What’s the Purpose of All This?
I have had a bit of a lull from writing lately . I lost both of my parents in a period of 2 months and it really rocked my world.
This whole feeling of being an orphan is really an odd one and it has taken some adjustment. I also think there was a part of me that was always trying to prove myself to them, mostly subconscious, but after they passed I think there was this void of who am I trying to impress now?
That brought me to writing today, to remember why I wanted to reach out in the first place. And it really has nothing to do with impressing anyone. It has to do with speaking my truth and by throwing it out there into the etherspere, and seeing if it resonates with anyone else.
When I look back through my horse history I see when I made a profound shift in my perspective on my riding and training. There was definitely a “moment”.
It was sometime in the early 2000’s and I was at a dressage clinic. I was riding a horse that I had purchased from this clinician about 6 months earlier. I was quite nervous to “do a good job”.
Probably because of that, you know how that goes….Things were not going well and the instructor had us racing around to his constant barking of “more forward!!” for so long we were both getting frazzled. Because we were not getting the desired result he said let me get on the horse and get it done, and intimidated , I said OK.
Well this was a rather large man, compared to me anyway, and when he went to mount my horse the saddle slipped slightly off to the left and the horse took off bucking , dumping the “esteemed” instructor and GREATLY bruising his very over inflated ego.
Well this went very badly for my horse, who now needed to be made an example of having infuriated the clinician. As I watched in great despair, my poor horse was running around the arena wild eyed and totally panicked as the mountain lion he imagined had climbed on his back had in fact done just that. I was horrified and totally frozen in space, having no idea how to interject to save my horse in front of all these people who had paid a lot of money to be here, and who thought whatever this man said was gospel.
When he had finished his demonstration of dominance on my horse he beckoned me back on to exhibit that my horse had learned what he wanted it to and now he wanted to show me the results. I really don’t remember the rest of that lesson, it was a total blur as I was so full of remorse on how I had let my horse be treated that I just got through it. What I do remember most clearly was as soon as I left the arena and got back to my trailer I jumped off my horse, threw my arms around his neck, burst into tears and sobbing to him, said “I am SO, SO SORRY, and I will never do that to you again, to you or any other horse!”
That brings me back to What’s the Purpose of All This, because in that moment I made a decision. It was to always put the welfare of my horse first and to never let myself be intimidated into treating my horse or any other animal for that matter in any way that was disrespectful of them. The welfare of my horse, when in my care, is dependent on me.
So from that day forward I have sought out trainers, mentors, clients who believe the welfare of the horse is the top priority when working with them. And I am happy to report there are many out there! Unfortunately there are many that are not and that saddens me a great deal.
For today my experience is that if you ever find yourself in a situation where the trainer, clinician, farrier, vet, or whomever you are asking to help you with your horse, is not putting your horses welfare first, walk away!
Oh my friend thank you for sharing this humbling experience so openly and lovingly. Two words came to mind after reading your piece: integrity and compassion. I think it is quite fair to say we need to extend this type of care we give to our animals to ourselves as well.