Getting the Party Started

On Monday morning, October 8, before a friendly, energized audience, director Maddy Butcher opened the 2018 Best Horse Practices Summit with these remarks:

I’d like to welcome you all – attendees from 24 states and three countries – to the conference your horse wants you to attend. Thank you so much for being here and thanks also to Patagonia Workwear, our title sponsor.

It’s going to be another thrilling, enlightening, and possibly exhausting few days. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep an open mind. Some of what you hear may go against practices you’ve had forever and that seem to work. But trust me, there’s always room in our world for experimentation and re-imagination. Best practices stand up to critical review. Do yours?
  • Take notes. Yes, all of these presentations will be available to you online for free in a few months. But the connections and insights you have during our presentations will surely help further your learning and maximize your progress. We even have note-taking space in the back of the programs.
  • Have fun! Our brains function best when we are relaxed, alert, and engaged. With our cozy event here and at the local fairgrounds, we hope we’ve created an optimal environment for your learning experience.

Being human is hard:

  • We worry.
  • We think.
  • We reflect.
  • We plan.
  • We get emotional.

There is so much stuff going on between our ears. It can be hard to just be.

In the 21st century, though, it’s important to do just that. Just be with our horses. Just be with our moments.

But just because we’re feeling at one with our horses, doesn’t necessarily mean we’re brilliant horsemen. We need to remember not to confuse awareness with any kind of virtue or know-how.

It’s a helluva balance, right? As humans, we have the awesome responsibilities and great potentials.

Attendees in the Strater Theater

Because we’re human, we can compare what we do with best practices.

Because we’re human, we can step outside our bodies and say, “oh, shit, I meant to do it this way. Let me go back and try it again.”

Because we’re human, we can recognize that we do indeed have egos and we can indeed set them aside.

Because we’re human, we know that strength is not at all muscle and a clenched fist. Strength is softness and the ability to be quiet for a while.

Letting yourself be vulnerable – to peer review, to new possibilities, to occasional discomfort – is crucial to connection. Connection, I think, is essential for progress. Together, connection and progress enrich our lives and our lives with horses.

Or, as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus would say,Get messy. Make mistakes. Ask questions and listen for the answers.

Dr. Temple Grandin visits with Maddy Butcher and Dr. Sheryl King

  • Mary Ellen Spaite

    so well said..great beginning to another great conference!

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