It was good for a week; even two was bearable but as we are now into our fourth week without connection I feel justified in having a little whinge. I have judged all the Interdressage tests sitting in a corner of our library and forced myself to go ‘proper’ shopping for home furnishings but enough is enough and I really want my internet back. I have (yet another) appointment with an engineer tomorrow which is expected to resolve the issue but I am not holding my breath.
In an effort to settle my dispute with the phone company I have spent many minutes talking to different men around the world in BT call centres; strangely never a woman and I am guessing there is a reason for that. If you say ‘complain’ rather than ‘check my order’ when you get connected to the ‘machine’ then you will be asked by a gentleman with dulcet Dundee tones if you mind being referred to by your Christian name. No straining the ears to translate the Mumbai accent if you are close enough to the edge to say ‘complain’. No force-fed classical music while the operator pretends to speak to the engineer (they just look up the status on the installation plan online I have since discovered). The dedicated complaints operator is professional and sympathetic, totally agreeing with me that it is impossible to work from home without the internet and providing a plan for connection within (allegedly) 5 days. I wait with baited breath.
Confidence in an answer is equally important in equine terms; no horse wants to wait while you thumb through your latest dressage book discovering the next step for perfect half halts! Actions result in reactions – riding or working from the ground- finding the best reaction to your horse’s action builds his confidence and trust in you; that way he will offer the best reactions to your actions in the future.
Sometimes we- or they- get it wrong, just like the ‘phone company there are times when communication breaks down and the system fails but all need not be lost; the effect of dealing well with a misunderstanding can actually engender trust as long as lessons are learned for the future. If, when asking for a collected trot (from working say), we are offered a walk transition – then adding a walk cue will turn the situation into a winning one. If, on the other hand, we sharply drive back to trot and lose our cool because the new test we want to ride has collected trot in it then we end up with confusion and lack of trust in the future. We all need to have the confidence to act or react within a ring of trust- fear of reprisal kills the ‘art’ in dressage.
If our horse loses confidence in his ability to react correctly then he may become nervous and irrational, for some it can lead to a totally subdued set of behaviours where the communication channel breaks down completely. Riders and trainers can have their confidence sapped too; lack of trust in communication works both ways.
So how do we avoid the pitfalls of confusion? The phone company ship their call centres to India to save money but in reality I wonder how much this move costs them? Clarity in communication is essential and will ultimately lead to less errors and breakdowns.
In horse training terms- clear, concise communication leads to trust- break every action into tiny pieces that can be clearly taught and later combined. Be sure which direction you are headed in but be prepared to change direction or even step back a little to repair misunderstandings and trust. Don’t get bogged down in the bigger picture, see clearly ahead and when you can’t it is time to stop and take a break.
We all make mistakes but how you deal with them may mean you can recover lost ground and maybe even gain some; I’m hoping that I gain some internet ground very soon!