There have been a few things recently that have had me thinking about this subject quite a bit. So here is my bit of advice/rant/grumblings/whatever you choose to label it.
In the world of everything horse, it is absolutely imperative that we be open minded to opinions, ideas and the methodologies of many. There is no be all, end all method for anything horse related. Those who feel that there is, that their way is the only way are only setting themselves up for failure down the road. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow but I can promise you that a horse will come along one day that won't fit the mold of what you know and how you would approach them. I still meet those horses on occasion after 30 years with them & having my hands on hundreds of horses. They are living, breathing creatures with minds of their own and there are no two that fit the same mold. As horsemen, it is our job to try and read those horses as individuals and develop our skills to accommodate each horse based on their individualities.
Criticism - This is hands down the best way to learn. There is a big learning curve in all that is horses. There is NO perfect rider, NO perfect trainer, NO perfect method. If there were, there would be no trainers, no coaches, no instructors, no clinicians, no dvd's, no youtube videos, on and on and on. Even those that are trainers, coaches, instructors, clinicians, dvd trainers, youtube gurus ARE NOT PERFECT. If there were, horses would be very boring, a dull quest and where is the fun in not being able to improve upon yourself, your training tools and the horses you interact with?
SO, take criticism with humility and a slice of humble pie. It may sting, make you frustrated, or even make you feel like less of a rider. You aren't. You are just another one of us that isn't perfect. Don't get in a huff and defensive. You may not agree with it all but take it in, absorb it for yourself and take a deep look at the advice given. Then take a deep look at yourself and take your own inventory. If it isn't for you, it isn't for you but the majority of criticism does have a basis. Growing up with a trainer/coach for a parent and a lifetime horseman for a grandfather, I learned to take criticism in regards to myself & horses from a very early age. Had I not, I wouldn't be half the rider or horse(wo)man that I am today. Taking those hits to the ego (no matter how much they may have stung) were crucial to my development as a rider. Thank those that take the time to offer critique, advice and share their experiences even if you don't agree, you may realize one day that you should have.
Facing the reality that your way is NOT the only way or even the best way. If one can't accept that fact, you won't get far with your horses. Continual learning is imperative when it comes to horses. It doesn't matter if you've been at it for 6 months, 6 years or 30 years. I fall into the latter but in no way, shape or form does that mean I know everything I could nor does it mean that the way I do things is the best way. It might be the best way for me but that doesn't mean it will be for someone else or their horse. Adaptation and trying new things creates a better rider, handler and overall horseman. One doesn't have to particularly like or keep those ideas but having seen, watched, tried at least opens the possibilities and one day there may be a particular animal that one of those ideas might be the best option for.
Become your own harshest critic. I have zero doubt that there is anyone out there that could be as tough on me as I am on myself. Being able to step back and take your own inventory, identify the areas where you need to improve and then ACT on making those improvements is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a rider/owner/horseman. If that means videotaping every ride, every show and watching it like a football team reviews game tape, do it! If that means taking lessons (regardless of how advanced a rider you are) with many different instructors, do it. If that means going to every clinic you can get to, do it.
Seek out advice, take it, become a better rider.