Happy New Year Everyone!!
I have just about re-grouped from the excitement of Christmas and the New Year… I had a great one, I hope you did too, and am now pretty pumped for what 2018 will bring!!
I was asked by a dear friend of mine, who actually I was only introduced to in 2017 but was just one of those moments when you feel you have known someone for a lifetime, to share the one thing I would like us to remember from 2017, be it a lesson or a thought. Now for all of you who read this on my own blog, my apologies but you may not know the friend I am talking about… And for those of you reading this on her page, well, how lucky are you to already have her in your world!! This pretty damn, awesome lady, bringing her A game to the world of Equestrian Mental Skills Coaching is Jane Pike over at Confident Rider. I will be sharing a LOT more from this wonderful human being over the next few months so get excited, because I KNOW you will LOVE her!!
But going back to what I was originally asked I did sit there and ponder the question for, well a few days actually. Reflection is good. In all walks of life, not just horses. It allows us to consider what has worked well, what the stand out moments were both good and bad, and actually as a result allows us to take action and move forward positively. It is especially important with horses. Horses are such levellers. One day we can be on top of the world, the next making a crash landing. At times it can be hard to see just how far we have come, or what we need to focus on to keep heading in the right direction and take credit for everything we have done well.
But for me at the end of 2017, having first started working as a nutritionist back in 2004 I really sat and thought about how much has changed in that time within the field of nutrition. And you know I think the thing that I really want people to remember is the power, both positive and negative of social media. Social media is not new that is for sure but as each year goes on I see more and more the power it has over all of us as it becomes further embedded into our lives.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a, ‘let’s all have a pop at social media and blame all of our problems on it.’ Let me be clear I gain A LOT from social media and it has a really valuable place out there. More so really, what I want to get across is how to remember to use it to your advantage so that this year in 2018 I do not get clients at their wits ends totally confused and judging themselves against the next horse owner on pretty much every element of their horsemanship.
I see it all the time. The ‘threads’. You know the ones. The threads where someone has gone into a Facebook group and asked the question. “I have a horse 15.2hh lives in, on 3 big haynets of haylage, a scoop of ‘insert whatever feed you fancy here’ and needs a bit more sparkle, what should I feed?” And so it begins. All the well meaning recommendations, comments and opinions. You land up with about 60 comments, pretty much all arguing with one another in some capacity. Some actually maybe taking the time to consider asking further questions. Then there is the occasional gem which I think well at least no obvious harm can come from that recommendation, but often gets overlooked as far too simple.
I mean honestly, please ask yourself this. If you didn’t know the rough answer in the first place, how the heck would you know which of the 60 odd recommendations you now have are useful? You are confused right? Of course you are, who wouldn’t be quite frankly? Not to mention what was with the person who made you feel rubbish as the picture which accompanied said thread, shows you apparently not riding correctly, and you have been told this quite rudely by at least 4 people. To which a further 3 have argued and said no your riding is great. Then there is a comment mentioning the feed you are giving has caused a horse to colic (no further information given) so to stop immediately as that feed brand is far from ideal. Now you are in a situation where not only are you not sure what to feed, but, you are not sure if you can ride either and will your horse die in the night of colic; should you even give a measly morsel later? I mean we kind of have a giggle reading it like this, but honestly guys, it worries me a lot some of the suggestions I see.
Who is behind the keyboard anyway? Just because their recommendation worked for their 15.2hh DOES NOT mean it is correct for yours on any level. Neither does it mean quite honestly it is the best diet for their horse either now you come to mention it!!
I quite often have to sort horses out who have been on ‘social media diets’, recommended by complete strangers who have no sort of nutritional background or training, and I will mention it; insurance! I have had people cry as they are at their wits ends, possibly with some sort of fire breathing dragon at the end of the reins who they are now too scared to feed anything at all to because they just didn’t go to a professional in the first place. I don’t mind sorting these problems out, and I do generally see these horses turn around pretty fast. BUT I just wish it hadn’t come to that and that people were not out there losing sleep over what to feed their horses.
On the flip side I see FANTASTIC examples of people using social media to their advantage. There is a wealth of great content out there which will help you with your riding and horsemanship. But do your homework and know that it comes from a reliable source. Not an opinion, but evidence based on scientific study and years of professional work in the field, with a clear understanding of your horse, you, and your current regime. It is a great place to ask for recommendations for professionals who others may have worked with and rate highly as they have seen great results with their horses.
It is also a place where as a community we can all connect and come together. And let’s face it when a community comes together truly GREAT things can happen. If it is for the good of the horse, especially YOUR horse what could be better!!
So here my 2018 sermon endeth.. I really hope you made it this far and that it really makes you stop and think! Please DO continue to enjoy all the great content on social media and sharing your journeys and horses with us. But just remember when you need help to really question the source of that help and how it will move you forward positively.
I would love to hear what your plans are for 2018 so please do drop them below. Make it a great one guys and give yourself a MASSIVE WELL DONE, because I guarantee you are already achieving so much, no matter what your goals are with your horses this year.
Donna ‘aka The Horse Feed Guru’ xxx