Pammy Hutton on the benefits that social media and the internet can bring
SOCIAL media can be the world’s largest goldfish bowl. Yet, for many, the pros outweigh the cons. Over the past year, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have without doubt contributed heavily to the survival of many riding schools, including ours here at Talland.
A crowd-funding campaign for the London-based Park Lane Stables, which specialises in Riding for the Disabled Association activities, raised over £1m and secured the stables’ future.
A JustGiving template, developed via a joint effort between Ingestre Stables and Talland, raised over £280,000 collectively for many riding schools in the UK and overseas. This all happened through social media.
Cyber communication comes with rules; some of which are obvious, and some easy to trip over. I admit to being banned from pages and blocked by riders I’ve dared to criticise. Yes, I have some embarrassing stuff out there; everything one posts is online forever for all to see. But it’s a small price to pay for the help and support that social media can facilitate in times of trouble.
PROS AND CONS
A RECENT cyber “first” for me is online dressage. Failure to study the rules meant I was made to go HC; I now know that the horse should wear boots or bandages, the camera should be at C and the camera’s zoom should be used. I felt as though I might look better in soft focus…
I do wonder how many online tests ignore banned substance rules, though, and how many wins owe more to video editing than riding skills.
Another lingering downside of the pandemic is the number of riders who now feel it’s acceptable to offer lessons on their own horses – despite lacking qualifications.
Such sessions delivered without a licence to do so are without insurance, too. Maybe it’s time our governing bodies ensured that the fines for and consequences of doing this are made more widely known?
Of course, the internet also keeps us up to date with the minutiae of the equestrian world in a way the Sunday papers do not, and also provides an insight into riders to watch around the world. One American rider who has caught my eye online recently is Steffen Peters, a member of the USA elite squad with Suppenkasper.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
MENTAL health issues have hit the horse world too hard of late. As someone brought up to “get on with it”, I had little understanding of depression until it came too close for comfort. Then I learned that modern approaches left me outdated.
While a kick in the pants is occasionally needed, there are times when society expects too much. We wouldn’t expect someone to carry on with a broken leg, but a broken brain doesn’t always get the same consideration.
Having said that, someone with a broken leg who failed to seek and take note of medical advice – preferring to carry on regardless – would garner little sympathy.
PUTTING ON A BRAVE FACE
IT’S good to see a working rider appointed chief medical officer to the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA).
Dr Diane Fisher, a consultant in major trauma and emergency medicine at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, does low level dressage and trains here at Talland.
She also believes that injured riders shouldn’t always put on a brave face.
“Some riders really don’t help themselves when they put on a stiff upper lip and withhold what could be crucial information for the medical team,” she says.
Diane is currently awaiting grading confirmation to allow her to compete as a para rider because of lower leg nerve damage from an accident – though a non-equestrian one, I hasten to add.
This exclusive column is also available to read in this Thursday’s H&H magazine (15 April, 2021)
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