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The mental health of horse people (or lack of)

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  • #61
    Boy did you get the self-centeredness right! I do think that is what most people who are driven in the sport do to reach their goals. You can only spend so much on energy on "X" if you are going to be the best so "Y and Z" fall to the wayside. When focused on such a single goal you feel you must wear blinders. I think it happens for all people, but when I've seen people in other countries they don't seem to be quite as obsessive as Americans. Maybe it's part of our makeup over here where we feel to be the best you have to sacrifice everything else...and maybe it isn't true. A lot of the European riders at the top seem to have a lot of other things in their lives...like relationships. Whereas most Americans just drive themselves towards the one goal and destroy everyone and everything else that gets in their way. (Generalization, I know, but it does seem to be a shoe that fits fairly well.)

    You grow up the day you have your first real laugh--at yourself. (Ethel Barrymore)
    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


    • #62

      I have to agree with you. The dysfunctional American horsepeople do tend to put everything else by the way side to be able to accomplish their goals. My immediate thought is... what is that goal, and what price is being paid to near it. Example: the many people I know in the horseworld that are "submerged" in this political manure are not on their way to the Grand Prix ring. Many are simply trying to pin in the next class or get their greenie through the in gate of the next class. I can respect that these are personal goals for these people, however, is it necessary for these people to give up all else for a mere hobby? When we come right down to it, it is a hobby for anyone who is not generating an income from horses. I think the majority of horsepeople are not olympic hopefuls, yet still dysfunctional and one dimentional. Maybe there would be less corruption if people could really put it into perspective. What do you think?


      • #63
        But I do think you missed something...there are MANY people who may not be Olympic material, yet dream of it. Funny how often these are the people who are most maniacal about their riding, and yet they can't achieve their dream because that intensity gets in the way. (I know how being too intense can get in the way of learning a sport--any sport.)

        I think all should be able to dream, and yet I also think we should all be able to enjoy our little success along the way. Yet the American way is to be considered nothing, and everything along the way as less than nothing until the ultimate in any sport is achieved. Sad, isn't it? The saddest part is how it spills over into all parts of a sport most of us have come to out of love for the furry four-legged, four hooved beasties. It's too bad hindsight is 20/20, too, eh? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] Guess it's always going to happen, but maybe with some more dialog like what we are experiencing out here, we'll see more people enlightened and get back to just having fun and enjoying every step along the way. Who needs to go out showing every weekend? What exactly are you proving and to whom?

        My favorite stables are those where showing is an afterthought, and riding is foremost in everyone's mind.

        Maybe our mantra should be, "Happy trails to you." Instead of "I'm going to get there, by gosh and by golly." (Had to make that a bit P.G. 13 out here, but I'm sure you get my drift.) [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

        You grow up the day you have your first real laugh--at yourself. (Ethel Barrymore)
        "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"


        • #64
          Well, Invisible and Velvet, you have a point - BUT [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

          replace "horse hobby" with golf, skiing, sailing, tennis, stamp collecting, pushing one's children to be the successes you would have liked to have been, making money, gaining power and prestige in the corporate/political/professional/social worlds.

          And sorry, but I don't agree that it is solely an American flaw.

          Then again, what would you replace focus on our horse hobby with? Football? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] Baseball? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] Any form of group ball-game? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] NASCAR racing? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] Button-collecting?

          Most of the people I know who are involved with horses also have families, friends, community involvement of various kinds, other interests, etc. etc.

          Maybe I'm lucky to be living in the boonies, away from the lure or even the possibility of the A circuit - but I don't see the problems you do.
          Gosh, my culturally-deprived (unless you really like Travis Tritt et al.) milieu looks better than ever!
          [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]

          [This message was edited by Weatherford on May. 26, 2001 at 05:25 PM.]


