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!

Along for the ride: FANGIRL

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. 

It’s always been a little weird when someone comes up at clinics or expos and meets Warwick for the first time and is gushing and “fangirling”. I guess because to me, he’s just “Work” (that’s how my family pronounced his name for a long time!) He’s just the guy I married almost 24 years ago (in February). Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s amazing, but it has still been strange to see his popularity increase – people wanting things with his name on it, wanting his autograph, wanting to take pictures with him. To tell you the truth, I try not to think about it because it still feels a bit surreal.

But, the other day I finally GOT IT!

Let me explain. For the last couple of months, Warwick has had me listening to Brene Brown on audiobook. I spend a lot of time alone and I usually put on talk radio so it is another person’s voice and not just music. He convinced me to switch to some of Brene’s books on Audible and it’s been amazing.

Brene talks about wholeheartedness and vulnerability and shame. So much of it hit home, as it would with any human being who is not a psychopath (she says this).   I have listened to all of her full-length books, most with her narrating them and another that is a shorter session. I think I’ve listened to 2 of the full- length books twice and the shorter session about 4 times. I always pick up new things when I listen to them again. The point is, I have binged on Brene Brown recently! She has been my constant companion for about a month!

The other day I was walking Holden around our neighborhood, listening to my friend Brene (because this is what she feels like about now) and I thought to myself, I kinda love Brene Brown! I would actually love to meet her. She could totally be my friend. I pondered why I felt this way and concluded that it was because she had taught me so much. I could relate to her, she was funny, humble, likeable. And then it hit me: this is why people react to Warwick in the same way!

They might not know him, but they’ve listened and watched hours of his videos. They learned things from him that have had a profound impact on the relationship they have with their horses (and with others, we’ve heard). He’s funny, he’s humble and they can relate to him. It’s exactly the way I feel about Brene Brown!

So, if you’ve been one of those people at the clinics or expos or anywhere else, I’m sorry! Don’t get me wrong, I think I’ve always been gracious when people come up to talk to Warwick, but I think if you looked hard enough, the confusion could be seen in my eyes. Now that I know what that feeling is, I will do better and it’s actually pretty cool that people feel that way about Warwick. I sure hope that I get to meet Brene Brown someday and tell her how she has so positively impacted my life. I might even get a picture with her or have her sign a book!

Thanks for reading.