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Tracy Courtney

Strength in Individuality

We must begin to move beyond deeply habituated belief systems that dictate problems are solved by focusing on & working through our pet's body & other external sources. This is the foundation of all step-by-step, cookie-cutter methods. The body is only a reflection of what's happening in the mind, a single snapshot in time of a much deeper story. If we truly want to understand & change behaviour at its roots, we must begin to let go of theses outdated ideas & begin to look at our own behaviour. It begins with each & every one of us individually, not picketing or demanding for establishment changes over night, but with each one of us setting the example for others to follow in their own lives. Although storming a facility may save a group of individuals in that moment, it does not change the system as a whole. Individuality is the simplest & most effective route to massive change.

Each & every individual has no idea how much power they actually have & how they can steer an entire industry by coming together individually & not in mass uprisings. An example is in the pet food industry that relates to what happened with grain-free dry kibble diets for dogs & cats. A company created a new ad campaign for a grain-free diet, alluding to it being a more beneficial & healthy choice. There was much information missing in their claims (or in the fine print), such as grain-free also meant the elimination of organ meats, which is necessary for overall health. This campaign was nothing more than an attempt from a new angle to try to sell more of their brand of kibble. These claims were based on profit margins, without regard for the health of the pets, which are now beginning to be substantiated.

So many people fell for this false advertising on an individual basis, that the rest of the industry had no choice but to follow suit, in order to compete & sell their own products. We as individuals, didn't even realize that we had steered an entire industry in a direction of our choice through our collective, albeit individual choices.

The truth of this is finally beginning to come to light & the industry is beginning to offer grains in their range of products again, because we as individuals have caught on & are now looking for grain inclusive diets. Although grains are only one component to an overall healthy diet, what also may not be realized is that these individual choices led to forcing these companies to begin moving away from cheap, filler grains, to more healthy versions. This is the power of all of humanity on an individual level. The answers don't lie in divisive conflict, but in decisive support. We don't see lasting examples through preaching & coercion, which will inevitably lead to aversion, but through quiet creation & application.

How many of us realize the level of time & cost that these companies invest in advertising? They know what sells & they know how to sell it better than anyone. Look at what's happening with Skittles candy at the moment. How many years has this product been on the market & only now are they finally admitting that it's so toxic, it can actually alter our DNA. We've all seen the fun & exciting commercials to advertise this product. Many of us have a general concept of what we think is acceptable & not acceptable, feeding our pets dry kibble is one of these concepts that has become the norm of acceptance. We try to do some research into some of the ingredients & satisfy ourselves with comparing the words on the labels of different brands, but how many of us have researched the industry as a whole? They aren't going to print that a substance is so toxic, that it can alter the DNA of our pets or cause other debilitating diseases on the label.  How many of us consider the addition of numerous vitamins & minerals to the diets acceptable? We have come to look at it as just part of the regular process, but is this normal? If there really are all of the healthy ingredients being added that are claimed, shouldn't our pets be receiving all the vitamins & minerals they need from these healthy ingredients, or do we think they're healthy because we see nice pictures of fresh foods on the packaging? We don't feel a need to add vitamins & minerals to our own salads & meals because we know they already contain what's needed. Is there something in the process of making kibble that removes all of the beneficial & healthy ingredients, which creates a need to add them at the end, synthetically? I feel that kibble in general, can be viewed as dead food. It's cooked until there is nothing viable left in it, then we add synthetic components one at a time, to try to mimic what the body needs to be healthy. The body is so complex, that I don't think this is possible & the current level of health issues in our pets are pretty substantial evidence of this. Can we purchase a salad or steak that will last on the shelf for 4 years? 

Having spent some time managing a pet food store for awhile, I was always amazed at the number of people who would adamantly exclaim, as a solid & undeniable fact, how terrible human food is for dogs. There was never any room for discussion or compromise, it was just a fact & everyone else had better get on board, if they knew what was good for the health of their pets!

Before the creation of dry kibble, what did our pets eat? Not only did they eat whatever we ate, but they lived significantly longer & healthier lives. If we did a little research, we would find that the incidents of allergies & disease was pretty rare, not all that long ago. Now, it's pretty rare to find pets without allergies &/or some other significant type of disease, that will shorten their lives considerably. During the last few years of my time spent working in vet clinics, there was an increase in diseases such as pancreatitis, that were typically found in older pets, beginning to be found in pets around 1 year of age. 

