It's really important.
Dropping Kindness Bombs on Ya'll
No, seriously, we all need to take a minute in our daily lives whether that's at our 9-5's, in our personal lives, or in the show pen to be more kind to others, to our horses and also, to ourselves. I have been mulling this post over for awhile for various reasons. First, the show pen can be a pretty cut-throat place sometimes, we've all seen the cheesy horse girl movies with the rich english jumper girls scowling at the barn-hand as she's just trying to scrape up enough hours work to ride. However, shockingly I don't think those mean girls are just made for movies - because I see them in the arena all the time, and gentlemen you aren't exempt either. I've also been shown a lot of kindness in this industry, through support of my riding, and support of my blog and other ventures, and wanted to share that as well. Then, widely reported tragic losses in the western world, reminded me how important it is to talk openly, to communicate freely, and more importantly to show kindness to others because you truly never know what someone is going through. So today, #ABeginnersGuideToCutting returns and this time, it's to preach on ya'll to remember to kill 'em with kindness and share with you easy ways that you can turn someone's day around and hold on to your horses - how being kind can make you feel infinitely better as well.
You never know when a small gesture, a helping hand, or a quick reassurance can totally turn someone's day around. Let's take it back to when I was just a little wee baby that ended up in Texas, loping horses, not really having a clue what I was doing and feeling really far from home and really alone. I was very blessed to end up sharing an apartment with someone and when I ended up on her front door step, she told me kindly, "how about we go into town, let's go get you a cell phone sorted out and do some grocery shopping." She spent four hours that evening figuring out things with me, and happily did it. Another co-worker, who could instantly tell how petrified I was the first day on the job, instantly started joking around with me, asking me about my life, and making me feel comfortable. "Do they do it like this in Can-a-duh?" he'd say, making me laugh.
Be Open to Kindness & Throw Some Compliments At 'Em
How about when I was back home in Canada, loping horses, but really didn't know that many people up here. You see, so often we get into the loping pen, and we see a new face and we ignore that new face. Don't lie - we've all done it, i've done it tons - sometimes i'm busy or concentrating on my horse, sometimes I'm too tired to care, sometimes i'm grumpy. Whatever. But, if you have the time, this is what I honestly believe - if you make eye contact with that person in the loping pen, at the concession, in the barns, smile and say hey. It's so simple, it's so easy and so quick. It literally requires NOTHING of you to say hi to someone as you pass them. I don't care if that person has the biggest bitch face in the entire world - a bitch face doesn't always mean they are a bitch. I am a prime example of that. (Okay, sometimes I am bitchy.. but for the purpose of this post we'll leave that one alone... ) BUT, i'm a pretty strong personality, i'm pretty confident and i'm not that shy. No really, I know I publicly post about my life all the time - who would have thought?! BUT when I'm nervous, or anxious, (those feelings - by the way - can occur in confident people as well! Shocking!) my face sets into this really stoney, steel-eyed look and people find me intimidating.
If you recognize that you are in this stone-cold club with me, I can give you a few tips: Say hi to people first, make some effort if you want to meet some people in your industry. One of my best friends in the cutting pen when I first "met" her I had seen her around, she was actually roughly my age and showed as well (very rare... very rare), and I had figured out that I knew her sister from High School. Actually her sister had told me that her older sister was a cutter, and in my head I was all, "no way, nobody that I know that is even remotely my age cuts, she probably is a trail rider, she's probably been on a cattle drive or something." So anyways, I knew who she was, one day I really liked the shirt she was wearing and so I.. dun dun dun... said "hey that's a really pretty shirt," she smiled and said thank you - because PEOPLE LIKE COMPLIMENTS, compliments are universal, they are nice gestures that make people feel better. Why wouldn't you compliment somebody?! Then she said "I think you know my sister?" and I said, "hey yeah I do!" and we started chatting and now I have this great friend in the show pen that I can really lean on, ask advice of and hang out with. All because we both were open to being kind to each other.
People Aren't Receptive To My Kindness
"But Louisa, sometimes I say hi to people or attempt to show them kindness, and they are super rude back!" Ok, fine, there are some terrible angry people in this world that may be rude to you, but VERY rarely is that the case, and they suck anyways, so don't let them drag you down. Plus, remember that even the angriest, grumpiest people in the world probably also instantly feel better if someone has casually reached out to say hi to them. It'll make YOU feel better to be nice to an angry, mean person. So take it as positive for yourself & move on from it.
Be A Theresa
More story time: when I think about people that are kind, I think about my friend Theresa. I was honestly going to name this post, "Be A Theresa", because it's a funny pun on Mother Theresa, but I figured that may slightly embarrass her. So i'll just slightly less embarrass her by using her as my kindness example. Theresa is a loper. I had seen her at my first winter series back and then at a few shows after that. She is the type of person that always says hi to people if it's in her capabilities too. One day I was eating lunch by myself in the stands and she saw that I was, and she came over and introduced herself, sat down and ate her lunch with me. She happily chatted with me, said she had seen me in the loping pen and asked me about myself. It was REALLY nice you guys. It was so simple, but it made me feel so included. Theresa is the type of person that does this with I think, literally, everyone she comes in contact with. She's nice, she's friendly and she's welcoming. Be A Theresa.
Kindness-Haters will say they don't have the time to reach out to people. Hold up. This post isn't telling you that you need to go ahead and talk to everyone in the loping pen instead of getting your horse ready. That's dumb. Be concentrated, focus on your horse, yourself, what you need to get done. This post also isn't telling you that you need to be best friends with everyone either. Also stupid - in this life we don't have to be best friends with every single person we come in contact with. It's just saying that we should all remember the first time we ever felt nervous, or anxious, or insecure at a show. We should all try, in our own ways, to make people feel more included - whether that's just a small smile, saying hi to them as you pass, or asking them how their day is going - that's being kind.
Kindness works in many magical unicorn ways my friends. Not only does it make other people feel good, but it makes you feel good too. Plus, we do all this complaining about our industry struggling, about how numbers are down - there are many reasons for that, but I really feel one of the key reasons we struggle is because... sometimes we can be serious horse show snobs. Like... big time snobs. I'm including myself in this ya'll, I am FAR from perfect and i'm sure I have forgotten to be kind many, many times. I see it all the time, we are mean to each other, we are catty about other competitors, catty about their horses, catty about their trainers. This training barn doesn't like this training barn. This Non-Pro has some stupid old school beef with this Non-Pro. I see people get involved in drama, and gossip, and cattiness, that has NOTHING to do with them, ALL THE TIME. You know what happens when you are new to a scene and you see all of this second hand - ESPECIALLY if you are an insecure or shy person already? You feel anxious, you worry that all these people are really mean and you feel uncomfortable. Let's just try to make people feel included, and comfortable, let's just try to be kind. Sometimes we include ourselves in gossip because it makes us feel more of a "part of it". That's an easy trap to fall into, and we've all done. I challenge you, instead of falling into gossip, take that negative energy and turn it positive by saying something kind to someone. "Hey, that was a great run today." "Love your shirt." "I saw you guys were at Calgary, hope you had a wicked show." Whatever. We keep trying to glitter in the show pen, maybe we just need to try to glitter a little bit outside of it too.
So, there's my preaching for today, I think it's a really great sentiment and I've been trying to focus on it more lately in my own life. Let's just try to leave gossip and drama in the ditch, and instead bring more of a welcoming attitude, and kindness to the show pen.