Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Good Karma

Hello!! And Happy Wednesday!! While out for my pre-dawn ride this morning, watching the sun peek out, listening to the birds, breathing the cool, clean air deeply and fully appreciating the fact that I was able to enjoy those sights from horseback, I contemplated the 'must win' mentality that takes over certain horse trainers, and the lengths it pushes them to push their horses.

I have been there; not too many years ago, I traveled the US and Canada with my family in pursuit of Regional and National wins. We spent a lot of time and money in this pursuit, and certainly, there was pressure to win and make all that investment pay off. But an overriding, deep, and all-encompassing love of our horses kept our activities well within the boundaries of that which would be considered ethical. Not that we didn't wear spurs, or carry crops, or occasionally have to 'get after' a misbehaving mount, but my parents and trainers would never have allowed me to cause a scene or treat my horses badly, and I knew it, as that was a reflection of them as well. Thankfully, I had wonderful trainers, who made it clear that good horsemanship wasn't about coercing my horse, but rather, figuring out what the horse needed to be better, and I tried very hard to give them whatever that was. I realized at an early age that the best performances where the ones in which the horse felt good, and was doing what came naturally to them. In giving our horses our very best, we got back the very best of them.

I have seen, over the course of my lifetime in horses, many trainers/riders/owners who wanted to take shortcuts in training, use punitive, abusive methods to coerce the horse, and so many who have tried to get around the rules in order to get a leg up on the competition. Almost all of them eventually were exposed for these things, and had to face the music. They may have lost customers, lost their businesses, been sanctioned by their breed associations, had awards taken back, and had lawsuits made against them. I truly believe that if you do bad things, people will find out. Maybe not immediately, but the truth will come out. And nowdays, with video cameras on every phone, and the capability to easily upload those videos to the internet, the truth can be accessed by millions of people, within mere minutes. No amount of blue ribbons, titles, earnings or awards can prevent it. The comeuppance is much more immediate.

So now, more than ever, trainers/riders/owners have to ask themselves - am I producing good karma or bad karma? NOT "am I producing a money-earning horse or a National or World Champion?" But, instead, am I doing what is RIGHT and GOOD while still striving to give the horse world my best performance? We all want to win - it is glorious! - but is it worth the fall, the embarrassment, and the potential financial ruin if the win was obtained by less-than-ethical means?