I have been mulling this over for almost eight months and still don’t have an answer. I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no answer or advice and that I will have to continue dealing with it as best as I can.
I do not know why people feel a need to shape or change me. Okay, I could understand that if I was in my twenties, still new to horses, with a lot to learn, but I still seem to elicit the reaction from some people that if they just push me hard enough, beat my self-esteem up, and pooh-pooh my ideas, thoughts or actions that they can convince me that Their Way is the Supreme Answer to All My Problems.
This is the way some trainers and instructors work. They gently undermine your confidence. It’s not obvious. It’s a pick, pick, pick with a bit of mother-nurturing, just-going-to-help-you and I’m-here-to-guide-you antics that are only self-serving and not at all the help it is being presented as. If you protest, you get a pitying look and a sad shake of the head, because it’s your own resistance to the truth which is causing you to question their advice (or so they want you to believe).
Let me explain about how this works because it really is like falling into quicksand or getting caught on one of those old-fashioned sticky fly trap tapes: difficult to extricate yourself from if not impossible – with struggling making it worse!
None of these tactics are done blatantly (well maybe by some of the less subtle trainers with very young people because shouting and lying seems to work with naive students). If they were obvious that would be enough for you to go “hm this is really stupid and I think I’ll leave. She’s crazy!”
No, it starts out with just a nudge something along the lines of:
“well, if you really want the best for your horse … (and of course we all do don’t we!?) then follow my advice….”
“you do want to be the very best rider you can be right?”
“if you follow my guidance, you will achieve your riding/horse dream.”
Once the relationship gets established, the heat then is ratcheted up a notch. If you are boarding or taking lessons, it might become a Sopranos’ number of “do this, or you’ll never see your horse again” or maybe “I’ll drop you as a student and where else would you get this great deal?”
Emotional blackmail is highly effective and these types, just like the con-artists who commit bigamy just to marry the next woman for her money on the FBI’s most wanted list, have it down to a well-honed art.
It can be so hard to deal with, especially for me because my personality structure is very accepting of all walks of life – which helped me greatly when I was a newspaper reporter. I don’t judge people, I’m open and a pretty good listener. I want to give people a chance and I bend over backwards to excuse their behavior due to life circumstances (in one case, it was her father who had sexually abused her as a child which had really done a number on her mind).
On the down side to some folks who are strongminded boors, this can come across as weak and they may think I can be thus easily be shaped by them.
They might want to have a psychic contact my dad beyond the grave and find out if I was that easy for him to persuade. Well, if you don’t have that ability, let me assure you that I am not.