‘It helps to know that others struggle, too’: Abi Lyle on the power of social media in dressage

  • It’s fair to say that social media has a mixed reputation when it comes to its use within sport, and especially in horse sport. But there is no denying it has its place, and can bring huge benefits to the equestrian community. One top rider who has amassed an impressive following on social media is Irish international dressage rider Abi Lyle, who is based in Wiltshire.

    Abi currently boasts more than 24,000 followers on Instagram, and 53,000 on Facebook. She says she feels “blessed” that social media has always been a positive in her life, and has never become too much for her to handle alongside her riding and competing.

    So how can social media be used for positive impact within the equestrian world?

    “Where the positives of social media come in is from people sharing, not only their good times, but also the bad. Whenever I heard that other riders struggled with things too, it made me feel so much better,” said Abi on episode 131 of The Horse & Hound Podcast.

    “For me, it started because I was feeling a bit lonely, riding on my own. I just started chatting into the camera one day, and saying things about how my rides were going, and it built from there. People seemed to enjoy it.”

    Abi Lyle: ‘Social media can be a good support for people’

    Abi points out that the sport of dressage in particular brings with it a sense of perfection, which can have a negative impact on up-and-coming riders in particular, or indeed any rider aspiring to be more like those at the very top of the sport.

    “The idea is that you go into the ring and you make it look easy,” she explains. “The essence of dressage is that your horse is supposed to be happy and willing and everything is supposed to look easy. If you watch that representation of it, in someone doing a very good test, it can be easy to assume that’s what it looks like all the time, and it’s very unlikely that it does.”

    Abi is one of Ireland’s most successful international riders, who competed at the World Dressage Championships earlier this year with her top horse Giraldo, and she is keen to present an honest image of her life online.

    “I get on some days and I feel like my legs are everywhere and I can’t sit. But we all have days like that,” she says.

    “The one thing I think most people need to do in their own training is to be more consistent and to keep going, and so I think in that way social media can be a good support for people.”

    To hear more from Abi Lyle, tune in to episode 131 of The Horse & Hound Podcast – listen here or search “The Horse & Hound Podcast” in your favourite podcast app.

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