Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jack and Jill and the horrible no good very bad day

We've all had bad days, but put into perspective, some days are way worse than others.  So let's look at what constitutes a bad day with the examples of Jack and Jill. 

On a whim, Jill decided to try a local trail obstacle challenge. Although she had never done this before, she had been taking lessons to learn to be less heavy-handed and less bouncy in her seat. At the end of the day, Jill was pretty happy with how she and her horse had performed the challenge, but after seeing photos and videos from the day, she decided she definitely wanted to improve her riding. So Jill worked harder at her lessons, to better prepare for the next time. At the next obstacle challenge, Jill had softer hands and a better seat, but still placed lower than she had in the first challenge. It seems although she rode better, the obstacles were harder and unfamiliar. So Jill left disappointed, and chalked it up to a just a bad day. But was it really a bad day?  

From the trainers’ point of view, Jill had a great day. She rode better and more consistently than she had in the first challenge. She addressed each obstacle with clear intent, and even though her horse was misbehaving, Jill was a better rider. The first challenge was like a day of ignorance is bliss, but when the rider gained more knowledge it also brought with it higher expectations for a better score. After expressing her disappointment to her trainer, the trainer reminded her how each event and performance is subjective. Different judges score differently, and different clubs have different rules, so we have to take a few steps back in order to look at the overall picture. It’s kind of like a Seurat painting. From up close it is just a bunch of colored dots, but take a few steps back and it’s a stunning river picnic. So Jill and her trainer agreed that although it had been a frustrating day, it was definitely not a bad day. 

In contrast, let’s take a look at Jack’s day. Jack started out on his usual trail ride all by himself, and like always he was wearing his baseball cap, and riding with a loose cinch. But Jack is confident because his horse is a proven trail horse and absolutely bombproof. Just then, from out of nowhere, Jack's horse spooks as a plastic bag comes lofting towards them. That's right, even the "Bomb Proof" horse is still a horse. Jack is unprepared for this. His saddle slips sideways because of his loose cinch, and he falls from his horse. Jack's horse, in his panic, kicks Jack in the head with his hoof. Jack is in real trouble, but lucky for him, a local jogger sees the whole thing, dials 911, and helps get Jack loaded in the LifeFlight helicopter. The horse is eventually caught and returned to the barn. Ok, no argument here, Jack is having a horrible, no good very bad day. But even this could have been worse.

So, good day-bad day, it's all about perspective, and everything else is just a learning or teaching opportunity.