Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Social Media and Your Horse

We're horse people, and there is nothing horse people love more than pictures of our ponies doing awesome things with us. I'd assume almost all of you reading this are bloggers, and chances are you're also running some other form of social media, whether it's an instagram, twitter, or your horse's own personal facebook page. We love to share those pictures with people on what we're doing with our horses and brag about everything we accomplish.

a friend from college came to visit bobby and i which meant of course we had to get a selfie

There's nothing wrong with that, and people wouldn't follow along on our journeys if they didn't enjoy sharing in the process. I have to wonder though, if all this sharing isn't having an impact on how we go about our rides.

It can be easy to want to push yourself farther than you want to keep up with what others are doing with their own horses. There are times where I've felt almost obligated to do more than I might necessarily want to just to stay relevant and interesting in the blogging world. Certainly that could speak to my own insecurities (Neurotic hot mess? Me? Nooo...), but sometimes I get a sense that social media forces us to push harder and reach farther not just for ourselves, but to get content that's worthy of sharing.

only selfies with bobby involve him heavily mugging for treats instead of posing

There are plenty of good things about being so involved in social media. In a way, it holds you accountable for your actions, and that certainly should make you strive to be the best you can be in all aspects for your horse--not just riding, but also horse care. Following along with other people can also expand your knowledge of things in the horse world you might only be remotely familiar with, or thought you knew all about but discovered there's even more out there to learn.

But what happens when beating out the competition becomes more about beating the online competition than those you're actually competing against?

Have you changed your goals or any aspects of your riding or what you do with your horse for social media?

so this was the best we got.


  1. Great topic! I like being in touch with horsey people because I don't have a barn or a barn family right now. I love seeing everyone's progress and pictures. But sometimes I do feel inadequate. It's no ones fault but I own. I put high expectations on myself. I want so much, I try to metaphorically jump too high. But when I knock the rail, people also let me know it's ok. I really like that. I am blown away by the support I have received thru social media. But, yes, it has affected how I look at myself.

  2. I'm the opposite, I think I compare myself to others a lot less since becoming intimately familiar with the details of everyone else's journeys through blogging. The elements that make up each horse-rider pair - people and experiences and support crews and money and the luck that some people have to live in a particular part of the country with hoards of amazing trainers - are so unique on an individual basis, you just can't compare what you're going through to what almost anyone else is going through.

    I think I'm a lot more cognizant of that after blogging than I ever was just watching other competitors go around so much more beautifully than I did at shows.

    1. great points Jen - i feel similarly that, somehow, learning that everyone's process, goals, background, resources, etc are so unique and individualized empowered me to stop comparing myself to others and start taking advantage of what i, personally, have working for me.

  3. I always feel like I'm behind everyone else and working my ass off to get to a level that comes naturally to them, but that applies in person as well as online and probably speaks to my character (what? me? neurotic hot mess? nooooo) than to any untoward influence of scary technology.

    I will say that I photographed the process of wrapping bandage liners when it was 9f because I needed blog content, so that was a definite social media thing.

    Beyond that, social media has allowed me to connect to people across the country who share similar goals and we can share ideas and encourage each other, and I think that is awesome. I guess I can see how that could get weird, but if that happens, you're doing it wrong.

  4. Really interesting topic! I definitely can feel down on myself watching everyone else ride & show via social media - "so-and-so is WINNING at Novice and I'm still bumbling around BN like a fool, I should be as good as she is by now!"

    But while I occasionally get bummed out, I can't say it's changed the way I train. I know pushing myself or my pony past where we can be successful is not productive, so I just keep on keepin' on and try to feel proud of what we have accomplished.

    I do LOVE how it's allowed me to widen my circle of equestrian friends, and get input from riders who are a lot more experienced than me.

  5. I frankly stopped going on to IG all the time, I only peruse it when I post a picture and I only post when I feel like. Most of the time I am a really boring person, I think that comes out in my posts all over the place, but thats why I write for me, I write what I want when I want, post what I want when I want. I also only comment when it feels right now and I only like an IG photo or Facebook status update IF I ACTUALLY LIKE IT, not just to be nice. Crazy concepts, but I'm much happier for it.

  6. This is such a good post. I feel like I've become a little more self-conscious since blogging regularly and being active on social media. Not in a "OMG THIS PICTURE ISN'T PERFECT I CAN'T POST IT" but in a "Moe looks sort of thin in this picture, I don't want people flipping out at me because they think I don't feed him, so I am not posting it" (even though that has never happened to me). But overall, I think the equestrian blogging/social media community has been a positive influence for me- most people are very nice, some people are inspiring, I've learned new things and been given different perspectives, and I enjoy connecting with fellow horse people!

