LOCKDOWN NEWS BREAKING: Chuckle Brothers reboot finds new stars!
BREAKING: Meet Clyde and Ziggy Chuckle. They are Ireland’s new Chuckle Brothers.
Later this year they will star in a new adaptation of the Chuckle Brothers, bringing that subtle Chuckle comedy we all know and love to a whole new generation.
Ain’t that cute?!
Love blossoms on the yard under lockdown as two occupants are seen getting close in the field.
An eye witness reported “ignorant ****ers. With all this social distancing and Coronavirus stuff going around and they just stand there eating the face off each other in public! ****ing perverts!”
Lockdown News has since confirmed the pair live across the road from each other and shouldn’t be socialising at all under Ireland’s lockdown rules.
Community Aerobics Class
A new Aerobics class for all ages has opened in the site of Barnes Equestrian today. First day attendance was low but the two attendees put on an impressive display of agility, balance and suppleness.
The class is going ahead daily for the foreseeable future and with spring in the air, who knows what will happen in an arena?
Worlds Happiest Horse is Happy…ish
Barnes Equestrian record holder, Lady, famous for being the most cuddly happy horse ever to have lived is confirmed to be showing more of the same on lockdown. Whodathunkit?
Lockdown blues aren’t getting this lady down, not at all!
When questioned how she remains so happy in these uncertain times, she replied “**** off and go bother someone else ya Scottish twat!”
Lady clearly has a dark and dry sense of humour.
Very smooth, Smooth Criminal
The resident of Barnes Equestrian known as Clyde, aka Smooth Criminal, lived up to his name this morning while being tied up with a hay net.
Upon arriving back from the muck heap, this is what was found.
“I thought his recent diet had done wonders at first” the anonymous yard owner says.
Upon closer inspection, the yard owner was stunned to see that the diet wasn’t working as well as he first thought. “Uh looked doon the middle ae the yard an there he wiz, eating er’yone elses wasted hay!”
Clyde was then captured and later released on bail.
LOCKDOWN NEWS SCANDAL: I POOPED TODAY!
The yards first Lady, wanted it known that she did indeed poop today! Lockdown News has obtained photographic proof of Lady doing the deed in public.
Passers by quoted Lady as saying,
“Sure, it has to be done! Tis just natures way, y’know? Now go get a shovel before I dance in it. Get to work ye b*****d!!”
Has the worlds happiest horse no shame? Is this the beginning of her fall from grace? Only time will tell…
In Other News: Worlds Moustache Conference
The Worlds Moustache Conference met today as the start of a daily event for the next 2 weeks.
Clyde, 5 and Ziggy, 8 planned the conference to celebrate all things moustache.
Lockdown News got an exclusive interview with them both.
LN:What inspires you to keep your moustaches looking so well in these trying times?
Ziggy: “A moustache is a symbol of elegance. I firmly believe that having an exquisite moustache as i and my dear friend Clyde do, shows the world that one can have that classic Poirot look while maintaining everything that makes a man a man in the year two-thousand and twenty!”
LN: Clyde, tell us a little about what inspires you.
Clyde: “Hay. I love hay. Oh my god it’s sooooooooo nice!! I lo-“
LN: I meant about your moustache, what inspires you to put the work into maintaining it?
Clyde: “A moustache is a way of life like, innit? It’s like hay, without hay I’d be sad. Hay is my life. A life without hay is a life not worth living, and if I can’t have hay, well I don’t wanna be part of this hay conference!”
LN: Ziggy, what brought you both together?
Ziggy: “We both went to the same moustache barber for years and we bonded over some exhilarating moustache treatments and balms. Those were our younger days, weren’t they chap? Back when you were athletic and fit, not eeehhhhh…”
Clyde: (laughs) “Oh yes! I remember that alright. Joe, the moustache barber, once invited me around to his place for tea. He made a lovely meal. Equerry and some Natural mix for the main and a dessert of some deliciously tasty hay!”
