Knowing I can be idealistic I am looking for some perspective on a situation that I find unconscionably. I know of a trainer that recently arranged for an inexperienced 14 year old to purchase a 3 year old horse. So far the 14 year old has nearly been kicked in the head and has been thrown and bruised her pelvis. I would like to know how the professionals on this list feel about this type of situation?
David, the reason that you find this unconscionable is that the situation exemplifies two evils: (1) greed and (2) a desire to see other people get hurt, otherwise known as sadism.
Both are widespread in the horse world, and it is in response to these two things (and some others) that we primarily exist.
Primary weapons to cure these evils and eliminate them are (1) knowledge, which is power; and (2) to teach both the seller of the horse and the 14 year old how to introspect, i.e. how to look within themselves to find out what it is that they really want, expect, and hope for. Only by perceiving the difference or distance between what they currently have and what they truly hope for, will they ever come into a motivation to change.
You will, naturally, have a lot better chance of influencing the 14 year old than the seller. The seller, if adult, is almost always a lot more hardened up. We as individuals frequently do not have the power to break in on that; other forces, infinitely more powerful, must come to bear. But the timing on those is also not up to us.
So you'll turn your attention to the 14 year old, and again, you'll have much more leverage if you can "get to" the child's mother or parents. We have one mother of a similar child at our barn that is so hardened up -- in other words, so fearful -- that she cannot even look at me to return a friendly "good evening". Whenever I'm out at the barn and this woman and her daughter and their friends are also there, they flee to another arena. They cannot bear to stand watching Ollie and me dance around the arena in lightness and joy. And the reason they can't stand it is because, the way they filter things, what that appears to them to be is a judgement against them.
As indeed it fully is. So the voice within the mother screams out -- with all the energy that Hell can supply -- "if I can't have it, YOU can't have it either." This is the football cheer of Hell. The lady is in Hell because she puts herself there, through accepting the idea that she CAN'T have it, which very quickly gets mutated into "I WON'T have it." What she would say out loud is, "well, we're beer-drinkin' kind o' people, and we don't want any of that hoity-toity stuff."
So this is the matrix you will be working with, David. One of the best and most personally helpful things I've heard lately came from Father Jim, who is an Episcopal priest and a friend of mine. I was telling him about a family I know that I am rather concerned about -- the father of that family is a good man, but his wife is immature in some ways, and several of their older teenage and young-adult children have gotten into serious trouble, primarily through trying to impress the wrong kind of people. How to help them is an ongoing problem to me, and of course I do have to pause and ask myself if I'm just being nosy or pushing in where it wouldn't really be helpful. But Father Jim said, "no, you go right on doing that -- keep holding that mirror up to them. Because Deb, you need to remember that this is what charity is." -- Dr. Deb