Claire Drey-Brown’s we need to talk blog: please, can we stop writing mean comments?

  • I have just received some online hate. I am really fortunate in that this doesn’t happen often, but I really do feel the need to write about it now.

    This particular comment made fun of my relationship with a horse I used to ride for her owner (I’m not going to name the horse, or the owner for privacy reasons.).

    I am devastated.

    The thing about the horse in question, is that I had her during the hardest time in my life. This was also the hardest time in the horse’s life. I had just had major reconstructive ankle surgery, my brother had recently died, I had recently come out of hospital for severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I was wheelchair bound and it was not known how much use I would be able to get out of my ankle, so in the worst case scenario, my riding career could have been completely over.

    The horse had been through an equally rough time. She had been at a not so nice yard where she had been kept in draw reins while ridden and while stabled at times, had her legs rapped while jumping, and generally not at all treated with kindness (her owner did not know this until she moved her away.). The horse came to me with extreme bone bruising, very sore teeth, sore hocks, bruises everywhere, and she was PETRIFIED.

    I sat with this horse for hours in her stable, I gently groomed her for hours (although only certain areas, as she was so sore), I spent the weeks that she needed off due to her injuries building her trust in people again. Once she was less sore I started to be able to walk again around this same time. We did hours of in-hand classical dressage to build up muscle from the ground, and to get my ankle stronger. She was so gentle with me now after those weeks of just gaining her trust.

    I would set up poles for her to walk over to imitate a water treadmill and build up her strength. She was too scared to walk over the poles, so our hand walking included a few poles from then on, and lots of treats, until she would walk over a long set of walk poles with no problems.

    We literally healed together, mentally and physically. She is now out in the world doing amazingly showjumping. I may not have had competition success with her (I am not a showjumper, and she is), but the biggest success of my career thus far, was rehabbing her to the point where she can be happy and trusting again. Yes, it isn’t with me. My ankle got in the way of riding her.

    The reason I am writing this is because this person took it upon themselves to bring me down, for no reason, other than maybe they find it entertaining? Maybe they thought I would just scoff at their comment, forgetting about it. I can’t psychologically do that. Someone saying a mean thing to me circles around my head for weeks, and that is no exaggeration. I will overthink everything they could have possibly meant. I have very low self-esteem, so this hit hard. This comment suggested that I couldn’t get the best out of her because she is now doing so well out competing. Our relationship wasn’t about competing, in fact we barely competed, it was all about rehab. My job was to fix an ‘unfixable’ horse, and I think we did a pretty good job. I couldn’t be more proud that she is now so successful. The hours and hours that I put in on the ground and riding the basics with her, retraining her were immeasurably worth it. I am so proud to have been an important part of her journey.

    What this horse and I achieved isn’t measurable by a first place rosette. We fixed each other’s broken hearts.

    But because this person, who I have never talked to/met before, thought they would bring me down (just because they could? For sport?), I feel worthless, useless, and it makes me wonder why I bother at all. Maybe I didn’t fix this horse, maybe I am a bad rider, maybe my piece in this horse’s journey was totally insignificant, maybe it didn’t mean anything. My head will continue to ruminate about what this person may have meant for days, weeks..

    One mean comment, has given my mental health a serious knock.

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    If I had been having a ‘bad mental health day’ it could have been really serious and I may well have ended up in the hospital, or off work for weeks. You never know what people have gone through. You never know what people are going through. You don’t know me — why break me?

    So please, to everyone reading this, if you feel like writing a mean comment, ask yourself the following questions:

    Is it NECESSARY?
    Is it TRUE?
    Is it KIND?


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