LN: Do you have any concerns during this current Coronavirus pandemic?
Ziggy: “Yes of course. It’s a serious thing and I simply wish people would treat it as such. More needs to be done to push just how serious this is for all human-kind.”
Clyde: “I eh, agree. And like, what if the farmer stopped selling hay. I heard that it could happen and then what?? WHAT HAPPENS THEN?! WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERES NO MORE FARMERS FOR MORE HAY???”
Clyde: “Mmmmm, grass 🤤“
The interview was halted there after Clyde wandered off and raided the conferences hay shed. He was dragged off by yard police after causing a disturbance and fighting with security. Tune in next time to find out what happens to Clyde next and for all the latest on Lockdown News only at Barnes Equestrian.
With regards to the current worldwide climate and the spread COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, it’s important for Barnes Equestrian to consider the safety of clients and to think of the impact of the virus on the yard. It’s time to consider the impact it can potentially have on you and I as well as business in general.
As of today, the Irish government have declared that indoor gatherings of less than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled. Schools and childcare facilities are to close. Restaurants and cafes are to implement safeguards to limit the spread of the virus. The current goal is centred around containment of the virus and delaying the spread.
Barnes Equestrian will follow public health advice and advice from the government. This means keeping ourselves informed and acting rationally in these uncertain times.
Social-distancing and social-isolation is officially being advised.
COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and therefore now is the time to be most vigilant. This document explores what we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and potential courses of action should the virus spread to the yard or anybody on it. We have to work together to prevent the spread to those most vulnerable.
This document (Important Notice: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)) is to give clear information on how to deal with CONVID-19 and to outline possible courses of action Barnes Equestrian may have to tale.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms of COVID-19 are as follows:
Cough (can be any type of cough)
High Temperature (Fever)
Shortness of Breath
It can take 14 days for symptoms of COVID-19 to take effect. On average symptoms may appear as soon as 5 days.
You may show some or many of these symptoms but that also may not mean you have COVID-19. These symptoms can be similar to the common cold or flu. Please stay vigilant if you show symptoms and believe you may have contradicted the virus.
What to do if you show symptoms
As of now, the advice if you display any of these symptoms in Ireland is to not worry if you haven’t been to an affected area or if you haven’t met someone with the virus. It is believed that unless you’ve been in close contact with the virus, you likely won’t have it even if you show these symptoms – it’s likely not COVID-19.
However if your symptoms are concerning enough that you would usually visit a GP to seek medical aid, then call the doctor. Explain the symptoms and follow their medical advice. In cases of severe lung infections, your doctor may require a COVID-19 test.
I personally feel it’s important to look to our closest neighbours and see what the advice is there in the midst of a wider outbreak than here in Ireland.
In the U.K, if you start showing any of the above symptoms, the advice is to:
Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people.
DO NOT visit a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Always call your GP or the emergency services if symptoms are serious enough and follow their advice. Do not put other lives in danger by showing up unannounced.
How is COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 is spread in droplets from sneezing or coughing. The infected person discharges fluid from their nose or mouth and then you absorb them through your mucus membranes – through your mouth, nose and eyes.
This transfer of the virus can happen directly or indirectly. This means that you may be able to contract the virus through objects, your hands or other surfaces.
How to minimise your chances of contracting COVID-19
There are several ways you can help minimise your chances of spreading and contracting COVID-19. The HSE and NHS websites give a list of Dos and Don’ts. They are as follows:
Wash your hands properly and often (for at least 20 seconds)
Use sanitiser when soap and water isn’t available.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze to prevent the spread of germs.
Always put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
Frequently touched surfaces and objects should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. .
Avoid close contact with people who are not well.
Follow government issued travel advice.
When sick, be sure to stay at home to avoid spreading whatever infection you may have.
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Do not share objects that touch your mouth (for example bottles, cups, forks.)
What is Barnes Equestrian doing to minimise exposure to the yard?
