By Rob Jacobs
The equestrian industry is one that requires those who participate in it to be flexible and able to adjust to the unpredictability of day-to-day operations. In general, most equestrians are routine oriented because we know our horses prefer routine. However, throughout the daily routine, there are often moments of change, whether expected or unexpected. In our industry we experience this as it pertains to the horses and humans. The area of psychology acknowledges people have varying degrees of adaptability. There are ways to measure a person’s Adaptability Quotient (AQ). One’s AQ reveals how well they adapt to changing circumstances around them either personally or professionally.
How well a person reacts to the inevitability of change is, in my opinion, crucial in determining the success that person may have in the equestrian industry. Being able to regroup and strategize what a new course of action should be is essential. From my experience in other industries, I know change occurs across many industries, but perhaps with animals involved, the frequency of change occurring may be greater. As a manager of people, we look for staff who have the capacity to approach a challenge with clear emotions and the capacity to adapt with a positive attitude. If this is a strength of yours, then you are well on your way to doors opening for you professionally. If this is a skill you are currently working to improve, I encourage you to refer to a variety of resources, whether books or videos from accredited sources.
Below is a list of five basic questions I ask myself as I experience change:
- How do I feel when my plans within the industry change unexpectedly?
- Is this change as significant as it initially seemed?
- What needs to be reorganized to accommodate the change?
- Who do I need to communicate the changes to and when should they know?
- How can I remain neutral if I am not excited about the unexpected change?
These questions allow me an opportunity to engage in a conversation with myself to sort and understand the best strategy for adapting. As it pertains to competition, some common areas of change we have faced this season is when and where to show. With the outbreak of EHV on the West Coast this year, we’ve had to adjust our show calendar and adjust how many horses we felt comfortable taking to horse shows depending on our available quarantine logistics at home. Adapting to this change was challenging, but as I walked myself through the five basic questions, I was better able to navigate the unfamiliar situation of the EHV outbreak. Change comes in all sizes, from seemingly insignificant to quite impactful.
In my opinion, being adaptable is important whether the young professional has their own business or works for an organization. During the five years I was in business for myself, I had to often adjust to the needs of my clients; and as I grew the business, the vision I had continued to evolve. As I learned what I ultimately wanted professionally, I found it a better fit to partner with and be employed by other businesses. What I learned while being self-employed on the importance of adaptability was tremendous and something I will always appreciate. Although I take an interest in psychology, I’m certainly no expert nor am I a professional in psychology. There is interesting research pertaining to AQ being more useful to some organizations than IQ. I encourage everyone to find their strengths and interests and pursue those while also being aware of the areas you desire to improve upon. Even if I don’t agree with something I research, it’s quite helpful to gain an additional perspective.
My intention with writing this column is to encourage young professionals to maintain a positive attitude as they navigate the ever-so-changing equestrian industry. It’s also important to be reminded of the types of qualities employers value when hiring. Most employers would rather promote within their organization, and being highly adaptable is likely to help you stand out and advance within the industry as you desire. Smile, enjoy the journey, and be neutral when an undesirable change comes your way, because it will.
Photo: Rob and Timeless Romance in the 3’3” Performance during WCHR week.
Photo by GrandPix Photography