The Never Ending Search for Perfection…And How I’m Learning I’ll Never Find It

Looking For The Elusive “Perfect, One Size Fits All” Strategy and Overlooking the Excellent Ones…

To carry on with the theme of horse development, this is the second post regarding lessons that I’ve been learning as I have been developing Takoda (5yr old Hanoverian Mustang).   Today’s blog post is addressing a topic very near and dear to my heart, perfection and excellence.

Perfection is something that in every area of my life I expect and strive to attain.  Yet my humanness and life in general, continue to teach me that I’m so much less then perfect. (Friends, family, students, and anyone else who has spent any time around me, please stop laughing 🙂 ).

10469769_355095884691288_3672153276630703072_nPlaying with and riding horses has brought me a long way in overcoming my perfectionist ways. I’ve been humbled many times and have, generally speaking, come to terms with the fact that I will never achieve the level of perfection that I would like to find. You can’t be a perfectionist and live by the principles that embody good horsemanship.  I need to embrace the concept of excellence, not perfection.

I will always strive to do my absolute best, it’s just part of who I am. Yet even when I do my best, I realize that it could always be better. But I have come to terms with the fact that there will always be something that I can improve upon and be enhancing, enriching or elevating in quality.  This is the attitude of never ending self improvement in the search of excellence not perfection.

Excellence is something done well.
Perfection is something done without fault.

Excellence is attainable.
Perfection is unattainable.

Excellence is positive.
Perfection is negative.

Excellence gives a sense of satisfaction.
Perfection is never satisfied.

Excellence is freeing.
Perfection is binding.

Excellence allows for failure.
Perfection punishes failure.

Excellence is motivated by confidence.
Perfection is motivated by fear.

Excellence comes from God.
Perfection comes from the world.

“Excellence says there are many ways to accomplish something. It allows for context. Perfection says there is only one way to accomplish something. There is no context or considerations made.”

As I shared in one of my videos, I involve myself in other hobbies, like hockey, which don’t include horses so that I can push myself and be as hard on myself as I want to be, while not putting the relationship with my horse at stake.

A Perfect Strategy, “One Size that Fits All”:

As I have been playing with Takoda and building his foundation I found myself looking for the strategy that would make the biggest difference. Something that I could do to help him relax, learn to trust me, build more confidence in himself, me as he leader, in his environment and as a learner. A perfect strategy, a “one size that fits all” and accomplishes all, that would actually work for more then one session.

It was all to evident that I had not found it yet. Each new day, each session brought along different challenges and the approach that worked last time didn’t work the next day. It was confusing but very fascinating.

My last session I came to the realization that I was looking for the “perfect strategy”. I was looking for that one thing that would make the biggest difference. However in doing so I was living outside the moment. I was thinking to much and in turn that was throwing off my timing, feel and ability to adjust to fit the situation.

Not Perfect, But Excellent:

Once I realized, and accepted, that I wasn’t going to find one perfect approach, and that what worked in one moment will have to be adjusted in the next as the situation changes, I found that I actually had a few fairly effective and excellent strategies.  These several excellent strategies helped Takoda find the appropriate answer to the situation, which was mainly to truly turn loose and relax.

The most confusing part about each session was that I wasn’t satisfied with the way they ended. Takoda would have little mini breakthroughs and then the very next moment he would be back to square one again. I never felt that I had gotten to the bottom of anything. This changed when I adjusted my thought process and realized that it was okay for me to use a different method each time, each moment if necessary.

The perfect strategy wasn’t found. The more efficient method wasn’t discovered. Major breakthroughs haven’t happened yet. But I learned, yet again, that this is all part of the journey, excellency, not perfection. The real goal is excellence, being able to adjust to fit the situation in the moment to best suit the needs of the horse.

Recognizing Excellence:

You know that you have reached excellence for that horse, in that moment and situation by the end result.  If the desired change happened and you see your horse achieving the end goal, then perhaps that series, group, or set of strategies were the “perfect” ones in that moment to have used.  Could there have been just one perfect strategy?  Perhaps.  Will this “perfect” set work next time?  Maybe, maybe not.  The strategies may need to be varied but the end goal in this case was trust and relaxation for the horse.

Realize that the horse may need one specific strategy or concept that makes a lasting difference or your horse may need strategies that changes constantly each session, or multiple times through out a session. This lack of one perfect strategy is okay.  Excellence allows for variance.  You haven’t failed if you need to change the way you are doing something a hundred times and only see minimal success.

In the end all that matters is that you never give up and that you keep looking for answers to the puzzle and that you keep improving in your horsemanship and the horse’s development.  Even one degree of improvement and advancement is still improvement and advancement.  Aim for excellence not perfection.

And for all you perfectionists out there who are like me, who are rarely pleased and definitely seldom satisfied, we are in for the learning curve of our lives as we undertake the task of becoming the leaders our horses need. It’s one amazing, frustrating, overwhelming, exciting, and rewarding journey that we will look back on in time and see how it is truly so much more than just riding horses.

Let’s talk.  Are you striving for perfection or excellence?  Are you able to use multiple strategies and achieve the goals in horse development that you desire?  Need some help finding new strategies?

*Please note, words in bold when clicked on lead to articles and content that may be exterior sources to this blog. The opinions and ideas expressed in the linked to website, as a whole, may or may not necessarily reflect the views of the authors of this web site. The external sources are provided for further study and educational purposes of those reading this blog.


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