For myself personally, I am quite often chastised for no longer having an equine facility, or any horses at the moment. This stems from a conditioned belief system, that real horsemen must have these things in order to prove that they are worthy & capable. I am quite often further chastised for not having some type of certification, to presumably prove that I know a thing or two about horses. We have been conditioned to believe that these things are necessary & absolute, in order to be taken seriously, in this & many other professions.

I can say in all honesty & without regret, that the pursuit of this passion has cost me this life, friends, family, relationships & my overall health, due to sustaining more than 20 fractures during my individual learning curves of trials & errors. I can also say that I have accepted the choices I've made, have grown from understanding them more deeply & am proud to say what is offered here is a product of my own blood, sweat, tears & experiences. What is offered here is not a product of anyone else's ideas or experiences. This has given me a great super power to no longer worry about or accept what anyone else thinks or feels about my choices. How many accredited horse teachers have we known that have been-sub-par in their methods? This isn't an anti-certification statement, but let's be honest here. Just because we hold a piece of paper, doesn't necessarily mean we're good at what we do & to the contrary, not holding a piece of paper can mean the same thing. Our actions speak louder than our words or letters on a piece of paper.

My personal opinion, which can be accepted or rejected, is that great change cannot be found in regurgitating the words & ideas of others, whether we hold that coveted piece of paper or not. These are just dissected & re-boxed in slightly different ways that may seem new on the surface, but they contain the same fundamental components. Freshness is as freshness does. I made a decision at the age of 12, that what was needed was a new way to understand & work with horses, & I was going to be the one to bring that change. Everywhere I looked, all I saw was force, aggression & abuse, even from those who were considered the top trainers at that time. At no point in this decision, did ego enter the picture. I never even considered fame or fortune as my motivation, but strictly for the sake of the poor misunderstood horses & my own personal goal. I'm quite content with how far I've come all on my own & the new possibilities that are available. If anyone considers me unworthy for not regurgitating the words & techniques of someone else, then that's their limitations & not mine. The days of bending over to accommodate those who are not interested in stepping out of their comfort zones are over for me. I have reached the goal I set out to achieve & that's all I needed to do. 

I don't waste time trying to push my personal opinions on others, or arguing with those who disagree. The concepts & dissections offered here speak for themselves & are done because they make me happy, while creating harmony & flow in this individual life. I often share what I'm learning through articles, without necessity or charge, for those who might be interested & may begin to look at what they currently do from a fresh perspective, through their own individual choices. We have been conditioned right from pre-school that we have no choice but to follow the crowd & this is the root of these ridiculous beliefs. We have always been told that we don't have a choice, but we do have a choice! It's time to wake up & begin making choices for ourselves & let go of the conditioning.

I don't rely on the approval or shrink from the disapproval of others opinions, because it makes no difference to me. I do what I do because I enjoy it, not because I have to. Although the title of this page is "Courtney Master Horseman", I created this title a long time ago when I still felt I had something to prove & wanted to "advertise" as something different. I'm long past these ideas of creating & identifying with a particular persona to parade in front of the world. I no longer see myself as anything other than "lil 'ol me", doing what I like to do, whether this involves horses or not. The greatest freedom comes from letting go of the opinions of others & looking for the acceptance of others. All I can do now is giggle every time one of these self-righteous, know-it-all's tell me I have not earned my stripes because I don't have a licence to produce. We are the only ones we have to answer to at the end of the day & we need to feel good about our own, individual choices. I don't need to prove that I'm better than anyone else, just that I'm a little better for myself, than I was yesterday. I only compete with myself.

Individuality doesn't mean inventing a persona, an identity with X, Y & Z to substantiate the masks we present to the world & how we think we should be perceived. This is invariably what leads to segregation, conflict & war. Individuality is living life in a more productive way that makes us happy, not based on the acceptance or judgements of others. Individuality means the true freedom of making our own choices & doing what feels right for ourselves, without imposing these choices on someone else. Our unique individuality doesn't have to rely on others to make a difference in the world because taking these small steps toward progress for ourselves, that feel right, is setting a great example for others without the use of force, coercion or justification. We can create great change in the world just by being our own amazing individual selves, with our own ideas, thoughts, feelings & making small changes in our own lives, that make sense to us & for us.