Open Letter to Newbies & Everyone Else Please Shut Up
January 19, 2015
Dear People Who Want to Ride Endurance:
Don't go on the AERC Facebook page. It's a dark-ass place. Find a local club, a smaller branch of AERC, or join the "Green Bean" group. That main page is a terrible representation of our sport.
So, every horseperson has an opinion. That's pretty standard. But something about this crazy stew on Facebook results in someone asking a question, everyone chiming in, and then the whole conversation devolving into a 300+ comment war about a variety of things, but usually one of these:
Barefoot vs. Shoes ("Shoes are evil!" "Barefoot is evil!" Repeat)
The FEI Controversy ("The Sheikhs are evil!" "FEI is evil!" "Everything is evil! BAN IT!" Repeat)
Gaited Horses ("Gaited horses can do it, too!" "No, they're evil!" Often accompanied by a video of a gaited horse on a road. Repeat)
For some reason, this group is dysfunctionally thinking that everyone needs to share their opinion, loudly. 7,000 notifications later, I still don't care. (Never comment on anything. A PSA).
Their solution to the never-ending opinion stream is to declare everyone a "troll," and then debate what trolls are. No, I'm not kidding.
Apparently, trolls are people who don't have the ride record to support their opinions. And the way to root trolls out is to search the AERC Records Database for the names of people who you disagree with and put their ride records on blast in the group, essentially calling someone's competition record/horsemanship into question because you don't agree with them.
Except they're not.
I can't imagine a more off-putting, offensive way to disagree with another horseperson, let alone a way to represent ourselves to newbies. They're essentially saying that opinions of people without a lot of mileage/completions/years in the sport are useless. Since when was a record the be-all, end-all on your value as a horseperson? There are so many factors that can affect it. What if you can't afford to attend a lot of rides? What if your horse had an underlying injury it took a few rides to discover, so you had a few pulls? What if you're young and don't have the years in the sport? What if your times are slow because you ride for the joy of it, not the placing that goes on your record?
The best rider is not always the one with the best show/ride record. I don't understand this insistence that the record reveals people stirring up trouble. I thought we rode for the beauty of the relationship with the horse and the things we learn about and from each other, riders and horses alike, along the way. Reducing that relationship to the cold, stark percentages and miles of someone's record is a disgraceful way to shit on someone you disagree with and pretend it's because of their experience. I call bullshit.
Instead, newbies, avoid the AERC Facebook like the fucking plague and this is the 14th century. Take time to listen, learn, and meet people and form your own conclusions. See other groups for better, more thorough and helpful information from people who aren't there to dick-measure. (No one likes a dick-measurer). Find a caring mentor through one of those groups, train with them, and ride your own ride. Don't worry about your record; this sport is about so much more than that.