Kate + Ponies column
I was taken aback the other day by how a good-natured pony could have a sudden, huge attitude change. Let me explain a little about this pony. Her name is Buttercup and she is always trying to please. She never tries things that she knows she shouldn’t do. Once when she got out of her pen, I went up and said “BUTTERcup” in a reproachful tone. She hung her head in shame, turned and walked solemnly back through the gate to her pen. As you can imagine, she is irreplaceable and a great asset to my business.
So I was surprised when I went out to help a student catch a pony that was in the same field as her and she turned her hind end toward me and stomped away. She continued to sulk in this manner all day. She is usually the first to come up to me at feeding time, but she was definitely avoiding me that day. Puzzled, I went home and thought about it.
It wasn’t until I was in bed the next day at around 6 o’clock in the morning (when I usually get my “lightbulb moments”) when I realized that yesterday was Wednesday and that was usually one of the days she gets ridden. That day, however, I had switched a student from her to a more advanced pony. I wondered if that had anything to do with her sulking and acting funny.
When I went to the barn I decided to try my theory out. It was Thursday and she usually wouldn’t get ridden that day. But I took her out to work her over some jumps and see what she would do. When I went to catch her, she repeated the whole talk-to-the-hindquarters act but let me put the halter on. She was still sour about it until I took her up to the arena and worked her. Then her sweet-as-can-be attitude came back and she was back to normal.
It was so funny to me to see how the lack of work meant so much to this little pony. Then I saw the parallel with people. When we aren’t accomplishing things throughout the day or month or year that are meaningful in some way or another, we feel negative emotions such as irritability, discouragement, and low self-esteem as well.
There is a Chinese Proverb that says “Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still”. We should resolve this year to be just a little more motivated, to accomplish the things we want to do, even if it takes a while. We shouldn’t be afraid of work, we should be afraid of not working, just like little Buttercup.