Noblesse oblige is a French phrase literally meaning "nobility obliges".
The Dictionnaire de l’Académie française defines it thus:
- Whoever claims to be noble must conduct himself nobly.
- (Figuratively) One must act in a fashion that conforms to one's position, and with the reputation that one has earned.
Question: What does that have to do with horse training?
Answer: A lot!
In my opinion there are two facets to this.
1. human to horse
In a human-horse relationship, the human (has to) have the leadership position. More on this in a previous post titled training, respect and public perception. As I indicated in that post, this leadership role entails responsibilities. To me, that also means that I must conduct myself towards the horse in a fashion which conforms to that position. Good leadership boots are hard to fill.
2. human to human
As someone who is consulted as a person with knowledge and experience (sorry, I refuse to use the term "expert"), I have a responsibility towards other people. Specifically to people who bring me horses to train, people who pay for coming to clinics or who pay me for my horse related know-how in any other shape or form. To me, this means that I must stay true to the ethical foundations upon which my horse training is based. I must stay true to the principles I proclaim to adhere to. I cannot speak of lofty goals and high moral principles without actually striving constantly to follow them. I cannot ask people to do as I say, but not do as I do. With other words, I need to lead by example.
Ok, I'm only small fry. I don't have a huge fan base, public appearances and a method with a name. I don't have people who orient their whole horse interaction on my methods, and I certainly don't have dedicated defenders of my named and patented method of horse training.
So, to those who have a big public profile, who can woe and influence many people, I say this:
Practice what you preach.
Stay true to your creed.
Speak up on horse welfare.
Your journey is never over, you are a student of life and a a student of horses - for life!
You are only human - it is ok to admit to errors and to make changes
Be honest to others and to yourself.
Be kind to man and beast.
Be conscious of your responsibility.
Lead by example.
Don't be blinded by your own importance.