“NOT on my yard” is the message behind a campaign aimed at combating bullying in the equestrian world.
Organiser Tudor Rose Equines says it is “overwhelmed” by the support already shown for the initiative, which is to take place during this year’s national anti-bullying week (14-18 November).
The group was set up in January by riders Samantha Thurlow (pictured), Alan Jones and Nicky White, to provide those who lacked confidence with an opportunity to try new things such as hunting or polocrosse (pictured below) in a relaxed atmosphere.
Events also include fun rides and training.
“It’s about encouraging people at grassroots level to try things and have fun on their horses,” said Miss Thurlow. “We never expected the rapid following we’ve gained.”
Miss Thurlow, who works part-time in financial services, said feedback from participants had shown the group “takes the fear out” of activities and boosted confidence.
“It made us probe into confidence levels and why they were so prevalent at every level,” Miss Thurlow said.
“We wanted to know why. We found bullying was a very taboo subject in our world; It’s not really addressed under the equestrian banner and we thought: we need to do something about it.”
The group said it is concerned about both cyber-bullying and that demonstrated in person.
“You just have to see some of the comments made on online forums and social media, it’s shocking how people are treated,” Miss Thurlow said.
“Cyber-bullying is a massive issue in the ‘normal’ world, but we see its effects in our world and we want to do something about it.
“We also see lots of actual bullying. People have said they don’t want to go to events as they feel they’ll be judged, at yards they’re ostracised and made to feel they have to move, or there are cliques and if someone doesn’t fit in, their life is made hell.
“That’s where our strap line and the hashtag we’ll be using on social media come in: not on my yard.”
The group has contacted high-profile riders from all disciplines and has secured a number of big names for its campaign launch in September. It is also selling ‘Not on my yard’ wristbands to help spread the words.
It is asking for people to share their stories of bullying, and will invite the most touching or inspirational to the launch, where they can “meet their heroes”.
“Everyone who’s responded has seemed genuinely behind what we’re doing, and said they see the need for something like this, we’ve been overwhelmed with the support,” Miss Thurlow said.
“It’s going to be a monumental task but we really feel we can gain some momentum, get the message home and hopefully change some attitudes.
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“Our message is quite simple: bullying is not going to be tolerated.
“We want to raise awareness, to enable people to come forward saying this is happening, can someone do something? We want to change attitudes.
“We’re very passionate about this – it’s time we stood up, as the equestrian community, acknowledged this is happening and did something about it. This needs to stop.”
For more information, or to buy a wristband, visit the Tudor Rose Equines website.