          • #65
            Waall- judge me as you will. I make a very succesful living entirely based on my people skills. And I am completely horse-crazy. Some of us are lucky enough to have a happy obsession. When my back was broken from a fall and I was told I might never walk normally again, and would never ride again, I felt like "just give me the gun and let me shoot myself now".
            Happily, I walk pretty normally and ride not too bad. Most people who actually meet me in real life like me, and I like most people. If I didn't have the horse "hobby", I would rather say, "horse lifestyle", I would probably be far less happy and less able to cope with people's problems.
            If you feel that horse people are more disordered/less people competent/etc than the general population, I feel a little sorry that is your experience. Some of the finest folks I ever met came to me on horseback. Some of the worst too. I choose to hang around with the finer ones and avoid the duds. Life is about choices. If you have bad feelings about the human race, you will probably see bad things even in good people (because they are there) and you will feel unhappy and cynical. If you choose to make the most out of all your exeriences, then even the bad ones will teach you something, and you will end up happier and hopeful.

            A person's opinions about others often say more about the person opining than they do about the others! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]


            • #66
              Yowser, Dr. Horsefeathers, you've revealed yourself as a Freudian - we hate most in others that which we detest in ourself.

              You are, otherwise, even on the Freudian paraphrase, right. I think it was the damned smartest thing the old fart ever wrote.


              • #67
                Great post, Dr. Horsefeathers. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
                \"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.\" -- Ralph Waldo E


                • #68
                  When I started in horses, I was very, very, shy .. I almost never talked. Over time, successes that I have achieved with my horses has given me self confidence that goes with me when I leave the barn. It has helped all aspects of my life.

                  And, I don't socialize with alot of non-horse people because they just don't get it !

                  So call me dysfunctional ! I don't care ! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
                  the more I know about people,
                  the more I love my horse!


                  • #69
                    I'm with Susie... I don't have many out of the workplace friends who don't do horses simply because they don't get it. I do have goals that take precedence over some other things. Call me dysfunctional if you want... I kinda like my life. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]
                    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


                    • #70
                      Ole Siggy had a lot of good stuff to say, but he also had this little cocaine problem, and didn't ever understand women...

                      My favorite thing he said was in the first book he ever wrote, I think its called "A Project for a Scientific Psychology".(C'mon its been 20 years since I read it) It was written while he was still a student of neurology, around the turn of the last century. The whole book's premise is that all the psychological/social theories were good working models, but that eventually, we would find out that biology determines more of our feelings and behavior and the psychosocial stuff would have less importance. He said we just didn't have the technology at that time to be able to figure it out. With all the work today on genetics and neurochemistry, he is being proven right.

                      For the record, I was a biochemist first, and although I trained with several analysts, am not a freudian. Call me a "fusion" psychiatrist. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]


                      • #71
                        After I got myself together from hysterically laughing!! Great topic!

                        OK playing by the rules:
                        __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________
                        Dysfunction is when people either lack healthy emotional skills, refuse to obey other people's boundaries, do not have boundaries of their own, and who shut other people out of their lives simply because they do not agree completely with other people's philosphies.
                        __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

                        Lack emotional skills-well that would be most people I see on the circuit in the Adult divisions at least. Example: A/O rider's horse has lead swap on course. "Adult" leaves ring yanking like a pony kid (no offense pony riders) on said horse's mouth while SCREAMING to trainer-HE SWAPPED and YOU HAVE TO FFFFFIIIIIXXXX IT!

                        Hmmm hope she never faces a real tragedy in life.

                        How about the trainer that leaves the rail in a huff when adult rider misses a distance-or screams WHY did you move up to nothing?? Well gosh Ms Trainer-I guess I just love spending my hard earned money to intentionally piss you off-I love making a fool of myself and having you add to it!!! I love being yelled at by another adult-please more more!!

                        Refuse to obey other's boundaries: Whoa-let me aks you-if I came into YOUR home and said "OH MY how could you put that painting above that sofa-it looks perfectly AWFUL"-would you be offended?? I should think so.

                        However any given horseperson on any given day will gladly walk up and voice his/her opinion on the short comings of your recently purchased prospect, made horse, whatever. Amazing.

                        Do not have boundaries of their own-too many examples not enough time or space for this one.

                        Shut people out-how about hte trainer who for wahtever reason is no longer offering a prgram suitable for you. You have been at this barn your years, made friends, etc and leave as politely as possible-do ya think you will ever have diiner with these people again since you are no longer "at the barn"???

