So, I had my annual review today at work. It was a good review overall, as I think is fair because, without bragging, I am damn good at what I do. I know I'm not a perfect employee because I am not a robot, which is probably a good thing since I work in a human services field.
There are so, so, SO many things I want to say, but I don't want to pull a Dooce, so I will stop here.
How does this relate to horses? Well, anyone who rides or interacts with a horse regularly is that horse's trainer. We can train them well or we can train them not-so-well. We can reward bad and good behavior; we can punish intentionally for undesirable behavior, or punish unintentionally because we are off balance or riding incorrectly (or have incorrect signals or body language with groundwork). Fairness is what is key. It's ok if our horses don't always understand what we are trying to tell them at first, but ideally they should always feel like we are on their side, and are giving them a fair shake. They should not be nervous or in fear because their trainer is playing "gotcha!".
We cannot fix what we don't know is "wrong" in someone's eyes, whether we agree with it or not, unless we are told and told clearly, and horses are no different. I want to be especially mindful of this when working with Miles. Now that we're past the getting-to-know-you stage and doing work at all 3 gaits, I want to be very careful about the signals I'm sending him. I KNOW there are things I let slide in the very beginning that I am more mindful of now. That doesn't mean I have to let him continue to do or not do certain things I don't like, but it does mean I need to be FAIR, and recognize he's not always doing things to be naughty (ugh, I need to face it that this boy rarely if ever does things JUST to be naughty;), but because he doesn't KNOW better-and why should he?
So, when correcting him, I need to keep this in mind always, and give him a message that's more "Oh, you silly thing, I know you want to look at that tractor every time we pass it, but let's try bending this way instead", and less "UGH Miles do you HAVE to give that corner your giraffe-neck full on attention EVERY time? ENOUGH already."
Attitude shapes behavior which shapes how we train and interact with our horses. I think, to this point, I've been pretty good about being mindful of this. However, the challenge is going to be 6 months or a year from now, when I might be feeling like he should KNOW something already-well maybe, maybe not. The point is, I need to look at myself first and ask, "What kind of training (managing} have I given him that would let him know either way?"
For now, though, it's FRIDAY, and I'm really looking forward to shaking this work-day off and spending the next couple of days hanging with my good boy. Happy Weekend everyone!