I read a beautiful piece of wisdom today. It resonated deeply, not because of the beautiful prose. Instead, because it’s a little tidbit of truth most of us would rather avoid acknowledging.
We’re quick to judge one another based on what we think we know in the horse world. We have a strong sense of what we think is right and what we think is wrong. Our relationships, in the barn, by the ring, or even under the guise as equestrians can struggle because of this.
This isn’t to suggest mistreatment or abuse is OK. Violence beings where education ends; knowing the difference between punishment and abuse is crucial. It’s merely to say maybe we look at the way we look at one another wrong. Draw reins are an awesome example. A little education goes a long way when it comes to draw reins, and yes. They can be used wrong rather easily. If used right, draw reins as a training tool can be indispensable.
Do you use spurs? Do you think spurs are inhumane? Neither right nor wrong, spurs can be a training tool much like draw reins. It’s in our education that we’re able to use them as tools, instead of coercion or force.
We point out one another’s flaws, we form opinions, and we make judgments which create barriers against potential acquaintances, friends, or barn buddies. Abuse is abuse, force is force, but maybe we can learn something from other disciplines. Regardless of whether you think natural horsemanship is hokey, learning how to drive a horse’s motion with your body is a valuable tool.
Sharing is such an important part of becoming better horse people. If we prioritize the horse’s well being and our commitment to continuously expanding our equine knowledge, making friends in the horse community may not be as murky and confusing as it feels now.
We ride horses because we enjoy the sport, we love the animals, and we’ve got equestrian-itis. Our discipline is the right one, our training is the proper kind. But it’s not necessarily true, and that’s something I, for one, struggle with. After a conversation with a friend about how skinny some event horses are, I realized maybe my fat, thick Warmblood might not be their picture of perfect confirmation and health.
Eye-opening as that conversation was, I still feel, to a degree, my discipline or my training is the right one. Shocker, right? It’s easy to push away people because they’re not like us. In the end, though, aren’t we all alike?
We ride for the joy we can’t find anywhere else, and it fills us with a sense of peace, satisfaction, and fulfillment so many other people don’t understand. Let’s share our wonder, bask in the mutual understanding of our craving to be on the back of a horse.