Comfort Is Overrated
Keeping things the way they've been is comfortable.
All comfort does is maintain the status quo.
In the powerful words of the brilliant Luvvie Ajayi Jones, I pledge to horses;
To get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Speaking the truth about horses means we need to use our voices. Speak up about how are horses actually feel. In all our interactions. If we are not even aware of the truth - horses are not being naughty/stubborn/keen or lazy - how can we cultivate a partnership where our horse (and us) get to live a good life?
Choosing comfort over courage, doesn’t serve anyone. Definitely not the horse. When we want to say something and our voice shakes, we should take that to spur us forward, because that is when it is most necessary. Let our voices tremble, and say it anyway.
Every day I choose the risk of speaking up for horses over regret of my inaction or my silence. My disappointment in myself is a much greater consequence to me than other people’s disappointment in me.
So how do we find the courage to speak up for the horse, knowing that there can be fallout? When we are afraid of telling the truth or making a room feel uncomfortable, the first thing we need to do is figure out the consequence we are afraid of. What is that thing? And then what is that worse case scenario from that thing? When we are afraid of telling the truth or making a room uncomfortable, the first thing we need to do is figure out the consequence we are afraid of. Maybe your livery owner will give you notice. Maybe your coach will ‘fire you’ if you speak up. Or maybe the Riding Club will drop you from the team. Or your client drops you for a coach who does not speak up for her horse.
If that thing happens, can you figure it out? If you’ll be dropped by your client and you need that money to eat, by all means do not speak out. Some instructors are living lesson to lesson, so a disruption to their pockets impacts how they live.
My challenge here is if you have physiological and safety handled on Maslow’s hierarchy, courage is for you. You have room to take some risks.
We’re often so afraid of the consequences that come with speaking up, that we don’t think about the best-case scenario that could happen if we actually do this.
If the consequence is your coach fires you, is that an actual coach you want for you and your horse? If you can get fired for being curious and challenging the training system you are paying to adopt for you and your horse, is that coach worth your time and money? If the consequence is not you will be dropped or fired, then what is actually on the line, if you speak up for the horse? Is it that you won’t be liked by other members of your Riding Club/Pony Club? Is it that you won’t be liked by whoever you challenged?
Being a truth-teller of the horse, I cant be quiet if what’s going on around me is not okay. I feel like I have no choice but to be the challenger. It is no hack in the park, it is tiring being a voice for the horse, with no back up. But I also think barns, colleges and competitions are elevated when we’re are in them. If people know you are in the tack room maybe others might be less inclined to blame their horse, germinating accountability. The dart board is never blamed when our dart throwing misses.
If we all exist in a world where we know that every body is expecting the best of us, that is what we are going to bring into every arena/lesson/yard.
Having swallowed early in my equestrian career the 'red pill' (Equitation Science; researchers working to get closer to the truth about horses) my life's purpose chose me.
To get it right for horses, not to be right.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow you will hear me. This is my invitation to be my back up. Know that I am yours. As we speak truth to power. Speak up for our voiceless horses. My hope is for courage over comfort, and we look back on our lives and say we left horses better than when we met them.
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Comfort is overrated.