Since childhood, we like to understand things in relation to others. As young as elementary school I’ve started to see cliques. Those that fit into neat little groups, or “fit the mold” and those people that are slightly weird or don’t seem to really fit in. There is comfort in the expected.
I see this with my daughters and remember my own childhood as the shy girl with glasses, who got made fun of for being too quiet, reading too much, or being a snob. Junior high brought social norms and peer pressure to a whole other level, high school in a different way. By then I was firmly in the outside, not belonging to any one group but friends with many across them. Just where I liked it.
I’ve always felt more comfortable walking to the beat of my own drum. Don’t get me wrong, it came with consequences because when you are young not fitting in is the worst thing that can happen. I always had a strong sense of self, however, that only grew with age. Now in my 40’s there is a real notion of “I don’t give a f$%@“ that I wish my daughters would embrace and learn. I realize that knowing yourself and feeling confident in that is a journey.
The same goes for my life with horses. While wearing the appropriate hunter/jumper clothes while riding my Hunter pony in a training facility is the norm…well, by now I think you know that always draw inside the lines. Luckily my barn owner and horsey friends understand that I wear what is comfortable for me that day, ride in the tack I prefer (sometimes English, sometimes Western, and sometimes both), and tend to do my own thing.
A hunter taking English riding lessons and Natural Horsemanship lessons also? GASP!
Wearing tall boots in a Western saddle? The horror!
A 40-something mom from New Jersey who wears Cowboy hats and boots? Shocking!
In some ways that might make me a rebel. I just call it “doing what works for me”. That might not be what you prefer or do with your own horse, but that’s cool too. Horses are a personal journey for me. Because it’s personal my riding style, training, and clothing reflect my eccentricities. Does that make me weird? Very likely.
Now, ask me if I care.
So to all my horse girls out there who don’t feel like they fit in? Celebrate it! Follow your personal journey and be confident that are being true to yourself and not trying to fit into someone else’s box.
We can be outsiders together.