Many question the use of horses in competition and racing, and what the horses’ benefits are in this. For the welfare of horses it is important to address how horses really are treated in the human world. In my inbox I have received numerous of articles discussing this, and for some reason all of them conclude that there is nothing good for the horses in this. The horses are victims of humans’ ambitions and greed. These articles made me start thinking. I become curious of the article-writers’s own stories, what are their baggage and what are the conclusions based on? How can we know that horses don’t enjoy racing, how can we know what horses prefer? Are all horses the same, do all horses prefer and need the same kind of activity and stimulation?
On my journey of personal and professional development, I have spent a lot of time with horses in various settings. I have been so fortunate to closely follow horses kept the natural way, competing horses on amateur level, high level horses in dressage and show jumping, and racehorses on international level. I have spent time observing the horses and the interaction with the owners, working with the horses and treated them.
Spending time in one of the most successful racing-stables in the US gave me valuable information of horses’ life in stressful situations. These were top trained athletes working hard, traveling a lot and competing often. What I met there was satisfied horses, happy horses, playful horses. The stable had a relaxed and calm atmosphere despite the hectic traffic in the aisle where grooming and showering, shoeing and massaging the horses took place. The horses gave an impression of peaceful accept, joy and with lifespirit intact. In contradiction to this lifestyle with horses, we find the ones who dedicate their life to give their horses a natural living, or as natural as possible. One of those I followed closely for a while was very into doing everything by the book when it came to proper natural feeding, pasture, the herd, treatments and training. The owner carefully followed guidelines from gurus within training, alternative treatment and natural horsemanship, her drive force wasn’t money to earn but the best for the horses. What did I meet there? I met horses with no spirit, no playfulness and horses who seemed bored. They were doing their job and excercises without passion and without impulsion. According to the articles it should have been the other way around. To me this is an important message;
It is not about what you do, but how you do it.
In all disciplines you find the success-stories and you find the sad stories.
This brings me back to the question of what are the platforms of the conclusions. As I see it, it has two aspects; First, the owner’s and horse-handler’s role in the interaction with the horses tell a lot more than if the horse is used in racing or as a trail-buddy. Second, and for this story, more importantly; it is about the article-writers’ point of view. When you look at something from the outside – which glasses do you wear? What are you looking for? If you go into something to find out, and you look for negative aspects – guess what you will find. You see all the negative things you looked for, and more. You will see what you want to see, what fits you. This is all about your own baggage. Are you able to look completely objective on things you meet or do you put your own stuff into what you see? One of the most common things humans do when interacting with others, is projecting their own stuff on others. This is what came to my mind when I read these articles. Are they projecting their own stuff in this? Do they see clearly? Are they willing to turn the mirror in and have a look? What is it really that triggers them? By pointing out others failure you are projecting your own stuff on others instead of looking in and see why this is of concern for you. This is related to all aspects in life. To have successful meetings with others, you have to find the objectivity in yourself and be able to observe. If you are not willing to let go of previous experiences, this will color your point of view.To fully understand you need to have a deeper understanding for what you are looking into. You must be able to put your own stuff away so you can see clearly. If you look for something negative, you will find it. You can also turn this, if you look for something that can benefit you, you might end up only seeing the positive aspects. This can make you tumble. This is about the duality in life; everything in life has two sides, are you willing to look at them both? Do you accept all angles – the positive and the negative ones? Horses are unique individuals; they have their own gifts and their own path, just like human beings. I believe that some horses enjoy the excitement of racing, while others prefer a natural living life with no stress, pressure and large amounts of training. Let us see them as they are, not as we are. It is all about seeing the horse, it is about awareness and it is about being objective – put your own stuff away and see it from another angle.This can be related to your interaction with fellow humans as well. How do you meet others? Horses are playful and they love to run, horses are in the moment, they are high spirited individuals who enjoy life – if they are allowed to. So what’s in it for the horse? That is up to the horse to decide, it can be a lot more than we are able to understand. It is your responsibility to read the horses you have in your care – see it without looking through your previous experiences. Put your own stuff aside, be objective and make clean observations.
There is a story behind everything – look into the story without shades