Following national anti-bullying awareness week (16–20 November), individuals are calling on fellow equestrians to stop tolerating bullying in any form to help stamp out the problem across the horse world. H&H finds out more...
BULLYING remains an issue in the equestrian community as concerns are raised there is an acceptance of unkindness in the horse world.
Following national anti-bullying awareness week (16–20 November), individuals have agreed problems need to be highlighted across all levels of the sport.
Gloucestershire-based horse trainer Sophie Seymour told H&H she had experienced bullying, describing it as an issue in the industry.
“People can be mean and some will say ‘That’s the horse world for you’, but it shouldn’t be like that. It baffles me because we’re all in it for the love of horses,” she said.
“I would rather when people say ‘That’s the horse world’, they mean everyone is supportive and it’s a kind place.”
Miss Seymour, who has plans to launch a clothing range with profits going to anti-bullying and equine charities, added those who are being bullied should remember it’s the bully who needs to change.
“If someone is being bullied and thinks ‘I’ve got to change this’, it won’t work because they’ll find other ways to bully you,” she said.
“Bullies often feel low and act out to make themselves feel better which is wrong. It’s important they get support and try to find happiness, without bringing someone else down.”
Richmond Equestrian Centre co-owner Abigail Turnbull agreed there should not be an acceptance of bullying and a label of “That’s the horse world”.
“It’s not right and it doesn’t matter who is doing the bullying. Tormenting, humiliating, being unfriendly or making hurtful comments has to be addressed,” she said.
“We’ve had issues on the livery yard and seen it in the competition centre with adults too and it’s something we will not tolerate or brush under the carpet.”
Mrs Turnbull said Richmond updated its anti-bullying policy this year.
“If there is a bullying issue, we will address it and hope to resolve it – but if it continues, a person may be asked to leave,” she said.
“People are pleased to see we have a policy in place and know that we will keep an eye on things – it’s really important to us.”
Heather Mussett, who co-founded anti-bullying website Riders Helping Riders with eventer Phoebe Buckley in September, told H&H bullying in the sport needs to be highlighted more.
“Something that’s come out of the website is how many equestrians have experienced some form of bullying, whether they’re an amateur or professional,” she said.
“In the future, we’d like to gather data about what is going on in the industry and how we can improve it. It would be good to say to governing bodies ‘This is what we’ve found’ then work together to make positive changes.”
H&H 26 November 2020
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