Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

I’ve seen a series of articles on various sites lately (and even joined in the conversation) about all the judgement going on in our sport, from all sides. And it got me thinking about how much energy goes into these comparisons and observations. Because really, it seems that you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.


If you don’t use grooming services at shows, you’re poor and don’t belong there. If you do, you’re elitist and don’t care about true horsemanship.

If you don’t wear an ear bonnet in the jumper ring, you’re hopelessly out of date. If you do, you probably haven’t earned the right.

If you listen to a trainer on structuring a program for your horse, you’re a pushover who doesn’t have any knowledge of your own. If you don’t, you’re some self-righteous rider who thinks they know better than a professional.

If you jump more than once a week, you’re running your horse into the ground. If you don’t jump at least once a week, you’re not actively training.

If you have your horse on supplements, you’re wasting money on crap they’ll pee out. If you don’t, you’re not giving your horse the tools he needs to succeed.

If you don’t have name brand breeches, you’re not really part of the sport. If you do, you’re trying too hard.


If you don’t show, you’re a podunk backyard rider. If you do, you’re putting your own ambition above a true connection with your horse.

If you don’t coordinate your tack, you’re a hot mess. If you do, you care more about looks than about riding correctly.

If you spend more than $5k on a horse, you’re foolish for not finding a talented project to bring along. If you don’t spend at least $25k, you must not be realistic about what it takes to get to the upper levels.

If you’re not jumping at least 3’6″, you’re not a competent rider. If you’re jumping over 3’6″, it’s probably because your horse is doing it for you, and anyone could do it too if they had a horse like that.

If you don’t show in Florida during the winter, you’re truly not part of the circuit. If you do, you’re one of “those people” with gobs of money and no real responsibilities to worry about.


If you call the vet too often, you’re overly paranoid and trying to treat holes in your training. Not often enough, and you’re a negligent owner.

I could keep going (and going and going). I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of many of these, often in the form of well-intentioned advice. I’m pretty positive that many of you have run into these and other judgments in your time in the horse world.

At the end of the day, there will always be people throwing shade because you’re not doing things their way. And at the end of the day, I plan to continue surrounding myself with a knowledgeable, supportive community to help me do the best I can for my horse- learning and trying to make tomorrow better than yesterday for him. Anything else just isn’t worth the energy.


20 thoughts on “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

  1. tntibbetts 07/24/2017 / 9:05 am

    So true and so weird! Who cares if your horse wears an ear bonnet?! Who cares how much you spent on ANYTHING?! Life is too short. Envy is the thief of joy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. uncanny580 07/24/2017 / 9:25 am

    One of my favorites is the supplement debate – I’ve seen some people SO against it and then you ask what they feed and they are feeding supplements! But they’re “real” supplements and yours aren’t.

    You can never please everyone.

    Yes there are people out there who don’t actually care about their horse, and more about the “status” that comes with showing at higher levels of the sports. But just because you do this, or you don’t do that, doesn’t mean your horse isn’t the number one priority.


    • hellomylivia 07/24/2017 / 9:26 am

      Agreed! It’s so easy to pass judgment without knowing the whole story, and as long as they horse comes first then I couldn’t care less about the rest haha


      • uncanny580 07/24/2017 / 9:34 am

        Right? I see some interesting things go on sometimes.

        There was a barn I had to deal with that spouted how well they took care of their horses and how they were an “A” show barn….they take terrible care of the horses, they go to one or two shows a year and the most evil type of people ever. Your actions speaks louder then words.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Stacie Seidman 07/24/2017 / 9:37 am

    This is why I haven’t been able to put my thoughts out there regarding the recent fearful talentless amateur drama. On the one hand our sport is too elitist. And on the other, we shouldn’t be letting low levels show at A shows. Can’t have it all ways now can we?!
    I think it’s important to do what works for you. If someone doesn’t like it, they can do something different. As long as your horse is well cared for and happy, what difference does it all make?


    • hellomylivia 07/24/2017 / 9:48 am

      Amen to that! Healthy happy horses are the goal- and there are plenty of ways to reach that goal.


  4. emma 07/24/2017 / 9:56 am

    idk, i generally think that when it comes to horses, there are MANY ‘right’ ways to do a thing, and honestly pretty few truly ‘wrong’ ways. so long as we’re deriving enjoyment from it, nothing else really matters!


    • hellomylivia 07/24/2017 / 10:16 am

      I couldn’t agree more! And i think a lot of people feel that way too, but it’s always the vocal minority that gets the attention online.


  5. Britt 07/24/2017 / 10:12 am

    Seriously, thank you for writing this!


  6. KC Scott 07/24/2017 / 10:31 am

    I like this. I’m an eventer boarding at an exclusively H/J barn, and some aspects have been…challenging. The way I do things are a bit different than the way BO and her show team do things, and while I don’t think their ways are wrong, they don’t work for me. One thing I feel a little looked down upon for is that I camp in my trailer at horse trials. I’ve recently upgraded my trailer to have hookups and AC, so I no longer sleep in a hammock in the horse area, but BO and the girls always get hotels. While that may be well and good, I can feed my horse and go right back to sleep if I want- no driving required. Since I show alone most of the time, there’s no one to share chores with. And I’m sure they don’t actually mean it to be rude, but the questions I get about camping vs staying in a plush hotel sometimes seem a bit pointed and condescending. Thanks for writing this!


    • hellomylivia 07/24/2017 / 12:50 pm

      I definitely think the comparisons get even “stronger” (for lack of a better word) between disciplines!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lauren 07/24/2017 / 2:01 pm

    Basically this sport sucks sometimes and you gotta do you and what’s best for your horse –> otherwise you’ll go crazy! 😉


  8. littlepiecesofme1 07/24/2017 / 2:24 pm

    We are all in the SAME boat…I wish we would start acting like it.

    Personally I don’t know how people find the energy. Owning, riding, caring for, working to pay for…takes just about all the energy I have in any given day. There is just no room and space for this kind of judgement on other people’s choices.


    • hellomylivia 07/24/2017 / 2:26 pm

      Samesies. Maybe I’m just lazy, but I don’t have the energy to care about what other people are doing. Like you said, it takes all my energy just to keep track of what I’m doing!


  9. Tiaja 07/24/2017 / 5:56 pm

    It’s in ALL sports. Especially the more expensive sports. I was a competitive figure skater (coach wouldn’t let me do gymnastics or ride horses) for many years and it is horrible. I left the sport because of the drama and politics and shear evil. The one thing about equestrians though, is you don’t see much sabotaging of equipment. At least it’s just talk/judgement. Cause I tell you, if someone even came close to sabotaging my horse…


    • hellomylivia 07/25/2017 / 8:19 am

      Oh hellllll no I would lose my mind if someone came near my horse. Judgments and criticisms are all well and good, but that is an ENTIRELY different level of completely unacceptable.


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