Since when have we stopped helping each other? When has it been easier to pull someone down, than build them up? I feel that this applies in everyday life and situations, but today, I am going to focus on the equine industry.
I won’t bore you with statistics or facts, but it is important to consider the sheer volume of abhorrence and bullying which occurs both online and in-life within the industry. Whether this is some troll commenting ‘you ride awfully’ on an Instagram post, or a livery-yard acquaintance telling you that you aren’t looking after your horse properly. Everyone has an opinion, and someone always ‘knows better’. I have certainly been victim of this – I am sure you have, too? There have been so many times when I have sat and cried in the corner of my stable, or have been too nervous to get out of my car at the livery yard, because of things that other people have said to or about me.
I am not going to profess that this blog will help anyone ‘cope’ with these situations, as there really is nothing worse than someone else making you feel worthless as a result of their own insecurities or mindset. All that I can offer you, is that you know yourself and your horse, truly, and you must weigh up how much the opinions of those matter to you.
What I will do, however, is target this post to everyone. Anyone who has upset another, or has been upset by someone. Anyone who has said or thought something hurtful, or has been on the receiving end of it. I am not going to shame anyone, because everyone can change. Everyone makes mistakes - that is how we learn.
So, to learn from these mistakes, I follow these three simple steps…
1. Ask yourself, do I need support?
You’ve got to start somewhere. Jealousy and hurtful comments towards other people usually stems from one’s own lack in self-confidence. I have certainly been in this position – but I know that this comes from my own insecurities. I know that people who have been hurtful to me have done so for the same reason.
So, let’s turn this around. Why not ask the person whom you are jealous of, to help you? Ask them how they jump 1.20m? Ask them to show you.
Think to yourself, how can I turn this around to be productive, not counterproductive? How can this thought help me and other people, not the opposite? – Because, let’s face it, not only do these thoughts and comments hurt those to whom they are directed, but they hurt you, too. Be grateful for the things you do, the people and horses you have in your life, and the achievements you have. Build on them!
2. Ask your friends, do they need support?
Honestly, what have you got to lose? Be nice! Although this should be altruistic, you will get something back from it; whether this is a good feeling inside, the joy of seeing someone else happy, or returned support.
You can’t give someone a leg up with one hand; literally and theoretically. You have to mean it, and be invested. That means, in terms of the aforementioned analogy, you have got to believe what you are saying! If you don’t believe what you are saying, neither will anyone else.
Think about what you say and the way you say it. I am not professing that we must rehearse every line in our head before speaking, but the phrase ‘think before you speak’ comes to mind. People do have feelings, especially about their ‘pride and joy’ horses. Support the people who surround you, whether these are friends, livery yard associates, other riders at a show - make them feel how you would want to feel. So what, some people only jump 50cm? So what, the successful dressage horse in the box next to you is ‘just a cob’? Does this really affect you? No. Does this affect your horse? No.
3. Look at the bigger picture.
We never know the full story. We can never assume it. All we can do is be approachable and friendly, and give our support to those who need it.
If we all just made a promise to say at least one nice thing to another rider, even just once in a day, I believe that it would make a huge difference. Think of all of the happiness that we would be spreading. I think our horses would appreciate it – we are of much more use to them as happy owners than those sat crying in the corner of the stable!
We need to cheer each other on.