No Man (or Woman or Horserider) is an Island. (John Donne 1624)
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Most of you are probably familiar with the quote (minus my additions) in the title of this post but have you thought about what it means for all of us? I think it is especially relevant given the worldwide pandemic situation that we have been in since early 2020. What it means is, that as human beings, we can’t, and don’t, exist in isolation. We are dependent on each other, we are part of communities and societies. We need other people on many levels and there is masses of research which shows the negative effects of isolation on people from physiological effects such as poorer immune systems and poorer sleep through to severe mental health effects such as anxiety and depression and even suicide. An interesting article worth reading, if you’d like to know more about this, was published in The Scientist looking at the effects of isolation during the Covid pandemic.
As horse owners and riders I do believe that it’s important to build a supportive team of people who can help with different aspects of horse care, riding skills and general support and encouragement. It doesn’t have to be formalised in the way that, perhaps, a professional rider would have a team including various coaches, equestrian professionals, grooms and riders. Most of you reading this are likely to be single horse owners, or owners of a small handful of horses but you can still build up your team rather than feeling that you need to be able to do everything, and know everything, yourself.
So who is in your team? Do you make the effort to establish a good relationship with the professionals you consult to help you care for your horse such as your vet, farrier, saddle fitter, physio etc? Getting to know these professionals can really make a huge difference to your ability to fulfil your riding goals and to maintain the health and longevity of your horse. Such things as having your horse ready on time and paying bills promptly always help of course! But also having a good communication helps too, asking for advice when you need it and then following it will always help you to care for your horse and the professional to do their job.
Other people in your team are likely to be coaches and instructors who help you to develop your riding skills and grow your experience plus, increasingly these days, a mindset and confidence coach who will help you with the psychological aspects of riding. Some coaches are trained in this area but not all and there are times when you might need to consult someone with the necessary skills and experience to help you.
Investing in professional help might sometimes feel like a luxury when you have chosen a pastime and sport which consumes a lot of your precious income, but when you look at it from the point of view of saving yourself from making expensive mistakes, through well meaning lack of knowledge, in the long term it is likely to be a sensible investment.
Other people in your team are likely to be friends and family and those around you on your yard if that’s where you keep your horse. These are hopefully people who care deeply about you and who have your best interests at heart. The ones you share your goals and dreams with and are there to cheer you on or to console you when needed.
There has, sadly, been a lot of publicity over the last few years about bullying within the equestrian world. This is NEVER acceptable and I believe that we each have a responsibility to stand up to it and challenge it when we see it. Plus to take personal responsibility for our own behaviour making sure not to join in idle gossip or spreading of rumours. I’d love to encourage riders to be more aware of those around them who perhaps don’t seem to have a “team”. Think about including them when you’re making a cuppa or a simple smile and “how are you?” can make a difference. For riders who are struggling with loneliness or with mental health a good starting point is Rider’s Minds.
Personally, I keep my horses at home but I like to think I have a solid group of people who I can ask to help when needed and who can offer advice when required. My horses are getting old but I’m hoping that they can continue to live their happy retired lives for some considerable time yet.
From a business point of view my team consists of the coaches I collaborate with, advisors who can help me with tech and business advice where needed, my husband who encourages and supports me and my friends who are always happy to hear about my work and to share my delight when things are going well and understand when I might need to have a moan (which TBH is very rare!) – my clients are amazing!
Currently a great team member for me is my friend and colleague Anne Currie. Together we have developed a three week online course to help riders to create harmony between their body, mind and horse. The course is running from 26th April and if you would like to find out more or to join then simply follow this link
So my advice to you is to build yourself a team of people who’s opinion and knowledge you value and that will support you. We can’t all be experts in every aspect of horse care and riding skills so when you have doubts or concerns, if you have built your team, then you’ll know who you can turn to. WHO’S IN YOUR TEAM?