One of the biggest themes I, and other equestrians, have noticed in this community is the propensity for equestrians to be negative and hateful towards each other. It can be about a horse, a riding or training style (Note: This does not include abusive techniques, which should be spoken up about), choice of apparel, financial status, or another opinion the equestrian may have. A lot of this negativity occurs on social media, but boarding and riding facilities have also been known to advertise that they are “drama free” because drama is so prevalent in the horse world in person as well.
Negativity is always present, no matter how much we try to advocate for positivity, love, and support towards each other. If you have experienced negativity and drama, you will most likely experience it again. If you are experiencing negativity, you will most likely continue to, or once it has ended, you will most likely experience it again.
So, if you have experienced it or are, what can you do to soften the blow and continue to live your equestrian life drama free?
Ignore it. This is the hardest advice to give, but perhaps the most effective. Ignoring the negative things another equestrian has to say is the best method of dealing with negativity. Why? Because giving them attention for their negative words is only feeding them. A lot of times hatred comes out of the need for attention, and giving attention to that hatred and drama is only giving that equestrian what he or she wants. Ignore it. Don’t engage in it. You may be so tempted to respond, especially if what is being said is especially cruel or hateful; however, let them continue to hate on you without you responding. A few things will happen. First, they will make themselves look like jerks because they are being hateful while you are maintaining your composure and not responding. Two, you will look more mature and put together because you are not engaging in drama. Three, they eventually will stop because they are not receiving the attention they are craving.
Kill them with kindness. Another way to handle negativity is to be extra kind to the hater. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘kill ’em with kindness’? This could work here. If someone has something mean to say to you, compliment them. They may be so surprised they won’t know what to do and will stop hating on you.
Delete/block/report them. A mentor of mine, Gabby Bernstein, has a saying for when she receives hatred online: “Forgive and delete.” On social media, you can always remove a person from your friends’ list or followers. You can also mute them and block them. If the hate and drama gets especially frequent and hurtful, blocking, reporting, and removing that person from your followers list is probably the best way to go. Additionally, if the drama/hate is abusive or extremely out of line, you can report the person to the social media company.
Know they are coming from a place of insecurity. A lot of times when a person is hateful towards another, it’s because they are insecure or jealous themselves. They may deny this, but it has been proven through studies. I’ve also received anonymous comments where people have admitted they hated on me because they were jealous of me. Although this may not be complete consolation, especially if the hate is especially bad, know that the equestrian that is causing you drama is probably doing so because they are jealous of your specific situation, asset, horse, etc.
Be confident in yourself. Sometimes someone will harshly criticize your riding, training, horse, or even your trainer (this has happened to me). If you’re not being abusive towards your horse, and if your trainer has the credentials (and even if they don’t, but you are benefitting from them), be confident in your abilities and what you have. No one knows you but you and your trainer. Additionally, social media presences are often curated. We tend to post only certain things, so unless someone teaches us or sees us ride/work with our horse every day, they really have zero idea what goes on in our riding lives. Remember that.
Ask them to stop. If the bullying/drama/hate is especially bad, you can always ask the equestrian to stop bothering you. This may not always be effective, but it is worth a try. It’s also worth mentioning that if you are bullying someone, and you are asked to stop, and you continue to bully/hate on them, you can be charged with harassment. Is a legal charge really worth it? Hint: No.
Most importantly, be professional. Try not to engage in drama or negativity. Don’t bully other
equestrians. While you may not be looking for sponsors or ambassadorships now, you might one day, and your social media activity can come back to haunt you. When I first started out, I responded to every single piece of hate I got. I was confrontational. I was dramatic. It gave me a bad reputation. I have since revamped myself, and although I am still working on being less opinionated and confrontational, I have drastically improved which I think has helped people online like me more. Additionally, I moved to a barn that does not have drama associated with it, and if there is some minor drama, I do not engage at all. Professionalism is key in this sport, and you never know when you will be under a microscope for a sponsorship, ambassadorship, or something else where your conduct will be at play.