Whenever I'm gifted with an opportunity to talk about May (at any length and at any time), my entire personality shifts and I become furiously, unapologetically happy. It doesn't matter if I'm talking about something successful that happened or something that happened to fail between us, I am as giddy and energetic as humanly possible. When I find myself upset, or if I decide that life is just too much for me to handle in that moment, I rush out to her pasture. While I scratch at her itches and I play little games, I watch her personality bloom in front of me. Every heartache, every looming fear and personal issue I might have fades away.
When I walk out onto the field and watch as she stops everything that she's doing to look at me; when I take a few steps onto the grass and I see her walking towards me; when she places herself at my side and waits for me to show her what I'd like her to do... I feel like a million dollars. When she chooses to stay beside me even when she's nervous, I feel tall. When she walks with me all over the pasture, past her herd and her hay, without a halter, I feel as though there is nothing that life could ever throw at me that might top that moment; that victory of trust and love and friendship. Absolutely nothing.
For people who have been raised around horses, or have several of their own horses, there should be an instant recognition of how incredible all of those things are. Every tiny step we make with our horse is a celebration. It doesn't matter what methods or tools were used, how experienced you are, or how experienced your horse is. What matters is not only having those little victories, but also having the ability to recognize when they happen, even on a microscopic level. Even beyond all of that, there should also be acceptance and recognition of the battles waged in order to reach those victories, and how every challenge is handled in different ways.
There seems to be this attitude that some seasoned horse owners have (or those that have been around horses for blank amount of time) where they are so concrete in the right and wrong way of training, that if you ever mention doing anything outside of that, they slam you. They call you an idiot. They call you and your horse dangerous. They try so hard to tell you all of the things that you're doing wrong that they don't even wait for an invite to do so. It's bullying disguised as helping, and it is rampant.
I've been called many things for adopting May, and stupid has been a favorite among those that are knowledgeable in horsemanship. I am stupid for taking on a yearling with no experience. I am stupid for refusing to use whips and chains to make her obey me. I am an idiot for wanting to wait a little before lunging, or that I am stupid for not knowing her breed, how big she'll be, or if I'll ride one way or another. There's never even a pause in attack, it's just, "that's the way to do it. If you're not going to do it our way, you're going to fail."
As May's owner, I have made all of my decisions about her care, training, and general life based on my gut instinct, and I feel pretty good about all of the choices that I've made. I always do my research. I seek help from our certified trainers when I need it. I listen to what May tells me with her body language when we're together, and I never force her to do anything. Looking back at all of our moments, there's not a single thing that I regret doing or not doing to get where we are today.
People will do their very best to make you do something their way, with anything. They will tell you that you're doing something wrong- not because you're getting different outcomes, but because you aren't doing it the way that they do it. This can be applied to our daily routines, our dating habits, or the things that we're trying to learn. There is always someone there to tell you that you're an idiot, or irresponsible in the things that you're doing. Trust your instincts. Trust that you're going to figure it out on your own, at your own pace, and that it'll work for you just fine. Never let anyone bully you into thinking otherwise.
And while we're at it, don't be so afraid to fail that you go against what your gut tells you. Every single failure we have has some hidden victory, a treasure waiting for us to find so that we can do it better and better with every attempt we make. Do whatever you feel is the best choice for you, and if it ended up not being the best option, you'll learn and you'll adjust and you'll fix whatever it is that wasn't perfect yet.
Don't let people bring you down. You are doing just fine with whatever it is that you're doing, and just for that, you are successful.