Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rumor Has It....

So, let's say you are someone in the reining industry who breeds some mares every year, and who pays attention to the stallions available for breeding, both the stallions with well-established reputations and those that are up and coming.  You are approached by someone with a juicy piece of gossip - that a very well-known stallion & show horse who is getting a lot of buzz and attracting mares is, in fact, deaf.  The person telling you this is someone who owns a different well-known stallion, and they tell you this information under the guise of secrecy, as if they are letting you in on something that an 'insider' should know, flattering you by sharing the secret with you.  They prop up the information with supposed medical and genetic 'facts,' and tell you that it is very complicated for most people to understand, thus dazzling you with their apparent command of jargon and convoluted reasoning.  They tell you that they are just trying to save you from ending up with a foal that is afflicted, making you trust them because they care so much for you and your program.

All this seems so enlightening because you think that you are seeing behind the curtain of the industry, and it feels like you had a near miss with certain tragedy.  It all seems so well and good, except for one isn't true.  The stallion in question isn't deaf at all.  Turns out, the person spreading the rumor feels threatened by the success of the supposed deaf horse, feels that they are taking mares away from their own horse, and must find a way to cast doubt in the minds of mare owners.  It is transparent jealousy, albeit with the face of someone who purports to be wealthy and powerful and knows more than you do in a very small clique-ish industry.  This person knows that, for some, even a shadow of doubt is enough to take their business elsewhere, so with an arm around your shoulder, and a whisper in your ear, they plant the seed of doubt, followed by a great slathering of BS about how much they care about the industry to make that seed grow.

Last year, I received a threat from someone who was angry that I wasn't interested in mandatory genetic testing that they would tell everyone they knew that a horse of mine has a genetic disease (the horse has no genetic problems) and that I was spreading this genetic problem without disclosing it to buyers.  This rumor about me came from the same exact neighborhood as the rumor about the deaf stallion that recently has been circulating.  At the time I was threatened by this person, I was very hurt, worried and angry - it was a very stressful time.  I imagine that the owners/managers of the alleged deaf stallion are going through the same emotions, and having to take the time to correct people's assumptions is time they could be spending doing much more important things.  It is my feeling that the person spreading the rumors doesn't care at all about being accurate; what is important is being disruptive, and then finding a way to present themselves as benevolent, righteous, and well-intentioned in order to seem like the hero.

But they are standing on very unsteady ground.  A pattern of lies will become evident to any observant person, and those who actually are operating in the industry aren't interested in participating in it.  No amount of bashing other people's horses is going to bring mares to that person's stallion.  And why should it?  Surely breeders, even smaller ones, are capable of thinking critically, and if necessary, picking up the phone and asking questions directly to the manager of the horse in question, right?  A breeder who listens to rumor and makes breeding decisions based on it isn't much of a breeder, or should I say, person.  Unless you are witness to it FIRSTHAND, it is merely gossip, and you should know better than to give it any credence. 

"Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you."  ~Spanish Proverb