Some situations in the past few weeks have got me thinking about women in my industry - the horse industry. And the cover photo to this note is where I start this story......
Carly is a close friend of mine who I’ve known for probably more than 15 years now. I met her through the Pet Industry and she was actually the first person I ever saw that did this thing called ‘Clicker Training’ with her cute little long haired Chihuahua (p.s. she hates it when I draw attention to her like this and generally hates to take any credit for the amazing person she is for inspiring my clicker training journey....oh and P.P.S. - I learnt that day that despite my pre-conditioned thoughts - Chihuahua’s COULD be trained REALLY well! #gofigure #trickchihuahua). In the picture, Carly - like many of you - is cuddling her young horse in the very early days of her incredible horsemanship journey. Many folk called her naive for believing that she was ready for a young horse. After all, she’d only had one older mare that ‘knew it all’ and was ‘bombproof’ and well trained. How could she possibly succeed with a young Gypsy Cob gelding right? But alas, thankfully she ignored the naysayers (and there were MANY of them) and bought the horse of her dreams - Surrey Springs Zephyr - a young Gypsy Cob. She’d fallen in love with these horses some time ago and always dreamed of owning one. I’m not sure if it’s something about the crazy amounts of hair or their brave and stoic natures, but she got the Gypsy Cob bug! #gypsycobs #hairyfeet #plushhorse
So here she is - a young green horse person - with a young green unbroken baby horse - starting the dream together. Did they have the fairy tale relationship together where they end up riding off into the sunset on a deserted beach? NOOOOOOO!!!!!! Was it easy? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Many times Carly was frustrated, upset, in tears, bearing the odd bruise here and there, unsure of her decisions, unsure of her competence, unsure she was ready for the challenge that she was experiencing. Constantly doubting her knowledge (as had so many others of her) and constantly doubting she would ever achieve the dream relationship she so longed for. Many times Zephyr decided at the local show to prove a little more difficult that she hoped - showed her that maybe he didn’t want to stand still for judges, or go into the float, or behave in the work outs. You name it - Zephyr thew it at her. Zephyr was not easy! So Carly had a choice at this point of her relationship with Zephyr.
She could throw the towel in and say ‘Bugger it - it’s all too hard - I’m done - it wasn’t meant to be this difficult - I’ve had enough!’ OR she could step up, take responsibility for everything that she was working towards and stop doubting her ability. She could ‘take the bull by the horns’ so to speak, and say ‘You know what - I CAN do this - and I AM worthy of success - and I LOVE my horse - and I AM going to make this work! I remember seeing a few cool light bulb moments in Carly at her lessons here and there, or in a few clinics, and seeing the change. I saw Carly start to really believe that she could do it. Where in previous lessons or clinics I observed self-doubt, as time went on - I saw her BELIEVE she could ACHIEVE results. I saw her realise that this ‘horsemanship thing’ wasn’t just for magic miracle horsemen and women who had a ‘gift’ but that she could absolutely achieve the most amazing things with her horse! I saw her mindset change. I saw her start to believe in her own abilities and then all the hard work started to pay off. I was blessed to ride alongside her at our local Heavy Horse Field Days demonstrations in 2017. She shot horse archery off Zephyr in a big display with LOTS of enthusiastic folk watching on. A big crowd.
She was brilliant.
And Zephyr was brilliant.
They were absolutely EXTRAORDINARY together. It was a very proud moment to watch my friend and colleague achieve some dreams and kick some cool personal goals.
Carly was told - ‘you’re not experienced enough’, and now she is shooting archery off her horse’s back at a canter and has taught him some really cool things (seriously - shooting archery off a large prey animal - that is some really cool stuff right there) and she is now starting to break in another young horse on her own. SUPER! We achieve our goals because without a doubt and beyond question - at some point we say to ourselves - I can do this. I am worthy. I won’t fail. I will succeed. No matter what. And often (and if you’re anything like me you’ll appreciate this next part) you’ll say to yourself - I’m too bloody stubborn to NOT achieve this!
If you are a woman who owns a horse and is regularly doubting your ability to succeed. Don’t. Don’t doubt your inner strength. Don’t doubt you can achieve your goals. Stick at it. Don’t give in. You ARE Extraordinary. You are a warrior. You CAN and WILL achieve GREAT things with your horse. Set your mind to it. LOVE your horse and show the world that the only approval you need is you and your horse’s approval! Things start to change when you stop worrying about what other two-leggeds think of your journey. Be proud of how far you’ve come and get excited about how far you have to go. Don’t be scared of the hill you might need to climb to get to your destination. Conquer it one step at a time and don’t lose sight of the big picture.
I can tell you now - there is NOTHING that you cannot achieve. Women in our world are taking the WORLD by storm. You are a part of this change. #warriorwomen
One day scrolling through Facebook about 6 years ago - I saw a picture of someone shooting horseback archery. I was in awe. I’d never shot a bow in my life however and I knew nothing about the sport. It was almost non-existent in Australian mainstream horse sports. However despite my lack of knowledge and ‘naivety’ I saw that picture and decided wholeheartedly - “THAT IS ME! I am going to achieve horseback archery success one day .” I never once doubted I could achieve it. Why couldn’t I? If other folk could do it - what could possibly stop me? It was a year later before I actually picked up a bow and shot from my horse’s back. He was a nervous youngster who jittered after every shot and ended up taking a little time to habituate to this bow and arrow thing! 5 years later and now an NHAA Level Two Horse Archery Instructor AND recently was sent a personal invite to compete at the Al-Faris International Horseback Archery Championships in Jordan - an invite only event that I was blessed to be considered for. How did I get here? I believed I could. I believed my horse could. I never doubted we’d get there. I wanted others to come on this journey with me and I wanted those people also to believe they too could get to their goals. It doesn’t matter what goals you’ve set for you and your horse. It could be a great trail ride, a novice dressage test, your first show jumping course, or learning your first trick. All of your goals matter and ALL of them you can achieve if you set your mind to it.
On my horse industry journey I’m grateful to have met some Extraordinary women along the way, and every clinic and event I am a part of - I meet even more amazing, powerful and strong Extraordinary women making waves and changing our industry so that they display and promote the beautiful change they want to see in our world. They are passionate and vivacious. Please remember - none of you are ordinary - ALL of you have the ability to be EXTRAORDINARY - if you’ll only believe it :)
Happy horsing around my fellow warriors xoxo