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It has become a little bit fashionable, in certain circles, to sneer at experts. We have no idea why this is. We at HorseBack love experts. We adore people who are really good at what they do, who have spent their lives building up a vast reservoir of knowledge and experience, who have studied and thought and asked questions. 

Expertise, in any subject, is a lovely thing to have. It builds confidence and competence, two of our favourite qualities. It also, interestingly, breeds humility. All the best horse people we know and all the best mental health people we know – our own two core areas of knowledge – are quietly modest. The ones who have been working in their field for many years don’t proclaim or showboat, because the most vital thing they have learnt is that the more you know, the more you realise you need to know.

This might sound negative, but it’s actually wonderfully liberating. You start to see the gaining of expertise as a great journey, and there is so much more of it to go.

For us at HorseBack, we find this, on the most elemental level, with our horses. Without blowing our own trumpet, we like to think that we can, after all this time, carry a tune. We know how to prepare our horses for the challenging work they do with veterans and young people. We understand how to keep those horses happy and balanced, both in their minds and in their bodies. We’ve had a huge amount of help with this from some wonderful experts, who open our minds to new possibilities. 

But no matter how experienced we get, we know that each new horse who arrives at the farm will teach us something. We can’t get complacent or cocky or set in our ways, because every horse has a different story and every horse has different needs. This means we never get stuck, but are always moving forward, and that is a profoundly satisfying feeling.

We find this too in our work with those who are suffering from mental health problems. There is never a moment when we stop and say that we know everything, that our voyage of exploration is done. The brain is a mysterious organ and there are always fascinating new discoveries and studies. The emotional life of human beings is a great prairie of possibility, and we need to keep shining our headlamps into each hidden nook and cranny.

That is why HorseBack is always evolving, as we learn more and adjust our courses accordingly. 

You don’t have to run a charity like ours to become an expert. This is something everyone can do. Find an area of life that fascinates you, that thrills you, that gets your passions going, and make it your field of study. It can be anything, however ordinary, as long as it gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. We know a person who recovered from a profound trauma by becoming an expert gardener. Watching plants and flowers grow, and knowing how to make them thrive, gave her the heart to go on after a loss which could have crushed her. 

The last couple of years have been hard, with the pandemic raging and an air of uncertainty hovering over the future. All of us at HorseBack have been through our tough days during this time. But one of the things that got us out of bed in the morning and kept us going was the determination to keep learning, to keep honing our expertise, so that when the courses started again we would know more, be better, and have the confidence to help the people that we exist to help. Be an expert. And be proud about it.

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We do not rely on government funding so any donations will greatly assist with the running of our charity.

We do not rely on government funding so any donations will greatly assist with the running of our charity.