                        Now not all are this way but I think horse people are by far the most dysfunctional group of people I have ever met-nothing compares IMHO.

                        Ahh well can't change them so may as well make a case study out of them!!

                        Life is too short to dance with ugly men


                        • Original Poster

                          You are my hero of verbosity!

                          I have been trying to say exactly what you did for a few days now (didn't post b/c I'm coughing up a lung and possibly other bodily necessities [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] ).

                          I am so glad somebody understands me!

                          Question for Dr. Horsefeathers....I studied my first two internships under a psychiatrist. He strongly supports the Medical model, which I found very intriguing as well as helpful in working with clients. What other models do you use? I am a new graduate having recieved a Masters in counseling, and I want to get as many views as possible. Any help you can give would me would be more than appreciated. I'm eager to learn as much as possible. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                          I hope this topic reveals to everyone else what it has to me; We all have many experiences with horse-folk. Unfortunately, if those experiences were negative or uncomfortable, that will have an impact on our perspective. Maybe I've been "lucky" to have met some of the nastier people, I don't know. I do know there are some incredibly wonderful people in our world. My best friend being one of them...but she KNOWS she's a bit obsessed! But she respects my need for keeping the horses as a hobby, play-time and for companionship. I found that once I was able to establish my own boundaries, she began to not push me to do things I wasn't interested in doing. I also gained an appreciation for our friendship....that we can be open and candid with each other.

                          I still think some things, such as TheResonator pointed out, are weird and dysfunctional. Especially the issue of leaving a barn! You'd think you had sprayed them all with gas and lit a match leaving some barns! And some earlier threads will prove this!

                          As for another sport, I CAN say that no matter where a player (basketball) decides to go, my dad has always supported their decision (and if he didn't, he never made them feel unwelcome in our home/lives), and he respects a lot of other coaches VERY much...I KNOW he's the best, though!

                          My point is, I guess I just see some people in this great sport as being a bit dysfunctional, and though people may disagree, "that's my story and I'm sticking to it"! (can't recall newsperson who said this).


                          • #73
                            "The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you."

                            Uh oh... [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img]


                            • #74
                              This is not a great term- ask 4 doctors and get 5 answers kind of thing.

                              But I think it is a distinct advantage, if you are trying to help people, to have a wide knowledge of how people work- and this includes how their bodies work, what role inheritance plays, how we are affected by our nutrition, by drugs, by the weather, by other people, etc.
                              Medical doctors who become psychiatrists have this advantage over most other mental health professionals. Not meaning to be elitist, or snarky, but when you spend 8-12 years after your basic batchelor degree training, under supervision, with real patients, as psychiatrists do, you are bound to have more expertise and a greater understanding than someone who, after their batchelors, spent a couple more years in classrooms getting a masters and then finally spent a few years writing a book for their doctorate. I know some of these people have also had supervision and actual patient contact.(now donning the Nomex Suit!!!)But even the 2500 hours of supervised therapy demanded by most clinical psychologists' registries cannot compare to the 15,000-20,000 hours of direct supervision experienced in the 8-12 years of medical school and residency that a psychiatrist undergoes.
                              Which is not to say there aren't gifted therapists in other fields-there are. To drop a few names, I have trained with family therapists such as Virginia Satir and Carl Thom, also with the Milan group. With Milton Erickson, the hypnotist and his disciples. Spiritually with Mother Theresa and native healers. I respect all these teachers and more.
                              The medical model, in my mind, is an holistic one, perhaps the most holistic one, taking into account the physical, genetic, environmental, social, spiritual and intra-psychic factors that operate in each of our lives. We are not pill-pushers, although we are usually the only ones who have trained sufficiently to understand what pills can do.As a solo practitioner, I am often called upon, (and am trained) to work in an holistic way in areas of my patient's life that would be traditionally handled by a nurse, a social worker, a priest, a behavioral psychologist, an occupational therapist, or a family doctor. I can do all competently, if need be. I prefer to work as a team member so that some of these aspects can be handled by experts in their own corners. Psychiatrists excel at triage- sorting out what can be handled by those with different training and what needs to be addressed by psychiatric resources, what can wait, and what needs to be done STAT.
                              The medical model recognizes a heirarchy that assesses thoroughly based on a systematic approach, sorts problems according to urgency, and treats according to available and appropriate resources. When it works well, the doctor serves as both team member and leader and must be flexible enough to relinquish leadership when the team operates at its best. The team must also be willing to share responsibility, to work under leadership at times, and at others to work independantly to contribute to the overall treatment plan.