For now and until something drastically changes, Barnes Equestrian is open for business as usual. I see no reason to change that.
I want to welcome good hygiene. Please do feel free to wash your hands on arrival and when leaving. Due to the shortage of hand sanitiser around the local vicinity you may do so at the house and then dry your hands with disposable towels. When possible I plan to purchase sanitiser and dispensers for the yard.
Dust masks will also be available when it’s possible to purchase them again. This helps on a couple of levels.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and exposure to dust particles can exasperate the condition. Using a dust mask can prevent inhalation of particles.
If you show any symptoms, especially a cough, wearing a mask will aid in preventing the spread of the virus by coughing. It can aid in limiting the spread of droplets.
If wearing gloves, please remember that they do not replace the need to wash hands and you should still wash your hands before and after wearing them. The virus can stay on the gloves just like it can your skin.
This initial response is hygiene focused.
You may wish to take the extra step and source 1910.133 standard safety goggles. Doing so may prevent the urge to unknowingly touch your face and expose the mucus membranes to the virus. However this should be a preventative taken at your own discretion.
However, I’d like to point out that the virus can be absorbed via your eyes, nose and mouth. There are specific masks that can filter viral particles but please consider the impact of purchasing those masks on the worlds health services. Also remember that ideally, the entirety of the face should be sealed to prevent exposure to the virus. This means that a mask alone isn’t likely to stop you from getting COVID-19.
The yard tools and any surfaces will be washed down with cleaned to prevent the spread of the virus.
What you can do to help us
To help, simply use common sense. Keep on top of the virus’ spread around the locality and stay vigilant. If you feel ill or are suffering any of the symptoms of COVID-19, do not come out to the yard.
Educate yourself on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Make use of available hygiene options at Barnes Equestrian.
Do not downplay your condition.
Do follow the instructions in this document and follow advice from the HSE.
If in doubt, keep out.
Do not put yourself or others at risk.
What is our plan in the event of a local outbreak?
The reality is simple. There are at-risk people on the yard at Barnes Equestrian. I have to make it my responsibility to prevent the virus reaching them.
I believe it’s logical to explore closing the yard in line with developments in the spread of COVID-19. In these events visitation to the yard may be limited or even be completely restricted altogether. Safety is paramount and this decision won’t be taken lightly.
If things go this far, please remember that it is for your safety and my own.
I will monitor the situation in Ireland. Social-distancing is recommended by the government. I will always consider the safety of the yard. At this time, you need to know this is a real possibility to protect everyone who comes to the yard.
Clients have lives outside of the yard. As do I. Exposure in our daily lives is hard to control, especially when visiting people or even shopping. We can do everything right ourselves but it takes one careless person in our path to not care and expose us to the virus. The same goes for myself when I go into town for supplies.
There may be others on the yard who have higher risk relatives and we cannot allow the virus to spread to those people, doing so puts real lives in real danger.
With an incubation period of 5-14 days, we have to be vigilant and think ahead.
If you contract the virus or believe you may have it; or are showing symptoms of it, please inform me privately and as soon as possible. There is no judgement nor stigma. Do not visit the yard.
You may contact me by:
Phone or text: +353 85 120 4749
Via WhatsApp at the above number.
Instagram or Facebook @BarnesEQ
In the event of a shutdown of the yard and the facilities, horses will be looked after as usual and a reduction in weekly livery rates may be applied in this time dependant on the service being provided. A decision to shutdown won’t be taken lightly.
Please be aware: If you travel outside of Ireland to an affected country; upon arrival back into Ireland, I request that you quarantine yourself from the yard for a period of 14 days. This is not an excessive measure but a preventative measure.
If a member of the Barnes Equestrian team contracts the virus
In the event of a yard member or staff contracting the COVID-19 virus, the yard will have to go on lockdown. This will mean that nobody will be permitted to enter the yard in this quarantine period. The main reason being that the yard is a residential premises as well as a yard.
