For the Love of the Horse… Can’t we all just get along

What do horse people have in common? Obviously the answer is a love of horses, Right?

So why is it that we let this love divide us? I see post after post saying “Don’t judge me for my lack of equipment”, or “I don’t have money but at least I know how to tack up my own horse”, or some snide comment in response to someone’s question they posted in an attempt to become more educated. In today’s climate inequality has become a hot topic and one I am glad has been brought to light. We all love a feel good story about the auction rescue horse that went on to win a big Grand Prix…or the organization helping to empower troubled youth to ride… and nothing evokes a sense of belonging more than someone sharing their story which you relate to and suddenly feel relief that you are not alone.

But then the dreaded troll comes out from under the bridge of the social media underworld to incite chaos and a well meaning post goes south. The problem with the troll is that as passionate horse people we start championing our beliefs as the only way. There is a huge spectrum of training and disciplines in which we as equestrians can learn and grow from. So how is it that we lose our common love of the horse in an effort to be right? It happens when we feel like there is an injustice being done to either horse or rider. The post about a top rider getting caught drugging a horse in order to win. Instant outrage ensues among those who don’t know the entire story or refuse to see why the event occurred in the first place. For the top rider winning a competition could mean whether or not they still have a job at the end of the day. Does it make it right that they drugged the horse? Trollers would say ban them for life, but what if that trainer was trying to show compassion for the horse who could would benefit from a therapy to help them breathe better, or relieve some soreness after learning a new exercise. Not all people are bad which is an obvious statement, however it seems that when it doesn’t align with our core values we are quick to judge. On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the “natural” training method equestrians who use this method because they feel its the best way to gain a partnership with their equine companions. They then feel attacked by those who don’t believe in the “gimmicks/methods/tools” that are sold by many of the top natural horsemanship trainers. Do you see a common denominator here? I do, the natural horsemanship trainer is trying to make a living doing what they love. While you could use a lunge line, halter, etc. to achieve the same goal they make money by selling you the whole “training system”, just as the top rider makes a living winning for their clients.

Then we have the injustice among riders… “its not fair that some celebrities’ child gets to ride at all of the best places in the world”. We forget that celebrities’ child puts money into the horse world which eventually trickles down to the “have nots”. Maybe that same child gives inspiration in their posts to another child who works their way to the top someday. Or they read one of those feel good articles and are inspired to help those less fortunate. These “haves” can become a source of outrage because those without the same means feel like they cannot compete and win. Luckily that’s usually the time when another feel good story comes out about a “have not” who won amongst the kings of the sport and balance is restored. On the flip side there is someone who is inspired to “grind” and become successful so that one day they with also be a “have”. This is the beauty of this sport, we have people from all different backgrounds, and I have personally seen the opportunities that are afforded to those who are willing to chase their dreams and not give up. Let’s face it no one gets into this business to get rich, so if we don’t have people with means in this industry it will continue fade.

I came from a world that would be considered the have nots. Some would say I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none. I try to see all sides of the story and find value in all aspects of the horse world. I love the fact that we are blessed with an industry that has some of the most generous sponsors and richest competitors. While I may never have as much money as some, if I keep learning, working, and growing as an equestrian I may have the opportunity to work with some of the best horses and professionals in the industry. I also love that we have people that are passionate about the well being of our horses. These people work to keep advancing the equipment we use, the medical treatments we give, the feeds we feed, study horse behavior to better understand how we can train and care for our equines … there is no limit to the facets of this industry. This is a topic that could go on forever, like the post that circulates about those 52 free thoroughbreds needing homes, and I am trying not to ramble so I will leave you with this… Next time you read a post or go to someone’s barn, try to look for the good within instead of judging or thinking you have a better way. At the end of the day whether we are going for gold at the Olympics or trail riding for fun, we are all striving to  achieve the same goal of forming a partnership with our equine counterparts. WE ALL HAVE VALUE, and a common love of horses.

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