Survival in a Man’s World
I was brought up in a male household back in Ballynahinch Northern Ireland in the 70’s we grew up on my grandparents farm, the boys would always be the ones out there in the farm working away and the times I would sit and stare out the windows in my bedroom thinking I want to do what they do. I was born and raised as a quiet, catholic girl. There was no room for me in the “mans world” as my grandfather would tell me, he would also say if you can manage a 500lb animal then you will be one of us! Yeah yeah my poppa would say she isn’t doing that she knows where she needs to be, education for me was a priority in my poppas eyes. As I sat there one day watching one of my cousins trying to move a stallion from one pen to another I literally shook my head, I asked him if he needed help – No Sally you’re a girl you cant do this – so I left him be to struggle and get the wrath of my grandfather to move him himself! Years went on and I got older. 10 years old now and I thought surely they will let me into their world – you know the mans world as they say. For me it was about proving a point – in fact it was to be fair to prove a point that a girl, woman can survive in a mans world. One day before dawn broke I got up got dressed, made sure all my education was done, headed into the stables, got this stallion out of his pen, gave him a bath, brushed him made sure he was happy with food and then thought shall I try and be that person that the “men” said I couldn’t be – I proceeded to tack him up knowing full well that he could kill me – come on I was 10 years old what do I know about horses especially stallions. As he was tacked up he was calm as anything I don’t know if he just knew that I absolutely adored him, as we proceeded to venture out of the stables – I heard “ where do you think you are going with him” oh no grandfather I thought – as I looked around I said “to ride him” Go on then grandfather said lets see what you are made of. I thought hold on a minute there isn’t a NO. In fact I rode him perfectly round the farm with no faults from me or him as everyone was getting up rushing out to see what the commotion was my poppa shouted NO Sally NO – my mam grabbed his arm and I heard her say – leave her she’s now proved that she can be in ‘your world’ as you told her she couldn’t. I had the right to make up my own mind even at 10 years old, the one thing I said to my poppa after that is we don’t have different shoes on poppa we just march to a different beat, I am still your little girl just turning into a woman and surviving.
Over the years I have tried my hardest to survive in a “mans world” not just in equestrian but in my own professional career in 21 years in the NHS. Being told NO over and over again makes you want to prove people wrong as I have got older and wiser and learnt from being told NO and to be told, “you wont make it” “it’s a cutthroat mans world” “you’re a woman what makes you better than a man” I’m no better than the next person and the person before me trust me but I will not sit down as a woman and take the answer NO. If this society we live in now shows us, no matter what you do you need to survive, it’s a game of flight or fight in this so called “mans world” and I want to fight for me and the generation of children, women after me. I believe that if I hadn’t proved to the men in my life that I could handle what I did at 10 years old then I certainly can’t handle what I gets thrown at me now. With guidance yes of my poppa and late grandfather and family they have installed some values and ethics in my upbringing, but it was my mam, grandmother and great grandmother who said “you can be whatever, whoever you want to be if you want to make things happen do it, there is no such thing as “A MANS WORLD”
Surviving is crucial as you will always be judged – but isn’t it good to be judged, isn’t it good to say “I SURVIVED IN A MANS WORLD” and guess what “WE MAYBE IN A MANS WORLD BUT IT MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT A WOMAN OR A GIRL”
Sally Turner @padleigh20