Doing the “Right” Thing
It usually is easy to do the right thing if everybody around us does the same or similar. As “this is or becomes how to do it”, so it must be right. We fit in and do not cause any raised eyebrows or criticism by those around us for doing things in a different way. We are part of the group which may provide us with feelings such as belonging, approval, recognition and safety and if we succeed in this system with accomplishment on top.
However, we may be a little ahead of our time or coming from a different angle or having a different perspective or experience which questions and challenges the way things are currently done.
This can happen in many different situations, circumstances and settings in all aspects of life. It also often happens in respect of horses and horsemanship.
Training methods, horse management practices and welfare standards differ vastly across disciplines, locations, societies. etc.
We may come from a place where welfare has a higher priority and find us at a location where things are done differently. Often, these people equally have good intentions and have simply not considered or learnt that there is a different way where horses’ natural needs are better met, for example, or that there are easier and more horse-friendly ways to work with horses.
We may have taken the time and effort to study, to further educate ourselves and to open and stretch our minds beyond our familiar boundaries and have gained a better understanding of the nature of horses, their needs and behaviour.
We may be equipped with higher sensitivity and empathy and resulting intuition and feel for horses which always made us wonder about the necessity of certain gadgets, the application of force, keeping them isolated from companions, stalled for long hours, etc.
As a result, we may feel called to challenge the status quo and to improve things arounds us. Or we simply start doing things differently which then draws attention to us.
This in turn carries a totally different set of challenges. At times our actions may be welcomed, valued and appreciated; but we also open ourselves up to criticism or even sneer from those around us. We may become mavericks in a sense.
This is rarely an easy position to be in as our need for belonging and acceptance is usually very strong while this asks for a lot of courage, strength and integrity when allowing our truth and authentic voice and actions speak and shine through us.
There are ways to make it easier when navigating our own path.
We need to learn to trust ourselves and to cultivate strong self-belief and confidence. It is also important to build connections to those who have a similar understanding which can be a great source of support. They may be at different locations but it gives us the assurance not to be alone.
And then, above all, speak and show your truth and do not be afraid to do so but also be kind, diplomatic and able to compromise and to find balance. Be an example. Become an invitation.
Nobody likes to be told what they should do or what they are doing wrong. And you may be far too far ahead in your way of working and thinking which creates too big of a stretch and rather resistance from those around you than an initiation of change.
Small steps and gentle guidance may be what is more appropriate and effective in the long-run when dealing with others. I am not asking to compromise integrity and values and thereby horse welfare but to be aware that we may achieve more with a balanced approach and education displaying benefits and offering pleasant experiences when dealing with certain groups if that is what we want.
And last but not the least at all: be brave, walk your talk, trust yourself and listen to your horses and their responses which carry an unmatched honesty and authenticity.