In the horse world of late, I have noticed this word brandished about a lot: Brave. “Be brave” “Feeling brave” “Finding my brave”. And, ever one to rock the boat when I see it necessary, I am going to have to object. I don’t want to be brave! And this is why… When I think “brave”, I think of soldiers, lions, fighter pilots going into battle. When I watch Carl Hester, or John Whittaker, or Jayne Ross, I don’t. And yet, they should be linked?
Brave is defined as “ready to face and endure danger or pain”. So, to be honest, I am out! Riding should be pleasure and not pain. It should be about a partnership and poetry, not bravery and fearlessness! However, at the end of the day, riding is a risk sport, things happen (I have the scars to prove it) but rather than be brave, how about we be smart, bold, intelligent, thoughtful and still achieve incredible things? Accept that there are risks, take those on board, minimise them as much as we can and then enjoy, boldly. Maybe just embrace our inner Beyoncé and be fierce?
I totally understand the thought behind the word. “Putting your brave pants on” when going around a cross country course has a nice ring to it. But if you are truly ready; have put the practice in, your horse is ready and you are working together, then no brave pants are needed surely?
The reason for my concern is it effects the culture. Having a culture where people see being brave as a good thing, must encourage people to take risks and I just don’t want to see that. Ever. Young children pushing themselves too soon, or riding unsuitable ponies “because they are brave” is just trouble waiting to happen. A culture of confident and bold children who have considered the risks, or has those around them consider them, and truly believe they can step forward and make a difference in the situation, now that is a culture I want to sign up for! Maybe not such a catchy phrase though?
Confidence is such a vulnerable thing. I have learnt through my battle over the last few years, and it so important to protect it. Don’t take risks, work up incrementally and be ready to keep building those blocks of confidence.
If “brave” works for you, then that is great. But, I am putting it out there. I am not brave, and I am ok with that!