  7. I started blogging without a care, developed a pretty big insecurity about my riding while blogging, and now I'm back to not caring. I fully acknowledge that everyone's journey is different. Some of the people reading my previous blog were probably wondering wtf I was doing, but if it wasn't for a fellow blogger, I wouldn't be where I am today. She helped me get out of a bad situation. Now, in a great barn with great trainers, I am finally getting somewhere with my horse. While I do have an urge to try and gather as much media as I can in order to show our improvement (and to validate my claims that we've changed so much in 1 1/2 months), I have been able to, for the most part, ignore it. No need to validate myself to others. Fiction and I are sound, healthy, and happy. That is all that matters.

    And I am crazily grateful to those who have stuck by us on our journey and offered words of support and advice. I wouldn't have that without the blog.

  8. I do carefully choose my pics and video to post on my blog, but otherwise I try to just follow my own path and be supportive of my fellow bloggers :)

  9. I do carefully choose my pics and video to post on my blog, but otherwise I try to just follow my own path and be supportive of my fellow bloggers :)

  10. Nice topic. Not one I have thought of, I like it!!!
    My blog reflects exactly how I feel. I don't feel pressured in terms of what I do riding wise but having the blog and knowing it is there just put on some pressure to actually take time, crack photos and reflect.

    I need that form of pressure though. Too often I forget what I was feeling last year as my memories tend to blend together month to month. It is very valuable not only to be able to read back and hear comments from follow equiner's as I know my husband really can't give me much valuable input when it comes to riding lol

  11. I, like you, am a neurotic hot mess. So yeh, I feel some sort of weird pressure to excel like my blogging peers. Some of the riders blow me away with how awesome and dedicated they are, but I'm doing my own thing with Gavin and that whole comparison is the thief of joy thing doesn't apply at all when I see how awesome everyone is doing with their ponies. I love reading about that stuff - I find it to be really inspiring.

    Strangely, I feel more pressure to make my blog readable than to be as good as a rider as so-and-so. I think this is because I'm definitely more insecure about my writing style than my riding style.

  12. Interesting topic.... I don't feel the weight of other people's opinions too much on social media, but I DO make myself feel small in comparison to other people's 'highlight reel'. I've cleaned up my FB but removing anything that makes me feel even the slightest shitty, which has been a positive change. I'm a regular IGer & love it, but don't post identifying pics of myself or my horses on my blog. That's because the horse world is so, so small, & I'm not ready to present us to such scrutiny, but I still want to write about whatever crosses my mind.
    I can't say I've ever done anything or changed anything for blogging purposes, but I do regularly look for photos to take to break the text walls :)

  13. I try to use my blog as a way to hold myself accountable. Am I doing the work that I need to be doing in order to achieve my goals? If I'm not, then I look at what others are doing and try to get inspired/pissed off/guilt tripped, and use it to fuel more work. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. I've definitely done things just to blog about them, but it's never been in the way of pushing myself or Tristan too hard. It's more like I'll do something a bit more elaborately, or ask the farrier more questions, or take longer at something in order to photograph it.

  14. This is really interesting!

    I don't think I let social media affect me too much. Certainly not in my riding, I don't really get competitive with other people (bloggers or people I compete directly with). Currently I'm probably the most affected by social media and reading others' blogs, since I'm feeling a little left behind with my horse being laid up. But I know that when I was doing well, someone else had a laid up horse and was envious of me, it's all a cycle.

    Generally I just try to post the good with the bad (not so bad that I'd call someone out/name names or bitch tooo much though, I try to keep it somewhat positive- reading negative things all the time isn't fun and I've stopped reading blogs that I felt were too negative) because ultimately I want my blog to reflect me and not some fancy version of me that I created for the internet. I do filter to an extent though, I usually will describe a bad ride but leave any bad pictures off. I've seen pictures from my blog make their way around tumblr and such, so I'd rather just describe the bad things.

  15. I feel no pressure, hell it is been almost a month since I posted on my blog (Bad blogger!) I use my blog as a way to document when I am doing, a journal if you will. I have low readership and low comments which help, I don't feel pressure to "keep up" with anyone because in my mind, no one "knows" anyway. Ha!

  16. The only thing that blogging makes me feel "pressure" to do is take more pictures but I am
    Always happy to have them so I don't really see that has a negative. I generally do the same things that I would otherwise be doing I just document things better.

    Generally speaking I think that blogging has helped me to realize that we are all in different situations and it's lovely to see another blogger going down the same path as I am or someone else doing some bring different. I benefit from all he different types and has others have said bloggings greatest benefit to me has been the friends.

