In an exclusive world full of celebrities, heiresses, and wealthy people you’ve never heard of, it’s no surprise that the rumor mills are constantly turning. Sure, we talk about who sold what horse or who bungled the trot jump at derby finals, and still sleep pretty well at night.
What I’m talking about is the petty, nasty gossip—the kind of stuff that has the potential to ruin reputations or blacklist someone from this industry altogether. People talk, but have you unknowingly let horse show gossip settle into your barn and make itself at home in an empty stall?
“He finished on 12 faults again? Can he even go clear?”
“She doesn’t have any room to talk—she’s never even shown above 2’6”.”
“I heard that they’re having financial issues and that’s why she sold the junior hunter.”
“Maybe her horse wouldn’t be lame if she stopped eating so much ice cream.”
Unfortunately, these are just mild examples. We can all agree that horse show gossip can get pretty malicious, especially in high-pressure situations and at elite competitions, like equitation finals, indoors, or even WEF. Topics can range from substance abuse to inhumane treatment of equines and anywhere in between.
So why do we do it? In large part, it’s due to the green monster that rears its ugly head when someone scores higher, goes faster, or accumulates more tricolors. Additionally, riding is a sport that is mostly based on appearances, and keeping those up can cause us to lose sight of our compassion or—dare I say it—humanity.
Don’t see the problem with hearing things through the grapevine—and then passing them on? One might argue that gossip is part of basic human nature and that we’ll never be able to live without it. But, while dishing the dirt about your fellow competitors doesn’t necessarily make you a terrible person, it shouldn’t dominate every conversation you have with your barn mates. Spreading rumors and gossiping, even in the privacy of your own home or barn, is an ugly practice that might unknowingly be affecting your riding.
Be honest with yourself: does commenting on someone’s private life make you feel any better? What about bashing someone’s riding or USEF record? The number of horses someone owns or their lack of “designer” breeches? Chances are, the answer is a resounding “no”, so make like Elsa from Frozen and let it go.