In cutting – really everywhere, but cutting is all that matters – we tend to have a higher estimation of ourselves than is correct. We think we are fine, everybody else thinks we are rough. Buy us for what we are worth, sell us for what we think we are worth, and you’d have a nice profit. This makes for a poor student. If you have to learn all your lessons the hard way, you will be bruised and battered, like a chicken fried steak.
Truth is, we are self-taught. Trainers, friends, videos, judges cards and such can tell you things, but you have to do those things to learn. It is the way a human being works. Muscle memory. Repetition. Practice. Visioning.
Hope I don’t get in trouble for telling this one, ‘cuz making a Kiwi mad is risky… Clint Allen, one of the great ones, needed to learn to wakeboard. Clint, like all great trainers, is an elite athlete. So, learning to ride a wakeboard should be no big deal. Right? As Clint tells it, that board is whipping his backend parts from one end to the other. While everything else was getting away from him, so did his temper.
Remember what I said about a mad Kiwi? Well, when there was a break in the action, the wakeboard pro tells Clint, “You don’t know enough to get mad.” That hit home. Give that some Cornbread thinking.
When a run goes bad as sour milk, you really have to Sherlock around to find where the first run-killing mistake was made. You know, the one that led to the next one that led to the walk of shame from the working area. Anyone who says they haven’t ridden out mad is a big fat liar. It is human nature. It is not pleasant to suffer the humiliation of failure. Do you know everything about yourself, cutting, horses, cows, judging, helping and the other thousands of things it takes to make a good run happen? In my overinflated opinion, no one does. After all, no one wins every time.
In anything, one decision done differently would have made all the difference. Like stopping for five seconds to scratch an old dog behind the ears, then two days later, five seconds before you cross the street a drunk runs the red light. Or, as you stepped into the herd, a twitch of the reins would have brought seven head out instead of six. The one left behind? The champion’s money cow.
In other words, it is never just a bad cow. You picked her; it was your decision. Hopefully, you made that decision for all the right reasons. It was still the wrong decision, though. Do you brutally and honestly talk to that person in the mirror? When people say, “Bad cow,” does your brain say, “Bad cow” or does your brain say, “Bad choice?” Like Clint, you didn’t know enough to get mad.
Anger is a very useful, but delicate tool. If you use that $200 sharp pocket knife as a pry bar, it will become useless for its best purpose. Every horse person should carry a razor-sharp knife and never use it. Never, except for that extremely rare time when getting that horse cut loose means everything. That is how anger is best used.
Anger is, by design and intent, for emergencies. When split seconds count, when super strength is needed, when pain must be ignored, when other consequences must be ignored, when it means everything. Anger has a direct path from the “go” switch to the muscle. It is raw, brutal and ugly. It does not clean up or play well with others. By the way, your mouth is all muscle.
Anger absolutely shuts down the learning department. Learning requires calmness. It is a brain thing. Remember when you were required to learn a subject in school and you thought, “I will never need this.” Now, three weeks or three decades later, you are desperate to learn how to cut a cow really right. And, that stupid “never need it” formula that shows how one-tenth of a degree here is six feet over there? Since you have your brain on, it finds it. You put it to use and put that money cow up on top and pointed the right way.
Learning is a discipline. A lot of schooling isn’t about the subject, it is about learning to learn. Cutting is a never-ending pursuit of excellence. That brain you have is smarter, quicker and more complicated than even today’s biggest and best computers. Computers don’t build computers, people build computers.
Cornbread Thinks: Learn to learn.