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BACK OFF!

(The Problem - Part 1)


Have you ever noticed how hard it is to give up control? Did you ever feel like you were losing control so you doubled your efforts and blamed others? Letting things unfold organically can be so difficult. Trusting others to manage a situation or having faith the outcome will be as it is supposed to be seems almost impossible for some of us. This brings to mind an embarrassing lesson for me.


It was 2003 and we had just bought my daughter, Sara, a pony named Pow Wow. He was a spectacular jumper with a pretty serious stubborn streak. It was our first show in Raleigh, N.C. with her new trainer, Ron Danta. My nerves were on edge and the weekend hadn’t gone like I had hoped. What did I hope? I had hoped Sara would win. I had hoped Pow Wow would lay down a perfect round and validate my decision to let my daughter enter the world of competitive showing. Most of all, I had hoped Sara would feel good about herself and have a wonderful experience. The pony had different hopes.


I’m pretty sure at the top of his list was getting my daughter off of his back and going to the barn for dinner. During Sara’s time in the ring, Pow Wow had decided it was more fun to buck at the jumps and bite at the judges. Sitting in the stands, I was becoming anxious and irritable. I couldn’t believe we had spent this money on a pony that acted this way. Being the expert I was, I began to be critical of the judges, the footing, the show schedule, and even of her trainer.


Why didn’t Ron see this coming? Why didn’t he prepare better? Why didn’t he stop this from happening? As Sara walked out of the ring, she pulled the reins until Pow Wow came to a halt and then waited for Ron to walk up and begin the customary practice of reviewing her performance. The trainers go over the round with the rider, fence by fence, explaining what they could have done differently and how they can correct the problems they encountered. I could overhear their conversation and Ron was clearly putting most of the responsibility on my daughter! How could he? Was he watching the same class as me? Besides wanting to sell the pony immediately, I wanted to give Ron a piece of my mind. He could obviously see Sara was embarrassed and upset and he wasn’t helping. So I decided to intervene and remedy the situation.


Jumping up from the bleachers, I stormed down to the gate where they stood in the middle of their conversation and instruction. I could sense the eyes of the other spectators on me. Of course, I wanted them to watch. They needed to see how I could stand up to this trainer and get my point across. The point was? I really can’t remember now, but it was probably that I wasn’t happy and if Ron would listen to me, I could make the situation better. If only I could’ve taken those next few minutes back.


Without hesitation, I lashed out at Ron blaming him for the poor performance in the ring and said “It isn’t her fault. If Pow Wow would’ve been prepared properly, he wouldn’t have behaved like he did. Besides, Sara didn’t get the attention she needed from you during her lesson.” Then I turned to Sara and added, “You rode beautifully and it isn’t because of you. You don’t have to go back in for your next class if you don’t want to.” At that moment, I felt pretty good about how I stood up for my daughter. Glancing over my shoulder, the crowd was watching with pleasure. I still cringe at what happened next.


Ron folded his arms in front of him and turned to me. Being 6’7”, he looked like a giant at that moment and I suddenly had a twinge of regret. But I stood my ground - for a minute. With his booming voice that certainly could be heard throughout the sprawling show grounds, he said to me, “There isn’t room for two trainers here. If you want to be her trainer, then you can take over, but you will not come down here and interfere.” He added, “I’ve been doing this my whole life and I am confident she’s in good hands but if you would like to take over right now and be her trainer, I will leave. Otherwise, you need to go and let me do my job.”


Standing there frozen for a few seconds, I suddenly realized I didn’t want to be in control and I didn’t want him to leave. What I wanted was to control the outcome. The truth was I didn’t know the first thing about being a trainer and I knew diddly squat about running a horse show. Humiliated and filled with remorse over my actions, I walked away and let Ron do his job which, as it turns out, he was really good at.


I believe fear is at the root of our need for control. Fear stems from the feeling of being threatened in some way. It can be a threat to our physical well-being, our ego, or finances. Our instincts kick in and cause us to put more effort into avoiding the threat.


At the horse show that day, I was threatened financially because it wasn’t cheap to buy a pony, travel, pay for training, tack, and daily expenses. What if I was doing all of this and it was never going to get better? The money would be wasted and I would never recoup my losses.


Then there’s ego. Our ego wants us to feel important. My ego wanted recognition for my daughter. It wanted her to feel special and successful because that would give me validation as a parent. Winning would garner the approval from the other parents and riders at the show. The fear of not getting the approval and recognition my ego demanded caused me to double my efforts to control the outcome ultimately making matters worse.


There is freedom and contentment in doing our best and then stepping aside. We don’t always get the results we hoped for but when we shift our focus to the process instead of the outcome, we are much happier and content. We aren’t always blaming others when things don’t go our way. We realize the world isn’t out to get us and we don’t waste energy manipulating others or trying to gain recognition and approval. When we can do this, we are able to enjoy life on a whole new level, no matter the circumstances.


Next week’s blog will focus on ways to step aside and give up fear-based control. A special thanks to Ron Danta for many years of friendship, dedication to service, and enough life lessons to fill a book!


Please follow my blog on Facebook and Instagram at Free-Falling:Carol Lind Mooney


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5 Comments


lambpriscilla165
Feb 09, 2022

Awesome story! I'm learning this very lesson now with my Son and his education.

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Carol Lind
Carol Lind
Feb 10, 2022
Replying to

Some hard lessons! Our kids can bring out that fierce need to control for sure!

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Patti Palmer
Patti Palmer
Feb 08, 2022

Great post, Carol Lind! And another excellent reminder about loosening life's "reins" rather than holding on to them for dear life. :)

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Patti Palmer
Patti Palmer
Feb 08, 2022
Replying to

LOL, mine too. Always, my ego.

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