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.
Honestly, I don’t even know how anyone can believe that they know all about you, your horse and how to fix it based on a photo? It’s crazy and inappropriate.
I loved this so much and totally admire you. I completely agree with you and this article is amazing.
Funny thing is, I’ve actually done exactly what you’re talking about; sympathize with someone and show empathy when they’re sad, said that I’m proud of them when they accomplish something and just post a 💗🐴 at times. And just doing those things I have had people come down on me!
People over social media will find a way to be NASTY no matter what you do or how kind you try to be. It’s totally insane and completely pathetic in my opinion.
Again, thank you for this article 💗
I for one love your posts, your attitude, and your love for your horses. You really come across as a true professional. Equestrianism is an odd business. I’m a successful professional woman with a good corporate job and three children, yet I can still be reduced to feeling like a child by people judging my riding – even sometimes those we pay for feedback aren’t very skilful at giving it!! As an industry, we really need to get better at caring for each other, being loving and inspiring. Keep up the fab work Carleigh x
Blahhh I feel this. I posted some pics about overcoming fear and how proud I was of my little yellow horse… and someone wrote me a couple sentences about how cute my horse is… and then a multi paragraph essay on how my heels should be lower. At this point, I just respond with “Thank you for your kind words, but I didn’t ask for any criticism.”
I actually recently saw somewhere that some people are of the opinion that, if you post it on the internet, you are actively looking for criticism/critique. Pure insanity.
Honestly, I think that the more honest and open we are in our social media/blogging/appearance to the world, the better off the entire community would be.
Hear hear…the last riding pics I posted of myself (two years ago), was of me playing around with my then green (duh, he’s 4!) 4 year old. We were playing around with 6” cross poles, and a former trainer (we agreed to part ways because our personalities/goals did not mesh) tore my position apart on my newsfeed. I was livid, and so was my current trainer, who I’d known for several years but just started riding with, when she saw the post. When asked, she was like yeah you may not be winning the Maclay, but for what you’re doing your position is just fine – you are staying out of the horses way, which is what matters most. Key words there being when asked (during a lesson, for which I was paying her for). I haven’t posted any riding pictures since – my trainer would post them on her business’s fb page, where no one would dare comment anything judge-y.
I have to wonder if people feel so isolated and unimportant that by given “free unsolicited advice” they feel they belong?? Personally, I enjoy your adventures , experiences and honesty.
People on social media can be such asshats. Nothing worse than unsolicited advice, especially behind an anonymous mask. People don’t seem to realize that we only ever see a small part of someone’s life through their online posts.
Thank you for this. ❤
Thank you for another candid and insightful post! This is not just a social media issue, it’s a real and corrosive problem in the horse industry. Some of us have to search far and wide to find a barn comprised of peers who offer encouragement, camaraderie, and respect for the uniqueness of each equestrian’s journey. I must admit, it saddens me that, in my experience, much of the mean spirited and catty judgment among equestrians is carried out by women. We should be inspired and empowered by our shared love for horses.
Oh my goodness THIS. I recently had a trainer message me that my horse needed his neck injected. She concluded this from one photo I posted. Wish we could all just support each other. I try to only give advice when it is asked for, or if there is a real danger to someone’s life. Otherwise, let’s just support each other.
umm..what if your legs were different lengths 😀 I sit crooked, I look down, I have my hands wide out when trying to teach my horse off the track how to bend a little more, sometimes my leg is almost on his butt trying to get his 1200lbs to move his backside over! I ride to make myself happy and no one else.