Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Expanding Our Minds or Poking Ourselves

I read a lot of blogs.  You can tell by my blog roll, which lists a bunch of them.  Then there are a bunch more that I read that are NOT listed.  I'm always looking for interesting reads.  Lucky for me, I'm an incredibly fast reader (a novel takes me about an hour or two at most), so it's not too much of a time suck and it's usually an enjoyable one.

I have learned so much from fellow bloggers.  From training techniques to stories that give me hope, reading other blogs has definitely expanded my brain.  

But I want to ask a question of all of you.  What do you do when you find a blog or blogs or a forum post and you disagree?  I'm not close minded, but I am opinionated and there have been some times when I haven't been sure what to do.  And sometimes there's blogs that I start reading and  now, every time I read an update I have to sit on my hands not to type something.

I'm going to reassure you that this blog is probably NOT about you.  I know if I was reading this, I would be paranoid that this post was about me and that I had offended someone.  It's not like that and it's most likely not you.  So here's some examples.  They may or may not be actual (in order to protect identities!).

Example One:  Pictures posted of horse wearing ill fitting tack (bit hanging too low, noseband too tight, saddle obviously not fitting.)  Would you say something?  What if someone else had already commented:  Hey, it looks like your bit is a little low and the original blogger responds saying "no, it fits just fine.  My trainer said so."

Example Two:  Rider posts about how amazing they are at jumping and how wonderful their horse is at jumping.  Pictures posted are of a rider who is GOING to fall off unless they go back and get some training and/or a horse who is out of control and over faced,  I'm talking about legs too far forward, hands not releasing, arched backs, roached backs, leaning too far forward or too far backward.  Do you say something?  I know that a picture is just a moment in time, but if EVERY picture of them and their horse jumping (and we're not talking crossrails, we're talking competition 3 foot kind of stuff) shows serious and dangerous equitation flaws, would you say something to them?  I'm not a trainer but equitation isn't just to look pretty.  When it comes to jumping, poor equitation can lead to accidents....  What do you do if they're not working with a trainer?  Or worse yet, they ARE a trainer?  Do you just let it go?  It's not my ass that's gonna hit the dirt, but I hate seeing people get hurt.  And yes, I am a helmet wearing, seatbelt wearing, crosswalk using person, so maybe this is just my neurosis....

Example Three:  Rider writes long eloquent posts about their stallion that they're keeping a stud because he's gentle and my five year old likes him.  

Example Four:  Posts about training techniques that you consider ill advised. I know in some barns (one with a trainer I used to ride with) the way they teach the horses to give to the bit is to tie their head around to the saddle horn and leave them in the stall for up to 6 hours.  I left that trainer and that barn and won't go back, but what about when you see folks doing it on the internet? Do you keep it to yourself?  

I'm curious because on the one hand, I really think there is such a WIDE variety of knowledge and pearls of wisdom often come from the most unlikely places.  And certainly, my journey has not been a straight road.  Is anyone's?  Probably not.  But if someone isn't asking my opinion and the tone of their posts is that they *do* have the right answer, is it worth saying something?  Or should I just stop reading these blogs and let my blood pressure go down.

I hope I struck the right tone with this post.  It's not to say that I sit and read blogs and make judgements about other people.  Nor do I feel snarky about it at all.    It's just how far away from what we consider *right* can we go?  Horses seem not all that far from religion.  It's a hard conversation under ideal circumstances.  I want to have an open mind but I also have a pretty firm idea about what things are okay.    I would have a hard time reading blogs about people who thought it was okay to beat their children or people who posted pictures of themselves driving a car drunk or something.....mainly because I don't think these things are okay and I think they're dangerous.  So maybe I shouldn't be reading blogs of horse people that are doing things that I think are far outside my realm of *right* and ones where I think they are being dangerous......

What do you think?  Is it expanding your mind or is it just poking yourself to read blogs like this? 

And seriously, don't worry.  This is not about you.  YOU, I have probably learned something from.  And the fact that you're willing to participate in this discussion also means it's probably not you.  


  1. I read some blogs to learn from, some blogs to get a different view, and some I read simply for my own amusement!:)

  2. It IS about me, isn't it!?!?! ; )

    Mona, personally if it WAS me your were eluding to, I'd want to know. But experience tells me that a good 70% of people out there DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. And you WILL get slammed for saying something.

    So in the end, your choice to speak up can't come from what you think THEY'LL say, but how you feel saying it.

    If you're willing and capable of taking some harsh replies or become "the critiquer", do it! I wish more people were willing to speak up for the good of the horse or rider, even if the receiver can't handle it. But the truth is, many never will.