Horses will still be cared for and looked after to the same high standard you’re used to.
In the unlikely event that myself and any yard help are infected, your horse may be turned out and live out with hay for the quarantine period. This is to prevent anyone infected contaminating objects around the yard and also to prevent anyone possibly living with or developing the virus having to work in a shavings and hay filled dusty environment that exasperates a weakened immune system. I do not wish to take risks with people’s health or their lives.
Self Isolation and social distancing
At the moment, many people displaying symptoms going into self isolation in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These people often may have been exposed to the virus and don’t wish to be the cause of the viral spread.
There are also examples of people practicing social-distancing in order to prevent themselves from contracting the virus. Both of these are now actively encouraged by the Irish government. We have to be responsible as individuals.
If you choose to go down this route, whatever your reasons, Barnes Equestrian will support your decision. Please inform us and let us know. We can always work with you. In such times, I will try to bring your horse to you virtually if you can’t be there in person. So expect some photo updates!
I’d like you all to consider social-distancing and social-isolation. These are very real and very logical options to limit the impact of the virus on yourselves and those you love. I will monitor the situation and may enforce restriction down the line. However, if at any time you wish to put these into practice now, reach out and let us know. You’ll have our full support.
My personal thoughts
For now, it’s important to act as individuals. Individually we share this burden and small changes by us all can impact the wider country. The virus is making an impact not only on personal levels but economic levels. Financially and otherwise this is a very real threat today. If we act now, we can limit the impact of COVID-19 sooner.
There are several common-sense examples of ways we can minimise the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Do not presume that everybody is taking the same care and precautions to limit the spread of the virus as you are. Do not become complacent and stay vigilant.
We, as individuals, cannot control everybody in society and there are examples of some extremely careless people with COVID-19. We can however do our part to keep us and those we care about as safe as possible.
Personal hygiene is vital. Do wash your hands frequently and access face masks or cover your mouth if you have a cough. It simply helps in preventing the spread of those droplets. Soap can be found at the house so use it. Use it on arrival and before leaving the yard.
Do not visit the yard if you’re ill or showing any symptoms. If the virus spreads, do not feel as though you have to be at the yard or expose yourself to be here. Your horse will be kept safe and happy. Your safety is important.
Look after yourselves and those you care about. Be vigilant. Be clean and remember, closure of the yard is a worst case scenario. I’m putting this out there because I want you to have faith that I am following events and that I am considering your health and safety as part of the Barnes Equestrian family.
If we can avoid spreading it amongst ourselves and to those most vulnerable in our society, we most certainly should take every opportunity to do so. I will update you on new measures as they are implemented.
If you spend enough of your life around horses you’ll see it all. Life being brought into the world and those magical first steps. You’ll see the trials and tribulations of horses in their ridden careers; their progression and them reaching the peak of their mountain. You’ll see the same in your peers. You’ll see those who stumble along the way and come back with a vengeance to overcome their own issues. Riding a half-tonne animal with a mind of its own is bravery. You really do see it all.
If you spend enough of your life around horses you’ll see some truly amazing things.
There’s also, however, the other side of the coin. Yes you’ll see some amazing things but if you spend enough of your life around horses, you’ll also see the sad things.
A sad goodbye
A week ago today, Barnes Equestrian said goodbye to one of our most cherished members of the yard family. Poor Jelle was put to sleep after a short illness.
When I started Barnes Equestrian I did so under the belief that when I get a horse in to look after, that horse will be looked after as though it’s my own. With Jelle that was no exception.
Jelle wasn’t my own horse but through working with him daily and getting to know his personality and gain his trust, he felt like one of my own. In times where his owner couldn’t make it to visit him, I’d do bits with him. I’d groom him or I’d get some of the other people on the yard to do bits. Jelle was so sweet and gentle that even at his young age he gave confidence to others. I was always looking for ways to keep Jelle entertained such as giving him some horse-toys to roll around the stable and even put up multiple licks around the stable for when he was in.
