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  • Writer's pictureColton Woods

Forget the Labels: Horsemanship is Horsemanship

Passion. Pride. Dedication. As horse lovers, enthusiasts and professionals we lack none. We are passionate and proud as well as dedicated to the horses we own, the disciplines we participate in, the apparel we wear, the tack we own and the sport we represent. It takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work to bring a horse into your life, not to mention patience and finances but that is another whole conversation on its own. There is no doubt each and every one of us has a lot to be proud of. However it is those defining areas that fragment our industry despite how similar we truly are to one another.

The vast majority of us can agree that we as equestrians are proud of those significant accomplishments we have worked tirelessly to earn regardless of our differences. Those differences may be the discipline we have chosen and preference of a specific breed or as superficial as the difference of apparel and tack we use… Does the horse care if we are wearing a helmet or cowboy hat or if the saddle does or does not have a horn on it? The horse could care less what we chose to wear. So that begs the next question, why do we care so much about what others wear and style of tack on their horses? It is starting to sound pretty ridiculous isn’t it, that we spend so much time casting judgments, assuming and complaining about folks who dress a little different, prefer different tack and compete in different events. If we all were to take just half of the time and energy put into judging, assuming and complaining about the superficial differences between fellow equestrians and instead analyze, question (professionally) the ‘whys and hows’ and learn from others horsemanship, how much better off would our industry as a whole be?

We all are a lot more similar than most want to believe. As individuals we all strive to represent ourselves, our barns and organizations professionally in the way we dress, carry ourselves and interact with others both in and outside of the industry. We recognize the difficulty in all realms from finances to the difference in lifestyle one must live to be involved with horses all the while we know there is a large need for young professionals and clientele in the industry. To often jaw dropping stories and headlines of people mistreating or not caring for their horses sweep across the evening news and social media painting a negative image for the breeds and associations involved as well as our industry as a whole. And when it comes to our horses most of us want an educated horse that is confident, supple, yearning to learn and successful at the job we deem most appropriate for them.

So lets forget the labels and let’s focus on the horsemanship. As horsemen and women, we need to set a high industry standard for the horsemanship our horses are subjected to. From the education of our equine partners to the nutritional programs and breeding programs responsible for producing the next generation of horses, we need to educate ourselves and be actively involved in every aspect of our horse’s lives and the industry as a whole. Our decisions today dictate the level of success we are able to reach tomorrow, so lets put our few differences aside, bring our knowledge together and dedicate ourselves to a more well bred, healthier and educated horse.

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