My View From The Country

In Agriculture And Reining Horses, Sometimes, Things Just Happen

In agriculture, as in life, things sometimes happen.

Ever come up with a solution that seems a win/win for all involved? You worked out all the details, had it vetted by people you trust, ruminated and prayed about it extensively, then begin the implementation phase only to find the other party has decided to go a different direction? 

We all have, and it’s one of the most frustrating things that can happen to you. The first thing we tend to do in these situations is to look back, replay the entire scenario in our mind, and look for ways we could have done things differently.

Without a doubt, self-evaluation is a valuable tool, but it’s risky. Too much looking back may cause you to question who you are or even your abilities, to the point that you are so busy focusing on what went wrong that you’re almost incapable of taking advantage of opportunities now and in the future. 

If you can avoid getting hide-bound, however, looking back can be a good thing, especially if the problem is a systematic failure that tends to replicate itself consistently. But even in those cases, the most constructive management technique rests on moving on and moving forward. We can focus on finding fault or we can focus on achieving goals that will make a difference and move our family or operation forward. 

 

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My kids show reining horses, and it’s one of the most unforgiving sports I’ve ever been around. You not only have to match your performance with a horse in the ultimate kind of teamwork, but the rules are structured so that any mistake far outweighs any good you can accomplish. 

But here’s the tricky part – the scoring system also rewards you to some degree for pushing the limits of what you and the horse can do. Needless to say, we have collected every penalty point and disqualification in the book, and we have had solid, well-broke horses find new and creative ways to mess up. 

And it’s not just us. The best in the world are not immune from bad runs; it’s part of the game. This degree of difficulty or challenge, coupled with a uniformly applied judging system, has made it the fastest-growing equine sport. The lesson, though, is clear – evaluate each run, identify your mistakes so you can correct them, then forget it, even if it was a winning run. The goal is to go positively into the next with a game plan to make that performance better than the last. 

Agriculture can be similar, in that there are literally hundreds of things that can go wrong in every scenario. In fact, it’s rare for any scenario to play out as originally planned; there are simply too many variables. In reining, the perfect run is rare, if it happens at all. So it is with agriculture – the key is continuing to improve and adapting on the fly. 

You have two options when you get bucked off, but the only viable one is to get back on and fix the problem. I’ve always disagreed with the thought that it is the effort that counts rather than results. However, coming up short isn’t a bad thing if it results in positive change and getting back to work. 

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

 

 

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contribur Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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