Everybody loved Jelle and everybody was devastated to learn the news of his passing.
“It’s hard to not get attached“
Doing what I do, it’s hard to not get attached. I’m looking after these wonderful animals day after day. Learning about them, their quirks, their habits and you grow to know their unique personalities. I miss when they’re no longer there with their head over the stable door – whether or not they’ve simply moved yard or… you know…
Admittedly I took the news of Jelles passing harder than some horses I’ve owned. I don’t think I’ve felt that way since losing my first ever horse who a rescue horse a decade ago. I’ve been through it before and I know that time heals.
There’s only so much you can do in the end. What matters most to me is that I’m there for the animal when they need me most; that I’ve helped make them happy and that they know they’re loved and appreciated right to the end.
If you spend enough of your time around horses, you do indeed see it all. The good far outweighs the bad despite the bad being prominent for longer. Horses are like therapy, they do a lot for us mentally as well as physically.
The good and the bad
Despite the hard times and the bad times; despite the emotional turmoil they can put us through, we’re always thankful to have these animals in our lives. Sure it is heartbreaking to see them go but eventually I always remember that their passing leaves a horse shaped hole to fill. Their passing means another horse can feel that love and comfort we have to give.
Thank you Jelle for the fond memories in your time here.
If you spend enough of your life around horses, it’s hard to imagine it any other way.
This post was written by Scott Barnes of Barnes Equestrian. If you don’t already, please feel free to follow us on our Facebook page!
Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified dressage judge but the Dressage Judges Gala was open to both judges and Dressage enthusiasts.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Dressage Judges Gala at Spruce Lodge Training Facility In county Wicklow. The galas focus was around judging freestyle to music. I must say it was a fascinating experience to gain insight from a rather unique perspective.
Dressage Ireland were hosting the gala and at the podium to share her valuable experience was Jo Graham, BD List 1 and an FEI 4* dressage judge.
The day itself was split into two halves – The morning and the afternoon.
In the morning a large crowd gathered for a presentation alongside some examples of freestyle tests to music. We got to look at the technical and creative sides of the freestyle tests.
The examples were to express to us how much music can affect the pace being ridden. When you choose the correct music, it adds so much more to the overall expression of the test whereas with the wrong music you may find it hinders the performance of the horse.
To delve further into this for now, we were shown several clips of various levels. In these clips, horses varied from expressive movement with lots of cadence to more flat movement with little in the way of expressiveness. What we were shown was that when using the correct music, even the flat mover can appear to be more expressive. Likewise with the wrong music, the flashy mover may suffer in the overall picture.
The right music in freestyle tests is vital!
In the afternoon section, we were treated to 3 volunteers who I believe were from Spruce Lodge – Sean, Joanne, and Belinda.
Sean and his horse (Fig) were demonstrating a freestyle test at Novice level with some spectacular Phil Collins music. Joanne rode her horse (Cashmirs Hadina) to a more serious tone at Elementary with some impressive music that demanded all eyes in the building. Her choice in music put me in mind of something you’d see Totillas ride to. Finally Belinda stepped up to ride an Advanced Medium test on her horse (Galaxy Moone) to some very jazzy and fun music.
As each rider rode their tests, we got to look at their required movements and judge their creativity. The rider was given the chance to take feedback on board and receive a valuable perspective from Jo herself as she explored our thoughts and voiced her own – alongside justification for all points of course! When judging dressage, it’s vital to be able to justify why you give the marks you do.
The day was interesting. I was thankful for the opportunity to have attended it. Dressage judging is something I’ve been curious about but I haven’t actually taken any steps on a journey towards qualifications. It allowed me some great insight into how judges work and what they look for – Especially in a freestyle where both creative and technical marks are applied.
So, now that my experience is done with, let’s get onto the tips! I’ve taken loads from the day and some of my favourite bits are as follows!
In the following section, I’ll share with you some tips I learned from the day and I hope you’ll find them as interesting as I did!
