Horsemanship, Sportsmanship Murdered By Social Media

Social media has made us forget how to be sportsman. It seems we just belt out what ever is on our minds, saying things we would never say to the person standing in front of us.

Horses are to say the least, humbling. You can have the very best of everything and still fail at show time. People who win consistently have mastered how to keep everything that could go wrong at bay for at least those 5 minutes of time.  Staying humble when you reach that level can be hard. The human being is a conceded machine, and being over confident can really hinder your performance.

“Oh, how the mighty have fallen” It will happen, and having that knowledge we need to keep in mind the people who are winning will still have loses and when those happen will be usually at the height of their over confidence. Confidence can often make you sloppy and start believing that you are unable to make mistakes. Being confident in your ability is key to winning, being confident in your horse makes you even stronger, and I certainly don’t wish my readers to think that I would ever suggest you become un confident.

However, I am seeing over and over again, passive aggressive posts being laid down by the “celebrity” status trainers. Let’s face it we have become a social media driven world and with that what we see, read and watch on that silver gleaming box effects our life in all aspects. Creativity gets noticed. We have found a way to disguise digs on others thru things like hashtags. Hashtags work because our brain has to stop to decipher them.

What saddens me is that the equine industry can be a place of great comfort or great despair. I have made some of my greatest friends and allies through the equine industry. I have also made huge enemies. The equine world has been a place where many of us grew up, learned responsibility, learned to care for another living being. For many of us was also the place to raise our children. A wholesome, responsible environment.   One of learning through mistakes, trials and one that you can sure bet the greatest lesson of all is taught, LOVE.

With our children so busy on social media as well it can be a great place to learn, it can also be a place of learning what is wrong as well. Our children are seeing their idols post snark, belittle others and most of all learning that if you want to be a winner, all you need is just to treat others like crap. I see posts that have little regard for the horse, and much for the jockey. The horse only becomes important after the win and when the token “greatest horse in the world” post comes up, usually including a thank you to the sponsors.

I am not putting down that person’s work, not at all to gain their social status they had to work hard, but I feel like many are turning a blind eye to their ill behavior as well.  A life of drama is not the direction I wish to follow. And being wrapped up in the drama of it all will make you a failure faster than you can say “butter”.

The true mission of horsemanship is a long, hard painful journey. Often not filled with the shine we all wish for, more dirt than diamonds that is for sure. While many of us look for the glamor of this life our 5 minutes of fame, can be a life altering place for us. How we receive it is more important than anything we do in our lives.

What I publish is what becomes… Remember the truth is, what is spoken, written and read is what you truly wish to happen in life, and in my experience when put out into the world it stays in the world. We truly reap what we sow.

Ask yourself, would I want my son/daughter to treat people the way I just saw their idol post? I can’t help but think that if they are willing to treat a person that way how bout an animal that offended them? If people are trash an animal can become trash even quicker.

I am constantly baffled by the gullibility of people these days as well. What they read they believe. If its on social media it must be true and be right? Just an example, there is a highly paid advertisement for a man who is claiming to be the “true horseman” I have never opened the link because in the photo thumbnail for the ad, the horse pictured is poorly saddled, in fact the cinch is rigged incorrectly and the rope halter on the horse is tied incorrectly. Only the experienced would notice this, but a novice will go on to believe what he is teaching to be “GODS WORD” because its on social media. And further studies showed that he receives 1000’s of hits a day on that ad. 

Fundamentals have been lost to post likes, basics and safety have been lost to social media ads, and most of all I feel like we are losing the connection that only a horse can teach you. The only way we can expect a change is to stop helping these people. If they are great at publicity, they are making money when you click or comment. And that my friends keep them posting.

While we all wish to be recognized for our accomplishments, recognizing others for how they address failure is also imperative to they way they relate to an animal during training. Face it, training is a series of failures that are corrected over and over again, how you choose to correct it is what builds a great animal. A person who wins but fails at winning makes me question what happens to the animal involved when it wins but somehow fails in that handlers’ eyes. I personally have watched competitors go in the pen have a great go and exit the arena sawing on the horses face and spurring the whole way out the gate. Somewhere that horse failed them in the pen. But at this point the horse also has no idea at what as the correction was not made when the mistake happened only that leaving the pen is bad.

It’s the same for the viewer reading a poor winners posts on social media. Especially when they are calling people out for what they heard they said about them. Or saw on another post. The reader is left being spurred out of the pen, and now has a bad taste for the competition.

Social media can be an ally or an enemy to your career as a horseman. In fact, in any field. Pick your idols carefully, or you may find yourself in a bad place.  Humility will bring your further than hate in any game.

Kryss Helfrich