How do you handle difficult topics to discuss in our industry? Let us know. Photo © GoHorseshow

How to Deal with Taboo Topics in the Horse Industry – Part 1

There are topics in the equine world that we sometimes choose to ignore or dismiss. This method may work once in a while, but ignoring problems often only allows them to worsen over time. Our equine industry is mostly comprised of honest, kind and hardworking exhibitors and professionals.

Let us not hide the fact that there are bad seeds in every bunch. You know who you are. We are talking about the dishonest, solely money driven individuals that give us all a bad reputation. This is a sad fact of life, not only in horse showing, but in general.

The best way to combat these ongoing issues is to open up the discussion. As previously mentioned, the horse world is a beautiful environment for people of all ages to grow and develop their roots. That is why positivity, encouragement and kindness are becoming much more emphasized topics these days.

What can we do to spread kindness rather than hate? How do we deal with certain situations and topics that are not often discussed? How do we deal with selfish people who burn us?

1) Western pleasure haters

“Your horse is crippled,” “Your horse is four beating,” “Your horse moves so unnaturally, it is abuse.” Western pleasure horse movement is one of the most controversial topics out there. Some horses are crippled and move unnaturally. However, the modern western pleasure horse is becoming more forward and collected. The ideals have changed over the years from slow, slow, slow to collection and impulsion. People who do not understand the breed or our way of showing do not comprehend this. The best way to deal with hate is by trying to educate others politely. This does not mean starting a full-on Facebook battle; it means simply stating facts and trying to help one’s understanding.

2) Overseas knock off show clothes and pads

If you are active on Facebook sales groups, chances are that you have seen knock-off show clothes for sale from an overseas marketer. These clothes are made cheaply and do not hold up due to the lack of quality. These imposters steal designs and ideas from credible, hard-working designers. The best way to handle these situations is simple – do not purchase from these sellers or other American businesses that sell these items. By purchasing, you allow their business to grow, and you will receive a low-quality piece. If you see these sale posts on social media, report them to the admin of each group. Many designers put hours and hours into their work, and it shows. The show clothing business is not an easy one, but imposter sellers make it even more challenging. Therefore, make sure to think before you buy.

3) Abusive situations

Abuse is something that is not often spoken about and is sometimes dismissed. The equine industry is mainly full of honest, caring, wonderful individuals. However, like previously stated, there are always a few bad apples in every bunch. Horse showing is all about having a happy horse and happy rider. Abuse is horrid and completely wrong in any scenario. These horses deserve the best and if you witness abuse of any kind, do not be afraid to tell someone. Whether this is the association or just your friends, trainer, spouse, parent, etc. The only way to stop the cruelty is by speaking up. Turning a blind eye to these situations only allows these horrible situations to continue. Do not be afraid to speak up.

4) Ex-trainer & client conflict

The horse world is small. Everyone knows everyone and their third cousin. That is why when switching trainers, it is important to keep things civil. When this switch becomes negative, everyone loses. The best way to deal with this is by letting go of the past. Move forward and allow yourself to succeed. The sweetest revenge is through success, after all. Remain polite and civil at horse shows. It can be hard, especially when you have been burned badly. A simple “Hi” or “How are you?” works wonders. Even just a smile. Find a trainer who works best with you, your horse and your goals. Then, move on and forget about the others. Allow their negativity to become inconsequential in your life. These types of people are toxic. Ultimately, forgive and thrive on your terms.

5) Politics in placings

Horse showing is not always fair. You could have the best ride of your life, but not be rewarded. You can have the worst ride of your life and walk out with the blue ribbon. Judges are people, after all. They are not robots that you can program. The vast majority of judges are hardworking, helpful and honest. However, there are a few that play the political card at shows now and then. The best way to deal with politics in placings is by just accepting it. At the end of the day, as an exhibitor, you pay for someone’s opinion. Make your goal to be better than the day before. Accept that you are not going to change someone else. Work hard to make you and your horse an unbeatable team.

6) Dishonesty when selling a horse

Misrepresentation of horses for selling purposes can be a real thing at times. These are the people who are just out to make a quick buck at the expense of others. It is a sad reality but, unfortunately, one that too many people have experienced. These sellers have no care that the horse fits the rider, they just want their commission. These bad seeds give the industry a bad reputation. The best way to combat this dishonesty is by doing your research. Make sure the person or trainer is reputable and honest. You can do this by consulting friends, trainers, even through a little social media stalking. Also, do your research when it comes to the horse. Talk to previous owners, find old videos and if you can, try to watch the horse at a show.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series which will continue the discussion on taboo topics in the industry.

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She plans to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes in 2019 with Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.