Use Your Arena
When designing the choreography for your test, consider symmetry. Are you leg yielding on the left rein across the whole arena and only doing it across half of the arena on the right rein? Change it. Are you doing 3 canters on the left rein and only 1 on the right? Change it. Your test needs to be balanced and symmetrical. It’s a common mistake that many people tend to not reflect both reins but judges notice symmetry.
Use the whole arena. Don’t fall into the trap of only using bits of it. It’s a huge space so use it all! Balance curving lines such as loops and semi-circles with the straight lines such as long diagonals.
In your choreography, remember to make it interesting. Transitions between and within paces go a long way to keep the attention of the judge.
Finally, make every line you ride mean something. It’s a freestyle, use it to show off your strengths! Don’t aimlessly display a working canter from A, up the long side to C. Transition within the canter to a medium canter up the long side and transition back to working before the corner. Use the lines to show off!
Find One Pace Easy? Don’t Overuse It!
If your horse has an effortless uphill canter, don’t feature it in the majority of your test. When it comes to choreography, it’s important to be able to show off the parts you’re good at but keeping them as features. Those parts should be a highlight and not used so much that the judge is left bored watching the test.
Link Your Movements Creatively and ride them clearly
Riding movements clearly means that if you’re riding an extended trot, try to make it an obvious case of extended trot. You need some extended steps! It’s the same no matter what movement you ride, try to make it clear what it is.
When you link movements creatively, this links back to your choreography. Keep it interesting. Don’t go for an extension into collection if your horse struggles with it but don’t shy away from stringing together moves that show off what you’re capable of. Creativity looks at what you ride, where you ride it, how you ride it and the degree of difficulty. Sometimes taking a chance can pay off.
Consider the degree of difficulty
Calculated risk. This particular tip involves you to assess your horses ability alongside your own to pull off weaker moves. If you’re riding a horse who struggles with extension for example, you might not want to put much extension in your test as poor extension could bring your mark down.
However, if you’re riding a freestyle test and can ride a harder move more than adequately, you may be able to bring up marks through repetition of the harder move. Reputation of harder moves, different lines and combining different moves (for example an extended trot to a halt) can bring up a score impressively if you’re able to pull them off. If you struggle to do so, avoid showcasing your combinations weaknesses.
Fun fact! Everyone knows you get higher marks for riding difficult movements with one hand; But did you know you can only do this a maximum of 4 times in one test?
Music that enhances the image
This years Dressage Judges Gala was focused particularly on freestyle to music. I’ve seen people attempt to compile a freestyle test and use one song or piece of music for the entirety of the test. No matter what their pace may have been, that song and it’s beat played throughout the walk, trot and canter phases. Think about the pace and even the pace within the pace. If you’re doing free walk on a long rein, make that music reflect that. Medium walk music should reflect the change in pace too.
Also consider the overall picture. The choice of music should suit the horse and rider combination. What supports the picture and story you’re telling throughout your test? For example, the Steptoe and Son theme song music suits a cob more than it does Totilas.
Remember, music can help the overall image of what you present in a test. The right music can enhance the weak movements and wrong music can hinder the strong movements. Consider this when choosing music.
More notes on music
Music in your freestyle test should enhance the movements being ridden but not distract from them. Your music should enhance the movement being ridden. Changes in pace should be reflected in the music with a smooth, unjarring transition from one piece of music to another.
Vocals may be used but if you have a choice between a vocal piece or an instrumental piece, consider whether or not one enhances your test over the other.
It’s important to note as well, that your technical mark in a freestyle test may be adjusted if your transitions aren’t ridden in line with the music. If you’re still cantering when your trot music hits, you will see this reflected in the end scores.
In a freestyle you have some flexibility in what you’re riding. If you’ve ridden slightly quicker or slower than the music and don’t want to be caught off guard for your transition; You may add a slight audio cue to remind you of where a transition is coming up.
