BY THE PLAID HORSE STAFF
We live in a time when anyone can take a quick comment or photo and publish it on the internet immediately – often in front of the eyes of thousands of people. Social media and the digital age have created all kinds of complex situations, from “fake news” to online bullying and beyond. But how do these issues relate back to the horse world?
While you may think that equestrian social media etiquette isn’t as important as other social media front-page news, it’s still essential that as a group, we represent our sport and ourselves well. Plus, etiquette is all about being considerate to the ones around you – whether you’re at the dinner table, or posting on Facebook. Here are some tips to be on your best behaviour when posting on social media.
DO put safety first: Over-the-head, mounted #rootd selfies are adorable insta-friendly, but put you in a bit of a dangerous position – especially if your horse were to spook or trip. Take these pictures standing still in a safe location, or better yet ask a friend to hold the horse for you, just in case. Never put yourself in danger for Insta likes.
DO ask permission: If you are riding a lease horse, sale horse or just a random catch ride, ask permission before posting about it on social media. What seems fine or funny to you may not be to the horse’s owner. Some people don’t want photos of their animals all over the internet.
DO remember the “Thumper Rule:” If you’ve seen Bambie, you’ve heard Thumper’s famous line – If you can’t say nuttin’ nice, don’t say nuttin’ at all. This is especially important in regards to social media. If you were offered a horse to ride that you didn’t enjoy or had a bad experience with a certain individual, blasting them on Facebook should never be your first course of action. How would you feel if someone wrote a post about all the things they didn’t like about your favourite horse?
DO be conscious of how your posts may impact others. Remember that all of your posts reflect on more than just you; They reflect on your barn, your trainer and your barn-mates. Unfortunately, the internet loves to find fault and your posts can affect someone’s reputation or livelihood, so be consider your words carefully.
DO share the love (or the likes!): It feels really good when you post a show picture you’re proud of, and your friends comment on how cute your horse is or how great your equitation looks, right? One of the great things about social media is that it takes only seconds to brighten someone’s day. If someone you know posts something and could use some support or encouragement, take a few seconds out of your day to boost them up. You never know how important that might be to them at the time!
And most importantly …
DO remember why you’re at the barn: Live in the moment. Put your phone in your tack trunk and focus on your relationship with your horse, not your relationship with the internet. Not every moment in life is meant to be a photo op.