By Anna Jane White-Mullin
- As many of you know, I’ve recently been caring for an elderly friend, who was “at death’s door” about two weeks ago, but who has made a miraculous recovery. I was thinking about the various aspects of her care, and it brought to mind how the success of any endeavor — whether it involves a human or a horse — has to do with vigilance. It is the constant attention to all aspects that can make a critical difference:
Planning – You need to know what your goal is and consistently work toward it. This involves a broad plan that is broken down into logical steps. If circumstances cause the plan to change, you have to quickly orient yourself to the new situation.
Care – This encompasses proper nutrition, everyday attention to cleanliness, the correct approach to wound care, etc. Whether it be horse or human you are working with, it is important to be as well-informed as possible. This involves getting advice from experts and doing some research on your own. Where the issue of care is involved, you must be very observant, monitoring even the smallest changes that indicate progress or a relapse.
Finances – Every decision must be made with a realistic view of the available financing. You always want to be thinking ahead to what things may cost and how you can have the needed amount of money available when the time comes.
Compassion – As the saying goes, “No one cares what you know until they know that you care.” You can have the most beautiful barn, the finest tack, and the most expensive horses in the world, but you won’t get far in this sport unless you can communicate your compassion to the horse. Once the horse knows from your quiet guidance that it can trust you, it will willingly give you all that it has to offer in performance.
Having noted these things, let me say that the life or death of my friend was in God’s hands, not mine; but I can honestly say that I did all that I could to help her, and now a woman who was on a respirator with a feeding tube down her throat two weeks ago is riding a stationary bike in physical therapy. Whether caring for a horse or a human, vigilance can make all the difference in success or failure.
Anna Jane White-Mullin has been a “Big R” judge in hunters, hunter seat equitation, and jumpers for more than 30 years. Her latest book, The Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing, and Judging, was recently endorsed by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and United States Pony Clubs (USPC). Visit Anna at: