‘S**t’ riders become force for good, on social media and in real life

  • A Facebook group that started as a way to share laughter over equestrian fails has become a force for good, in more ways than one, despite the original group’s being deleted.

    H&H reported a year ago that S**tEventersUnite, set up in 2019 by Cressida Kitchin-Townshend for people to “share their crapness without judgement” had exploded in popularity, nearing 80,000 members.

    The number carried on climbing to about 200,000 people, from all over the world, but then the group was inexplicably deleted by Facebook.

    A replacement SEU was set up, and now has more than 147,000 members, but although the theme, of sharing funny pictures and videos of falls, fails and general s**tness, remains, the group is also raising thousands of pounds for charity.

    “We know the group’s not for everyone but it’s not in any way promoting bad horsemanship; we may call our horses names but we love them, and would do anything for them,” Cressida told H&H. “We know that if horses play up there’s a problem, and people are much better at hearing what their horses are telling them. But what does happen when you’re around horses is that things go wrong, and it’s ok to laugh when they do.”

    Cressida says she still does not know why Facebook disabled the original group.

    “We know Facebook bots don’t like bad language so we’ve tried to clean that up without losing our sense of humour,” she said. “But sometimes, things get removed and they don’t tell us why. We heard from community standards when someone quoted Monty Python: ‘Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries’, so it’s a guessing game a lot of the time.”

    Since it was reformed, the group has now taken a slightly different focus. And although the s**t posts are still the main feature, Cressida, now helped out by Andrew and Toby, is selling SEU merchandise, with money from sales going to charity, and has created a 2022 fails calendar, to raise money for World Horse Welfare.

    “Every single item now sold under the SEU banner gives money to charity,” Andrew said. “We set a target of £2,000 and raised that in a couple of months – we’ll be at £5,000 soon, which is amazing.

    “It’s all about the calendar at the moment. Every time I see January [pictured] I laugh till I get tears in my eyes. People are so proud to have been selected to be in it, and every photographer we contacted was happy to have their pictures included.

    “What I find utterly brilliant is that this dark sense of humour is so generous. Horse people are incredibly giving, to their horses, and in their time and money.”

    And as well as giving financially to good causes – Cressida also thanked those SEU members who raised some £12,000 this spring when horses and their owners were among those hit by devastating floods in Australia – the group is doing good in other ways.

    Cressida mentioned the recent posting of an old meet picture, of a child and her father. Within hours, the now-adult daughter had responded, with a picture of the two of them hunting recently.

    “That’s brilliant, it’s what it’s all about,” she said. “Someone else had been looking for her old horse for years and found it through the group. That’s the good side of social media.

    “That’s how it should be, and I hope we’ve got people being more aware of what they comment, because they know anything s**t they say will mean they’re removed from the group. I’d rather have 150,000 nice people than 400,000 being mean to each other.”

    And it is not just on social media, SEU members have met in real life.

    “We’ve heard from people meeting each other in the dentist and having a laugh about something on the group, or people being nicer to each other at shows because they’ve got an SEU saddlecloth on,” Cressida said. “The horse world can be harsh at times — especially warm-up arenas as they’re the innermost circle of hell — but this is something that connects people.

    “We want to do good, for horses, riders and people on social media, while still being S**t and not losing the humour.”

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