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What Type of Problem Solver Are You?

This week, in preparation for the upcoming article on improving your horse’s ability to lift and hold up his hooves, in the March/April of Horse-Canada, I will present some food for thought.

Many of you will think this following blog is a bit of a digression from the topic, but one of my favorite sayings from Alexandra Kurland, my mentor, is: ‘Everything is Everything else.’ Including how we tackle problems with horses will reflect on how we tackle problems in the rest of our life.

Another of Alex’s coaches wrote a bit on this topic and I’m going to take her idea and run with it here.

People tend to tackle problems they face in any area of their life in one of two or maybe three ways.

One person may attack it head on, pushing through, not really looking for a better way, an easier way and just get the job done no matter the cost or fallout. The second person may take time and assess how best to handle the situation, what parts need to be looked at, worked on and then applied to solving the overall issue at hand, taking into account overall effect and fallout that might occur.

The third type is the one who avoids the issue until they can’t ignore it anymore and then they will deal with it in one of the two other ways.

So, how does this apply to our clicker training challenge of getting our horse better at having his hooves worked on for ourselves and the farrier?

The first person will just say ‘damn the torpedoes’ and carry on prying his horse’s feet from the ground and go through a lot of cursing and swearing and probably a lot of farriers as well. The horse will learn to resist or become highly reactive and scared all depending on how unsuccessful and emotionally laden the ‘attempts’ are and what kind of horse they have, too. These people can turn into the third type if things get too bad and they just won’t pick up the feet anymore and let the farrier deal with it until he runs out of farriers or sells the horse.

These folks will not see the hoof issue as being a big deal.

Now, I’d like to talk about what my fellow coach mentioned. We all face challenges and some are small enough for us to deal with head on and just do it. Her analogy was one of jumping a wall. Most of us would feel ok asking our horse to cross a two-inch wall. Most of us would probably be ok to force the issue and make it over a two-foot wall, less at the three-foot mark and by the time we got to four feet most of us would not be willing or prepared to FORCE the issue of getting over the wall.

The second type of problem solver here would systematically break down what is needed to solve this problem, deal with the pieces of the problem and then when feeling prepared for the wall would be successful, unlike the head on person who may or may not ‘win’ at the wall.

Which type are you?

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