting or for the farrier, refuses to perform the maneuver you ask him to do, and for the hundredth time he is acting up on a task that should have been an easy routine months ago. I have been frustrated to the point of being angry. I have tried to force the bridle on and gotten hurt and pulled on a 1200 pound horse while hoping that he will finally give in, but I had no results. I have screamed at my horse in anger and frustration. And I have cried because all my efforts didn’t pay off, or I felt terrible about having yelled at my horse.
Patience is also not enough. I don’t know how many hundred times I tried to load my horse the same way, thinking that if I am patient, eventually he will do it, not understanding that I was just not doing it right and he would never do it unless I learned to do it differently. For months and months I tried to put on a bridle with ever growing resistance until I finally admitted to myself that things were getting worse, not better.
Frustration is my enemy. Nothing ever works with horses if I am motivated by frustration because it makes me try to force something that can’t be forced. Every time I get this feeling, I have to remind myself that my horse is not doing anything wrong but that he doesn’t understand. I remember a riding teacher’s words who once said to me, “don’t ask what’s wrong with your horse; ask instead what you are doing wrong.”
Amazingly, my horse will always give me another chance. It may mean going on the Internet and watching some videos that explain how to teach my horse a skill or change a behavior. One video may not be enough. Even video watching can be frustrating, especially when someone demonstrates how to correct a problem on a perfectly trained horse. I may have to watch a number of different videos to find the one that helps me with my problem, and I still have to try many times to get it right. Sometimes I just need to ask for help and pay a trainer to come and work with me. It may take only one or a few sessions to get me through the tough spot.
My advice to others: don’t let frustration get the better of you. Work through it and don’t repeat the same mistake over and over again. If something is not working, then chances are you are doing something wrong. Patience alone will not fix it. It is a matter of learning a new skill or using a simple aid. Maybe you can't see what you are doing wrong and need someone else to observe and tell you. And if you feel frustration growing in you, take a break, calm down, and don’t get angry. Understand your own limitations and give yourself and your horse a chance to learn.