Like it or not, social media has become a major part of everyday life. While some aspects of it can be hugely positive, the showing fraternity is currently experiencing an influx of keyboard warriors venting dissatisfactions with results and making personal attacks on fellow competitors and judges via social media channels.
Not only is this detrimental to the sport, it’s setting a bad example to younger riders; if they see older people behaving this way, they think it’s acceptable.
Some even seem to mistake unsportsmanlike behaviour for gamesmanship.
Yes, we all have days when we wonder why we got up at 2am and spent £150 on diesel. If that happens, by all means go back to your lorry and have a sulk if it makes you feel better.
It’s acceptable to have discussions about issues that come up, but these should not degenerate into malicious gossip or personal attacks. It’s unacceptable to go home, go online and publicly slate someone who has also given up their day and perhaps driven hundreds of miles, often for little or no money at all. Such behaviour has effectively become a form of bullying.
You can’t win ’em all
Showing is subjective. You can have a good day followed by a bad one, but you can’t win ’em all. If it doesn’t go your way, it’s far more positive and productive to go home and analyse your performances.
If you decide that something went wrong, no matter how minor, see if you can put it right. If it comes down to the fact that a judge prefers a different type of animal, then shrug it off and choose not to show under that person again, without complaining to all and sundry.
Complainers should also ask themselves if they could be seeing their animals through rose-tinted spectacles. It’s difficult to be impartial when assessing your own horse or pony and optimism can sometimes override reality.
There are certainly some lovely ponies and great riders in the well-filled junior ridden mountain and moorland (M&M) Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers. However, some riders are disappointed that HOYS specifies: “Riders must not compete in both the M&M First Ridden Pony of the Year and the Junior M&M Ridden Pony of the Year at Horse of the Year Show.”
As the junior championships is meant to be a stepping stone to open M&M classes, perhaps a rethink on this rule for next season is needed. As I write, there are at least five jockeys who will have to be substituted for at the final.
We occasionally forget that showing isn’t just about the qualifiers, but about atmosphere, occasion and the chance to ride in lovely rings in front of enthusiastic onlookers. That’s always the case at Great Yorkshire (report, 20 July).
It’s one of the few shows we all flock to, even if its popularity means classes are dominated by partnerships already qualified. Sometimes, there’s more to life than getting a ticket.
H&H, 27 July 2017