    For your scenarios, I'd...

    #1) Not bother. They've already been warned and didn't heed it.
    #2) Post!! This weekend's show PROVED to me how dangerous it can be to jump higher instead of better. And my own coaches worried eyes made me wish more people would stand up and show these people that EQUITATION MATTERS!
    #3) Hopeless. Been dealing with a similar thing in the dog industry and makes me want to beat my head against a wall. No, no, no. No random stupid studding. I'd post cause I'm nuts though and enjoy beating my head against solid objects.
    #4)POST! In the same tone you wrote this blog in. Concern but not insult, I think it may make a difference, especially with young or green riders. You may or may not make a difference, but you tried for the good of the horse.

    : ) And Mona, seriously, if I'm the breeding jumping ill-training rider, TELL ME!!! ; ) Well posted!

    1. Sand - If you would just stop riding your mini stallion over 3 foot oxers then I wouldn't have to do anonymous blogs about you. Hahahah!

      It's not you AT ALL and I probably would say something if I thought you were being dangerous or excessively stupid. But I don't see that happening so you really don't need to worry. You and Moon are safe from my ranting!

  3. I don't think I read a wide enough breadth of blogs to come across anything that I would consider outright dangerous. Sometimes I will post comments of advice when it is solicited but so far I haven't seen anything that riled me up enough to call someone out (the exception being cases of abuse/asshattery featured on FHOTD or SnarkyRider...but that's a bit different because they are criticizing those practices to begin with).

  4. I would probably email the person if I saw repeatedly dangerous stuff. Take it off line so to speak. You've said your piece and left the ball in their court.

    Nothing irks me more than the whole "leave the colt a stallion because... " and none of those reasons are what he could IMPROVE to his breed.

    When I make the decision to post pictures, write a post, etc I do so with the thought in mind that someone could\will\should disagree and call me out on it and I'm willing to tolerate that? If yes - then I post it - if no then it never see's the light of the innerwebs.

  5. This is a tough one. I know exactly the type of stuff you're talking about (and just a side note, my old barn loved the head tied to the saddle technique, the number of times I'd show up to ride to find some horse turning circles in the arena with his head tied to the saddle and not a soul in sight...). Well, on one hand, you can comment whatever you want. The blog owner has complete power and can delete your comment if they find it offensive. One of the beauties of blogging. On the other hand, it really does seem to be the culture of the horsey blogsphere that people don't offer criticism unless asked (such an interesting phenomena when you consider how opposite forums and message boards are from this). But if what you're seeing is dangerous or cruel or... I think it's ok to offer friendly advice. Sometimes an option is to write your own blog entry on the topic that concerns you ("Why we love geldings"). But sometimes all you can do is stop following.

    I'm always so glad I discovered blogging. I wish it had existed back in my old horsey life. I was a forum (and we're talking purely text based forums) jockey back then. Far fewer people on the internet to draw ideas from. I wonder how different things might have been if I'd had this incredible wealth of information to draw on back then.

    And what the heck has Blogger done to the word verification now?! Sheesh, if it wasn't weird enough lol.

  6. Hmm, I like to think I'd say something, but I don't think I actually would. People's blogs are like their own little worlds--I can say that my horse is schooling counter canter like a boss when in reality he's just not picking up the correct leads. It's all about the blogger's perception and I don't think "they" (the proverbial they) would pay any attention criticism anyway. Probably just get pissy about it and block you. ;)

  7. You guys have such great thoughts!!!!

    And Carly, I need to steal the line that my horse is schooling counter canter LIKE A BOSS when I get the wrong lead! Do you think my trainer would buy it? Hahaha. Thanks for making me snort coffee through my nose.

    Also, I didn't think I had verification on my comments Story. I will check into that. I HATE those verifications because I'm old and can't get them right half the time...

  8. Honestly Mona--and it's not that I've totally given up on the world--but I'd just stop reading those blogs.

    Horse people are nuts. We ALL are, to various degrees. I'm proud to be one of them...but man, it's a tough job fixing the whole world. Even the little world of people you've actually met face to face. In real life.

    Life's too short to lose years to blogs giving you hypertension.

    Then again, that's just my crazy two cents... :)

  9. If I think someone is being actively scary, I'm not likely to add 'em to my blogroll in the first place. Problem solved! Life is too short as is; no need to hang around watching someone try to make theirs even shorter.

