I think that for some horse people, that "pat on the back" moment is few and far between. I think especially for those that are "superiors" to admit a job well done on a younger, less experienced hand, whatever can be tough. Mostly, I think it's funny how the horses get to take the cake on whatever the outcome. A quick sale of a nice horse, or the prospect that comes along quickly has the reasoning of "luck" or "the prodigy horse/pony/prospect" it's rarely "you did a good job," "you put in the effort," "you worked really hard."
However, it turns into the rider problem when things don't go well...for example, the horse takes awhile to get to a certain point, or the horse doesn't sell right away, or things just don't go as planned...it's never the case that the horse might be difficult, stubborn, or even perhaps just not the right match for the rider doing the work. The reasoning becomes, "the rider is doing it wrong," "they are not putting in enough time," or "they're working too much on one thing."
I think it's the most important thing to let go of whatever ego is there and admit when a job is well done and to look at the entire picture. I have seen many horse and rider pairs and the rider is really putting forth their best effort, yet the horse is just stubborn or ignorant and perhaps has plateaued, maybe it's just like oil and water, but whatever reason it doesn't work, to noone else's fault but whatever superpower controls what happens.
I think for the sake of upcoming horsemen/horsewomen, and to keep our sport alive, we need to instill a hair of confidence in the younger riders and allow them to take pride from small accomplishments. If all the time people are looking to the elders, what happens when that is gone? What happens when all we're told is that we are lucky? How do we know to keep up with the "good work" that's being overlooked? Maybe it's just the walk of horse people I tend to be involved with, but I've looked around and that "big pat" that my horses get rarely gets passed to the rider. Regardless, I try and at least instill that into my students, I look at the bigger picture, see the small accomplishments, and PRAISE for that.....