Don Blazer and Walter, A Horse of Course

          “The best way to assure your success is to do what you do best,” Walter said as he munched on his hay.

          “And the next best way is to set your goals low,” he said as he took a sip of the fresh water I’d just finished delivering.

          “How’s that for thinking outside the box” he asked?  I could see he was waiting for me to be impressed.  Walter is a horse, of course and thinks he has a good deal of horse sense.

          “That isn’t out of the box thinking,” I replied. “Those are old ideas.”

          “Horse feathers”!

          Walter looked me in the eye and said, “You are constantly being told to work on your short comings, to improve yourself, to practice, practice, and practice until you master a thing.

          “Have your dreams, set your sights on the moon, and think big, Walter.

          “Well, I say, horse feathers!”

          He turned his considerable Quarter Horse rump toward me and went to the window at the back of his stall while I just stood there waiting for what I knew was coming.

          A perfect pivot to the right on his hindquarters and he was facing me.  “If you want a horse to be successful, then you put him to work at what he does best, right?  And then you set the goals low so you’re sure he’ll succeed, right?

          “I’m sure even you’ll agree it’s smart to put a horse to work at a job he’s good at…a job he’s built to do.”  Walter went on to explain.  If you are going to race a horse, then find one with the bloodlines and conformation to be fast.   Don’t hitch that kind of horse to a milk wagon or you’ll soon have a milk shake.”

          Very funny, I said without acknowledging the analogy was pretty good.

          And what about setting the goals low, I asked?  Surely you don’t want to tell people they can’t dream big?

          “It’s perfectly all right to dream big,” Walter admitted.  “But, dream it; don’t set it as a goal.  Make your goal to be a little bit better each day at what you do best.”  Walter went back to his hay.

          So, I said to Walter, if I was training a horse I shouldn’t work on the things he has trouble with, but I should concentrate on the things he does best; is that what you are saying?


          Okay, then how do I get him to improve at his pivots?

          “You work on the part he does best,” Walter replied smugly.  “He sides passes pretty good…so work on side passes and when he isn’t thinking about anything but side passing, slip in the request for a 90 degree pivot.”

          “Pretty sneaky,” I replied.   “I’m working on what he does well, and without him thinking about it, I practice something he doesn’t do so well.”

          Then Walter quickly jumped in with the admonishment, don’t even think about trying it again until after you’ve worked on his side passing some more…remember work on what he does well.

          “And set the goal low,” he said.  “Ask for 90 degree pivots, not 180, or 270 or 360.  No, no no…just work on the 90 degree pivot.  You can ask for a 180 when he does a 90 degree pivot really, really well every time you ask.”

          And there you are, I admitted, working on something he does well and not working on something he doesn’t do well.

          Walter wrinkled his upper lip: “focus on the positive,” he said, “never the negative.  And always set your goals low; you don’t need to make a lot of progress in training today when a little progress will do the trick.”

          Great advice, I admitted to Walter.

          “So,” he said, “from now on let’s just work on what I do well.”

          “You’re eating, and that’s what you do well…and soon you’ll want to nap, and that’s what you also do well, so I think I’ll slip in a little loping while you are still thinking about napping.”

           Walter just yawned..."whatever"!

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