    If someone I already have a relationship with goes in what looks to me like an ill-advised direction, I usually chew on my fingers until they ask for input, and then pounce (kindly and tactfully as I can, which is admittedly sometimes not very), or else I lead with something like, "So I am having some thoughts about X; would you be interested in hearing them?" which at least gives them a chance to head me off at the pass if they don't want to hear it.

    In an obvious crisis situation, especially in person, I have been known to leap right in with my unsolicited opinion and damn the consequences. Sometimes I cannot help being That Guy. Must admit that I don't usually expect to successfully modify anyone else's behavior. I sometimes just need to satisfy my own conscience that I tried.

    All that said, I am less likely to attempt intervention on a blog than I am just about anywhere else, including other interweb locations; for some reason blogs feel less about conversation to me, and more about reporting one's experience, and I find them awkward for discussion.

    I'm also pretty keenly aware of how big a disconnect there can be between, say, a still photo and reality, or a description and reality, or so on and so forth. I am kind of a skeptical curmudgeon to begin with when it comes to blogs and online opinions, including my own. :-p So I must admit that while in theory I am open to hearing other people's input on whatever it is that I'm doing (and in practice, there are people who I'm very capable of and willing to hear the hard stuff from), I've also gotten some batshit inaccurate feedback from folks online. Which does not keep me from opening my mouth when I feel the need, but I try to be aware that I'm only seeing a piece of the picture, and maybe I'm the batshit one this time around!

    1. Soooo - If we find ourselves on your blogroll we can be reasonably sure... ;)

      I was on the receiving end of some unsolicited advice not too long ago, that was my first plain old mean feedback. Unfortunately they didn't have a blog and had joined blogger a few days before, so I couldn't visit them to assess how to process their commentary, which in essence implied that I was delusional thinking I could ride...

      I see commentary between bloggers as a relationship - a relationship based on being supportive. As it builds, the interaction becomes more meaningful. Words need to be chosen very carefully. And I would never leave a comment that wasn't meant in the spirit of genuine helpfulness.

    2. Hannah -

      Sorry - I wasn't actually replying to you - just clicked the wrong button. ;)

  10. Mona, these are really good points. I just started reading blogs and writing my own this year. I figured that by putting my experiences in a public forum, I should expect the positive and negative feedback. As a reader, I am like you avid and amazed at some of what is written and shared. I personally do not have the guts to give negative feedback so I chalk it up to a learning experience. I help my blood pressure by venting to my mom, who is a horse women also :)

  11. Eeep, now I am worried that you are referring to me!! Honestly, though, I'd want to hear it.

    If there's a reason you feel 'wrong' about keeping silent, there's probably a reason that you should speak up then! I know that when I comment I try to come across as helpful rather that preachy or attacking. I guess that most people will respond to politeness and if they are rude back I really think that's their problem! Anyway, I hope you feel free to say what ever you like on my blog, I love to hear everyone's opinions! :D

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  12. I read some blogs to learn from, some blogs to get a different view, and some I read simply for my own amusement!:)
    how to jump higher
    increase vertical jump

  13. First of all - love your blog and always learn something from reading your posts. Second - I have stopped reading a few blogs because I personally don't agree with their methods or choices. But as far as calling someone out...I am a non-confrontational person :)

  14. The horse world attracts crazies, also attracts amazing people but they are mixed in with a lot of crazies.

    In a perfect world I think you could leave a polite comment about a blog and get a nice response and have an interesting discussion, because there are many ways of doing things and you can learn a lot from each person (even if it is how not to do something) But in the examples you provided I reckon there is to much ego tied up in how they are doing things and the people involved wouldn't be open to listening to another perspective.

    If the poster is younger then you have a better chance of pointing them in a direction to get some education. I find posting links illustrating the point I'm getting at is helpful. Less like "I am judging you" and more like "look, these interesting people are saying similar things"

  15. I think people have mostly covered it, but ultimately I think you do what makes you "feel better." Like others, I don't post unless I (on some level) want direct or indirect feedback. It's a blog, not a locked hello kitty diary. But, I also agree with the "hopeless" aspect. Crazy people will continue to be crazy and you're clever 40 word response probably won't produce a paradigm shift if they aren't looking to have one. BUT, that being said, if you're going to worry over some poor blogger getting mauled on her horse because you didn't say something, then comment respectfully and ease your mind. But if you're offended or frustrated by a lack of response, then I wouldn't bother. Just my two cents. The etiquette on this is varied for sure, but I always assume if people are so sensitive about their choices they can always make their blogs private, tell you off, or ignore you :)

  16. This problem seems to be rife in the horse world, whether online or not. Personally I am very, very careful about offering unsolicited adivce. Mostly because I get tetchy if someone gives it to me!