Equestrian is a sport based off of performance. We literally sign up to be judged by people that assess our every move. Don’t we get enough of that in the ring? Of course. So, what happens when it spills over into our personal lives?
Social media is a tough thing. We put our experiences out on display for people to decide what they like or don’t like, regardless of if it is something we wanted them to do. Bullying and harassment is something that is brought on by the anonymous nature of being behind a username. And that is a massive struggle. Honestly, what it comes down to is entitlement. It is the fact that an individual believes they have the right to belittle or judge someone they don’t know or even the people they do know. The reality is, no person does and this mindset is intolerable. No person understands what you’ve been through. No person understands how you deal with things. No one knows.
However, it is easy to fall on both sides of this battle. Last year, a difference of opinion lead a much larger blogger to essentially harass me via text message. The dispute was off of social media and was really damaging because of how persistent and complicated the situation was. Not to mention, at that time, my in-real-life community was not only suffering from wild fires, we had also just lost twelve people in a mass shooting. This person completely misconstrued my fundamentals as a person. I was bullied as a child, and experienced racism and abuse as a young adult. These things radiated after dealing with grief in the forms of depression, PTSD, and anxiety. But they transformed me into a patient person that promotes my life long values of tolerance, expression, and authentic love of all people. However, her words were so infuriating and the situation was so lengthy and frustrating that I stooped down a level. I vented to a friend about the encounters. These were not disparaging comments, in fact, they are along the same lines as this post, but they were comments that I later felt guilty about. Why? Because as another friend reminded me, everyone deals with struggle differently, it is no more or no less than our own. This person I had conflict with came from a similar background as me and I basically felt betrayed and was in disbelief that she would “turn on me”. In my mind, she didn’t even know me and she was making statements that were fundamentally untrue and I felt there were flaws in her character for treating me that way. Then I realized, I was also making those same assumptions she had been about me, but about her. Though I felt I had proof because of her brash treatment of me, I had also discounted that she was in a different season in her life than I was. I had no room to judge her because, even though she hurt me, I didn’t know her past or present the way that she did.
Recently though, I have seen wonderful examples of what being a mindful woman through some social media friends of mine. Being a mindful person means owning the right to your happiness and being considerate of how we make people feel. I often attribute this concept to how well someone faces adversity. There is a common post on media that essentially affirms entitlement over another person’s emotions or worth: “this is just me, if you don’t like it, get over yourself or leave.” However, we are in charge of our words and our actions. We cannot allow our situation in life to control our kindness or consideration level. In order to truly be positive influencers, we must “grab mane” on our situation and be kind in the process. No, this does not mean sensor yourself. It means not forcing opinions or beliefs on one another and being mindful and accepting of people’s differences and perspectives, even when we are not in the mood to. It means making the effort to push through adversity while also being mindful of those around us while we process. A take it or leave it attitude doesn’t make for a friendly face, an example for the next generation, or someone we as peers should look up to.
Melina, or @mpmsporthorses, is a walking, radiant heart of gold. Recently, she went through a massive scare with her beautiful boy Zini. Over the past few months, she had been trying every option to pinpoint what was making Zini just a little off. Her team of vets eventually suggested an MRI. This is where things got a very shaky. Although they discovered a birth defect in his hoof, he wasn’t exactly out of the woods. He had an adverse reaction to the anesthetic the vets used, he was temporarily paralyzed. Thankfully, he pulled through and is now cleared. However, he still has his birth defect. The only way around it while still maintaining his jumping career would have been to do a nerve block, something that would have left him without feeling in his hoof and would continue the damage being done. Though there were external pressures to do so, on and off social media, Melina did what she felt was right by him. She retired Zini. This is a heart breaking feat for a competitive show jumper. However, though heart breaking, she only felt bliss to have her happy and healthy boy. She didn’t feel the need to push him along, rather she now has both of her horses (Missy her retired mare) under one roof where she can love on them until days end. Her extremely difficult situation never wavered her positivity and never faded her gratitude. Melina took her situation, did her best with it and focused on feeling blessed every step of the way.
Jill, or @jetequitheory, has recently made the transition from popular insta and YouTube eventer to horsemanship enthusiast. After her mare, Zoë nearly died from colic and began recovering from surgery, Jill started experimenting with positive horsemanship. Turns out, it was an excellent decision for her. She discovered the power of partnership during Zo’s recovery and began to really evolve as a horsewoman. However, her transition was not well received. The instagram community was a mixed field of acceptance and near outrage. Change is not usually taken well, but Jill’s personal choice was what is best for her mare, so she ran with it. She has become incredibly passionate and is diving in deep to better understand the equine mind through science and psychology, regardless of external pressure to do otherwise. Her heart is to build better relationships with our four-legged partners. This means that not everyone will be happy with this decision and her passion to share the journey, but the horses she is working with seem to be. That is what really matters to us equestrians, right?
Alyssa, or @alcequine, recently came into my life and has outright wowed me with her spirit and resilience. Right from the start, I noticed the positive theme of embracing differences and her ability to feel blessed, regardless of being disabled. Alyssa had her right tibia amputated as a child and was born without two fingers, yet she rides as a para-dressage rider, ice skates, and lives life to the fullest. Not only that, she embraces it more than anyone else I have ever encountered. Some people decide that they are entrapped by their bodies or minds and give up. Not her. She shares her journey and educates people on the equipment she uses and how she rides. Alyssa owns her body and lets the world know that she was made beautifully and intentionally in order to enhance the world around her. She has no limitations except for the limits she places on herself. No one can dull her shine because she knows not everyone will love and accept her, just like any person, but she knows that she is here for a higher purpose of influencing society positively. It is truly incredible to bare witness to her passion.
Kasia, or @equestriankasiabukowska/@kasia_bukowska_art, and I recently met and I had the opportunity to pick her brain a little bit about horses and her illnesses. Kasia owns her battle over fibromyalgia and lupus by working with her horses and doing art. Regardless of what her body and doctors told her, she has come leaps and bounds. Both of her diseases are extremely debilitating, to the point where she was unsure what the future held. Then, she decided that she was going to power through for her horses. Kasia did a complete transformation through mindfulness and positivity. She truly lives life as if today is the last and that empowers her to live every day to the fullest, even when her days are tough physically or mentally. Kasia keeps sharp tabs on herself and is anyways incredibly in tune with how she is feeling and what she needs to do in order to be her best. She takes time with her beautiful horses with larger than life personalities, makes herself do yoga, keeps herself centered, gets lost in her paintings, and refuses to let her body limit her life. Kasia’s only limitation is her creativity, which see seems to have a never ending river of!
At the end of the day, we are the sole providers for our happiness. Life is not fair and people are not always kind, but when we hit that sweet spot of understanding that our actions are reflections of our abilities and not circumstances, we are all the more powerful and self-assured, we are happy. I hope that you all will give these ladies a follow and try to keep the topic of this post in mind both on and off social media.