Recently, in a horse industry related Facebook group I am part of, someone essentially made this statement. This was in response to a conversation about Western Pleasure horses, that (as such conversations typically do) had spun wildly out of control. In a big fat hurry. For whatever reason, the only part of the whole sordid affair that actually stuck with me was this comment…”she wasn’t being negative, just honest…” I’m sorry. What? Is this what our world has come to? People can say whatever they want, anywhere they want (including social media), about anything they want, because they are being HONEST? I beg to differ.
First of all, one can be honest and negative at the same time…people do it frequently in this “reality show” world we live in. For whatever reason, folks seem to like to make wild, uneducated statements, or take perfectly good and civil conversations off the rails, and then wait to see how many “likes” they get for being a jerk. Unfortunately, they often do it in real life, where there is no actual “Like” option. Oftentimes their friends (or groupies) will chime in for the desired effect to some degree, but there is another group…anyone else involved or in ear (or eye) shot. At minimum, someone might lose a few Facebook friends…but sometimes depending on how they choose their words, they quickly lose the respect of people that don’t even know them. Not really something you want to do in the horse industry very often, because while it’s big, it’s not that big.
What the horse industry needs is for people to realize that we are all part of the SAME industry, and we need to present it as something in which others would want to participate. No matter your breed, association, level, discipline or activity. Equine activity participation numbers are dropping in many areas, and that is heartbreaking. Maybe it’s the economy and maybe it will turn around, but NOT if we continue to treat one another (and one another’s horses) with disrespect. Let’s face it, horse people…”horse people” have a reputation for being difficult to work with…truthfully we come by it honestly sometimes. And that needs to change if we want to bring others into the fold and continue to have a successful industry in the long run. People spend enough time bickering at work or school, and dealing with bullies or other forms of stress and tension…for the vast majority (though not all), horses are supposed to be a stress reducing, quality of life improving outlet. For others, they are one’s personal livelihood. (Rewatch that Tom Cruise classic Risky Business for a refresher on what you DON’T do to another man’s livelihood) If we want our industry to succeed in the future…we need to come up with more positive ways of doing things. Recently, Laura Stevens had a great article on GoHorseShow.com on random acts of kindness at the horse show . These are the kinds of things we need to think about, and do…maybe you could even some up with a few more….
Not being negative. Just honest.