Bridging the Discipline Divide

Can’t we all just get along? Rachael Katherine reminds us that, no matter what our disciplines, at the end of the day we’re all just horse lovers.


Photo: Flick/Axel Bührmann/Creative Commons License

The winter show circuit is in full swing here in Florida and equestrians in all their booted glory are everywhere. I’m one of them, naturally. As a child I grew up taking H/J lessons and in the spirit of honesty, what I remember most is the competitive, critical atmosphere. After three years of lessons I was given a pony for Christmas and ventured more into the western, trail and natural horsemanship divisions of equestrianism. I lost essentially all of the friends I’d gained during my H/J years, and most of those friendships ended with heated dialogue about the problems with our differing styles of horsemanship.

It’s a well-known joke among horse people: The only thing two trainers can agree on is that the third doesn’t know what they’re talking about. While amusing, unfortunately I believe many horse riders and lovers have found this to be true. In a world with an unsteady economy, frequent lifestyle changes and increasing suburbs it is more important than ever for horse lovers to be united in order to preserve the sport, passion and art we all love.

I spent my weekend watching horse riders from all over the world compete in show jumping at the HITS farm in Ocala. Surrounded by hundreds of horse lovers in the bleachers while watching the absolute best in the arena is an almost surreal experience for me, a college-age horse owner who can barely make it to two three shows a year with my own horse. During my conversations with the people there, I was careful to leave the fact that I incorporate liberty and trick work into my horse’s training out. As I left I pondered why. I also wondered why I’m so hesitant to mention competition dreams when I’m hanging out with a more “natural” crew. I easily admit I’m shy of the endless debates that plague the horse world. Call me a coward, but I avoid them when I can.

We’re frequently a judge-y lot, horse people (do feel free to judge my incorrect grammar!). Horses by nature arouse our most honest opinions and deepest passions. Whether it’s breed, discipline, tack, experience or schedule we’ll all find something to disagree about! But isn’t it the time to start looking past those things, and instead searching for what we all have in common?

Forget tack, attire, locale and bloodline. We all love the creature that is Equus caballus and that makes us — humans — part of our own herd, doesn’t it? If we love our horses, educate ourselves enough to take proper care of them and put an effort into forging some sort of relationship with our fellow equestrians, an accepting attitude from other equestrians should be expected. Competing or hacking in 2015, my highest goal as an equestrian is to encourage and accept the whole variety of horse people I meet, even if it happens that I do disagree with the majority of their opinions!

Why? Because we all genuinely love horses. At the heart of things that’s all that matters.

About Rachael: I’m a girl in Florida who’s been crazy in love with horses for the past 21 years and owned my dream horse, Diamond, for nine of them!



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