A couple of months ago I joined some Facebook equestrian groups. They are a great way of sharing knowledge and ideas as well as having a little fun. But, and this is a big but, I’ve recently noticed a concerning trend – the way that we talk to and about each other online. It was a recent post on the back of #Antibullyingweek from @thatsassyrider that made me think more about this important issue.
There are some great conversations in these groups, there are also some threads in which people single out particular riders and their methods in a really negative manner. I can see (and hope) that these comments are coming from a place of wanting to see change in our sport and to help educate others about the correct way of going in dressage and how competitions and judges are at times rewarding incorrect riding styles. However, I believe that there is a way to do this without being nasty or attacking an individual.
The most recent example was a video of Isabel Werth riding in the 2017/2018 World Cup. The caption attached to the video used words such as disgusting. Now this is not a new phenomenon in the equestrian world, but online it’s far to easy to sit behind a keyboard and criticise others.
So if we should educate ourselves and each other how are we to go about it? My suggestion would be to use neutral language in place of emotive language. For instance rather than describing particular riding as disgusting or terrible let’s talk about the horses frame, or the riders position or use of aids. Let’s back this up with reasoning as to why a certain way of going is better for the horse so that we can all improve our understanding. Better still let’s not post a clip of a rider for the sole purpose of pointing out their flaws or the horses way of going.