Dealing with Difficult… People

We’ve all been there. Trying to deal with a difficult person and feeling like no matter what, you can’t win. It can be a difference of personalities, opinions, communication, or simply not getting along with someone. That’s all okay – you don’t have to like every person in the world (and they don’t have to like you)! However, we ALL need to deal with people we don’t always understand.

What does this have to do with the horse? I’m so glad you asked ;).

Horses, like people, can have distinct personalities. If you work with horses, it’s possible (even likely) that you have come across a horse that you just can’t click with. I used to ride a horse like that. She was a paint mare named Sasha and we did not get along. She was a good horse, I was a good enough rider but we were a bad match. My coach forced me to ride this horse for almost six months with neither one of us making any progress. She would try to bite when I went in the stall and refused my first command when I rode her. In turn, I refused to spend more time with her. Instead of long grooms and leisurely walks to help us bond, I stayed away from her stall. After six months, we had a grudging respect for one another and were able to compete in a schooling show together with no incidents. We didn’t win, but we also came away from that experience as a better team.

Why am I telling you this story? Because it relates to person-to-person interactions! Sometimes we find it easier to connect with animals than people, but if you can connect with an animal then you can connect with a person. If you struggle to connect with someone, find something to appreciate about that person. If you spend enough time with anyone, I truly believe that you will find something special about that person. I thought Sasha was mean and ornery, but she was also a solid mare who never threw me off. I appreciated that she let me “bully” her around the ring and always jumped the fence if I set up her approach correctly. She taught me to be more patient and more precise and to look for something to appreciate about everyone.

With that in mind, what can you appreciate about that difficult person in your life? What has s/he taught you? Where are areas to grow the relationship? If you can’t think of any, try to think of a time that you struggled with an animal. How did you overcome that struggle?

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