  17. Definitely a good topic to think about! I am pretty self aware and tend to analyze ALOT so blogging has really helped me put that into words and have those intricate thoughts written down for me to refer to. Hand writing a journal was my first attempt, but blogging and social media allows for photos and videos to attach making it complete.

    I think having something to push you is good to a degree...as long as its healthy I see it as being no different then a trainer. You just need to set boundaries for what is comfortable vs. what isnt...make sure you dont get pushed too fast too soon because someone else is.

    It took me a while to figure that out. So, for me, as long as you and your horse is happy and its your OWN goals and expectations...then post away!

  18. After thinking about this for a minute, I think I actually have and thats embarrassing AF. However, I think its leading to good things because B has progressed hugely in the last 3 months.

    Sidenote someone posted on FB the other night that it was disgraceful to take pictures with your horse at a show with ribbons, that they MUST be taken care of properly before posing for a picture. I was like....okay.

  19. This is a great topic! I do feel that people may use social media to try to "show off" all the great things that they are doing, or to keep up with all the great things others do. However, what they may not realize is that many people only post the good things and highlights of their days and weeks. I remember reading a quote somewhere that said something like, "Don't compare your backstage to someone else's show." It can be difficult, but I don't think we need to try to compete with others we see online, Besides, we blog to be friends(this is coming from a very competitive person, so I get where you are coming from)!

  20. I started blogging initially because I thought I had funny stories to share, then transitioned to blogging because I liked the community, and now I think I mostly write because I know how much I love looking back over my posts and seeing my thoughts and my rides. So it's more inconsistent now than it was, but it's also more for me.

  21. This is a fascinating question - and it is just as interesting to see everyone's responses.

    My initial reaction was that I don't *think* my goals or riding have ever been pushed by a need to keep up with the Blogging Joneses.. but I do feel that my blog has been helpful for self awareness. There's nothing like looking back on the last month (or year) of posts and realizing that I've been complaining about the same thing/stuck with the same issue/boring as the day is long. I tend to be more self aware than I would be without the blog I think. So far that's a good thing.. but I could see how it could turn into something not productive...

    If anything the biggest pressure I feel from other people's blogs is to somehow acquire new/more/better photos all the time. I swear I end up posting the same photos for 6 months at a time... and everyone else has cool shots of every lesson. THAT makes me jealous.

  22. I have my blog, youtube, facebook, twitter, IG and a facebook account for my horse (phew lol) and I absolutely do think we as riders are influenced by social media, but I think for me personally it's in a positive way. I know that my community want to see my succeed and equally I want to see them succeed to. So I think it's more of a case of them driving me to be the best that I can.
    www.brunetteinbreeches.com :)

  23. My blog is just my riding diary, and as such it's pretty boring. I admit once I saw people were actually reading it I was like "OH NO! Now I have to be entertaining so I don't waste their time!?!" but then I just as quickly decided to just keep being boring old me. As far as comparing to others, yes I sometimes feel like everyone else is way more awesome/having more fun than me, but it's serving as a positive by keeping me motivated. I really like reading and cheering everyone else on from the sidelines, too, and in the event I stop writing, I'll definitely still be reading :)

  24. Nice post and excellent comments here!

    I think maybe that blogging has actually made me more secure about my riding. Echoing a few other commenters, blogging has exposed me to so much more than I would have been just locally and I just love following along and routing for people. And it really makes me smile when people route for me too - even little old me at the pre-BN level. I've learned that I don't necessarily have to be a prelim level rider for people to celebrate my successes or bemoan my failures with me.

    HOWEVER, blogging has made me hella more insecure about my stuff. Blogland loves, loves, loves tack and horse stuff and "hauls" and sales. I've caught myself several times wanting to jump on buying something I don't really need from a brand that was featured on a blog cause it looks really cool. I get the grabby hands.

    So yeah, blogging/social media hasn't made me more insecure about my riding, but I have definitely made purchases under the influence of wanting to show off the latest and greatest. At least I've identified the problem so now I can break it :/

    One other thing I almost forgot about...blogging/social media also did for a while make me self conscious around my real life barn friends. It's a long involved story that I don't intend to elaborate on, but for example, every time I took a picture I knew they were rolling their eyes behind my back because "it must be for be blog", "everything has to go on the blog", "why do you have to document everything". So that was pretty shitty for awhile. It's all work it now, but some of my best friends actually do remain blocked on my IG and I deleted their 'like' of my Facebook page.

