Managing opinions

If you have been in the horse industry for some time you will have no doubt had the experience that there is no clear answers and no matter how you do something, someone surely has to say something about it.

Let’s dissect this issue a bit more and let’s have a look behind the layers to what is really going on. 

I think we can all agree that we horse people are a passionate bunch. We not only love our horses, but we also love what we do. It might be pleasure riding, competition riding, breeding horses or generally just caring for horses. What happens when a bunch of passionate people get together?... They start talking!


And it’s not just talking, it is sharing their knowledge, comparing experiences and reminiscing about the 'good old days'.

We all know that no two horses are the same and that no horse rider combination can be compared with another.

So, what is right for one is not necessary right for someone else. However, when one passionate horse enthusiast shares their experience with someone else this can easily turn into a lecture.

“I did this, and I have always had success with that method.”

“I am telling you right now that if you want to get any further you need to change what you are doing because in my experience this will get you nowhere.”

“This rug is too thick….”

“That feed is not right….”

“Those boots are not fitting correctly….” 

You get my drift...

I feel for every new rider entering into the horsey world and I have total compassion how you must feel. No matter what you do, it’s never right.

A 40-year-old can quickly feel like a 4-year-old.

Most people mean well but lacking the sensitivity to know when they have gone too far.

When someone shares their stories, it makes them feel good about themselves and that is the reason why we tell stories.

If someone gets too passionate and starts lecturing, see it for what it is. They have a need to tell others how much they know. This is addressing their own confidence issue and has nothing to do with you.

So, how do we deal with opinions without taking it personally?

Firstly, instead of seeing the different opinions as criticism where one is right and everyone else is wrong, see it as sharing stories.

A passionate person is sharing their story. No more and no less!

We shouldn’t look for advice when being told a story. Stories are there to listen to, that’s all.

And passionate people tell stories - lots of stories!

When someone tells me a story I answer with, “Thank you for sharing. That is so interesting.”

Then I walk away and either continue doing what I am doing if I believe it’s right for me or I ask for advice. When I ask for advice, I ask someone I trust. An expert, someone with a lot of experience and generally I pay for the advice.

Then I know that I don’t get a story but instead I buy knowledge.

So, my advice to you, learn to differentiate story telling from passing on knowledge. One generally comes for free and without being asked where the other comes with a cost and only when asked.

Happy riding everyone!