When I was asked to write for a equine magazine, I didn’t feel that I was knowledgeable enough to get my points and voice across. It’s a choice with me - do you want honesty? Or do you want me to sprinkle fairy dust on it and see how it goes?
Honesty with my voice is better. Lately I’ve sat and watched, making note of all the equestrians that are “overlooked”. Why are they overlooked?
So, I asked a few equestrians "why do you feel overlooked?" The answers were quite astonishing and part of what they were saying, I could definitely relate to.
"Just because I’m not in the ring getting rosettes every weekend, doesn’t mean that I’m not doing well with my horse or that what I am doing with them, isn't special"
I don’t broadcast my achievements with my horse on social media because I don’t feel anyone is interested. I feel I may even be criticised for what we are doing!
I feel judged for doing natural horsemanship - it's not “the right way” in an education for the horse.
I don’t feel valued by other equestrians as it has become a “show off, look at me I’m dressed in fancy gear” sort of world!
"Wow" I thought. All of these resonate with me! Is this what the equestrian community is like now? I feel that in the last 30 years this has changed. What people don’t understand is that so many now feel undermined, misunderstood, not valued and certainly not part of a larger community.
So, I asked the question “Do you feel you have a Voice?”.
A resounding "No". Fundamentally they felt that no matter what they say or do, it's wrong...Their style of horsemanship, the brands they choose to wear, the use of their horses, the list goes on. I find myself having to agree with a lot of this. I too feel I don’t have a voice sometimes.
I feel that we are not recognised in a lot of ways - I’ve been there, done the showing, got the rosettes and even the T-shirt to go with it.
What I find interesting in people is how they've gotten to where they are and not the blag about how well they're doing. We all start from the bottom and work our way up. We are all not privileged. We all pay our dues to society also, but one thing is still missing - we don’t have a voice! If each one of us shouted and screamed that “I’m here! I do exist! I do have a voice! And my opinion matters!”...Then would you listen?
We must remember that we’ve all been that little girl/boy, years ago growing up picking out our careers and having a voice that mattered. People seemed to listen back then. Now it’s more like…we dare not speak. But what if we did? How would you use your voice? What harm would it do? Would people then follow your footsteps and use their own voice to speak their mind and perhaps even educate the world?
Fast forward 39 years, do I have a voice now...Yes...how come you ask?? the answer is simple. I have learned to use my voice on every platform I can use, whether its in a group of equestrians or in everyday life. In the past I would have never used my voice to highlight my knowledge of what I know and I would had walked away or faded into the crowd. Now I feel aged 49 that my voice is now stronger and I can use it to my best advantage and not be that 10 year old girl afraid to use her voice and not walk away as back then I thought it was my weakness whereas now I use my voice as my strength.
“When the whole world is silent even one voice becomes powerful” – Malala Yousafzai