                              Things break down when doctors are too authoritarian, or when their leadership is not acknowledged, or when they are forced to take responsibility for the actions of other team members without having authority over those team members, or when the team's expertise is not recognized, etc.

                              It is a complex system and prone to breakdown, but when it works, there are few healing methods more powerful.

                              I think it is also important to look at the fact that the medical model has evolved significantly since the 1970's. There are still some docs around who trained before then and may not have had the experience I describe above. I trained in the 1980's, when the medical model had expanded to take advantage of the powers of groups of healers working together. Most shrinks training in North America today have the kind of holistic experience that I describe. I believe that shrinks' image continues to suffer from being an easily identified target- we are expensive to produce and in the past there have been tragic mistakes that still haunt us. Many are jealous of our hourly wage (please put it in perspectuve- the average shrink does not start earning until their early 30's and finishes school with $100,000 of debt- over a lifetime, in Canada, an RN will make more money total, than a psychiatrist).
                              We tend to be in the top 1 % of the population for IQ and in the extremes of any population you will find more variance or aberration among individuals. In my estimation, there are more pathological doctors than horse people. But because of their IQ's they may hide it better. Or not. We still have among the highest rates of substance abuse, marital breakdown and suicide of any occupational group.
                              FWIW I have met more *$$holes in hospitals than in dressage rings...


                              • Original Poster

                                Dr. Horsefeathers...you have been so kind to offer me so much information. I must admit you working with Virginia Satir made my heart jump, as she and her work have had an incredible impact on me both educationally as well as personally.

                                I wish I had a chance like that!

                                I agree that many people do not comprehend the amount of time and money it takes to become a psychiatrist. If they did, they may be more appreciative/less likely to complain.

                                The man I studied under made me really appreciate the team aspect of becoming a counselor. I have had two other supervisors since Dr. Shive, and the second wasn't worth her weight in nickel as a teacher/supervisor, and the third has been helpful, more-so by helping me to get over my personal fears of messing someone up, but none were comparable...what a great teacher...

                                I wish I had the guts and the mind to be able to go to med school for psychiatric medicine. It is facinating how much people like yourself can help clients when other therapeutic techniques aren't cutting it.

                                One thing I am fearful of, is in the US, the insurance companies are trying hard to give people like ME permission to prescribe meds! I do NOT have the training, and I refuse to do such a stupid thing without the expertise! It scares me because I have heard that it has support among the Social Workers. In the US, DSS has a lot more control over laws and insurance companies than LPCs do. Has anything like this been brought up in Canada?

                                BTW, are you familiar with Satir's PAIRS program?
                                My boyfriend and I have been through it, and we really learned a lot from the lectures and workshops. I enjoy reading any of her work.

                                And one last question..horse-related!
                                How would you handle a client who wants to leave his/her current barn, but knows that by the way things typically go in our sport, he/she will end up losing friends/making enemies? I am basing this upon previous experience plus a few threads that have dealt with this subject.

                                Again, thanks for listening to me and being so willing to answer my questions. It means a lot to me.


                                • #76
                                  *humbly curtseying (eek-spelling)* glad I could be of assistance [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

                                  The true purpose of the law degree-verbosity. Thank goodness I learned something while I was there.

                                  Besides I REALLY get a kick out of this post!

                                  Life is too short to dance with ugly men


                                  • #77
                                    Horses have taught me so much about life.
                                    They've taught me patience and goals and
                                    how to exercise patience to reach those

                                    I think having horses has made me a
                                    better person.I have a tendency to burn a
                                    little too much between my ears. When I
                                    get off my horse I feel so happy and at
                                    peace with myself.I just love
                                    horses.....they make me whole.

