Rolex has come and gone for this year. I am in awe of riders and especially horses that can endure such an athletic feat. There is a heady excitement at show grounds at such a level. It can be intoxicating. I know it all too well from my lifetime of showing. Yet, I can no longer support, knowing what I do, anything that puts a horse’s life or welfare in jeopardy. I philosophize that just because a horse can do something we ask of it, do we have that right?
This brings me to that word ‘commitment.’ I ask each of my students and clinicians to tell me their commitment around their work with their horse. This request is often met with silence. A commitment cannot be “I want to jump 5 feet” or “I want to reach 4th level in two years.” Those are goals. A commitment is ‘a pledge or promise.’ Riders have lots and lots of goals. When you mistake a goal for a commitment there are no boundaries around what you will do. There are many, many coaches out there that can get you to the top, but at what price? How often has a coach asked their students what their commitment is to their horse?
My commitment as a rider and trainer is “To have the well being and health of my horses at the forefront of all I do.” From that foundation I can decide what training methods align with my commitment. What trainers I choose to work with. What equipment I ride with. What I read and study. How I feed my horses. How I interact with them. The list is endless. The curious thing is that, when you have an unwavering commitment to something, it bleeds to other areas of your life. You become so much more aware of what truly matters in life. I cannot sacrifice my riders, my husband, my child, my finances, my friends, for a goal. It does not align with my commitment.
This does not mean I cannot have goals. My goals are now larger than when I was training for the Olympics. I probably will not have the glory of that silver tray and a crowd cheering as I take my victory lap around the ring. I will not have little girls wanting me to sign their programs. Yet, when I leave this earth, I know that I leave it with horses that have been allowed to be glorious without sacrifice and riders that achieve their dreams without damaging anyone or anything in the process. I do not think I could ask for more.
What is your commitment?