A former showing rider is launching a campaign to tackle racism and unpleasant behaviour in the sport.
Sara Crowley chose to take action after she witnessed a competitor make a very unpleasant racist comment at an event and came across racist posts among riders on social media.
She herself stopped showing a few years ago, as she was fed up with the “poor behaviour” of competitors.
This month (14 September), a letter from Ms Crowley was published in Horse & Hound magazine.
“The occurrence of racist language in the show ring and thinly veiled mocking of race on Facebook leads me to wonder why, in 2017, racism within our equine world appears to be treated idly,” she said.
Ms Crowley said her letter received positive feedback and spurred her on to do more.
“My letter triggered something in me to take it further —racism and poor behaviour are not acceptable,” she told H&H.
“I’ve decided that I can’t let this go on, so I’m going to launch a campaign to tackle not just racism, but poor conduct more generally in showing.
“I gave up a few years ago because I became so disillusioned with the behaviour I’ve seen.
“I don’t show any more so I can’t be victimised.”
Ms Crowley said friends of hers are still showing and that “a lot of people” want action on poor behaviour.
“Showing is known for being bitchy and very competitive — I think a lot of it is people are trying to win at all costs,” she said.
“People don’t seem to be happy for each other, there’s a lot of jealousy and envy.
“The other thing about showing is it’s very subjective, it’s not like showjumping where it’s clear if you’ve gone over a fence or not. Because it’s more ambiguous people can question if you deserved to win. People challenge results despite rulebooks stating the judge’s decision is final.”
Ms Crowley will be launching her campaign, which will involve a website she will promote on social media, in the coming weeks.
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“It’s going to be aimed at the showing world to engage competitors, organisations and shows, to stand up and take responsibility, as well as empowering people not to accept poor behaviour,” she said.
“Part of the problem at the moment is that people aren’t willing to stand up to people that are quite high-profile for fear of not being backed up, but it can only be addressed if people report it.
“I have had quite a few people message me after my letter saying it was spot-on. I’m hopeful the campaign will be too.”
For further analysis of this issue, don’t miss next week’s H&H magazine, out Thursday 28 October