The thought of 2021 has been on the collective minds of us all for many months now and we are finally here. I cannot think of a more anticipated “do-over” since I was a kid playing wiffle ball, but now we are adults – with horses. So how will you and your horses look in the boundless opportunity that 2021 holds? That being said, this isn’t so much a vet article about mitigating disease or preventing injury as it is one to evaluate yourself, your horses, and your program. Professional and amateur still live in the same world. The same world where talent, work ethic, ability and finances are not distributed equally.
Don’t agree? Check out the parking lot at the next horse show.
So, how you set your standards, evaluate yourself, and plan for the coming year are truly your responsibility. And it is one that cannot be done without some time looking back into the year many would soon forget.
Now, when formulating our 2021 resolutions, comparison inevitably comes up. Far too often we see only our failures. We focus on the negatives of the past. Whether that is ours to own, or what we see in our horses that doesn’t measure up, it is still negative. Holding ourselves up to the light of comparison is not always an enjoyable task and it frequently becomes unhealthy when we hold ourselves to another’s standard.
Standards are a good thing — for without them we are lost. Aim for nothing and you’ll hit it every time, right? The comparison of ourselves to others is a necessity to generate these standards, but what you will find is as you age and mature your situation becomes increasingly unique. The horses you ride and the program you wish to create should look more like yourself and less like others. We should not develop a model in which we are our own master and slave. Your evaluations should separate the two and seek to create the best place for you and your horses to thrive under the conditions you are able to generate.
How you do anything is how you do everything. That stung as I wrote it, but it ultimately forms my standard operating procedure. Our self-evaluation may be that we are always successful, but is it because we are not stretching the boundaries or seeking higher goals? Growth comes at a price. If I value my contentment more than growth, my aim is far too low. If you’re like me, you may spend too much time focusing on what you don’t have while undervaluing what you do. Honest self-evaluation can do a great deal to instill some thankfulness just as much as it protects you from the stress of bitterness and regret.
As you set standards and evaluate, do not be so near sighted as to concentrate on your starting point as much as you do your direction. Remember the uniqueness of your circumstances in light of the rest of the world. The great majority of us are all trying to move forward in such a way we make the rest of the world a better place as we go. Therefore, being a tyrant to yourself will be just as detrimental as being your own worst employee. Having delivered in the past, we quickly gauge our inadequacy through unrealistic goals set in the millisecond rest we allowed between self-assignments. Living with the dictator in the mirror will in all probability lengthen the stick holding the carrot to an extent you are no longer willing to work for. It is in this we must combine vision with discipline.
We all need a purpose to be complete. You may have a vision, but without discipline it cannot be achieved. The most disciplined of us all is useless without direction. Your productivity in moving yourself, your horses and your program forward can be immeasurable when these two are combined. They take less stock in disadvantages than they do setbacks. Look back over 2020 and watch your actions. It’s the only way to see who you were and where you need to drive to become what you want.
As you look back on 2020, do not overlook the already accomplished goals by what you are focusing on in the New Year. Truly have faith in yourself, and do not limit your faith by your current situation. As it reads in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith will not flourish amidst jealousy and envy. The world excels at stirring up jealousy amongst the professional and amateur alike. Dissatisfaction with our situation is centered in our overdue concern with others actions. We must tell ourselves the truth instead of manipulating the world around us to the version we prefer. If we choose to run our lives and tend to the horses in our care in such a manner, then our comparison to others who may or may not have it easier than us becomes a thing of the past. It will stay in 2020 where so many things permanently belong.
Dr. Justin High, DVM
Dr. Justin High is a veterinarian and partner at Reata Equine Hospital in Weatherford, Texas. A Texas native, he is a 1998 graduate of the veterinary school at Texas A&M University.
Brought to you by Reata Equine Hospital.