I have been watching and participating in horse and livestock handling seminars for a long time. One of the fascinating things to me is how some of the teachers have such a huge presence and how the followers go from following the craft or skill to making every decision and thought on what the guru would do.
The ones that seem to have the most presence are the ones that are the harshest on the students. For some reason this seems to create a need to please, and so some seem to worship them to try to get their approval. I don’t get it.
I always hear statements like I will never be half as good as so and so was. Why not? And why would you try to compare it on a certain level? Until you start competing at a competition, it is not about being better than someone else, but to improve your own skill level to the level you are willing or capable of achieving.
In my own situation, I got caught up in this. I was so enamored by the new skills I was learning and thought it was the greatest thing ever. After awhile I started to see that I was getting ego-based results that impressed folks and myself. After some time I started seeing my actions were getting results, but the animals I was working with were not as content with it as I was. I think I may be a little over sensitive to animals sometimes, so it helped me to question if what I was doing was right. I felt I was physically doing things one way, but talking about it another. Just because you have the feel-good words to describe what you are doing, it does not mean you are giving the animal you are working with the best deal.
I watched a real good fellow in the horse industry for several years struggle. He was an apprentice under a real popular horse guru. When he finally quit using that person’s name and started doing his own thing, his horsemanship really improved. He went from trying to get work to having more than he can handle. He was able to help a lot more people. He and his mentor are still friends, but now I think he is helping his mentor with some things. Isn’t that great? It’s great on both accounts. The student for improving and the teacher for still wanting to learn more.
I like to use the greats to inspire me to do things I did not know were possible. I am no longer interested in ego-based animal interaction. Though I still fall off the wagon once in a while. What I am interested in is learning how to work with animals to improve humans’ quality of life without diminishing the animals’ quality of life. There are limits to what we can ask of animals to do for us. We can put the line out there much farther if we learn to work with the animals in a better way, but there is a line.
This is what I think the truly great animal communicators can do for us. Inspire us. Help us to not make unneeded mistakes. Save us time in our learning.
So be yourself, have a strong desire to improve yourself to what you want to be, and don’t be afraid to not do what everyone else is doing. If everyone is doing it, it may be the easy way out. You will be comfortable because you fit in, but it may not be the best way.
For it to be the best for you, it has to be you not someone else.
~ Curt Pate