I was asked the other day, what film I had seen the most times, after a short pause to consider I replied ‘Strictly Ballroom’.
From the look on their face I think they expected me to say something very clever, arty, quirky, cult or at least a cinema classic, so what is it about it that puts Strictly Ballroom at the top of my most watched list?
The film itself is a comedy, a parody and doesn’t take itself seriously, it is cleverly done and very entertaining but hardly the stuff of legends. The subject then? I enjoy a bit of dancing, but not enough to watch the popular celebrity dancing show that it lends its name to (though in part my disinterest is in the celebrity element). There is a love interest, but that too has been done countless times in different ways. No, It is the essence of the film that propels it onto my favourites list. This film is about Mavericks.
For those who haven’t seen it, and I suggest you do, it is about a dancer who defies accepted norms, practices and competition rules to dance his own steps despite pressure from the authorities, friends and his family. This has many parallels with being an alternative equestrian. Daring to be different is a difficult path to follow.
Anything from non rugging, going barefoot, bitless bridles and not stabling to positive reinforcement training and seeking a natural environment for my horses, has over the years, attracted patronising comments, outright derision, pressure to conform and exclusion from competitions. These have come from friends, fellow equestrian and equine professionals. It took me a long time to realise that in some cases the pressure came not because people thought they were right, but because their were suffering from cognitive dissonance.
Over the years I am happy to say that being a maverick has gotten easier, partly because many of the ideas and practices which are considered different are becoming much more accepted and normalised. Partly because I have made many like minded friends along the way. But also because I stopped caring what people thought of me, I do not need their approval, I need to be true to myself and to follow my heart. My horses are healthy and happy and that is all that matters.
So to all those fellow Mavericks, keep on going, I salute you.