Opening Remarks of the 2019 Summit

Executive Director Maddy Butcher opened the 3rd annual Best Horse Practices Summit to an enthusiastic crowd, early Saturday morning, October 19, at the Pineland Farms conference center. Here’s an excerpt of her comments:

As horsemen and women, I believe we are all works in progress. I have this image in my head of when I was 12. Bad haircut. Old cotton knit sweater worn thin by endless use. I’m holding my pony, Honey, by the reins. Tight under her chin.

From the haircut to the horsemanship, I’ve evolved and improved over the decades. Perhaps the most important idea that I’ve come to embrace and that I ask you to embrace, is that it’s okay to be wrong.

Director Maddy Butcher at the afternoon arena presentations

Like to history of science, our own private histories are littered with discarded theories, dust bunnies of wrongedness. That’s what the author, Kathryn Schulz, writes in her book, titled Being Wrong. It’s these scraps of experience and experimentation that shape a better you, a wiser you, a more capable you, a you with better hands and better haircuts. 

When we’re okay with being wrong, we become better listeners. We become more humble and open-minded. We get better at looking out at the world as well as looking in, to see our own biases and blind spots.

When we acknowledge our unknowns and possible missteps, we not only learn more about horsemanship, we get to know ourselves better.

I’d also ask you to embrace doubt. I’m not talking about the kind of doubt that’s all hesitation and insecurity. I’m talking about inspirational doubt. Think of doubt as wonder, curiosity, experimentation, and trial and error. Think of doubt as that unnerving, maybe daunting, jumping-off point that brings you to a new level of understanding and proficiency.

One of my favorite poets, Wislawa Szymborska, said she highly valued the little phrase, “I don’t know.” “It’s small,” she said, “but flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses.”

The journey to right or to knowing is like a Maine backroad – delightful, sometimes twisty and confounding. The journey to right is why you’re here.

Enjoy the weekend. Ask questions. Take notes. Get to know each other. Don’t be shy. And stay in touch.

  • Barb


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