Bucking The Saddle

I was recently out in Texas at a horse event for my girlfriend. We attended the Ranch Rally of Clinton Anderson, a famous horse trainer from Down Under who was teaching about horse training and the method he uses and believes in.

I quickly found respect for the man, and despite my non-horse background found him interesting and easy to follow, as he used a method of teaching I identify well with: analogies. I have long found that analogies from different aspects of life help me not only to understand when learning, but also to instruct others at work and to connect with audiences when speaking.

One thing that Clinton covered at his rally was the "first rides" for young colts - basically the method of breaking them in to wearing the saddle and accepting it on their back.

When the trainers first put the saddle onto the horse, they do it in a roundpen where the horse is safely contained, but still has plenty of room to run around and buck hard. Sure enough, most times they are going to be uncomfortable with it and want to buck it off. They keep the saddle a little loose, but they do not take that saddle off while the horse is still reacting and bucking out. You see, if you remove the saddle before the horse becomes used to it, the next time you go to put it on again, they are more than likely to buck again. After a while, however, if you leave the horse be, they will ultimately get comfortable with it.

Obviously, there is a lot more to it than that, but that is the nutshell I took away from those demonstrations. I came home inspired and intrigued ... and couldn't help but apply that teaching to other situations. I thought about how if we are not able to "wear a jacket", in other words admit the labelling of a bad habit or condition in our lives, that perhaps someone close to us is trying to make us aware of, then we will never have power over it. If we just "buck" it off and do not accept it, we may never enjoy a potentially beautiful ride.

Just as when a horse bucks he can hurt both himself (e.g. landing with a foot in the fence) and people around him, we can do the same. Looking back, I saw that I did that in my life - time and time again - refusing to accept situations, labels, circumstances, and "bucking". I was told that I had a problem with drinking, that I was hanging out with the wrong crowd, that I needed help - but I didn't want to hear it. I continued to kick out at those close to me, who got hurt because I did not want to wear a label. Most of the time in that process I would hurt myself as well (financially, emotionally, and even physically).

It wasn't until I was able to wear that jacket or handle and accept I had addictions to substances, to bad associations, and a load of other bad habits altogether, that I was able to identify and name those challenges for what they were, and begin to take action over them.

Once I became self aware and chose to accept who I was, I was able to then decide whether I wanted to be that person or not, and I was able to choose my path in life. Without that awareness and acceptance, I would still be on the wrong path, unconsciously kicking out and creating pain today.

So if you know someone who is in denial about their current harmful state, be sure to allow them adequate time and space to accept it before expecting them to address it ... and if someone tries to help you out by telling you of an issue or condition you need to address, instead of bucking off advice and refusing help, think about that horse with its new saddle.

At the end of the day - what is better: a bucking bronco ride, or a smooth gallop?

#recovery #advice #training #learning #experience #stigma #improvement #lesson #horse #badhabits #labels #selfawareness

Dan Sanfellipo -
Author & Speaker

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