I’m going to talk about the myth that certain types of people have an ability for higher levels of success. The relationship between personality and performance is often misunderstood.
The truth is your beliefs about yourself determine if you give yourself the gift of unlimited learning and growth.
Your ability to have a vision, feel the right emotions and do your job are what determine if you continue to improve.
Some people believe that if you are shy, you have to change your personality to be successful. To throw that idea out the window, look at the different personalities in any sport. You don’t have to change who you are to be successful. In fact, if you try to change who you really are … that never ever works.
If you tend to be the quiet type, you may need to get more aggressive at some point or let go of things you can’t control, but it’s not about changing your personality.
And what if people tell you that you aren’t aggressive enough and that you don’t have that killer instinct?
Here’s what I know. Being aggressive is a concept. It means different things to different people. If you do need to be more aggressive, first you need to understand when to be aggressive and under what conditions. Ask for concrete examples and clear ideas. Try it. If it works, yah! If it doesn’t work, evaluate whether you should try it again … or not.
And what about the ‘ole killer instinct idea?
Some people think it’s good to want to ‘beat’ other people. I understand that competitive spirit drive. But I would say, that the only thing you have control of is reaching for and exceeding your own personal best … not beating others. When you compete, measure your success against your own scorecard. And know that when you reach the level of excellence of those at the top of the division of your sport, results take care of themselves.
Other people think of killer instinct as an ability to be unaffected by the emotions of those around you. That’s a good thing when it comes to doing your job with your horse. You have your own work to do. It’s ok to feel empathy for other people but don’t let it affect your own mental and emotional state. Work on your own concentration skills. In order to ride at your best, you must be able to do your job with your horse … and your job takes concentration and positive emotions.
The personality traits of highly successful riders are not some special gift from above that they have … and maybe you have them … or maybe you don’t. Excellent riders are not born. All of the skills you need to be successful are made with hard work, excellent instruction, patience, focus, and persistence. They are not inherited.
We all have the potential for greatness. And so do you. True greatness is measured by you … not the outside world.
Recently I received a question about how to evaluate a cow horse that is nonchalant about his job.
How do you know if there are untapped talents within your horse … or if the horse is just not up for cutting?
Of course, without asking lots of questions and digging into this particular horse’s history physically, mentally, training-wise, etc. … I couldn’t really answer that question in an informed way. However, I can provide some ideas to ponder.
Here are four questions to ask yourself if you are wondering if your horse has the aptitude and desire to work a cow … and if he is the right horse for you now at this point in your cutting adventure:
1. Is the horse “finished” in his training? By this I mean, did the horse at some time in the past, complete a full regimen of training and seasoning. Is he solid? I believe amateurs require horses that are “fully” trained. Most often this is reflected in the competitive earnings of the horse, although not always. Do research with past trainers and ask lots of questions about training, experience, aptitude, and soundness.
2. Is the horse naturally “cowie”? Just like people, horses are born with their own unique set of talents and skills. Some horses have a lot of instinct for a cow and others not so much. Sometimes horses are nonchalant about their jobs because they don’t have a strong instinct to work a cow. If your horse is not responsive to a cow by nature that would be a good reason, he is nonchalant about his job. When you inquire about a horse’s past training history, also ask about his “cowie-ness”.
3. Is the horse sound now? This is where I get on my soapbox! (-: No horse can perform at his best when he is uncomfortable. Cow horses are superb and extreme athletes. Sometimes they have soundness issues that lie below the surface and cannot be detected without a vet exam.
Additionally, just because they had no soreness issues a month ago, does not mean there is nothing going on now. If they’ve been worked and shown rigorously, they need to be re-checked by a vet every 6 months or so. He may need to be supported in whatever way a vet suggests to maintain his soundness and health for the long term. Get your horse checked periodically (better for the vet to say nothing is wrong than to have an uncomfortable horse … or worse yet keep working him and injure him). Ask your vet for a program to maintain his soundness and health and follow it.
4. Do you have a support program in place for you and your horse? If the answers to the first three questions above are undoubtedly in the “yes” column, then here is the next step. Carefully consider what you need AND what your horse needs to keep you both improving as individuals and as a team.
This is where the lines get blurred. Some amateurs do not have the experience to keep a horse working to his full potential. Of course, this is totally understandable. Your responsibility as the owner is to do your research about local training programs, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of individual trainers for both teaching you and supporting your horse.
Perhaps if your horse has been in the pasture for a long time, the first step is for a trainer to condition and evaluate how solid he is. After that step is completed, then the trainer can suggest if the horse has the potential to be a good fit for where you are at this point in time.