Hausauer and Hovde [Photo: submitted]
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17
It’s about 8:30 a.m. on a beautiful summer morning, and I am just about to start a horsemanship clinic. We always have a little bit of fellowship to get to know one another before the clinic. I see some riders showing up being very excited. Others show up looking extremely nervous as their horse digs a hole at the horse trailer. Everyone has a unique story to tell why they signed up for the clinic, and once I start asking questions about their horse, you can tell how many riders need more help than their horses. Sometimes ‘the help’ means having someone who believes in them, someone who is not afraid to push, but they need a place where they can feel safe in their vulnerability, without judgement.
We all need a ‘safe person’ in the horse world whom we admire as a trainer/horseman/woman. Someone who can share our messy parts, take constructive criticism knowing that person’s intent comes from a place of honesty, because they really want to see us succeed, even if we are their competition.
Trainers, horsemen, and women want to help each other grow and improve our industry every day. Trainers are one big family. They help one another, cheer each other on, and push their peers to be the best they can be in the show or rodeo pen.
One of my ‘safe people’ is my friend, Andy. She is one of the most talented barrel racers I have met. She really has a knack for feel in a horse in the sport of barrel racing. We also love to pick each other’s brain on horsemanship. I don’t even know how many times we have messaged each other with, “Hey, can I pick your brain?” We can take constructive criticism from each other and be inspired to dig deeper than the surface, because in the end, we truly want to improve for the sake of our horses.
It is to no surprise that Andy was once an intern for John Hovde. John is a horseman who knows how to build true connection with a horse. However, John’s knowledge goes beyond that. He is influencing other horsemen and women in the world of horse training to do the same. I truly believe that if you want to become better with horses, you have to start with yourself. All those things you want in your horse and a friend has to come from within you first. We have to evaluate our intentions. John Hovde, in my opinion, is a legend. Not just for his amazing horsemanship, but also how he has influenced so many people in the horse world to become better. He has overcome several struggles and heartaches, yet remains a true mentor, a person of morals, and integrity. He is someone we can all look up to.
If you’re in a circle of trainer friends who don’t challenge you, it’s time to pick a new group. Find friends who inspire you. Friends who push you to the next level with pure intentions. Their victories are also your victories, because we are all in this journey together.
You’re going to have critics, people who will try to hold you back. Don’t allow someone else’s doubts about you become your own. If you’re doubting yourself because of something someone said or did, remember how far you have come and how much you have grown. Whatever you believe about yourself will become your actions and inner voice. The best way to overcome people who try to put you down is simply to know yourself well. Have a clear sense of your strengths and weaknesses, then you will be less bothered by the opinions of others.
Being put in a leadership position is not a competition. It’s helping others to reach their full potential, even if that means they end up better than you. Just as iron sharpens iron, true leaders do not create followers, they create more leaders.
Elsabe Hausauer is a veteran in the horse training industry. She is the owner of MBR Performance Horses, LLC, clinician, and as she puts it, “forever student of the horse.” Horsewoman, rancher, wife, and mother by way of South Africa, she hangs her hat in Halliday, ND, encouraging the relationship between people and horses through teaching and advocating horsemanship skills to make each ride a better experience.