Over the years, March has become a big month for women. International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are always hot topics and, whilst I’m not a big fan of gender-specific events, I do think there’s value in occasionally taking the time to reflect on how the roles of women have changed over time, the influential women in our lives and how female energy contributes to a sense of balance in the world around us.
My Grandma, Muriel Hampshire, will always be the stand-out “influencer” for me. Entrepreneurial and rebellious, she loved to buck the trend. Not only was she a sound business woman, she was the first woman to compete as part of the British Hairdressing World Cup Team and she hobnobbed with Laurel and Hardy! Her social circle included the likes of movie actor Harry Green (A King in New York, Wild Gold, True to the Navy). I’d like to say I followed in Muriel’s footsteps, but clearly I didn’t! She did, however, make it abundantly plain that we should never shy away from doing something out of the ordinary. So, whilst my Dad always struggles with my decision not to continue with my safe, ‘proper’ H&S career, I know Grandma would be giving me a big thumbs-up!
Women – we’re all over the place!
I’m sure most people will, by now, have clocked that women make up roughly 50% of the population! We have a fairly fundamental part to play in ensuring the continuation of the human race and, guess what, we also have views, opinions, skill sets and attributes that contribute to the smooth-running (or otherwise!) of society, as we know it.
But what would happen if that 50:50-ish balance was thrown out of kilter?
Would the world come to an end? Highly unlikely!
Would priorities change? I suspect, quite possibly.
For better, or worse? Who knows?
Closer to home, I’ve always felt it was important that my equine team reflects the male/female split of human society. Not for any reasons of political correctness, but because I believe that it’s important to have a balance of male and female energy in my herd.
Many EFL practitioners prefer to work with a single-sex herd, primarily to avoid the potential challenges of combining moody, hormonal mares with “frisky” geldings*. In my experience, those issues rarely raise their heads in an established herd and, if they do, are quite simply a fact of life that should be acknowledged and discussed, not avoided.
Mares and geldings tend to have different priorities in the herd. They bring different energies and take on different roles.
Losing Zahra, last year, really brought that home to me. She left a big hole in my heart, but also in the herd and they continue to struggle without her physical and energetic presence, 9 months on.
Technically, Billy is our herd leader. He’s the eldest and he’s seen more of the world. However, as with people, this doesn’t automatically mean he’ll be a good leader. In fact, Billy’s priorities are all wrong.
Horses are prey animals, so a good herd leader would put safety above all else. But not Billy. His Emotional Intelligence (EQ) barometer is skewed by his life experiences, meaning his priority is food. In a non-domestic setting, he would leave his herd wide open to attack from mountain lions and wolves.
He’s also a bit of a bully and doesn’t allow Cloud to play a significant role in the herd, despite his best efforts to step up to the plate, since losing Zahra. Billy’s a great example of the difference between a “boss” and a “leader,” but that’s probably a blog for another day.
Zahra was adept at keeping the herd safe and, whilst she would defer to Billy’s bossy-style in most matters, she took no nonsense from him when she perceived that there was any kind of threat to life, or limb. She was also a nurturing soul, having a maternal attitude towards Cloud and a gentle, supportive manner with clients she considered needed her input. Her EQ barometer was keen as mustard; she didn’t waste her time, or energy on matters that were unimportant to her, but gave her full attention to issues significant to her. Her boundaries wouldn’t be swayed by the possibility of food, if safety, or nurturing required her input.
In the wild, her herd would be safe as houses under her watchful eye.
Without her, our herd feels out of balance and lacking in that special female energy, despite having Gertie – if you know Shetland ponies, you know Shetland ponies! If you don’t, then that’s another conversation for a later date.
I hope that balance is soon to be restored by the introduction of a sassy new mare, who will be joining us at the end of April. She will bring her own “views, opinions, skill sets and attributes” and these will undoubtedly cause ripples in the herd, as we all adjust to the new order.
I look forward to International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month 2024; the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on how Lennie has carved her niche in the team and brought a strong female energy back into the blend!
*For those unfamiliar with horsey speak, a ‘gelding’ is a castrated stallion.