Social media can be a brutal place.
The competition world can be nasty.
But somewhere out there, there are always people who simply love their horses because they are horses.
Not because they are the most beautiful, or the most talented, or the easiest to have around.
Not because they win prizes and take out competitions (not that there’s anything wrong with this).
There are people out there who treat their horses the way they deserve to be treated, and there are people who don’t.
There are people who value a ribbon or some prize money more than their pony’s health or well-being.
And there are people who don’t.
Equestrian, as a sport, can get a bad rap. Across the globe, it is predominantly a sport for the wealthy.
But not always.
Sometimes there are real-life fairy tales. Sometimes dreams come true.
Sometimes there are people who started out with nothing but a Shetland pony and a home-built horse trailer, and gradually through years of hard work and perseverance and tireless determination, make themselves highly competitive and successful riders and trainers.
And sometimes, just sometimes, these people never lose sight of who they were. Never forget being laughed at for not being able to afford a saddle, never look down on others because they don’t have the right gear or the right pony.
Who host camps for young riders every holiday, who spend the competition off-season taming and breaking in wild ponies that would otherwise have gone to slaughter.
The Wilson sisters, of Whangarei in New Zealand, are all of those things.
And today on Facebook, this message was posted on eldest sister Vicki Wilson’s wall by a young rider.
I just wanted to leave you a public note on your page and thank you for everything that you and Kelly (who has had some long talks with me over the past year) have done for me.
There isn’t a day gone by that I don’t appreciate your generous gift of kindness and I’m not flash, I’m not confident , I don’t have a lot, I don’t compete, I don’t have stables and if you asked me most dressage moves I would look at you blankly … but you guys have always treated me with respect and kindness and understanding that I simply love my ponies for being nothing more than ponies.
Even though I don’t fit in your world, it’s something you don’t find much of in the equestrian world. I see so many people complaining lately on Facebook about riders sabotaging others and rude behaviour, but they forget about people like you guys where it doesn’t matter what you own, who you are, whether you can walk over a trotting pole or jump 1.20m – if you love your horse, you treat people like me as equals.
I think I probably bore you a lot with the basic things like “Look she’s lunging and wearing a saddle and listening to me” but you’re always quick to say “Wahoo looking good!” The confidence in myself and skills has grown from the opportunities you have given me, as small as they may seem to you it encourages me.
This is something I can never repay you guys for other than to say we need more people to follow your example in the equestrian world.
If that didn’t make you emotional enough, middle sister Kelly responded with this message:
The feeling is mutual – we love the updates about Nala and think the horsey world needs more people like you – to accept horses for who they are and what they can offer and give them a fun and full life even if, like in Nala’s case, it’s just walks on the beach and bonding time. We have always been in awe of how much you do with her and couldn’t have found her a better home – you restored our faith in humans quite a bit with what you have done for that mare.
It is people like these who restore my faith in humanity. We need more of these people in our world.
For more on the Wilson sisters, you can find them on Facebook at Showtym Sport Horses, Keeping up with the Kaimanawas and Keeping up with the Mustangs. Their website is at www.showtymhorses.co.nz and Kelly’s book “For the Love of Horses” is available on Amazon or in NZ bookstores.