Social media savvy riders will have to think more carefully before they update posts in future, as governing bodies have introduced new guidelines.

British Eventing (BE) has recently made new rules for members regarding social media — which includes Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

This follows the lead of British Showjumping (BS), which introduced a social media rule in February 2013.

“This is in light of dramatic growth of social media use in the sport and to protect those in the eventing community from harmful, unfair, unpleasant and derogatory comments — rather than restricting freedom of speech,” said BE’s Mike Etherington-Smith.

“We are great supporters of social media, but want to ensure people in the sport think carefully about the possible knock-on effects of their words. The rule has been introduced should it be deemed necessary to pick up those who cross the line.”

BE said disciplining will be dealt with on a “case by case” basis, which could be a “quiet word to remove the post” or a “more formal matter”.

Eventer Clare Stringer told H&H she doesn’t think it will “restrict” Facebook and Twitter fans but it could help.

“I hope it doesn’t stop people discussing events in terms of layout and courses, but hopefully people will think twice before talking unkindly of organisers or volunteers,” she added.

BE said it will monitor social media internally “as much as possible”, whereas BS said the rule “tends to be self-policing” in its organisation.

“We are notified of posts that individuals believe contravene our policy and that they feel need to be brought to our attention,” added a BS spokesman.

British Dressage (BD) told H&H it discussed the idea at a rules and fixtures meeting last week (10 June).

“We will be enhancing BD’s code of conduct to refer specifically to social media, rather than adding a rule,” said Paul Graham of BD.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound on 19 June 2014.