Social Media And The Horse Industry: Why The Cruelty?

You see it all the time on social media: people bashing western pleasure horses, people bashing people who trail ride instead of showing, Hunter Jumpers sticking up their noses at the western “cowboys” and twitter personalities who gain followers from making fun of random people they may not even know. This is cyber bullying. I get so sick of looking at it day in and day out on social media. Since when did the horse industry become a place of cruelty and cutting absolutely everyone who is a touch different from yourself down from the safety and anonymity of a computer screen?

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On the subject of the crazy western pleasure debates all I have to say is everyone has their own opinions and preferences. Just because you do not agree does not give you the right to cut them down and call it cruelty or call the horses “crippled” when they are just doing what they are bred to naturally do. I personally love a good western pleasure horse like no other; however, I want them forward with a natural, level headset and not overcanted; I want them to look like they were born doing this and want to do it. I have a mare that can lope all day long just as slow and simple as could be; it is natural to her and that is a thing of beauty. What bugs me to see the horses SO shut down, TOO low in the neck and loping at a 90 degree angle down the rail and winning that way. I ask that judges take a closer look at the rulebook, what standards the associations have laid out and reward the horses and riders that are riding to that standard. I applaud Jaime Dowdy and Its A Southern Thing for taking a stand at the AQHA World Show and riding off the rail, forward and looking like a rockstar; thank you for taking steps to improve that part of our industry.

On the subject of hating those who ride a different style than yourself; who flipping cares???? We all love the same glorious, four-legged animal that I believe is a gift from God himself. Whether they trail ride, jump, do western pleasure or just stand in a pasture looking pretty, they are all horses and we are all horse lovers. I personally have ridden paints my whole life but find it very fun to get on a Hunter Jumper or Dressage horse every once in a while just for a change of pace. Horses are horses and I find each and every one of them beautiful and magical because I just love horses. Respect everyone no matter what discipline or style because it is their choice and what they enjoy and there is nothing wrong with that.

On the belief that AQHA horses are far superior to APHA horses I have one statement: APHA horses are cropout AQHA horses that were born with too much white. When they could not be shown AQHA, they formed their own association for the cropout horses with too much white, APHA. Therefore paints=quarter horses from the basis and the lineage. They are the same horses, just different hair and skin patterns.

My last and biggest pet peeve is the Equine Twitter “anons” and all others who hide behind a keyboard and bash people for fun without knowing them. As for the twitter accounts, these are young, generally high school/college age girls who make an Equine twitter account anonymously and use it as a platform to air their views, make fun of people and their horses and spew opinions that can often be hurtful to others. As a victim of this very intense form of bullying, I find it disgraceful and disgusting. I had people hiding behind a keyboard telling me that because I chose to leave my geldings mane long and be different I should go “jump off a cliff” to quote their exact verbiage in a tweet (and this was tweeted by someone I considered a friend until that point). What is the purpose of this??? What good is this doing other than building up some pathetic people’s self-esteem??? I just don’t understand the need to sit around and bash people just for some laughs. Something else I saw regularly was taking pictures off peoples social media account without permission and posting them around and making fun of any number of things: outfits that weren’t deemed stylish enough, Equitation that wasn’t perfect, a horse that was still a bit furry…. what if those kids could only afford that out of date outfit and had paid for it with their own hard earned money and were proud as punch? Why tear that down? What if that girl has a leg injury that prevents her heels from going any lower but she loves to show the class regardless? What if that is an older gelding with Cushings that is teaching someone the ropes and hasn’t been body clipped yet? What is so wrong with all of these scenarios that gives you the right to tear these people down? The answer is nothing. All it does is hurt innocent people’s feelings and drive people away from the horse industry. (I will say that not all can be judged by the actions of a few and not everyone on twitter is a part of what I described and many are perfectly nice and build people up instead of tearing them down. Sadly in my experience these lovely people were the minority.)

I will get down off my soapbox now. I just can’t stand to sit here and watch social media be used as a vehicle for cruelty and cyber bullying inside this relatively close-knit horse industry. We are all bound together by one common bond: a love for all things equine. We can either join together and be a big family who supports and respects one another; as most of my equine “family” and friends are. This is the situation where social media is used as a tool to keep in touch with friends from other states, share photos and stories about our precious ponies, to sell horses and tack, exchange ideas, educate and keep up with all the news; in that form, social media is amazing and a wonderful addition to the horse industry. I much prefer this use of social media to the unnecessary bashing cruelty that happens all too often. All I have to ask those pathetic people is why? What good is this doing? What is the purpose? All this does is make you feel bigger and better than others and that is not good enough reason to cut people down through a computer. It does NO GOOD. Instead of sitting around on a computer bashing people and talking big; get your booty out to the barn and put in some blood, sweat and tears so that your showing and riding does the talking and you won’t have to hide behind a computer screen and cut other people down to make yourself feel cooler and better. If you do your homework and leave it all out in the arena, chances are your results will make you feel so good that you won’t need to bash others in order to make yourself feel cool.

Let’s remember that we are all together for a common reason and that is we love horses…. is it too much to ask to treat each other with respect and common courtesy over the internet and not purposefully harm each other?

Written By, Brandy Smith.  Editors Note:  The Horseaholic is a place for people from all breeds, disciplines and opinions to enjoy.  Let  Share this on Facebook if you agree and want to help spread this positive movement!