On showing empathy to other riders

Guest blogger Bryony shares her thoughts on showing our fellow equestrians understanding and support in what can be a very harsh and critical sport. Read more from Bryony and follow her journey with her horse, Red, on Facebook.


When I lost my confidence, it was in part due to the horse that had rolled on me, but the people that surrounded me had the biggest effect on it.

The community I was in at the time was incredibly toxic – generations of showing on the same circuit, shut off from the rest of the world.

No one was nice behind closed doors. People would endlessly rip apart people they called their best friends. No uploaded photo or video was ever safe from criticism. People would openly bitch about the rider in the ring.

It was nearly impossible to get back in the saddle when I was torn down for anything I tried to do. Nothing was enough. If I tried to jump a pole, my stirrups had to be shorter, I needed to get off my horse’s mouth, why was I in the wrong saddle? When I got lessons I was wasting my money, when I wasn’t I was ignorant – I felt so isolated I got to the point of suicidal ideation, quit riding and wandered down a dark, dark path.

Many years later, I make a point of clapping after every round, every test and every ribbon pinning – whether I was in there or not.
I am never too busy to tell the rider having a bad time, to keep going.
If my horse is able, I will always offer to be the lead horse for someone having a bad time. I have no problem trotting around with someone in the warm up ring, or just sitting and letting them circle around us.
I stop to ask people if they need help, I’ll get off my own horse to help a kid put a bridle on.
I like to hang around and watch the fellow nervous riders just to tell them they’ve improved something.

Negativity had a catastrophic influence on my life, and I wasted years because of it.

And now I will never, ever be too important, to brush the dirt off a fellow rider.

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