“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.
What is happening to our equestrian community? It is with a really heavy heart that I write this blog. I have just seen the most awful backlash on social media to one young girl who was asking for advice on her riding position on a forum. Combined with the recent social media activity and the vile comments aimed at Charlotte Dujardin after being eliminated from the European Championships. I am left with a deep concern over what kind of a community we have become. Why has everyone become so angry?!
I know this is not just an equestrian problem, BBC reported yesterday that 27% of children face some form of cyber-bullying every week. However, when our community shares such a deep rooted love for horses, why are we not supporting each other and celebrating success?
I also am left to wonder why we are asking forums for advice on horse care and riding? The individuals responding on-line could have as much experience of horses as my husband (which is negative I can assure you!). What happened to the good old asking the advice of our riding instructor? Or a Vet? Or for feeding advice most of the feed companies have fantastic advice lines. And... this one really baffles me... would you ask for opinions on your riding? In fact why would you ask a forum opinions on anything? That is never going to have a happy outcome.
I am all for constructive criticism and help. My business has developed and thrived on working on customer feedback. In the world of showing, our success derives from listening to judges feedback, watching videos of us in the show ring and taking the advice of those I respect who have watched us. That is all part of development. But please, please if you post on a forum ( especially one that allows anonymous comments) asking for advice and opinion, please be aware that you are setting yourself up for a barrage of nasty and often hurtful comments.
Why people write such cruel things, I have no idea. If something doesn't directly affect me and their is no sign of cruelty ( which I would report to whatever social media) I don't get involved. However, if you are someone who likes to give advice, then please do it in a supportive way. Even if someone posts a video, hanging off the back of the saddle with reins like washing lines, please find something positive to say, because the 14 year old who is looking for a bit of advice ( and probably feeling a bit insecure) will be deeply hurt by a barrage of negativity. Sometimes, the best advice is "keep scrolling".
I hate the term "keyboard warrior". A warrior is someone who is brave and heroic and there is nothing brace or heroic about hiding behind a phone or laptop making anonymous spiteful comments. I also wonder if these individuals put as much passion and drive into improving their own life and less about degrading others, they would be happier individuals?
Pegasus, has had our fair share of "keyboard cowards" making horrible comments when I share exciting new designs or ideas. Months of work and excitement when final pieces arrive and are shared on social media can be totally dashed when someone makes a comment like "looks cheap" or "my dog wouldn't wear that". I also had someone leave a horrible review and after a sleepless and tearful night trying to work out what they had bought or what the issue had been. To no avail, I finally contacted the individual on messenger to find out they hadn't even heard of my business, they just thought it was "a laugh".
So whats the solution? I think its simple:
1. Be kind or keep scrolling.
2. Only ask qualified experts for advice.
Our goal should be to create a community that encourages our sport, and share the love of our beautiful equine friends.