                                    Dr.Horsefeathers horses must be the same
                                    marvelous antidote to life and work for
                                    you too! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]


                                    • #78
                                      A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
                                      But there are lots of things people self prescribe. If I have to treat one more self-induced psychosis from St. John's Wort, or another antihistamine or Tylenol #1 addict, I'll have to have a drink [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]
                                      In Canada, psychologists and nurses are lobbying for prescribing priveleges. These will probably be limited, like dentists here. But they will get them. My nurse practitioners are authorized to prescribe about a dozen reasonably safe meds and we haven't had a major problem. The problem is, if it goes wrong, I'm the one who "signs off" on the meds and will legally be held responsible. So I have the authority to refuse to sign off for someone I don't trust.

                                      Virgina Satir:
                                      She was a great friend of one of my teachers Maria Gomori, and so came several times during my training to do week long seminars at our medical school. A magician with families who could surround the most hurting people with her warmth and respect for their humanity. A witty and no-nonsense person whom I greatly admired. She died early from her addiction- she was a horrible chain smoker, had started in her early teens and died in her late 50's from throat cancer.
                                      I have not done the pairs program. Truthfully I have not read many of her books, but learned a lot from being with her and with the families she was called upon to help.
                                      We had one fabulous weekend in 1984 or 85 when Mother Theresa, Virginia and Eliz. Kubler Ross formed a panel on healing. A trio of angels.

                                      An antidote to life? More like an essential component, like air or warmth. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]


                                      • #79
                                        Sometimes I'm of the Monty Python school of psychiatry. When faced with horrible problems, if you can "Run away Run away".

                                        Riding and the horse world are important parts of my life, but they are not all of life.

                                        If your patient wants to leave a barn, of course there will be sorrow, lost relationships. Many people don't deal well with partings and need to denigrate the person leaving or the place being left, in order to separate. This happened to me, when I left the barn of a dear friend because her ring was flooding and there was no place to school for several months. Altho I was clear it was only that reason,(the care was excellent and the people were not hard to deal with, but I had a show season to get ready for) she accused me of being a rat leaving a sinking ship and basically chased me out of the barn on my last day. I had to separate that stress related behavior from the person I liked, and we eventually renewed our friendship. She came to "forgive" me for leaving. I shrug. The friendship is worth more.

                                        So have your patient understand that some folks may be difficult, but for her to be clear and simple about the reasons for leaving, to remain calm herself, and to give it time for the relationships to sort out. She may find herself repeating herself about her reasons. In fact it helps to write out a little speech to give when someone asks, or when someone gets off track and accuses her of other reasons. The "broken record" technique. The speech can contain one or two non-emotional reasons for leaving, and also several good things about the place being left:

                                        ex. 1:
                                        "I really want to work with X trainer at Z barn. I like it here- the people are great and the barn is always so clean, but I need to do this for my own progress right now. I hope we can stay in touch!"

                                        ex. 2:
                                        "I know my horse needs some special care and I really can't expect Owner A to do this for me. I'm moving to a place where Owner B is set up for my horse's needs. I'm really going to miss the folks here, though"

                                        You know, in life we are lucky to have a few good friends. The rest are pleasant aquaintances who come and go.

                                        If your patient had friends at her last barn, she will make new ones at the next place.

                                        The most important job of a counsellor is the instillation of hope. Most folks can take it from there if you can only help them keep going.

                                        I was tremendously validated last night at a dinner with my parents. My father, who has been chronically physically ill all his life, defended me against a man who stated bluntly: "Counselling is such B*llshit. Its just talktalktalk". Dad spoke with great candour about how if it hadn't been for his psychiatrist, he would not have made it through several tough years. Somehow he regained the hope that there were still worthwhile things in life and that he was still a contributing member, no matter how crippled or dependant on others he became.


                                        Now I'm going riding. The horses have had enough time to digest their morning grain. Cheerio!