“Horses aren’t supposed to be that collected.”
“That’s not natural movement.”
“That outfit looks ridiculous.”
“What was that rider thinking?”
Dressage, Western Pleasure, Hunter/Jumpers, and Gaited disciplines are constantly scrutinized by many audiences. What makes this even worse is that almost half of this unsolicited and often mean-spirited criticism comes from within our very own equestrian community.
We all start out the same, because we love horses. We are drawn to the breed and/or discipline where we find the most enjoyment. So then why do some feel the need to bash and harshly criticize certain disciplines? Many equestrians have forgotten just how hurtful and damaging words can be. Bashing other riding disciplines is causing damage not only to the rider it’s directed at, but also to the equestrian community as a whole.
For example, many “non-horse show people” seek general information from the Internet to learn more about horses and riding. They tend to use YouTube to learn more about a specific riding discipline. Let’s say a non-horse show person comes across a video of a dressage horse doing a Grand Prix freestyle. When they go to post a comment about how much they enjoyed the video, they see a barrage of negative remarks. “He looks too curled up.” “That horse is in pain.” “What was that rider thinking?” These comments can easily deter a new equestrian from that discipline. As we take a closer look, most of the people who leave negative comments are in fact equestrians!
It’s a sad fact that most equestrians who share these negative comments have no experience in the discipline they’re commenting about. They are, however, the first to tear it down. Instead of taking the time to learn more, in order to make a qualified decision, they choose to criticize it based on first appearance only.
A few years ago, a young man won a very prestigious western class. A video was posted on YouTube where he talked about his win and his horse. In the comments section below you can locate a sea of negative remarks. This is both unprofessional and unacceptable. The young man achieved a goal that few can do and many dream about. Instead of commending him on his achievement, different equestrians bashed both the rider, his horse, and the breed. Is this true sportsmanship? Is this what we have become as equestrians?
The bottom line is we all mount a horse the same way. No matter what race we are, or what breed we favor, we are all part of one equestrian community. We need to convey a positive image to our youth riders and newcomers to the sport. We don’t have to agree with everything involved in one another’s riding disciplines. However, we DO need to try harder to keep from mere gossip and negativity. Think before you type. Your negative comments might do more than just hurt someone’s feelings.
We need to uplift each other. Let’s take a stand. Let’s not be the equine “neigh”-sayers, spreading discouraging words about each other. We are equestrians, brothers and sisters who share the same love of the horse. It’s time to put aside our petty differences. Let’s be happy and ride on together as one community.
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