HJC Code of Ethics
A code of ethics is a set of guidelines and values which dictate how our staff and volunteers handle situations (human and equine), teach students and work together. As we are working with clients and horses we hold these core principles at heart. HJC is more than just a place. We are a feeling and a sense of home for our clients. Embodying our core principles and making them your own will lead everyone to success.
EDUCATION: our job is to teach. Sometimes the lessons which need to be taught are not always the lessons a student (or parent) wants to learn. Teach them anyway. There is opportunity to learn from every experience, facilitate learning for parent, student, horse and entourage. Never stop learning: learn from your students and horses and seek outside learning opportunities for yourself. You will stay fresh and eager the more you push yourself to learn, the minute you think you know it all, quit — you are no longer HJC material.
“Aging? Ballooning? Grieving? The answer is always the same and it always works. Teach. Because in the end students are what matter.” — Susan Richards from Chosen Forever
INTEGRITY: always do right by the horse and the client. By practicing integrity you will always do right by HJC and yourself as well.
SAFETY: always act with safety of self, horse and others at heart. If unsure what to do in any situation (i.e. cancelling lessons for weather) ask yourself: if an accident were to occur would you feel you could have done something to prevent it? To feel safe is more than feeling physically safe from harm. Emotional safety is equally important, take steps to ensure the emotional safety of clients by refraining from gossip, judgement and destructive criticism (at HJC or online). A horse’s emotional wellbeing ensures the physical safety of our clients, horses should always be monitored for signs of stress and not worked more than twice a day, five times a week. Our horses need to be considered equally important to our participants. The better you care for and understand them the safer our clients will be.
HONESTY: always tell the truth with kindness. Truths are not always easy to hear, especially when negative. Remember, our job is to teach, find a way to tell the truth with integrity and to educate. Difficult conversations are a part of the territory. Put what is best for the client and the horse ahead of the business decision, for example:
Q: “Is my child ready to own a horse?”
A: “Honestly? In my opinion no, not yet. Susie is showing enthusiasm and is growing as a rider each lesson, however, at this time she is still a beginner. Entering in to horse ownership is a huge family decision. You want to make sure that everyone is ready for the responsibilities and financial commitment. Little Susie is excited and loving horses right now, but how will she feel on Christmas morning? How do you feel about her riding on her own without supervision? If this is a goal which you would like Susie to work toward we could consider her trying out some clinics or perhaps a partial lease to ease everyone into the transition or even increasing the number of lessons per week and see how she holds up. Ultimately, as her coach I just don’t believe she is there yet, but she will be one day.”
TRUST: always follow through. The push up list is not a threat, it is a promise to our clients. We care enough about our clients to enforce our rules and maintain a healthy structure. By making promises and keeping them we will earn even the most skeptical client’s trust. Be consistent in all you do. This is true for both horses and our clients.
“Don’t be a victim. Be busy with your horse so you stay out of trouble — otherwise, trouble will come and find you. Be assertive but don’t be aggressive, if you are aggressive you’ll make the horse flighty. The horse needs perimeters like anyone else. Give them guidance, support, rules. The same rules. Don’t change the game. Don’t let them have excuses just because of their past……….and love them.” — Buck Brannaman
RESPECT: accept differences of; opinion, culture and circumstance without judgement. Treat the property, the clients and the horses as you would treat your own.
FAILURE: is feedback. Allowing clients to fail and facilitate a learning experience is at the heart of teaching. Rescuing is not helping. We want our students to become independent, learning how to fail is a part of becoming a healthy individual. Support your client in a way which every failure is feedback — more information they have gained in their journey.
FAMILY: treat one another as you would your family. Forgive, support, defend, challenge and love. Be your best self for your HJC family and reap the rewards. When your HJC family is difficult remember: we all have two things in common, HJC and horses — build on that.
“My belief in life is that we can all get along together if we try to understand one another… You’ll meet a lot of people and have a lot of acquaintances, but as far as having friends — they are very rare and very precious. But every horse you ride can be your friend because you ask this of them. This is real important to me. You can ask the horse to do your thing, but you ask him; you offer it to him in a good way. You fix it up and let him find it. You do not make anything happen, no more than you can make a friendship begin.”
ENVIRONMENT: always strive to create a stable environment where horses thrive and students feel accepted, heard and supported. Actualize the environment you want to be a part of and watch your students participate, grow and excel beyond your imagination.
“Environment builds behaviour.” -Bill Strickland
HUMILITY: be humble. If you are wrong, say you’re sorry and mean it. There is no place for inflated egos in the saddle, at HJC or in life. Allow yourself to be wrong. Admit it. Learn from it. Move on. If you don’t a horse or a student will happily bring you back down to reality. Acknowledge there are more than one way to do things and that your way might not work for every student or horse. Never be scared to ask for help when you need it. Even the experts need help.
SUPPORT: always support your clients in their goals and endeavors at HJC and away from HJC. HJC is not a competitive stable, we are not preparing people for the olympics, we are preparing them for life. We do not believe horseback riding is the only part of our clients lives which need support. Support individual goals and inspire students to support each other. Provide them the time and environment which allows them to realize those goals. The only goal for your students you should have are theirs. As an employee, volunteer or client you have HJC’s full support. You are family, we are behind you.