I have recently come to realise how important it is to have comfortable spaces to share ideas. Somewhere safe from judgement, propaganda, and ulterior motives. That space might be your car, your sofa, your bed, your phone, your laptop. It might even be your work or your relationships if you are fortunate. An excellent term for this was coined by the Rubberbandits (good for you if you know who they are, but no worries if not!). The cosy, relaxed conversation provided by their weekly podcast might be one-way, but it fills me with joy to hear thoughts about the world around us – history, comedy, science, music, literature, current affairs, psychology, art, and so on – discussed in such a way that it can be accurately described as a hug.
For years, I have been researching how to be the kindest human a horse could possibly encounter. That seems like a non-sequitur, I know. For years I have been reading books, going to demonstrations, watching TV shows and YouTube videos, speaking to friends, speaking to strangers online, and sometimes trying to articulate my own thoughts. The thing with the ‘alternative’ side of the equine industry is that everyone is striving so hard to be more natural than the last trainer or method or piece of equipment that it can become a surprisingly hostile environment. One thing we have in common, however, is the desire to improve the welfare of the horse, and oftentimes also the desire to reach the more mainstream band of equestrians and instigate change on a broader scale.
Let us focus on those goals and put them ahead of our infighting. However, let us also discuss the finer details that can divide us. Let us speak openly but positively, with compassion for one another as much as our equines. Let us make the sharing of information, discussion, and opinions as joyful and relaxing as that weekly podcast hug.