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Lack of empathy or callousness?

I have just returned from a weekend of working away, and believe me, I do love what I do, but some days I get back feeling down and completely broken-hearted. This often has to do with the question I struggle with the most…. Do riders really lack empathy or is it just plain callousness?

This question has been the one I ask the most when I notice how some riders treat their horses. It is as if they never think about how hard it is for the horse to try and understand what the rider is asking, it is mostly about the heartless way in which some riders beat upon their horses when the horse just needs a break, maybe the horse is sore from the work of the previous day, or maybe the horse has some physical problems, or often a combination of all of the above.

Is it that the riders don’t understand the physical effort it takes? Let’s face it, most riders have never done anything else apart from riding, which they then proclaim to be a tough sport. How many riders have done any kind of competitive sport that demands from themselves to get up every day and drag their tired bodies to training, while struggling with niggling injuries, feeling stressed because of the upcoming tournament, or even just not feeling like it. Yet they expect their horses to blindly follow, with no regard of the difficulties, no respect, no feeling….

I always try to help riders understand the demands they make on the body of the horse. I have a lot of patience when it comes to explaining, as I know how difficult riding can be.

But sometimes it just gets to me, the lack of empathy, the callousness. How you treat your horse is how you treat everyone around you.

Let us be kind. To ourselves. To all around us. Especially the horse.

Let us be kind.