Along for the ride: Choosing courage over comfort

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

If you would have told me 7 years ago when we moved back from Australia to the USA that I would ever be thinking about what thousands of people thought about Warwick (or me), I would have laughed (maybe cringed is a better word). I’ve always been the one to take it personally when someone didn’t like us or said unkind things about us – so to have ever thought that it would be thousands of people versus a dozen or so, that is just crazy talk! It only took a couple to influence my decision to move back to the USA from our 4 year stint in Australia!

You see, when we moved to Australia at the end of 2006, one of the things that we did was get involved in the politics of the reining association there. I had some NRHA qualifications as a judge, secretary and world champion competitor and Australia had just affiliated with the NRHA in the USA. So, we got involved on boards and tried to educate people and improve the sport of reining in Australia.   We made a lot of progress, but it wasn’t without a personal cost. It was devastating to hear the names that people called me, many of whom I had never met or spoken to. It was one of the reasons that I demanded we moved back to the USA, among others, including being really homesick and missing my family.

Then we moved back and I thought we would settle back into our life here – not get involved in any of the horse show politics and not have to worry about too many people forming opinions about us. Boy, was I wrong!   As the Youtube channel grew, so did the opinions (both good and bad) and then as social media grew, more opinions and judgments.

Warwick truly believes the adage of “What other people think of you isn’t any of your business”. I’ve tried to embrace that – but I have not done a great job at putting my arms or head around it. I can say that I don’t take it AS personally as before, or maybe for as long, but when someone is upset or has a negative opinion of Warwick (or I) it still hurts. When you know that your intentions are in the right place, it is difficult to shrug off words that sting.

Something that Brene Brown said in a recent audio book has made me reflect recently. Maybe the tides are changing. Some of her inspiration in Daring Greatly and other books, comes from a great Theodore Roosevelt quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

She goes on to say that the ultimate courage is showing up to be seen, with no control over the outcome. She says that a lot of the “cheap seats” in the arena are filled with those who never venture onto the floor, they hurl insults and comments from the very safe distance of their seats.

Hearing this put it in perspective for me and made me think a bit differently about my time in Australia and for the plans we have in place for 2018. I can choose comfort or I can choose courage. I am choosing courage. I believe with all my heart that what Warwick is doing is helping horses and people all over the world. He is helping people change their lives. Sure, it might be easier to not put it out there and dare greatly, but then what happens to those horses or people who might need to hear what he is saying?

I was always proud of what we accomplished and tried to accomplish in Australia. But I wasn’t able to allow myself to feel the pride completely because of those people. Even though I knew that most of those hurling the insults weren’t in the arena, I let them keep me from feeling good about what we had done there. Now, what I have come to realize while writing this blog is that, not only were they not in the arena, they had never even seen the arena that I had seen. I knew what was possible because I had been in the biggest of arenas (literally). I guess it would be hard for them to understand something they’d never seen before and trust the words of a foreigner (who later became a fellow citizen).

Fast forward 10 years and the reining scene in Australia has blossomed and grown and many, many of those people have visited the USA and spent time at the reining shows here seeing the biggest, most prestigious arenas. Funnily enough, some of the things we fought so hard for, are now a reality there. I don’t know if it had anything to do with our efforts, but I’d like to think that we planted some seeds and led by example.

So, the next time someone says something about you, maybe because of the path that you have chosen with your horse, I would encourage you to do 2 things. 1. Take a deep breath and picture yourself in the arena. (I think I’m going to picture myself in a gladiator outfit, thinner and tanner since it’s just a made up image – just for fun!) While you are picturing yourself there, remember what Roosevelt said about those cold and timid souls who will never know victory nor defeat! They are choosing comfort over courage and you are totally not!!!  The second thing I want you to try and do is to think of it as a lead by example situation. You might be planting seeds as well. At least they noticed what you are doing with your horse if they are talking about you! Keep giving them something to talk about and maybe, just maybe, some beautiful things will blossom. The result can only be good things for their horse!

“At first they will ask why you are doing it. Later they will ask you how you did it.”

Thanks for reading!

31 thoughts on “Along for the ride: Choosing courage over comfort

  1. Oh Robyn. I can’t tell you how timely this is. You are an absolute angel.
    I’m feeling really REALLY shitty right now because of just ONE critic and she hasn’t even said anything. Just voted with her feet!
    I’m a physically tough gal but emotionally fragile.
    I’m about to reinvent myself and this has helped me so much.
    Thanks and love xx

  2. Ahhh, sorry that happened to you in Oz. I’m an Aussie living in Scotland. I know what it’s like to be ‘not from here’ and also what Aussies can be. You guys are awesome, just know that. Great blog, I choose courage too and you’ve put into words what I need to tell my two daughters. Cheers, Anna

  3. Nicely stated. I especially like the image of thinking about ourselves in the arena wearing gladiator outfits. Often, when I am criticized or my accomplishments are demeaned, I think of the line from the song “Eye of the Tiger”—‘Had the guts, got the glory.’ Helps me be proud of what I’ve done with my horses, and inspires me to keep working at it.

