If you’re in the horse business long enough, you will see just about everything in terms of unethical behavior. And just when you think you can say “I’ve seen it all”, someone will hit you with something you never even thought was possible. So, after being poked and prodded by others to make up a list of ethical rules, I came up with the following “Rules For The Ethical Horseman”. All of these rules have been put forth by others in different words over the years and are all essentially points of common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is not all that common. In fact, it’s rarer than hen’s teeth.
You are responsible for the safety and well being of all horses and students with whom you are entrusted. Instill this concept in your customers, students, employees and anyone else who is trusted with the care or handling of horses.
The care, safety and well being of a horse is the primary concern of every ethical and competent horseman. The highest attention should be paid to the physical and psychological well being of the horse. Teach students to protect themselves and their horses.
Be civil to others both inside and outside of your professional practice. Maintain highest moral and ethical conduct both your professional practice and personal life.
Treat all people and horses with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Be honest, ethical and moral in both business, public and private life. Your word is your bond. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Always use the proper tone of voice and proper language with your students and customers. Avoid language that is inappropriate or offensive.
Understand the history and development of horses, riding and training. Follow this rule and you will avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and help advance horsemanship in the present and future. Understand all disciplines and take the attitude that no discipline is superior to another but that each discipline is superior only in its proper and specific application. History and horsemanship go hand in hand – if you don’t know where you came from you assuredly will not know where you are going.
Use horsemanship to develop character in your students and yourself. Also remember that adversity and difficulties do not develop character, they reveal it. The ultimate goal of horsemanship is to produce efficiency and harmony between horse and rider.
Always take responsibility for that which you are responsible. Actions have consequences. Understand the relationship between actions and consequences. Instill this principle in yourself and your students.
Know your limits, the limits of the horses and the limits of your students. Never ask a horse or a student to do anything that they are not ready to do or are not capable of doing.
Maintain and base your professional and private relationships on loyalty, mutual respect, courtesy and collaboration. Work with others, not against them.
Do nothing to ‘steal’ the customers of others or otherwise and do not solicit the business of another’s customers. If someone else’s customer wants to do business with you, let them come to you.
Make sure that your students are properly equipped and attired at all times.
At shows or other events, always cooperate with officials. Respect all rules, regulations and directions at shows. You, as the instructor, are responsible for all the necessary paperwork and forms. Make sure that your students and customers always obey proper protocol and procedure. Your students are a reflection of you.