I literally haven’t touched my horse since the Sunday after Sunriver. I wanted to give him two full weeks off to process the ride and heal before we hit the trails again.
In the meantime there has been some chatter in PNER-land
about Funder’s ride story and follow-up post. (Though I think more read the former than the latter...) As you may have guessed, her
comments were not universally well-received up here.
PNER is like any organization.
There are politics involved—backstories, old grudges, personality conflicts, historical context and nuance—much of which I’m totally oblivious to
as a relatively new person. Unfortunately (?) the internet is a great place for
people to air their grievances or retaliate publicly for all to see—forever. Then negativity
overflows, devolves into he-said-she-said, divides our tiny club, and feeds
more bad feelings. It’s the same lack of civility that made me leave the
Ridecamp email group. It’s disappointing to see that attitude spill over into Facebook, where a lot of beginners congregate to soak up our knowledge.
What must they think of us?
Do they want to be part of a club where the reaction to
criticism is petty name-calling?
Look, not every ride goes perfectly for everyone. You guys
know I had a crappy time at Bandit last year. It wasn’t exactly a secret. A big
part of endurance blogging for me is telling my story—warts and all—so that
beginners and aspiring riders know that everyone has crappy experiences from time to
time. Horses misbehave, trail is iffy, people are under a lot of pressure and
get snarky, rude and judgmental. (Seriously, that’s just competitions and horses.
Anyone who has shown on the breed circuit, hunter/jumper, rodeo, dressage or
whatever also sees the equestrian community at their absolute elitist worst.)
Blogging isn’t journalism. (I should know; my degree is in journalism
but my day job is in social media.) When I write the blog, I’m telling about
the experience from my perspective, as I experienced it. Sometimes I leave
things out because I think they are boring, or too private, or I know that someone
who was involved would be embarrassed to see it in writing. Sometimes I add my
own commentary, hearsay and hindsight. As they say: Your Experience May Vary.
We’re all out there on the trail alone. This is an
individual sport, and everyone’s internal monologue is different. Two people
riding together may have opposite impressions of how it’s going. That’s the
nature of the sport. Endurance is Rashomon.
So when someone says "that ride was perfect in every way, and anyone who says different is an idiot," it upsets me. Ride a mile in my stirrups before you call me names.
When I blog, I try to convey a sense of the full range of
emotions you might feel as a rider in this crazy sport. Newbies
take note: It isn’t weird to be frustrated, nor is it weird to be triumphant. You
can be both at the same time if you want. Endurance isn’t all glory and good
feelings—it’s also a lot of sweat, blood, tears, dirt, early mornings, late
nights and money down the drain.
Absolutely, there are people who are going to disagree or
take offense when I say it isn’t all rainbows and flowers. If you are one of
those people, I’d sure appreciate it if you comment on my posts and tell me why
I’m wrong. Defend your opinion. Start a dialogue. Teach me something about the way you see the world.
I promote this sport to every rider I meet because it
changed my relationship with horses forever. It changed the way I see myself as
a rider. It changed my perspective on all equestrian disciplines.
There is nothing else quite like it, even when it goes badly.
So why is it so frowned-upon to say so?