Shame in the Equine Industry

This topic has been brewing for a long time, but sometimes I feel like I should just stick to sharing photos of hoof anatomy and trimming. It is less controversial sometimes….

However, my personal life will always bleed over into my professional life and that’s something that I’ve fought for a long time. I like putting on my professional “outfit” and going to work. I enjoy doing something I’m good at and connecting with horses and clients. I’ve slowly allowed my personal self to become more integrated with my professional self. Life is easier that way when you feel more present and open at work.

I’ve run into many professionals in the horse industry, in barns across the whole country, that use shame as a weapon.

The vet refuses to educate you even when you have questions and tells you basically to shut up and do what you’re told, because they’re the expert.

The farrier laughs at a comment you make because you “must have read that on the internet somewhere.”

The trainer screams at you from the middle of the arena to do better, be better, right now, as you and your horse struggle to stay upright and forward.

The clinician flown in from wherever uses you as an example to the class as what not to do, leaving you in tears.

The Facebook group/page steals photos of other’s work and uses it to criticize without any context.

My friends and clients have shared their personal stories with me and I have plenty of my own as well. Those of you who have experienced an “expert” shaming you know what this feels like. The hot flush in your face, the pounding in your head, the slightly trembling hands, and the utter disorientation of the brain – you never know how to respond……

Shame does not create a safe learning space for humans. Shame has no place in education – you cannot be shamed into anything of value. It doesn’t matter how much the clinic costs or what the farm call will be – you got more than you asked for and now you have to struggle to incorporate new information under the pressure of someone treating you or your horse poorly.

If you’re new to the concept of shame – check out any of Brene Brown’s books + podcasts.

If this sounds familiar, please know that you don’t have to keep paying people to make you feel like shit.

In my line of work, I consider it absolutely essential to educate owners. Sometimes that means telling them that what they have been doing for their horse is harmful or not effective. But I attempt to communicate this in a respectful and educational way. Because we all can do better when we know better, but we don’t know until someone shows (not shames) us.

Equine professionals who use shame as a weapon will always find new victims to manipulate into “needing” their expertise. But you don’t have to be one of those victims anymore.

You are allowed to set boundaries. You are allowed to fire or hire new people to work with you and your horse. You are allowed to find what you’ve been looking for.

Take heart, because those who weaponize shame will continue to be brought to the light. The movement to better emotional intelligence and kindness in the equine industry continues on.

And PS, because I struggle with this, too…..walking away or changing course does not mean you failed. You don’t need to struggle to be strong and you don’t need to ” just take it” any longer. It’s so much better on the other side!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply