Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
REACHING THE STARS
Even though no
one has come up with a way to explain it to everybody…it’s
still true. Some rejoice when they see it. Others become
angry and deny that it’s real. Maybe the reason those who
refuse to believe somehow sense believing would require them
to admit the truth and take responsibility. And it was
never more difficult for anyone to see than for me to see.
Most of us have the same problem. Whether we are the
teacher, supervisor, doctor, or law enforcement official, or
someone who works with horses or stock dogs, we eventually
come to a common place where we all have the same problem.
And we all begin our journey to that eventual destination
from the same starting point.
In the beginning, it’s obvious that we lack knowledge -
so we know we need to become “educated.” We begin by
entering some school or program, or enroll in some class -
or apprenticeship - in order to learn how to do the thing…to
manage people or train the horse. Once we complete the
required training, we then find ourselves graduated,
acclimated, certified, satisfied, and chicken fried…and now
we are ready!
We walk into the classroom, office, hospital, or arena,
and begin. Being kind people – all of us are – we wait for
a sufficient time to allow others to become accustomed to
our presence. And then since it’s time to get down to
business…we begin to “exert our influence.” To our
surprise, our behavior has little impact. Not a problem.
We’ve been trained in how to handle these situations. So we
turn things up a notch. We now stomp into the room (or
arena), raise our voice, and begin to give orders. To our
stunned amazement, no one listens – humans yawn, horses run
off, and the dog just sits there barking like an idiot –
right smack dab in the way, of course - and none of them
seem to care.
Now comes the time for the “problem analysis.” After
some intensive soul searching, career choice questioning,
two hissy-fits, and a good cry, we arrive at the sad
solution. “It’s not me,” we say. “It’s them.”
Whew! Take a load off, baby! For a minute there, we
actually considered the impossible possibility that
maybe…NO! It’s these kids these days, that’s what it is.
People have lost their work ethic - their all just looking
for the easy way out. Nobody cares anymore. And horses?
These knotheads are the worst. Won’t do anything you tell
them. Had the same problem with my horse for three years…three
And that’s where I found myself. Then something
As my circle of
friends in the horse world grew, I began to encounter a
different sort. More than just ropers or cowboys, these few
men and women seemed to be the luckiest people on earth.
Their horses were just better than everyone else’s. All my
roping buddies had a ready explanation. “Yeah,” they said,
“ain’t they the lucky ones?”
That didn’t quite seem the explanation to me. So, I
sought out these lucky people with their good horses,
curried their favor, and sat at their knee. To my surprise,
every single time I asked any male or female horseman about
my problem horse, after listening for a time, they would
say, “Let’s get some lawn chairs.”
“Great,” I would say. “Are you going to show me a
drill with the chairs we can use to make my horse do
“No,” they would answer. “We are going to sit in
I didn’t want to talk. I wanted them to fix my horse.
Obviously, they didn’t understand my question or the problem
I was having. Yet, each time I described any difficulty
with my horse, there came the same annoying, irritating
response… “Let’s ride around in the truck and talk.” This
really began to get on my nerves.
You see, no matter how many times I tried to explain to
these people the problem my horse was causing, they
misunderstood. They always seemed to think the problem had
to do with me, and it took all the patience I had to keep
telling them we needed to talk about my horse. And then one
day, I’m driving down the road with my old friend, Bronc.
I had droned on for an hour about some problem with
Shine, and finally asked, “So what do you think?” And I
will be darned if he didn’t do the same thing. He started
talking to me about me again. I had just about had it
trying to tell these hard-headed people anything, and I was
about to let him have it when… this little door at the back
of my mind began to creak slowly open. And the light came
“Oh,” I said after a long silence. “It’s not Shine, is
it. It’s me.”
“Yes,” he said in a voice I could barely hear,
and I could tell he was so relieved. “Yes.”
While my horses will be the first to tell you I
haven’t arrived, they will tell you I’ve never been quite
the same since that day.
undertake any task initially, we are right to seek
education, training, and understanding. Problem is, after
what we think of as a “sufficient time” passing, we assume
things should get easier. The Universe doesn’t work that
way – it doesn’t revolve around its center. It shoots off
in all directions at once. So do horses – so do people.
When we encounter difficulties along the path, what do we do
then? It’s a quick, simple, and logical solution to place
blame outside ourselves. We react to such frustration with
our initial impulse. When the working dog bolts into the
sheep, we raise our voice. When he doesn’t respond, we
blame him. According to master handler Bob Hooker, this is
the time “the dog needs someone who knows more than he
does.” And if you spend a few hours with Mr. Bob, it’s
amazing how much you will learn you didn’t know – and that
your dog is not so stupid after all. He was just in
desperate need of guidance and direction.
So it is with all of us. The best student you ever had
is just around the corner, the best horse you ever rode is
waiting for you to help him become more, and the best dog
needs our help to find his magic.
It takes two
things to become a master – hard work and from time to time,
a very painful look in the mirror. But the journey is worth
every moment. Sometimes we reach those assigned to us, and
help them shine. That’s how we reach the stars.
else can’t solve your problem. Especially when you think
somebody else is causing the problem.”
John Hall, Psychologist
Texas Wesleyan University
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