So you are an equestrian. That probably means you have taken a riding lesson or two, or two hundred or two thousand. It also mean that you have been given “feedback” from trainers and sometimes friends, family or even casual acquaintances.
“Thorough out our lives we receive feedback. Sometimes it is given directly, sometimes indirectly. Sometimes the feedback is positve, and sometimes negative. If we are fortunate, the feedback helps us learn something about ourselves (and our riding). However, sometimes feedback creates negative feelings and does little to improve our performance.” – The Art and Science of Coaching by Marilyn Atkinson, PhD
How do you get valuable feedback?
Lots of advice has been given (do a google search) on how to give and receive feedback, but how do you solicit useful feedback. (adapted for Equestrians from The Art and Science of Coaching by Marilyn Atkinson, PhD)
Ask neutral people. People who are emotionally involved are not the best source for useful feedback. Your trainer may or may not be neutral in any given situation. Same goes for your spouse. Some barn mates are completely neutral, others are not.
Ask people you respect. Asking anyone and everyone for their opinion is a short road to confusion and emotional turmoil. You’ve heard the expression. Everybody’s got an opinion.
Get a consensus. You need three or more opinions so that you can learn why others see things differently. Finding three neutral parties that understand what it takes to win in the Adult Amateurs or to move from First to Second Level can be pretty tough, but it is worth it if you really want valuable information. If you want feedback that will move you toward your goal, think long and hard about who you ask for feedback.
Don’t argue. Not matter what people say, do not disagree or defend. It will destroy the feedback you need. No one wants to offer what they believe to be a valuable, honest and neutral opinion only to get into an argument. You asked. Suck it up and listen.
Take a close look at your feelings and see if you are translating them into action. Other people can’t see feelings. They can only evaluate action. For example, you may feel very loving toward your spouse for supporting your horse show life, but if you come home every Sunday night tired and cranky because your performance did not meet your expectation, it shouldn’t be surprising that your spouse is not in favor of attempting to qualify for indoors or the AEC’s.
Say “Thank You!” and mean it. They are helping you. If you don’t show appreciation for the help, they may not respond next time. If you can muster the courage, take them out for dinner or drinks. Get curious. Ask questions. Pick up the check.
Have you ever gone through a process to solicit feedback? What did you do? How did it go? Where did you end up?