Grace and Empathy in the Equestrian World
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
The spring of 2020. I opened my phone and saw what pretty much every influencer dreads to find in their comment section: a paragraph of hurtful words. And though I was used to it, this wasn’t just any comment… it was a comment from someone I really looked up to.
Man. The pit in my stomach after reading those words.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence for equestrians. Whether it’s someone you know personally or a complete stranger on the internet, we’ll all face this harsh truth: equestrians lack grace and empathy. But why is this so?
In this post, we’ll dive in and discuss Grace and Empathy in the Equestrian World.
So. Why do equestrians lack grace and empathy?
Personally, I believe it runs much deeper simply not caring about other people; instead, it’s the competitive mindset that has been engraved into our thoughts.
There seems to be this invisible – but wide – gap between the haves and the have-nots of the equestrian world, which affects the sport entirely. We see all of these expensive horses and nice boots, and our first reaction isn’t to applaud, rather, to tear down either vocally or mindfully. And we actively disguise this jealously by looking for ways degrade: “She’s not even a good rider.”
My mother always said: “Love is an action, not a feeling.”
We need to acknowledge these thought patterns, and start choosing to love others.
I’m quite aware of the frequent backlash equestrians receive from OTHER equestrians.
Back a couple of years ago, I had a girl DM me. She was distraught over the hate comments she was receiving just for posting one short riding clip to TikTok: “You look terrible,” “you should just quite,” and “poor horse.”
It absolutely broke my heart.
14 year old me struggled to comprehend why other equestrians, both my age and adults, would say such terrible words to a young girl who didn’t have anyone to guide her at the time.
I can’t help but laugh off some of these comments nowadays, because let’s be honest here… I’ve heard it all before. Though, just because it doesn’t affect me anymore, doesn’t mean it’s not tearing away at these new equestrians, destroying any pure excitement they have to just simply be an equestrian.
Stand up for someone before they believe what the others say. Reinforce that those words are empty, and only then, will the excitement that’s dwindling be restored to something worthwhile.
Grace and empathy towards yourself and others…
I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely my worst critic. One bad ride in the arena? I should just sell my horse, honestly. My breeches made me feel sorry about myself? My body isn’t aesthetic enough for the sport. etc. etc.
And I don’t practice what I preach in regards to this subject, but let me tell you one thing: equestrianism isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle… and that lifestyle is going to look different on everyone. The cool thing is, you can change and adapt however you please.
With respect to others, maybe you recognize those ol’ jealousy and judgmental habits and you’re ready to overcome.
Now, if you come across someone’s video and you feel like they shouldn’t have done what the video portrays, try to remember: (a) you can’t judge an entire riding career off of a 15 second video, and (b) if you do decide to say something, say your thoughts with grace and empathy for said person could simply just not understand yet.
If you fall into the routine of degrading others based on your own insecurity, remember that you can’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. No one will never know what kind of roadblocks said person had to push through, and really, if you want it bad enough… put in the work! You’ll get there.
At the end of the day…
By recognizing our tendencies and striving to do better, we will make the sport a much more, well, tolerable place to be. So all in all, these are my two cents on grace and empathy in the equestrian world; but please add any thoughts you might have in the comments!
All the best,
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So much wisdom here. Thank you!
Oh and something else I’d like to add to this is: just because you think something doesn’t mean you have to say it out loud (or over a text or in a comment). It’s okay and very often wise to keep your thoughts to yourself. Don’t like something? It’s not for you. Move on.
Yes! We live in a society where it’s so easy to freely speak our minds without suffering any consequences. But sometimes it’s just better to keep it to yourself!