On this beautiful September day, I’d like to take a moment to step out from behind the curtain as managing editor and talk with my friends in the Hunter Jumper world. In particular, the exemplary young men and women who compose the younger demographic of our sport.
I spend an inordinate amount of my day scrolling through social media looking at the highs and lows of your show weeks, your hunter derbies, your constant stream of hard work at home, at school, at the barn and your determination to be a better, stronger, happier athlete. It’s literally my job to make sure we give you a little internet pat on the back for the awesomeness that you’ve developed in your life. You are the heart of this sport. (Also, can you teach me how to Snapchat?)
Which is why when I see these words attached to your beautiful instagram posts, I cringe from my Samshield to my spurs:
“Excuse My Eq.”
It’s a seemingly harmless phrase you attach to pictures of you and your horse as you do your flat work or grids or even on your show photos, but as a subtext, it worries me.
I worry about what internet comments you’ve already experienced that make you feel the need to fire the first shot at yourself.
I worry about what you’re telling yourself if your equitation isn’t perfect in every photo.
I worry what message you’re sending each other when you think you need to publicly apologize for not being perfect.
Ladies and gents, I would like to suggest we eradicate these words from our real and digital life. We all know that no one is perfect, and we’re all working on being the best riders we can be. You are amazing, and that is completely unrelated to whether or not your eq is perfect. Never apologize for having more to learn. If that was a thing, you’d better believe that every person on the Olympic Podium would still have a lot of apologizing to do. Even the best are always learning, and even the best don’t always have perfect eq.
I admire that you see the flaws in your riding and aspiring to grow. There is nothing wrong with a hunger for improvement, and in fact it’s the key to success. Keep studying and evaluating and wanting more from yourself. Keep building that thick skin that can absorb constructive criticism from the right places (like your trainer, not the internet). But remember to be as kind to yourself as you would be to your best barn buddy. Leave the equitation judging to the paid professionals, and be proud of your ‘grams.
Now someone come teach me how to face-swap with my horse.