Since the ripe age of 8, I have ridden horses. Equestrianism provided me with the most wholesome childhood. It has taught me responsibility, commitment and most importantly compassion. I attended Pony Club monthly where I made numerous friends and learnt invaluable lessons about myself as a rider, and the overall well-being of my horse. I also made a heap of friends at pony club, which helped me when I went on to compete. The support I received from my peers, whether they be from my club or not, was astounding looking back on it. There was always the tiniest element of trivial horse girl bitchiness as a young girl, but the overall support generally trumped that.
It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I realised that I had been living in an equestrian bubble. Prior to becoming a young woman, the horse world completely consumed me. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore my horses, but the dynamic is different now.
I’m going to be completely honest, some girls did not outgrow the pony club kid stage. That or they were late bloomers, girls who didn’t get involved in pony club life until they were in their teens, and are still living vicariously through their horses. I find these girls terrifying, which is something that I never had experienced until recently.
I am currently 23 years old, I have a boyfriend, a social life, I work, I study and I ride my horses. I am the definition of juggling the two worlds, and the girls I describe above hate everything about that. I have never felt as though I have been socially vulnerable in the horse world, I’ve always been able to hold my own and have a lot of horsey friends. However today, I feel that I am not ‘horsey’ enough to quite fit in. This is despite spending over a decade being an equestrian.
Horse obsessed adults are worse than pre-pubescent pony clubbers
I love my horse, so much so that I’ve had him for 10 years without flogging him off for a decent wad of cash to buy a nice Warmblood. However, the fact that I only can visit my agistment every second day, and ride 3 times a week, means I am automatically victimised by the fanatics who have the luxury of being able to visit their horses twice a day every day. As a result, I have been subject to the immature, relentless bullying and exclusion of said women (keep in mind, these females are all over the age of 22).
I won’t go into detail about the ins and outs of the actions of these women, but just know, they have made me feel as though, more frequently than not, that I should just hang up my riding boots. On countless occasions I have made the effort to reach out to these women, to relate over our common ground; horses – but to no avail. I now get anxiety going down to the paddock on my own, in fear that I will end up facing the scrutiny of my fellow equestrian women. I do not enjoy horses the way that I used to, purely because the social aspect is uninviting and intimidating.
The moral of the story is this; at the end of the day, we are all people. No matter the situation, it is only fair to treat people the way you would like to be treated. I don’t care if your horse has a wardrobe of 12 different colours of matching Anky sets, or whether you not only imported your horse from Germany, but your instructor too; being kind to not only your horse, but to your fellow horsewomen is so important. For some people, growing up is inevitable, and horses are an escape from the real world. It is important to remember that not everyone has the luxury of their horse being their only focus. Thus, I urge you to relish the opportunity to make friends with people who have a common interest with you, even if they have a busy life beyond the lucerne chaff and hoof oil. Alienating people for experiencing more than one aspect of life is wrong, being at war with your fellow horsewoman is contradictory to what the sport taught us in the first place.