This week its National Mental Health Awareness week across the UK and to support awareness Horse & Hound magazine featured a brand new initiative 'Employers Minds'. The scheme aims to support employers in the industry with their mental health - something thats become a huge topic in the industry for employers, employees and riders alike especially with the rise of social media. Dressage rider & breeder - Anna Ross recently spoke out on her facebook page about the scheme, praising it for raising awareness of the issues equestrian employers face and how opening communication between clients and service providers could only create a more positive working environment.
Personally, I think its amazing that as a community we are stepping up and talking about mental health in a positive way, drawing attention to the issues rather than shying away and pretending it isn't a problem.
The equestrian world is a tough world to be in - we get up early, are outside in all weathers, working long hours and sacrificing holidays to fund our horsey lifestyles. So you'd think we'd be the first to appreciate the struggles each other face wouldn't you?
With the 'perfect' horsey lifestyles played out on social media the pressure we face as riders and competitors is immense. Social comparison is a massive factor in increasing anxiety and when social media presents a distorted view of other people, their achievements and successes without the balance of the times it didn't go so well it can really affect how you think and feel about your own riding and yourself. Olivia Towers - dressage rider and vlogger - documents the ups and downs of life on a professional yard and is careful to capture the realities in her popular video blogs and podcasts. Most recently she's shared her experience when her horses didn't quite go as well as planned which received so much encouraging and positive feedback from her followers, but also shared her success at the same show.
Across social media, there are often comments made on content that are cruel, hurtful and often unfair. Comments are passed off as concern for the horses welfare, comments made on a short clip or single photo - is that really enough to pass judgement?
It's so easy to pass a comment on social media, or smile at someone in the collecting ring. Imagine how positive our world would be if we all took a moment to think before we posted, or said something. Let's make that change!