This could be bells, a chime of some sort or whatever you think fits. I’d recommend making it fit in with the style and tone of your music. If you struggle to remember transitional spots or have timed the pace to the music poorly, this may be a life saver.
Interesting points to note
Question: What happens if the music fails to start?
Answer: The judge has to use their own discretion in these events. If a rider signals for the music to begin and there appears to be a technical error, the judge has the right to use their discretion to determine whether a restart is acceptable or not. A delay of 5 or even 10 seconds may still not trigger a restart. The judge will consider the rider in the situation and also the horse. The judge should know that expecting a horse to stand waiting isn’t fair to the horse nor the rider.
On the day of the gala, Jo Graham said riders should have a backup plan so that they aren’t standing there with their horse halted for too long. Ultimately there is no answer on this one really. It’s entirely up to the judges discretion. We as riders just have to be prepared and look after the horse we are on.
Question: What happens if the music stops playing during my test?
Answer: The judge will likely stop the test. All movements marked up to the point of the technical failure will be kept. After the judge stops the test and the failure is resolved, you will then be asked to ride the test from the beginning. This is mainly because it may be hard to find the exact place the music left off. It’s also allowing you and your horse a chance to get back into the swing of things.
Once you reach the stage where your music stopped, the judging commences. By the end you will have ridden a complete test and have been scored fairly as though no interruption took place.
I’m sure you can probably tell that I feel I learned a lot at the Dressage Judges Gala. I did. It gave me valuable insight into how dressage tests are judged and what the judges really look for. In freestyle, it’s easy to get caught up in wanting exciting music that we feel fits our story. One of the most important lessons I learned at the gala was to look at the bigger picture and to consider the image others see.
Dressage isn’t like most equestrian sports. Dressage is an art. There is interpretation of our work. There’s technicality and creativity. There is freedom from the rider to be able to express themselves through the test – but it’s when you bring it altogether as one masterpiece that the magic happens. That magic is on show for others to interpret; to relate to and especially with freestyle, to form an emotional bond to.
The Dressage Judges Gala was a great experience to view the sport of Dressage in a new light. I’ll definitely consider attending again next year.
Bullying in the equestrian world is a very real problem. It’s something I’ve seen first hand. Even today I continue to witness such cases. These aren’t by immature children, but grown adults who really should know better.
I really want to share my views on this as there are many misconceptions on the topic.
Bullying in the Equestrian World: The Stereotype
There’s a stereotypical situation – One we can all imagine. Think of the bully on a yard or at a show. Typically, you imagine the bully being the one with money, having a clique of friends and being a snob to the highest degree. We can all imagine that and in some cases it is very true.
It’s also not hard to imagine the bully being the successful competitor who acts like they own the place. Let’s face it, we’ve encountered that at some stage too.
The common reality may surprise you
People imagine the bullies being the guy or girl on the big fancy competition horse. We can stereotype all day about the bullies in our industry but the real bullies may often surprise you.
The real bully seeks validation
In my personal experience, the real bullies are insecure about how the world perceives them. They want to be viewed as the better people, the most knowledgable people. They can do no wrong and often feel as though they are always being dealt lifes hard hand. These people feel like they have so much untapped potential but the potential never shows because the system is rigged to keep them down. Or that life is against them. Or the horses they have are never easy or throw them event after event of pure misfortune. The bullies are the ones that seek validation from those around them – both in real life and online.
I’ve known instructors to openly mock and complain about clients and their inability to ride. Instructors who question “why do they own that horse and do/don’t do x, y or z with it?” Again validation is sought and given by those around them.
I’ve seen people vocally cry out with distress when a rider that’s being taught can’t do the exact right thing at the exact right time. Those people typically threaten to get up and do it better. It isn’t about helping, it’s about feeling like they’re more competent.
I’ve seen spectators stand by laughing and mocking a rider in the arena as they go about their business.
The simple truth is, the bullies could literally be anyone.
