Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Internets are your friend... kind of.

This post has been brewing in my head all day, and this may not be the place for it, but come hell or high water, I want to discuss this.

There are two things that drive me (and hopefully the rest of horse-rider-dom) CRAZY.


1) "Well this post I found on the internet said..."

New horse owners head to the internets, a lot. That's probably how you've found this blog, and I welcome you. There are several things you need to learn, and while most people figure it out, I'm trying to save you some trouble.

The internet is not always right. I'm not always right. Chronicle of the Horse is not always right, nor is Horse Grooming Supplies or Yahoo Answers or even the Smartpak blog. Your barn "BFF" isn't always right, either. Take everything you read with a grain of salt. I try to lay this out on my blog with every post, and I'll lay it out here again. You probably know more about me than you'll ever know about some stranger off the internet, because I try to give you my history and the circumstances of my experience - but how do you know that this "expert" you're listening to online is an expert, and not a snotty 14-year-old with a God complex?

Not to say the internet isn't useful - I like going in search of opinions, with the constant affirmation to myself that these are opinions and nothing else. I don't go looking for training advice (there are real life trainers for that!) but I do like to look at what people are thinking and saying and get a "feel". I also try to be a poster or reviewer who gives the circumstances of my opinions. Try to not be this person, who is, say, reviewing a blanket:

Blanket arrived 2day tried on horse too big tore over night very unhappy :(
0/5 would not buy again this product is a piece of crap

Try to be this:
Blanket arrived today, on schedule. Appeared to be very nice quality, but the 78" was too big in the shoulder for my OTTB who has narrow shoulders and is under weight. Because I needed the blanket badly, I left it on knowing it didn't fit well and it got ripped. Quality and workmanship were on par for price, but as stated, does seem to run large. I wish I would have had time to exchange for a smaller size, as I liked the blanket, but was unable.

See? Context! Blanket did not rip because it was bad, but because I made a bad judgement and left it on - now you know, as a reader, to think about sizing down for that shark fin of a TB you're buying blankets for.

2) I'm a horse person, you're a horse person, friend EVERYONE, EVER, WHO HAS BEEN A HORSE PERSON.

This is a big personal pet peeve. I don't stalk the rosters and friend people out of my divisions, or do more than "Like" local trainers' professional pages, barns and organizations I like to hear news about on Facebook. Like in any professional relationship, just because I've rubbed elbows with, or been next to someone at a show, doesn't mean that I can automatically friend you. Many of the "horsey" people on facebook I am friends with is a product of my show photography - I took pictures for my own enjoyment and posted them on a few local places (the farm's FB, a local eventing org) allowing people to tag themselves and use the photos as they wished.

I know it's easy to feel an automatic camaraderie with horse people in the area, but think about how they view you: lets say you "friend" a local, relatively big name trainer. You then do what every person does - go digging around their profile because you're interested in them. That's fine. But then you find yourself liking a photo and commenting on it... and its from 2006. Whoops. That makes you a creeper.

That is going to appear on their news feed, and they're going to be like "... huh?". That thought is going to stay with them when you contact them for a lesson, and change their view of you. Or if you bad mouth your barn, get publicly mad at your trainer and leave in a huff, all documented on facebook, what is your next barn owner or trainer going to think?


The internet is a wide, and exciting frontier, and this is not to tell you "no" - but instead "woah".

So the next time you're stalking a friend's trainer, or really ticked off that your trainer got distracted and left you doing two point for 10 minutes, take a breath and think before you post to facebook. Maybe your trainer will think it's funny that you post "Blahtrainer made me do two-point forever today! I'm going to be so sore!" and comment that it's good for you. But they may see it another way, too.

Go with caution, my friends.

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