We are already on day four of the new year! The first international shows have just had their vet checks and our sport is ready to continue with magical moments in 2023, while we still taste the beautiful sportive moments we lived in 2022. The equestrian industry had an incredible growth in 2022, but with it came a down side, the public opinion, mainly expressed on social media.
Super results we already have, magic moments with our horses are endless ... That is why 2023 I'm convinced, will be the year where we ask ourselves whether we want our sport to have mainstream media attention or not. It seems our industry is not yet ready for this. Most beautiful example is Ludger Beerbaum who had to defend himself to the 'outside world' and wasn't backed-up by his own federation. In crisis situations like Ludger (and many other riders) experienced we need to stand together create a united team, defending our sport!
For the past years we have demanded more mainstream (media)attention. "We have incredible results, magnificent medals but the mainstream media doesn't write or report about it," stated many passionate riders. We all want to promote the beautiful moments and results we achieve, and we should! We have the privilege to live with horses and experience one of the most beautiful sports in the world.
But - as usual - there's a downside to the attention. The growth of our sport and associated mainstream media attention showed us it comes with a very strong opinionated audience, that more and more defines the rules in our sport. Horse welfare is a must, but it seems the federation is more and more led by the mainstream - opinionated - critics.
What do we want?
2023 should be the year we create awareness the mainstream media has set foot in our industry. We should be aware that this brings with it a responsibility to educate the non-equestrian people. We need to educate them why certain training methods are no violation on the horse welfare, we should explain them the horses are the center of our being and as such horse welfare is something we respect.
We also should avoid the influence of those non-expert critics in our rules. We cannot let our sport being directed by media attention and public opinions. Instead of changing rules to accommodate those critics, we should educate them, and change their mind for our beautiful sport!
We cannot turn back time, but we can learn from it. 2022 is the year we have learned there is no public platform where the mainstream or outside world can learn more about our sport. Can learn we put horse welfare on priority level one, we take care of our horses, etc.