Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes

“Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” is a quote dating back a long way, to the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans; wise people. Nelle Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” was seemingly on the same track when she wrote “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” They are speaking of empathy. Such a beautiful and powerful thing and yet often so rare.

On Sunday, I ploughed through the torrents of rain to West Wilts Equestrian Centre to watch Jack compete in a JAS qualifier. Wet is an understatement, it tipped it down all day. I had my jodhpurs on under my waterproofs and my hat in the boot, just in case the opportunity arose to have a sit on. In order to keep mentally calm though I had to keep it consciously casual; “just in case” I could deal with.

Jack jumped in his first class. A really great round, expertly piloted by Southerly. He then was jumping early in the second class so he could stay out and walk around to be ready for round two. So, I could just have a little sit on. I went to put my hat on, literally saying out loud “Just put the hat on, that all.” I calmly got on from the mounting block and breathed out. I have learnt that breathing out is the key. When a person gets anxious their breathing gets shorter, when a person gets super anxious their breathing gets really short and then we get into panic attack territory. Breathing out is the key to keeping long breaths.

I sat on and breathed out and was ok. Mother said “just keep him walking so he doesn’t get cold.” “I can do that.” I replied. I breathed out again. Perhaps it’s my background in theatre but I found myself being quite nonchalant about it, not because I was but because I needed to be.

Very from on board the lovely jack at JAS

As I walked around I saw girls in the cafe looking at me. I imagined them asking who the random girl on Southerly’s horse was. I imagined them criticising the way I sat. I then blocked it out, gave Jack a little scratch and continued to walk around. I was ok.

“Maybe you would like a little trot round before Southerly gets back on?” Mother said. “I can do that.” I replied. I breathed out. And I did do that and I was ok.

I share this story because the girls in the cafe, the others warming up, no one knew what was going on with me that day. None of them have walked in my shoes. They could have got annoyed as I took a moment extra on the mounting block, or they could have got irritated when I trotted super slow in the warm up, or they could have laughed at my weird breathing. It is so easy to get annoyed by other people but maybe we all need to take a breath sometimes and give them a bit more of a chance in case their road has been a tough one. Empathy.

I also share this for anyone else who is where I am with their confidence. I am there and I am fighting on. I hope that you are too.

Any confidence advice welcomed…..

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  2. Well done??????? first and foremost. Everyone loses confidence at some stage, with our own or other people horses. One of the ways I encourage is ‘ Fake it to Make it’. Small incremental steps forward, just like you did. I also note that the older we get, the more a fall or problem seems to be in our mind. I recently moved yards and was turning out our two thoroughbreds for the first time. I use Monty Roberts duallys. I’m 45 and have been doing this for forty years. However J threw his head around knocking my finger into the brass ring below head buckle. When I got my finger back, the tip was at right angles to rest of finger. So I did a ‘Bear Grylls’ – I pulled it straight again( I don’t advise anyone to do this as it was so painful I threw up). I then went got X-ray to discover that whilst I’d done a great job of reducing the dislocation, I had a spiral fracture of bones below tip. I had to laugh when doctor said I must not use my left hand for 6-8 weeks. As it was my ring finger left hand, and I’m also left handed what he advised was impossible to comply with. Fortunately they gave me a cast using this plastic stuff they moulded around my finger….. but only after I said it would be impossible not to use my left hand. It’s my job, it’s our horses, and it’s just not possible. So whilst it’s healing I have to keep moving it to prevent scar contraction of the ligaments. Painful, problematic and a pain in the ass. Horses humble you, they make you whole again. Give me a shout if you’d like to talk some more. I specialize in repairing relationships between owner/ rider and mount. Love to hear from you.

  3. Stick with it!
    I had a fall last year which knocked my confidence A LOT! All my friends thought I was super brave but inside I was terrified. It took a while and some NLP work, but I am firmly back on track.
    The horse still spooks, I may fall off again, but the point is that I’m not scared of what might happen any more, I’m just enjoying my horse again!!

  4. Well done Daisy, not only did you walk and trot Jack you did it in a very public place, that took guts ???? your words are very true and it’s something we can all practise whatever we are doing. I know how competent you are, I have seen you, you will get there, but in your own time. Xxxx

    1. Thanks Eileen. You were there when I was top of my game. How the mighty have fallen! I am generally ok at home on my own. Definitely worse with people watching! I’ll get there though xx

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