The Social Media Effect

It seems like success is only measured by how many Facebook or Instagram “likes” and comments your post receives. After all, if you didn’t get it on video, did it really even happen? These days, appearance is everything. Sometimes I wonder if my barn kids come to ride their horse or if they really just need to update their snap chat story with “bae.” The truth is, brag culture has taken over our real lives and our equestrian lives.

We want to make sure everyone sees only the best round at the show, the best lesson video and our best horse selfie picture. I find myself scrolling through my news feed thinking, “My four-year-old doesn’t go around that well” or “my equitation isn’t as good as hers over that big oxer.” We are constantly comparing ourselves and our horses to our friends on social media. How many times have you found yourself saying, “Wait, do that again, I want to put that on my Snapchat story.”?

Photo courtesy of Melissa Collins

The truth is things aren’t always as they appear. How many times do people post that perfect jump picture from the baby greens and in reality it was the only jump the horse got to the other side? Or the Instagram video that took snippets out of a great jumper round but failed to show the three rails down and the refusal at fence six? Everyone on social media is trying to sell you a dream. Every picture and video is edited to perfection with the best lighting, the best angle and the best filter.

In reality, your consistently perfect Instagram videos and pictures aren’t fooling anyone. We all know that every horse has a bad day and every rider has a miss. No one is as perfect as they portray themselves online. I am just as guilty as anyone else. I am always posting pictures and videos that only showcase my sale horse’s good days and when he posed just right for that certain picture.

While social media has been a huge asset to the equine industry in regards to marketing horses and connecting us with other riders we would not normally come into contact with, it has also been a bit of a burden. It portrays our industry and our horses as perfect and flawless when we all know that isn’t the day to day normal scenario in horse ownership.

We all crash into a jump, we all have refusals, we all get bucked off, and we all have days where our horse just won’t cooperate. It doesn’t matter if we have the best-known trainer, the most expensive horse, or the best tack, we all have fail days and we all fall short— and that’s okay. Without failing no one would ever be able to improve their riding or their communication with their horse.

Horse… what are you even doing here? Photo courtesy of Melissa Collins

So next time you’re scrolling through your feed and looking through all the perfect jump videos and flawless no stirrup pictures, just remember that there were six videos taken before they edited the perfect clip to post. Even though someone got grand champion in their hunter division, earlier that week they kept missing the left to right lead change. Horses are the most humbling of animals, reminding us that no matter how much we paid for them, they will still embarrass us from time to time.