Riding is one of the only sports that develop areas of the brain that connect with intuition, awareness, instinct and feel. When you rely upon forms of interference within your own body as well as the horse’s body, you cut off this ability to intuit what is happening. You cut off the most powerful form of growth available to us with horses – awareness.
Today we have a never ending supply of tools that are not only taught to us by our trusted trainers but in many places they are the only option given to us either forcefully or with the use of ‘law’.
Helmets, Vests, Draw reins, Side reins, Gags and many more, all designed to give the false illusion of safety and completely constrain the freedom and flow of the horse and the rider.
Have I used these methods myself? Some of course, it is how we learnt and what options we were given. Do I agree or use many of these methods now? Mostly no and those that are ever used, I keep as much openness for change as possible. We are human and we are learning throughout this experience of life but the question is are we actually growing from these experiences or becoming more restricted from them?
Most of us are now riding and working throughout an industry that is using fear as its force of growth.
Even many of the new lines of work being used for therapy are held within a box of fears against every other method that may threaten what they are doing. The beauty of these equine assisted therapies though, is that they have stripped away the controlling limiting rules of behavior around horses, allowing for our intuition to flow again.
I believe all forms of working with horses are desiring the same outcome.
We are all wanting –
enjoyment within our work with horses as well as our personal time with them.
There are though many different forms of bringing this about. Some driven by fear and some driven by love. Is there an ethical way of doing it? Yes I believe there is and it comes straight from the horses we are working with.
I repeatedly return to my experience of the years spent riding under great trainers and stables while living in Germany, because it was there that I was given the most freedom but experienced the most accelerated learning I have ever had throughout my life. It was during these hard years that the greatest lesson I learnt as a rider/trainer and human being was that – it is my responsibility for what happens with the horse I am riding as well as the life I am living.
How is it possible that we have allowed ourselves to be so cocooned in fear that we cannot even bring ourselves to sit upon our beautiful friends without the security blanket of all the equipment believed to be the magic power of preventing an accident. When did it become so wrong to go through the process of a broken arm?
Our very own power of intuition is numbed by the use of all the equipment, all the protective gear, all the reliance upon daily instructors, the responsibility of actions handed over to the list of rules at the riding school or stables and handing the mind itself over to technology so that there need not be a single thought alone that begins with the Self.
It is a waste of greatness that is gifted to each and every one of us.
We are so quick to look for blame that we have become incapable of taking on any responsibility ourselves. The same responsibility of thought and of action that leads our daily lives. How many times I have read or heard from someone blaming the instructor for what was asked of them to do. Blaming the horse for what it was afraid of, blaming the manufacturer of the stirrup leather that broke while riding. It has become an inflated industry of victim mentalities all competing against each other for who has the biggest problem arise. A constant fear of what ‘could’ happen is restricting the growth and experience of every young rider.
So blinded have we become that we are focusing on telling someone to wear a helmet when the very animal that is put on their table at night has faced a life in confinement to end with the horrors of an abattoir. Shunning someone for letting their child enjoy the joys and freedoms of experimenting with their ponies while children across the world are starved, tortured, abused and working in slavery conditions while you enjoy your designer clothes and expensive coffees. This need to control how another is riding, it is never about wanting something better for someone or something else, if it were they would be looking to the care and life of the animals connected to their own life, the opportunities and possibilities to assist a young eager rider in love with horses to have the chance to ride themselves or the equality and care of the grooms and lives of those around them and mostly the people within the very industry they work in daily. It is this fear though, this fear that grips them tight, this fear of what people will be thinking or saying about them, this fear of ridicule from others. This fear of judgment, the same judgment they are already placing upon another.
A fear, which if left to rule you, will stop the life of your soul dead in its tracks.
When someone is frowned upon or ridiculed for either wearing or not wearing a helmet, they are on the receiving end of the insecurity and fears coming from the person doing the ridiculing or controlling.
- It is not about wearing the helmet or wearing the vest, it is about ‘our need to control what another person is doing’.
- It is not about whether or not one should or should not be wearing a vest or a helmet or even using a saddle and bridle, it is about taking away their freedom to make that choice themselves.
This is where we have crossed the line of respect and ethics and moved into the force of fear and control.
- Guidelines are giving the rider the whole paddock with a picture of the boundaries in their imagination, to then create those boundaries themselves and learn the many valuable lessons during the quest to build their picture with the freedom to explore and create.
- Rules are locking them in an arena and being a passenger to a wooden fence. No room for expansion, no room for growth.
Native Americans, Mongolians, country farmers, their children and foregone Arabian Desert Riders, the list can go on, all had a partnership with their horses, all had a connection and a trust built between them but none of which rely upon safety gear and forceful equipment. If you are doing an extreme sport with your horse then your desire to protect them and yourself from a fall is entirely your responsibility and your choice. Who am I to judge you of your life’s choices when mine is equal to your own, when I have made my own mistakes and suffered the consequences of them?
I am not condoning helmet wearing or anything else, I am though, questioning the ethics of an industry that is making money off the control and fear of every person wanting to ride a horse in it. Insurance companies, riding clubs, competition arenas and even private stables are restricted under the many laws and regulations that have taken every individuals freedom of choice, experience and responsibility with it. This is a subject of a far greater issue, that is stripping away the joy of riding and being with horses, without you even realizing it.
A Call for Freedom
I have experienced a multitude of accidents, injuries, mistakes and misfortunes with riding and being around horses, at places I have worked in across the world, on other peoples properties and on my very own. But without those experiences I would not have the sensitivity, awareness, foresight, compassion, understanding and feel that I have today in my own riding and handling of horses, as well as all the riders and their horses I have coached and worked with throughout the world.
Countless times I have gone against my intuition about a horse or a situation and suffered the consequences. Twice in my life I have been in places where I was forced to wear a helmet and suffered a concussion from a fall. Everywhere else around the world that I have had a fall and have not been wearing a helmet, I have survived to get back on and try again. Does this mean one should not wear a helmet? No, what it means is there are countless situations out there that rely upon each individuals experience and awareness. That their intuition or accident may have purpose and meaning behind it that no one else can understand but them. I have gone through 3 ruptured discs, a broken coccyx, face reconstruction and a broken arm, all from riding falls/handling accidents – as a professional rider, that led me down the greatest Spiritual awakening and journey of my life.
A world where united it can flow with the power of connectivity. A power that is expressed individually but felt as a whole.
This world and the potential within it, is a world I believe we are born in a time to transform, heal, empower and connect with.
Always sending my love,