In honor of World Kindness Day, we look at ways you can promote kindness within the horse community.
November 13 is World Kindness Day. It’s an international observance that was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of nations kindness non-governmental organizations (or NGOs). It’s observed across the world in countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, Nigeria, Singapore, Italy, India and the United States.
In celebration of World Kindness Day, we are offering 11 ideas for random acts of kindness you can enact in the equine world.
1. Donate to an equine charity. Whether you love donkeys, mules, Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Arabians or just any horse that needs a little help finding a soft place to land, there is an equine charity to suit your preferences and — more importantly — needs your support. For World Kindness Day, find one of those charities and make a donation. Our recommendation is to do your research and make sure you are donating to a 501(c)(3) organization and one that truly focuses on sustainable equine management and promotion.
2. Volunteer your time. Even if you can’t donate financially, many equine charities are looking for people who are willing to give their time. Whether it’s mucking stalls or working to get the word out about the charity, these organizations usually need more hands on deck. Help take some of the burden off the shoulders of those running the charities by reducing the work load.
3. Make a barn friend’s day. Whether it’s writing an inspirational note or leaving a small bag of treats for a friend’s horse, take the time to make your barn friend’s day. For as much as we love our horses, sometimes riding them and working with them can get frustrating and it’s easy to beat ourselves up. A small pick-me-up might be just what someone needs to make it through the day or feel good about his or her riding.
4. Spend extra time with your horse. Kindness isn’t exclusive to person-to-person interactions. We can direct our acts of kindness to all creatures, great and small. And who better to receive it than our horses? Therefore, spend some extra time with your horse. Give him or her some treats, a gentle groom or pamper him or her with a massage. Make it a relaxing and enjoyable experience for both of you.
5. Share a heart-warming horse story with someone. Let’s be honest. No matter how jaded or cynical we may become, most of us can’t resist a feel-good story about horses (if you could, you probably wouldn’t be on Horse Nation right now). There are so many inspiring, sweet and all-around heart-warming stories about equines out there that it would be shame NOT to share them.
Whether it’s the story of Seabiscuit, who succeeded despite being an underdog with crooked legs, the decorated war horse Staff Sergeant Reckless, Secretariat and his large heart or Smoky, the real-life horse who inspired Jean Ekman Adams to write “Clarence Goes Out West and Meets a Purple Horse,” these stories remind us of why we fell in love with horses in the first place. Bring a smile to someone’s face by sharing these tales.
6. Do some extra barn chores. If you board your horse, take the time to complete some of the tasks at the barn — even if it’s not your job. Does the tack room need to be swept? Does the manure need to be shoveled? Do blankets need to be organized? Do cobwebs need to be removed? Choose something and do it without expectation of recognition or return.
There are so many things that need to be done around the barn that aren’t directly related to the immediate needs of the horses. Our barn managers are often busy and some of these tasks get put on the back burner. Help out and make the barn a better place for everyone.
7. Bring drinks and snacks. It’s getting cold outside (at least in my neck of the woods). Coffee or hot chocolate and donuts go a long way toward brightening someone’s day. Conversely, if it’s warm where you are, cold beverages and fruit can rejuvenate your fellow riders and definitely your trainers.
8. Snap some photos of your friends/barn mates with their horses. We all love pictures of us with our horses, but most of us don’t ride around with a professional photographer following us. Take the time to shift your focus from your riding to that of others. Take some pictures and send them to the riders to make them smile.
9. Spend the day focusing on the positive. Riding horses is hard and getting down on ourselves and others is easy. Positivity spreads, so be the person who promotes it. Spend the day focusing on what you’re doing right, what your horse is doing right, what other riders are doing right — and then share it! Spread kindness online and in person!
10. Introduce someone new to the horse world. If you have access to horses and your barn allows it, bring someone new to the barn to let them meet your horse. You may give pony rides, you may not. As we all know, sometimes simply being around horses is enough to elevate someone’s mood.
11. Be kind to yourself. Enough said.
Kindness is contagious, so take the time today — and every day — to be the person who spreads it.
Be kind and go riding.