I have come to the conclusion that the horse industry is forever in a love/hate relationship with itself. We all love horses and that is terrific. We all love doing the different things we can do with them, competing, trail riding, watching them eat, whatever each person does with their horse(s) is their version of love. But we hate too. We hate on each other for having different practices. We hate on horses who don’t “fit into the box” that they are “expected” to be in. We hate on other disciplines for doing things differently than we do. We are jealous of this person or that for having more than we do, or judge someone for having less than we do. Last time I checked, we are all in this industry for the love of the horse, so I have to ask…
Why is the horse industry like this? We all have a little bit we can teach someone else. I will be the first to admit I do not know everything. As the years have gone on in this AOT/non-AOT/Back to AOT adventure and throughout my lifelong love affair with horses of all breeds, shapes, sizes, and disciplines I have learned to be humble. I have learned to ask for help and I have vowed to learn something from literally EVERYONE I meet in this industry. Even if what I learn is something I do NOT want to do, it’s something learned and there is value in that.
I love my horses fiercely. I will do whatever I can to keep them safe, protected, and HAPPY. I will love them to the ends of the earth and back and no matter what, there will always be someone out there who hates my horses for some reason or another. Or who thinks I am an abuser because of the way my horses move, the way they are shod, the fact that we show, or maybe even because they don’t like me. AND THAT IS FINE. Ya’ll haters just take your negativity elsewhere.
Can’t we just choose education and understanding over hate? There is so much negativity and anger coming from people who have literally ZERO education on the topics they are mad about. When you see something that is questionable, try ASKING about it before you immediately persecute someone for doing something you don’t understand. And actually make an effort to understand. I’m not saying you need to implement someone else’s practices with your own horses or riding, I’m just saying don’t judge and hate something you have not actively tried to understand first. Keep an open mind and understand that most things have a purpose. The vast majority of us are just trying to do things that are best for us and our horses, for all of our respective activities and disciplines that we participate in.
OK, now that this has turned into rambling about more things than I originally intended, back to the subject at hand. I love, and I hate, many things about the horse industry. But time and again, I keep on keeping on, because when it comes down to it, I enjoy my horses for what they are. For all their flaws, mistakes, and idiosyncrasies. For their wins and their losses, for every time they have embarrassed me or made me proud and everything in between. For doing things on their own timeline and not mine. I love them for loving me, despite everything that I know and everything I don’t know, and everything I have not learned YET. I love them for trying, as that is all I can ask. So, I will keep showing up and I will keep on educating myself, FOR THEM and FOR ME. And if someone doesn’t like that, that’s just too bad.
Kayla, I, too, have thought about this very issue over the years, and the conclusion I come to can be summed up in one word: passion. I have found that equestrians of all stripes and disciplines are very passionate about horses, and in their own way – anything and anyone that deviates from “that way” must be wrong or abusive.
I was reminded of just how passionate and contrarian people can be over the exact same issue when I saw an episode of 60 Minutes several years ago about whether efforts to restore and/or preserve Leonardo di Vinci’s The Last Supper should go forward or not. Painted in the late 1490’s in a Milan, Italy refectory, by the 1970’s after about 500 years, it was rapidly deteriorating. One side’s position was that the master’s work should never be touched by modern hands. The other side maintained that if something wasn’t done and soon, there would be no master’s work. Both sides were fiercely opposed to the other’s position, and yet both were equally passionate about Leonardo and this painting.
Horses evoke passion in people in much the same way as art and politics do: they connect with us on a deeply spiritual level.