  4. Very inspiring Robyn, great words to live by, right up there with Stick To the Dam Plan.
    You and Warwick certainly planted a seed for us here in Australia – Romsey Vic
    We went to a few clinics in Lancefield are a subscriber and bringing up our babies with the Wawrick Method ! We are not Reiners but Dressage riders and it’s been nothing but a lesson for us and our horses every day !
    Keep up the good work
    Cathy and Pawel Cichy

    1. Great article Robyn. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years!! I for one loved Warwick’s clinic in Barellan (population 500). I’m not a competer but I learnt so much about building a rewarding relationship with my horse. Just wished I had learnt from him many years earlier. Would have prevented many frustrating moments.
      So proud of how much you have both achieved since then x

  5. Very timely read, I need to hear that others have those voices that may derail their journey, the negative comments don’t need to be the ones we take home, thank you!

  6. Thank you Robyn for a heartfelt blog. You have a gift for getting to the bottom of anything and this one I am sure resonates with many of those that are part of your journey helping us on ours. I am a teacher myself and constantly have to remind the teenagers in my care to not let others hold them back and to follow their dreams. Wish I had someone saying this to me many a time in my horse journeys in particular. Anyway thank you again and I hope one day to be able to do a clinic with Warwick and meet up with you too.

  7. Please just keep doing what you are doing! I love reading, watching (& trying to practice!) Warwick & Robyn Schiller. Online social media is a powerful tool but why does it bring out so many nasties? Just ignore them. You guys are awesome!! ❤️

  8. Oh Robyn , I don’t know you personally but like you just from what you feel and say. Thank you for your very wise words. I am a sensitive person so feel the slings and arrows fired at me by others. I have decided that if people cannot say it to my face, then their opinion is of no value and I’m trying to practise that. It’s not easy though.

  9. Something I have learnt with age, suffering anxiety and going through a difficult period is that people can only make you feel how you allow them to
    Their reactions to you, your opinions and ideas are a reflection of themselves and not you

    It’s hard to not take things personally sometimes but always remember it’s never about you! It’s their perception of a situation and their reactions
    Anxiety is the hardest journey I have faced and managed to conquer, so I understand it well

    Thank you for sharing your personal moments with us! It’s such a help to publicise anxiety and nervous Illness

  10. I love reading your blogs ..really makes sense and sits well thankyou Robyn.. both Warwick and yourself ., you’re amazing ..

  11. Such truth. Thanks for your courage. As many things in the horse world translate to all life-things, this post did so resonate deeply with me and my life right now… it’s not so much about politics and horses as is it about watching my child struggle with these decisions. My heart hurts when I see my young teen struggling with comfort and courage within himself and fall onto comfort. It reminds me that I want to be just as supportive and kind and accepting of my son when he chooses comfort over courage and realize he is learning his path and without choosing comfort at times, he has no comparison with which to choose courage… he wants to choose courage and sometimes falls short, but in realizing this, he comes back stronger in courage! I guess the same goes for me! Parenting is hard on the soul! And if I STTDP in parenting and stay my course, I live by example and that is the absolute best I can do and be… thanks for your insights and sharing your truth!

  12. Thanx Robyn and wel done!!
    U recognice a lot!
    Most of the time I’ll try tot think ” Just do it, they’ll talk about you anyway so give Them something to talk”.

    But it still gives me that discussion inside my heat and heart. 😘

  13. 🙂 Wow. What great insight.

    I clap for your courage. As you note, it is easy to criticize from the stands and it does take courage to fail and get up again and learn from the attempt.

    It still hurts when we read into other people’s judgement of us. It is the only thing that makes them feel good about themselves. Sadly.
    It is like this in general, with life, whether it is in equine sport, other sport, or business. Or, just life. We can only deal with ourselves and our reactions. Stick to your plan…

    I am looking forward to your blog. I am a new member and have greatly enjoyed content so far.


  14. So very well said Robyn! Thank you for being courageous and sharing. Wishing you many amazing arena moments!

  15. I am not in the arena but have been thinking of jumping into it for years. I have listened to that exact Ted Talk of Brene Brown a couple of years ago and it struck a chord and now again seeing the title of your blog I knew I needed to read it.. My issues is my finances are at stake and I was never a big gambler and nothing to do with being in your kind of arena, but there seems to be so much more to do and people to help (including myself by doing it, of course). Thank you for reminding me.

