An Olympic dressage rider and trainer has taken action against increasing bullying in the equestrian world.
Robert Dover spoke to attendees of his horsemastership training week (2-4 January) in Florida after he became aware that unkind comments had been made online about one of his students.
“I went home and thought about it,” he told H&H. “I realised I couldn’t just leave it, it just wasn’t ok to behave like that.
“I gathered everyone together from all the arenas and gave the lecture off the cuff. Someone needed to stand up against that sort of behaviour.”
In the speech, which was posted on YouTube, Robert advises everyone to think before they make a remark, particularly if children are involved.
“We need to recognise that not only are these kids dealing with horses they never met before yesterday [those on the training week] but that all of us are going to deal with something that just comes up when we’re riding horses, he said.
“We’re looking for people to find their better angels.”
He told H&H he is concerned online bullying is becoming an increasing part of equestrian sport.
Robert said the rise in social media and online communities has made “anyone an author of anything”, but that people should be aware of the consequences of what they post.
“No matter what one tries to do that is good, there’s someone out there who’s a critic,” he said.
“There are very few people who don’t go out hoping to do the best they can with what they know. We never get up thinking we want to be horrible to our horses.”
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Robert said riders should be aware of how tough the equestrian world can be, with financial demands and demanding training schedules.
“For so many years I’ve been involved in dressage,” he said. “Not only is it a wonderful and beautiful sport, but it’s one where people really try very hard to do the most for their horses.
“Whether it’s dressage, reining, eventing, or showjumping, these riders spend huge amounts of time and put so much effort into what they do. Everyone makes sacrifices to become excellent in a sport and the public should see that.
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