Empathy in the equestrian world is sparse at best. I believe it runs deeper than people not caring. Instead, it’s the competitive mindset that has been engraved into our way of thinking. We just HAVE to be better than everyone else but have zero control. We figure the only way is to comment harsh words – thus, eliminating the competition entirely.
I can’t count how many young equestrians have reached out to me, explaining the horrible comments they’ve received. For instance, a young girl (maybe 11-12) messaged me, expressing how distraught she was after a TikToker bullied her in a video over a 10-second riding clip. This girl told me that she wanted to quit riding altogether as she was receiving so much hate. It broke my heart.
It’s so easy to think: “Well, I would never do that”… but maybe you would. Maybe if you had taken a step in their shoes, you would have a different outlook on their decision-making or reactions.
Perhaps if you had the same friend who got seriously injured from getting bucked off you would understand why that equestrian gets stiff when her horse starts to speed up. Maybe that other equestrian felt the Lord calling him to buy that young thoroughbred. And maybe, just maybe, the spook happened so fast that she forgot to let go of the reins as she hit the ground.
Would you want someone to show you empathy rather than judge you and your riding abilities based on a mistake you made?
Next time you feel the urge to call someone out, try to think to yourself: “Am I actually helping? Are my two cents relevant to the situation?” Trust me, that thought process could work wonders for our sport.
So. This all being said… how can we encourage more empathy in the equestrian world?
Use our own platform to uplift other equestrians
Instead of carelessly scrolling through Instagram, not paying much attention to other accounts, start commenting kind, sincere words that will encourage equestrians to keep doing what they’re doing. Occasionally on my call-to-actions, I’ll have my followers comment one thing they’re proud of as an equestrian, then congratulate someone else’s comment before they move on. This will build a community of growth and comfort amongst your followers. You can view my Instagram here.
By using our own social media platforms, we can spread kindness to counteract the hate. Not even just in the equestrian community, but on social media as a whole. Seeing that social media is undoing the teachings that you don’t always have to say what you’re thinking.
Show kindness within your own equestrian community
Empathy isn’t just lacking on the internet but in the real world as well. I have first-hand experience with other equestrians judging my decision-making – despite it having nothing to do with them. To me, equestrianism is such a personal experience, as you have to form a connection with a thousand-pound animal… otherwise, you could end up seriously hurt. Of course, budding equestrians need directing when learning, however, there comes a time and place where equestrians have to take responsibility for themselves.
It’s important that even if said equestrian learns the hard way, that we don’t address the situation with an “I told you so”, rather a… “How can I help you?”. There’s absolutely nothing worse than someone beating you when you’re already down.
Let’s help each other out instead of putting each other down – even within our own barns. Regularly tell other equestrians that you love their horse, or that you’re way jealous of their lower leg stability. We want to encourage positive atmospheres at each and every barn.
There are so many amazing equestrians – you included – in the world, and I hate that there is so much negativity that goes along with it. So as you go on your way always remember to uplift fellow equestrians on social media, as well as in your own barn. You can be the change and you CAN bring more empathy to the equestrian world.
All the best,
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
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