How strongly do you stand by your Ethics?
A couple of months ago, a British event rider went a bit whip happy around a large, prestigious three-day event. Within a day, two of his sponsors withdraw their backing. They cited welfare – the wellbeing of horses is their for first priority and they felt it was time to part company. Good for them – brilliant. And, the one company had a lot of new followers on social media immediately, posts saying things like, I don’t know what you sell, but I’m buying two. People putting their money where their mouth is, backing ethical business and ethical riders.
On the other hand, some very unethical riders have merchandise lines, and people will say – oh I hate what that dressage rider does to her horses, but I have her saddle and ten of her saddle pads… I have asked riders – if you don’t like what she stands for, why did you buy her saddle? Well, they reply – the saddle wasn’t physically hers, she has nothing to do with it. Really? The saddle company pay her a large commission to be the face of the brand. If everyone who doesn’t like what she does, were to boycott the brand, and better yet to write to the brand and say, I’m boycotting you because of this rider – do you know what? Things would change. Hitting them in their pocket is the only way things will improve. I love watching Mark Todd ride – I think he is genius, he is the consummate master of his craft, he is always fair to his horses, and he is a genuinely nice human being. Oh look, Mark Todd breeches, yes please. A great product, supporting the deal he has with a brand. Awesome. That abusive lady dressage rider’s riding jacket? Ya, no, maybe not…
Why am I thinking of this now? Ethics. What is important to you?
Have you watched a movie called The Jack Bull? Its awesome. It must be from the late 1990’s, a western starring John Cusack. I was in my yard about 18 years ago (isn’t that scary??? How did I get so old?), grumpy and snapping, on a mission to rescue a horse who was being mistreated. I was gunning for his owner and nothing and nobody was going to stop me. A friend was standing in the yard giggling at my grumpiness, saying Oh My, are you The Jack Bull? Did they write the movie about you? Of course, I had to watch it. The plot, in short, is about a cowboy who has to leave two of his horses as security when he can’t pay a toll on a road. He leaves them and his employee for two weeks and when he comes back he finds his horses beaten and abused, and his friend and employee, vanished. He fights for what is right, he fights for what he believes. The title? His friend says to him, you are part bulldog and part Jack Russel – the strength of a Bulldog when angered, the dogged tenacity of the Jack Russel when he has something in his grip. And yes, when I’m on a mission, A Jack Bull is a pretty good description.
Recently I had a very difficult conversation. A good friend who I desperately didn’t want to upset or lose our friendship, has something going on that just doesn’t sit well with me. And so, finally, after a long time of debating, I had to speak my mind. I don’t like confrontations or unrest, but I couldn’t sit on the fence any longer. What will happen? I don’t know. Do I sleep better at night? I’m sad that I upset someone lovely, and sad that I may have lost a valued friend, but yes, morally, ethically I feel better for making a stand.
So, my question to you…. Are you standing up for what you believe? Are you a Jack Bull? Or do you have an opinion and ethics until it is inconvenient? Do you buy that rider’s brand of jacket because its pretty and pink and has a brand name on it? Even though you profess not to like her methods? Or do you stand by your morals and write to the manufacturers and say, I’m not helping you make money out of abuse? What is the saying – I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees? Are you willing to stand and be counted? Where do you stand?