The addition of social media
Social media is a wonderful tool for businesses and people alike. It gives us a platform from which we can easily vocalise beliefs and discuss the realities of life – Much like I am doing here. Social media is a marketing tool. Each and every one of us promotes ourselves on social media. We might not all be a business, but our personal brand is always on display. Like with businesses, our name can and will be judged by those viewing what we post and how we react.
Nothing is quite as it seems
Social media also has a dark side that aids bullying in our sport. As users, we invest in the brands that interest us and who engage us through posts. As such, especially with small businesses, you may feel as though you know and can trust people behind the page. In many cases, we see business pages as “official” brand pages. When we think “official,” our minds tend to view them as being correct or even trustworthy. We often forget that there may be individuals with alternate agendas behind them.
Remember, publicity is marketing. When dealing with your brand image, it’s easy to present a persona of being blunt and not caring as a way to market yourself. It’s easy to stir emotion and pity. People love controversy. It does work! A page that says things that even a minority may think will attract a vocal following who want to put the spotlight on that logic. Arguably this can be seen in other areas in other walks of life such as Trumps often controversial acts in the US. It often validates the controversial thoughts of others and gives them a stage from which to act from.
Facts can be manipulated. Those who scream loudest are often more commonly believed due to having the larger audience.
Social media enables us to have a platform to put forth our preferred reality. Facebook reality and actual reality could be completely different things for all we know. In many cases, people twist things to better suit the version of themselves that they wish to present to you and I – The audience.
First hand experience
Try not to side with social media spats and arguments. In many cases, the bully may take a “woe is me” approach. They’ll discuss personal experiences but that’s not to say they’re true. They may not be falsified either, but be aware that the truth can be spread thin. Don’t take one persons presentation as fact. Whether they’re more qualified than you or not. There are no qualifications for being a good and decent human being.
There are two sides to every story. Do remember that things can be very easily twisted and morphed to better reflect the person at the centre of it all.
The mob mentality
This is another reality made all the easier by social media. It’s our job to use critical thinking and personal first hand experience to determine the truth. Don’t take someones presentation to you as their reality. If we believe one side of a story without knowing the other, we encourage the bullying and isolation of others only to validate the personality at the source. We become enablers. From that, we encourage that person to continue to be horrible. We allow the ugly side of humans in our industry to shine.
On social media especially, drama attracts discussion. Drama gets likes and shares. Calling some drama a “Gate” is a lot more common these days. You see it creep up everywhere. It’s a fun way to throw shade at people while validating the small drama that they’re now going to make into a mountain. It validates the drama further while mocking it, belittling it but also dragging it out. Through that, a page can grow. The audience grows. Discussion grows. The more people who join the discussion, the more ears they have to present their fictional reality.
The personality you’re dealing with
If someone’s reaction is to complain and rant about others, they won’t hesitate to do so about you too. These people are abrasive. They’re toxic. Bullies in our industry are often opportunistic and narcissistic. Therefore, they exploit people and situations in order to further their own agenda and market themselves in a particular way – Whether that be for attention, validation, power or popularity. When you don’t agree with the bully, or better yet, you see through them, you become disposable. You become their target.
In cases of real bullying, there isn’t always a good guy and a bad guy. In reality those lines are blurred. It’s easy for us to be dragged into an unfolding drama. Especially when we invest and trust in one side of the story. It’s also easy for that someone to present their side as fact. It’s easy for them to twist and change the story to suit their image of themselves.
Stop and think about the person you’re dealing with. If they’re always hard done by, are they really that unlucky? Or are they presenting an image to market themselves?
Remember that everything you see and hear may not be what it seems.
Bullying in the Equestrian world is real. It just isn’t the stereotype we like to believe.
Bullying in the Equestrian world was first published on https://www.BarnesEQ.com/ by Scott Barnes of Barnes Equestrian. All views expressed here are my own and come from first hand experience with bullying and the types of people who I think are most likely to be bullying in the equestrian world. For more information on bullying.