Are You an Advocate for Your Horse?

I’m sure we’ve all been to trainers, coaches or clinicians either with our own horse looking to find answers to the problems we may be facing, or we have attended as fence sitters to perhaps determine if this particular person would be the right fit for our horse or our problem.  I’m also fairly confident that we’ve all employed the services of industry professionals like vets, dentists, farriers, body workers etc…

You may be thinking ‘what has that got to do with being an advocate for my horse?’  And what exactly does being an advocate mean?

Ask any horse owner this question and I would almost guarantee their answer would be “of course I am!”

If that’s the case why do we hear about and see so many situations when the answer to this question is clearly NO.  Take for example the times we see trainers run horses round a round yard till the horse is white with sweat and completely exhausted only to hear them say “now he’s in a place where we can work with him” or the clinician whom we trusted and willing handed our horse too only to have them smacked in the face or belted with the end of a rope because “he didn’t think I meant it”

Think about the farrier that’s been under horses all day and is sore and tired and your horse just happens to be the one to bear the brunt of his short fuse.  I’m not sure there are many people in the equestrian community that haven’t seen a farrier wield a rasp or hammer as a weapon.  If you haven’t, I envy you.  I’m not painting farriers in a bad light, in fact I take my hat off to those people who spend all day under a horse, I trim my own horses, I know the toll it takes!

What I am saying is in those situations how many times have you stepped in, taken back the horse and said NO?  I can honestly and regretfully say that there have been far too many times that I have stood by and said and done nothing believing that the trainer or clinician knew better than me or that my horse must have done something I didn’t see in order to piss off the farrier.  I’ve even had a situation where my pony nearly killed herself because I didn’t step in… I thank the universe every day that she is still with me.

Being an advocate for your horse means knowing who your horse is, how he or she expresses themselves, what they like and don’t like, what you like and don’t like.  It’s asking yourself “would I do that to my own horse, with my own hands and feel ok about it” it’s knowing your horse and standing up for his rights, his opinions and preferences.  It means going out on a limb, being uncomfortable, being outspoken and sometimes even walking out, regardless of what people think or how much you paid to be there.  It’s about surrounding yourself with people who will be on your side and in turn be on your horses’ side.  It’s about really getting hard core honest and saying “is this really ok?” “is this really right?”

We’re not perfect and we all make mistakes, it’s what we do once the mistake is made that counts.  You can turn your eyes and your heart away from the situation and carry on like nothing happened or you can take a good hard look at what happened and make a choice to always stand up for your horse.  Let’s be totally honest if it doesn’t feel right to you then you can bet your bum it doesn’t feel right to your horse!

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