A teenage rider who has suffered at the hands of adult bullies is using her reach on social media to raise awareness of the issue.
Lily Stebbings, whose Shadow the Unicorn Instagram and YouTube accounts have thousands of followers, is working with her sponsor Goodbye Flys on the #GoodbyeBullies campaign.
During anti-bullying week 2019 (11 to 15 November), Lily is releasing videos and posts, as well as hosting live chats and vlogs with riders Abi Lyle and Craig Messenger.
Lily told H&H she left school owing to the actions of bullies, and that she has also experienced bullying online.
“I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end,” she said. “I don’t want anyone else to suffer, and if they are, to encourage them to speak up.”
Lily’s mother Christi added that after the family lost three horses within 18 months, including her first pony Shadow after whom her social media accounts are named, and who she said helped Lily deal with being bullied, trolls were commenting on that.
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“They were saying things like it must have been Lily killing them, it was horrific,” Christi said.
“Her horses are her world and we had very bad luck but she’s having to deal with losing them, and then she gets those comments; it’s not acceptable.”
Lily is encouraging anyone else experiencing bullying to speak up, adding that when she invited her followers to contact her, she was told some “horrible” stories.
“There’s so much bullying and negativity, especially in the equestrian world,” she said. “I was lucky as I’m very close to my mum and can talk to her, and I’ve got amazing friends to talk to but I don’t think everyone does talk about it enough, especially boys, and I want them to know they can, that’s the main thing.
“It’s so easy to say something positive but I think people find it hard, and I don’t think that’s right.”
Sarah Dawe of Goodbye Flys told H&H she sponsors a number of young riders, and all of those on her “team” have been bullied.
“I was bullied as a child too, and I wanted to create a safe space for these riders, and give them someone to talk to,” she said. “It’s not just about this week, it’s for life; we want to encourage people to be kind.”
Sarah said the campaign is a team effort, and praised Lily’s courage in taking the lead.
“We can’t change the world but we’re trying to do things in a different way, and encourage people to talk, more than anything,” she said.
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