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Learning from the Horse - July 19 - Disappointment

The beginning of this year marked the end of a major part of my life. At the time it felt like the world had collapsed around me. When you have planned and dreamed and embraced, how on earth do you get over the disappointment?

Feelings of disappointment can apply to so much in life. Because we make things so important. We make ourselves vulnerable to loss by wanting something enough to act on that want, to make changes, and to invest. And sometimes that investment is so great, we will blinker ourselves to all the signs that we should walk away because the fear of disappointment can be almost as big as disappointment itself. And this is without even considering the other angles that might bind us in a negative space. 

We feel that if we don’t “get something right” with our horses, the disappointment will engulf us, and affect our horse, and affect our confidence. So we might persist, with that time in the school, with that difficult route on a hack, because the disappointment of failing is a greater driver than the reality of the fact that actually, we probably should wait until our horse is stronger to perform that movement, or we should wait until the event in the field next to the bridleway has finished before we attempt that hack again.  

Sometimes we need to stand back from a situation and advise ourselves with the wisdom of someone who doesn’t have our hang ups, and our investment. Easier said than done of course, especially when your heart gets involved and sides with your fears. 

When we experience loss, or perceived failure, a huge part of the pain we endure is related to the disappointment we feel in the discontinuation of something we thought we would have, or thought would endure.

Do horses feel disappointment?  Do they stand in the stable wishing they had nailed that half pass?  Do they kick themselves for not having been brave enough to get into the scary horsebox?  Do they wallow in the sadness of not having connected well with their human, do they feel remorse at the nip they gave you?

The answer to all of the above, anthropomorphism aside, is of course no. But, the unease, the discomfort and the unrest of those things will still affect the horse, if you have allowed it to affect you and the way you are with them. So regardless of having no social or moral duty to feel bad about a situation, the horse may still find itself in a negative space because of it.

So might that mean we can choose a different path, not only for our horses, but for ourselves?

Can we strive not to let the negativity in, can we accept that something has happened, and focus our energy into firstly not repeating the same mistakes, and secondly, not allowing disappointment to stop us trying, hoping and wanting again? Only we ourselves have the answer to that.

Be reflective, be enduring, be positive. The antidotes to disappointment are also, not entirely coincidentally, the tools you need for growth…