  25. i have definitely thought about making my rides 'content worthy,' embarrassing tho that may be to admit. social pressures (esp those we don't necessarily recognize overtly) are so very very real, and i'm definitely sensitive to that feeling of 'wanting to keep up.' it worries me sometimes, honestly (and is part of why i still haven't joined FB). but i think i can mosssstly make good decisions about what we ought to be doing. mostly.

    there's a flip side tho - for whatever reasons (confidence, experience, knowledge, whatever), there are things i never even thought to try before seeing peers in blogland trying, and it inspired me to give it a whirl. like lateral movements. sounds stupid but i was kinda scared to work on it. didn't trust my skills, thought i'd ruin the horse, whatever. but it turns out that i'm not actually gonna screw up a leg yield that badly, and just trying it has really helped both me and my horse out.

    so i think it's a two way street. as long as we are honest with *ourselves* about our intentions and abilities, the pressures of social media shouldn't theoretically lead us into recklessness or bad decision making... probably.

  26. This is a great post! I figure that my horse is complicated enough without me adding pressure trying to keep up with those on social networks. We're where we're at and I've worked damn hard to get there. It's not as far along as I had planned, but I'm not going to shame myself for it by comparing my horse and myself to others. So, everyone following me gets a lot of boring riding pics and candids, but like you said, they wouldn't follow if they weren't interested. Or just flat out stalkers (who are usually the ones trying to compete with everyone else through social media).

  27. I completely agree with you! I definitely see this as a popular trend on facebook and instagram. Some of my horse friends post photos everytime they ride and it gets a bit annoying- kind of similar to friends posting status updates when they are at the gym! Some days I don't have time to ride so I get a bit jealous and competitive about it. It almost seems like a competition of how many likes they can get of them bragging about their horses and them showing off how many times a week they ride. I try to limit my selfies- for me if I take selfies with my horse it takes out time where I could be riding and training instead of trying to take that perfect photo-which a lot of time makes my horse frustrated lol! I try to train my horses at their own pace so if someone posts a status update about their younger horse being farther along then mine, I try not to get to upset or jealous about it. Since I'm trying to network with other breeders and trainers for my own horse training/breeding business it is important for me to post certain updates, but I'm only going to post ones that are relevant and a few fun ones on the side. I just try to be aware of it! I also have a lot of non-horsey friends so I try not to post only horse related things! I think it is fine to brag about your horse, but keep a good heart about it. Think about where your heart is at and the best interest for your horse.

  28. I started my blog for me and the family, mostly because everyone kept asking what we were doing with our (then newly acquired) house. It's morphed over time to a horse blog with some random life stuff thrown in.

    Being public definitely affects what I post, in both good ways and bad ways. Good because I'm constantly thinking about content and things others have posted about, bad because I absolutely filter what gets posted. I don't want to make life seem too rosy, because it's not, but on the flip side people don't need to know about whatever life drama is most recent, because that's my personal business. The only pressure I feel is to actually POST STUFF - I don't feel like I should be doing another level just because someone else is or whatever.

    My favorite part of blogging is this random worldwide network of people that I think of as friends, and getting to meet them in person. I also love being able to trade experiences with others. I learn a lot from other people's posts about what they're struggling with in their riding, and that's helpful to me. I also love seeing glimpses of other people's journeys - we're really not all that different when it comes right down to it!

  29. Great post! I admit that I've felt inferior or like I'm not doing/achieving enough because of things I've seen on social media. It's hard not to think like that sometimes.
    But in the end having a horse and riding are all matters. Not the fences jumped or the awards won.

  30. This is a really interesting post, Carly. I try really hard to be honest in my own blog posts, but I suppose it does come across as sort of fake as I don't write too often about the negative stuff. That isn't because I am trying to hide anything, it's just because that's how I live my life - I move on immediately from failures or bad days.

    One thing in particular that bothers me in blog posts, and actually in real life as well, is the idea of sharing what you're GOING to do. And I hesitate to discuss this as there are some who are going to think that I am talking about them personally - I am not.

    What I mean is that people get a lot of satisfaction out of saying I am going to do THIS and THAT because they get all of kinds of excited feedback from others even though they haven't actually done anything. My last boss was like that. She knew how much I liked to travel, so she would tell me, I am going to (insert country) next summer. Of course, I would ooh and ah and say how great that was. When I would ask some months later how her travel plans were coming, something would come up that kept them from actually going anywhere. She did this more than once.

    I think that some social media addicts are like that. It's EASY to say I am going to accomplish this and go to this show, but it's a LOT harder to actually make it happen. I don't think this is limited to bloggers at all. I think it's just something that people do to get others to like them/admire them or whatever.

    So in answer to your question, I can honestly say that no, I don't even consider social media when I am riding or planning on what to tackle next. Does that make sense?

  31. I just linked to this post in my latest entry b/c you got me thinking & I was inspired. Hope its ok, I'll yank the link if not


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