“People, in general,” he said, “only ask advice not to follow it; or if they do follow it, it is for the sake of having someone to blame for having given it.”
A quote from “The Three Musketeers”, a great film.
Giving advice is not always simple.
Firstly, you need to learn when to give advice, and the best time is usually when the person actually asked for it…
I will never forget a very early video of Batialo and I when he was still very young, at our first competition. A lady wrote to me saying that I really should start my warm-up on a loose rein walk…I thought brilliant idea if you want me to get killed.
Then you need to know if the person will actually accept the advice.
Today a friend wrote to me asking my opinion about something. I gave it. She said I didn’t know what I was talking about. I said possibly not, but the reason you asked me is because I will tell you what I think not what you want to hear.
She said “yep”, and knew that she was doing what a lot of us do. We ask advice, and when it isn’t the advice we want, we try to convince the person of our point of view.
So then why ask advice in the first place if you already know the answer you want?
In dressage, there are lots of people who seem to think their advice is valuable, even if it’s not asked for. “Dressage Critics” who possibly can’t even trot on a 20 metre circle, but feel it’s needed to condemn everyone else. I love criticism, it’s what helps you get better, but you need to have all the information before you can pass judgement.
Trainers are paid to give advice…and in my experience there are two types of trainers…the ones that take your money and tell you what you want to hear, or the ones that tell you the truth, and risk that you might not return…
Or there is my mum who tells you not to bother coming in the first place if she thinks it’s a waste of her time 😉
I know countless people who have gone to top trainers, and not improved at all, because the trainer knew that they A would not accept the truth, and/or B not listen or try to change anyway.
I remember the first lesson where I didn’t try to do what mum said, and I turned around to ask her a question and she had gone home.
Knowing who to ask for advice, is about knowing who is honest…Knowing which trainer will tell you the truth, is about knowing who really gives a shit if you improve or not.
Asking for advice is good, but sometimes we ask because we just want to justify or support the idea we already have.
It can never hurt to have a second opinion, just make sure that you’re open to the possibility that the advice you get might not be in line with what you want to hear, and the chance that even if it isn’t, it doesn’t mean it is the wrong advice ;).