For the better part of a year, I’ve been looking toward what is next. The Plaid Horse inevitably mimics my journey—echoing what I am personally going through as we put each issue together. Reflected on the pages are my growth as a horseperson and a human, and that of the many people who work alongside me.
Much of my last decade has shown up in the magazine—my fear in coming back to riding, my body image struggles, my desire for inclusion and making every single person feel welcome and respected at the horse show, and how we can do better by our horses through our actions as owners, riders, and business people.
We have confronted so many things in our industry head on, and in parallel I have taken responsibility for so much in my own life. I have improved not only myself, but also my relationships, my goals, and my accountability. Through this, I’m much less afraid. I feel much more welcome at horse shows. I’m taking ownership of my body and how it’s served me to date.
Much of the last decade has also revolved around my fear. These days, I’m less fearful when I put my foot in the stirrup. That’s not to say that fear won’t come back when starting up the next horse, but for now, I’m comfortable.
Which leads me to spend time pondering the next chapter.
What are my goals and what do I want to tackle next, both professionally and personally? How do I make horses’ lives better? How do we make teenage girls feel more valued and confident? How do we empower students of all ages to be vulnerable enough to learn and progress? How do we empower trainers to have the tools to run their programs with ever increasing demands and not lose out on any knowledge of horse training?
I think we accomplish all of this through a higher level of performance. Courses that ask more training questions at all levels. Difficulty that makes people feel really accomplished. I want courses that ask for balance and impulsion and not only pace, line, and distance. Kids get hungry for accomplishment by accomplishing things, not by handing them things.
We all think we want respect, but what makes us really feel good when we go to bed at night is responsibility. Responsibility for our animals, building our next generation, preserving our current generation, and caring for our elder generation. Responsibility for having the integrity to proudly learn and follow the rules. It is on all of us to create our society with the values we want.
The issue marks a turning point in The Plaid Horse to focus more on training and challenge and a reinvigoration of being there for others and mentoring the next generation. Being an educator is not glamorous and you are rarely (or never) valued in your own time. But this is a challenge far past the world of social media and instant gratification. There’s a higher level of accountability required. It’s a path that requires no fear. And The Plaid Horse is ready.
Piper Klemm, Ph.D.
Follow me on Instagram at @piperklemm
*This story was originally published in the March 2023 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!
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