I posted a video of me flatting a fresh off the track thoroughbred yesterday and was immediately messaged by a stranger telling me that my stirrups were uneven.
Two years ago, I posted a sales ad only to be asked by a potential buyer why I look down the entire ride.
And 4 years ago, I posted a photo of my toughest horse in jest of a particularly hard ride, only to have a massage therapist tell me he was obviously in pain.
And each time, I just wonder why I even share my life at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that this blog and my social media which accompany it are partly to blame. My actions are part of the problem.
I also know that in order to place, sell, and locate as many horses as I do that I need this social media.
I try to share the highs and lows. I am the first person to admit my faults and flaws. I am not the best rider. I am not the best retrainer. I am not the best blogger. And I sure as hell am not the best person.
But I open up my life and my experiences to so many because of the occasional message of happiness. The teenager who tells me that they look up to me. The college aged kid who says that my podcast taught her something. The young rider who comes up to me at a show and asks what it takes to get a PhD.
And in exchange, I share.
But rarely have I asked for critique on my position, or suggestions on my horses health.
Because I have an amazing trainer. And a superb veterinarian. An unreal farrier. A moody husband. And a crew of feisty and fierce friends.
Trust me, I get enough of their solicited advice.
And most of the time, I even pay for it (some in beer).
But we as equestrians find some sick happiness in picking apart our rides. We rank the best ridden fence on Eventing Nation. We ask fellow equestrians to Judge My Ride. We submit videos for viewing and pictures for editing, but at the end of the day, all of these things are chosen by the only person who’s opinion matters: our own.
We love criticism, and we readily access it.
Just think-we vie for ribbons, but we race to the stack of tests to see what the judges comments were.
We seek out ratings, but regard the raters written criticism.
But the difference between that and social media? In each of those scenarios, we chose to be critiqued.
No one chooses to open their Facebook messages to be picked apart. No one asks for a random person to chime in on what they perceived as a beautiful, cute, or funny post.
And no one should have to.
So why don’t we all as a group agree to leave the unsolicited advice in the back of our minds, where it belongs. Judge the things that are selected to be judged and answer the questions that are beseeching for advice.
But upon stumbling upon a photo, video, or blog that is simply a show of happiness, sadness, or somewhere in the middle, leave the words of wisdom alone. Lift your fellow rider up, and sympathize when they are down. Give a high five in person or a ❤️ over the inter webs, and leave the advice to those who are getting paid the big bucks.
Trust me, we all could use that.