Priceless gems and ugly ducklings

Putting away the Christmas tree decorations this year I spent much longer than needed reminiscing over each of the individual pieces. These monetarily worthless trinkets hold such memories and allow me to trace my family Christmas history back from me being a child through to having my own child who is now grown up and living away from home.

Some of the pieces are perfectly chiselled gems, purchased in foreign lands at Christmas markets or given to my parents for me as a child or to me for my child. Others, my most precious, have seen better days and came to me, handmade, via nursery or school. For the most part these handmade pieces have lost their glitter and may be dented or chipped but the shop bought pieces don’t bear comparison to them in terms of emotion and precious memories. Some of the pieces are downright ugly ducklings, as a child of the 60’s and 70’s there are some plastic atrocities but they still carry me back in time and are part of what makes my tree mine.

What has this got to do with equine matters?

Well it got me thinking that my life spent with horses is a bit like that precious box of Christmas tree decorations. Individually there are some expensive pieces; equestrian properties lived in, arenas constructed, matching kit, expensive saddles, lessons and treatments with specialists…the list is endless and thank goodness the financial cost has never been calculated.

What of the financially valueless gems?

The smell of a spring grazing horse, the touch of whiskers on the back of a hand, hours spent in quiet solitude just observing horses, the soft breath of whickered greetings, taking walks on a loopy rope, exploring the way horses learn…the list is again endless but the monetary cost negligible.

before ditching the whip Trudi Dempsey Equine Behaviourist
uncut gem before ditching the whip

As lovers of horses we can spend a lot of time regretting things. I should have done it this way. If only I known this back then. Why couldn’t I see the wood for the trees? All of these regrets hint at knowledge yet to be learnt, techniques and methods yet to be known. Like the ugly ducklings on my tree they lost their appeal many moons ago but they are part of who I am and regretting them is pointless. As with my decorations I won’t place them at the front of the tree but they will be there, deep inside the branches.

Some time ago a new Facebook friend asked me why I had photographs of me riding in spurs (and without a helmet) on my page. The answer was easy ‘that was me before I knew differently’. Of course I could rip them up, delete them but they will still exist on those inside branches; better surely to acknowledge them and learn from them? It would be wonderful if we were all created as perfect partners for our horses; the factory made bauble with perfectly timeless beauty. We’re not. And I’m disinclined to believe tall tales from those that might suggest they were.

ugly duckling, acknowledge and learn

Instead of hiding our past, of regretting it and wishing we were formed perfectly at the start shouldn’t we share our ugly baubles so that those who have many more gems to add to their tree can make wiser purchases than us and so enable mainstream knowledge of behaviour and training to evolve more rapidly.

If you would like help selecting the perfect baubles for your tree of equine partnership then do get in touch.

Trudi Dempsey CHBC Equine Trainer and Behaviourist

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