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Stand up to bullying!

On social media, we’ve seen several posts which have turned out needlessly nasty and judgmental. All have started with something along the lines of: “Would it put you off if…” and then listing things like appearance of sellers; the turnout of horses; the seller’s profile picture on social media; the seller riding in jeans; low quality pictures; spelling; horses jumping ‘unnecessarily high’; and sellers standing up on horses or ponies.

Quite often, posts like this start with bad intentions anyway, and they are then escalated to insults because of an inability that some people have to offer their opinion without prejudice.

For starters, how is it okay to judge someone on their appearance, or their profile pictures? Snapchat filters are not the devil, and many of us will have done a silly pose for a picture before. I don’t see how that warrants unkindness.

In summer, it’s much easier to turn horses out neatly. However, in Britain, it pretty much rains for half the year! Rain makes mud, which is transferred to the horses, if they get any turn out! Remember to be fair, horses shouldn’t be washed regularly in the winter, nor should they be kept in constantly, so they aren’t likely to be spotless in midwinter. Not to mention the fact that horses might be scared of clippers or hate having their manes pulled. Does cleaning a grey for a viewing count as misselling? Because they definitely won't look that way for the rest of the winter!

Spelling is one of the things that make it harder to read an advert, and we always try to proofread and be professional. But when did the horse world become so elitist? Correct spelling doesn’t make your horsemanship better than anyone else’s. Experience and instincts are what sets people apart in the horse world, and you can’t learn them from books! There aren’t many professions where spelling is more irrelevant to be honest!

Low quality pictures are another thing that I understand can be annoying, but also can’t really be helped! Most people have a phone with a camera, but cameras are a lot more expensive! We didn’t get our video camera until 2017; we had been in business for 5 years! Even then, it was my Christmas present! The boys bought the DSLR a year later while we were on The Great Adventure, and then we got home and kind of… stole it…

Finally, standing up on horses in adverts. This is a big one for us as we never even imagined that people would be judging us on it, until recently!

Lately, I’ve seen comments like: “It’s totally pointless, unless they are a vaulting horse.” And: “It ruins the horse’s back.” And my personal favourites: “It’s abuse,” and “It shows they don’t care about horses.” The list goes on, and actually some of the comments were more hatefully worded than that.

So, why do we do it? Well I’m glad you asked, because there are quite a few reasons!

Contrary to popular belief, not every horse is okay with having someone so much higher up than usual, and I do actually value my life. So yes, it does show that the horses are calm, and unworried.

It also prepares them for things they may experience in the future, much like riding the horses bareback.

A child’s pony may have kids clambering on them, they are likely to do things like around the worlds and half scissors, and they may even stand up on their pony.

In our experience, this doesn’t encourage disrespect, quite the opposite! When children do things like riding bareback, riding with no hands and standing up on their horses, they cement the bond and trust in their pony. It also shows that horse riding is fun!

We have always had huge respect for horses and they are not tools for the job (the nine retired horses we have here are very appreciative of that). These days, we see so many child ponies for sale, because they have done something wrong or sometimes just because the child has changed their mind about riding. When I was 11, we had to LOAN my 10.2hh and I cried for the entire journey home, even though I had agreed that it was for the best as I had outgrown him.

I just wonder how many of these ponies would be kept if things were more fun, and owning a pony was about the entire package, the bond, the groundwork, and the adoration for all things horses... Instead of being all about how high the ponies can jump and how many ribbons they have won.

I did everything with my pony, riding was actually the last thing on my mind, I would rather go and chat to him. When I did ride, it was kept fun for both of us, I never caused him any harm, and I wouldn’t have let him be sold. Ever. In fact, he’s one of the nine here still!

It might be pointless unless the horse is being sold as a trick horse, but how do people know that they won’t be? We had a trick rider come to try one of ours (we hadn’t advertised him as a trick horse or anything) and we could tell the man that he was fine being stood up on, whilst walking.

So we come back to this: If it’s not causing harm to the horse, why is it a problem? We will never stand up on a horse’s bare back, which begs the question: If it’s fine for us to jump; hack; cross country and do mounted games and all the other things we do in a saddle, why not standing up?

Does this pony look upset? Is my weight not distributed in almost the same way as it would be if I were sat down?

Please, please think before you judge, and particularly before airing those judgements!

If the horse is being mentally or physically abused, message the person, or inform the necessary authorities. If not, if you just don’t like it, scroll past!

The world has enough real abuse cases who you could help bring justice to by signing and sharing petitions, or reporting to the police and World Horse Welfare. It’s too busy for pointless hate campaigns!

Remember: Have Courage and Be Kind… It’s all For The Love Of The Horse, after all!

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