  16. So well said!!!

    Personally, I feel what you and Warwick are doing and sharing through the subscription, YouTube and social media is nothing short of amazing! The benefits I’m seeing with my horses is making such a positive impact. I’m very thankful to have found this program and plan…I was at my wits end with my 18 year old mare, and this has given me the tools and resources to continue on with her. It’s opened up my eyes to a new and better way of communicating with both of my horses, and I’m excited for the first time in months about what progress and change I can make in handling my horses.

    I wish you both much more success and larger than life arenas! Thank you for sharing and I’m looking forward to seeing what will be coming up on the horizon!

  17. Greetings Robyn & Warwick,
    Congratulations all around, you both have done a phenomenal job in all that you have done and are doing, AUS & USA & for the rest of the world! No joke!
    You have both helped lay the solid foundation in AUS NRHA. It is only forward onward and upward from here.
    As everything is and always will be in a state of constant change as that is life, nothing stays the same, it simply changes morphs at differing rates some quicker some slower to catch on but never the less even a rock is changing evolving!

    I really enjoy all of your training videos, ( and funny bloopers too) you show simple to follow clear concise guidance leaving me with nothing but clarity in what I will achieve. I thank you, and the horses of all those who give it a go to make life a better partnership also thank you!

    A beautiful quote used often by Marisa Peer ” There has never been a statue erected to a critic !” period..
    They the critic really mustn’t like themselves very much at all, you wouldn’t want to be in their shoes, its their choice..
    We all have the free will and a choice to be positive or negative, as the negative or positive critic just shows their choice.
    You, we, us, all need the contrast, or the not pleasant, or the critic, or the negative, or the darkness, all of this helps let us know what we do want. Light over dark, unless you want to sleep then we seek the darkness. LOL.
    Positive over negative emotions, it is simply the rollercoaster of life that we have to navigate around.
    Have you considered that critic could be thanked as has actually helped you both to focus on yourselves, your family, and your business that is morphing in to the next best thing in the equine horse world, with human psychology in a world wide business too.
    I can only hope you are partnering up with other businesses in marketing other products to all of us whom are actually keenly interested in the gear that you are using e.g. trailers, vehicles, saddlery fencing (lol) clothing, hats boots, books, stickers, caps etc.

    “Play more Stress less”
    ” The best thing for the inside of man is the outside of a horse”

    In a recent video Warwick mentioned riding a horse using your mind, I have had the honour of doing this some years ago, a phenomenal experience to communicate on a mental spiritual soulful level that I will endeavour to emulate again. This will be a really interesting subject as it brings up so many more aspects.
    Can you please make a funny blooper reel of outtakes for YouTube.
    And perhaps videos of the trails in different parts of the world with helmet cam. It gives us all another’s perspective of what one may encounter in that particular part of the world.
    I would love to see a helmet cam perspective of a reining competition, & form the horses perspective of what they are seeing doing or not.
    Thank you, I look forward to catching up with you both one day for a cuppa and a chat.

    Much Regards to you both,

    Victoria Cohen
    Victoria Australia
    11th May 2018

  18. Oh Dear Robyn,

    Stand strong as you are. The work you and Warwick did everyday is important for the horses and peoples lives. You are very forgiving of those who CAN’T understand. Be proud of what you are accomplishing. It is becoming a new world, one owner at a time, thank goodness. Debra Broughton, Broughton Equine Enrichment.

  19. After many years of stepping away from the bond between horse and rider (college, career building, marriage, children, & a career on steroids – in HR), I am investing the time to do what I love. While re-learning (yes – its been that long), I came across Warwick and felt as if I found a new friend. Never let the Haters get to you, they don’t matter. You are doing great work and making a difference. The world needs more or you both. – Jennifer

  20. Love this blog! You and Warwick are not just changing lives but you are touching souls and that is the deepest connection and influence you can have on another human being (or horse!)
    Thank you for sharing your journey!

  21. You & Warwick are lights in the darkness. I have been “from away” my entire life & suffer time & again the deepest barbs of naysayers on so many levels. Right now, too ill to even go walking for more than a moment, distanced from my beloved horses by this sudden turn of events, I drink in the snippets of sense and beauty Warwick is kind enough to share with those of us temporarily fundless, like lifelines that keep me afloat in this dark and churning sea. Bliss you both (no typo). With the greatest gratitude, love & respect, Kat.

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