The ideas of integrity and greed have been on my mind quite a bit lately. In this business, it is very easy to lose your integrity in the pursuit of your goals and dreams. It’s just as easy to get greedy with your clients and/or horses.
Two sayings come to mind on this topic for me:
"Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should."
“Character is what you do when you think no one is watching.”
Our sport and livelihood is arguably too unregulated. Short of physically abusing a child or straight up neglecting a horse to death, there is very little legal consequence for questionable ethical behavior. Thus it is up to the individual to create their own set of morals and ethics by which to abide.
I recently had a nice discussion with a student about integrity. I believe that your integrity is the only thing that you can really claim as your own in this life. People can gossip, but at the end of the day, your integrity is your own. The choices you make define who you are as a person. This is not to say that you will always make the “right” choice but that you will try to do right by whomever you need in order to set things as right as possible. While the road to success can be slowed down by maintaining your ethics and morals, in the long run you will have created a much more stable network with a happier group of clients and horses.
We also owe it to our horses to ride them with integrity and not get greedy with what we ask. Bless their kind souls, many will give and give until they have nothing left. We must be stewards of their care. This doesn’t mean that we should just feed them and pet them and never ask them to work; it means that we need to listen to them in their subtle ways to make sure they’re ready to move up when we are. The kinder the animal, the more we need to protect them from overuse.
Clients also have a responsibility to support and seek out others who conduct their business and lives with integrity. We all vote with our money and we all own a little bit of the responsibility towards creating a better environment for ourselves and our horses.