No ads have been saved yet.
Your last viewed and saved ads will appear here

5 Types Of Bully That Exist In The Horse World And How To Disempower Them

It can take a lot to bully an equestrian. And it happens a lot. The unwanted, unhelpful comments made on a livery yard soon escalate. I’ve seen grown women pounce upon younger women and start the psychological games usually seen in school bullies. What starts this behaviour? And if you’re experiencing it now, what can you do?

Bullying of any kind is a repeated action, whether direct to someone’s face, or indirect – the kind where a person may be excluded from events or conversations; it can also be talking behind someone’s back.

There is a disempowerment of the victim, which empowers the bully.

Whilst campaigns such as ‘Not on My Yard’ in 2016 helped enormously with awareness, bullying just won’t go away.

In 2017, Irish equestrian Susan Oakes who holds the world side-saddle puissance and triple bar jumping records – not a lady easily intimidated, I’d say – said, “I went down some roads so dark that I didn’t think there would be a tomorrow. At night, I actually prayed that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.” Susan was horrendously harassed and bullied by horse dealers.

Some riders being bullied feel a need to alter their routines to avoid certain people and situations. They lock up their feed and tack, or take their belongings home. Sometimes, they feel a need to ride at unusual times and even stop going to certain shows.

Let’s look at the 5 common bullies for the everyday rider and what’s behind their behaviour:

1. The livery yard expert. They have all the so-called expertise, which is at least 10 years out of date. They eschew anything new, anything not done their way.  They know all the correct feeds, tack, training, riding methods and will talk about you to your face or behind your back about what you’re doing wrong.

These bullies are insecure and can only operate by having others join them. Usually the others don’t want to incur their wrath, so they agree to this queen bee. The queen bee herself has many areas of life that she struggles with. Her only refuge is the security of horses and having some knowledge of them. By challenging her way of doing things, simply by doing something different, you may have challenged her crown indirectly.

2. The horse welfare bullies. Those who pretend (whether consciously or unconsciously) that they are only concerned with the welfare of the horse. They mask their bullying behind a false concern for how you are looking after or training your horse. They come in several guises, claiming to know about something like natural horsemanship. They make you feel that what you are doing is cruel and force you to follow their advice, going against your gut feelings.

The bully again, likes to be an expert. Their minds are often closed. When I first transitioned my horse to barefoot, my trimmer asked me if I’d had negative remarks (I was on a traditional competition /livery yard). Luckily, the girls on that yard were always very supportive and non-judgmental. The horse welfare bully is simply the expert bully who hides behind an excuse, making them look helpful. Once again, they elevate their own opinions of themselves by thinking that others are inferior. This is classic of insecure people.

3. The instructor bully. This one speaks for itself. The instructor or trainer whose approach is from the 1950s will already be aware of their misdemeanours. They were probably bullied whilst being trained themselves. They now have little more than an old reputation as a successful rider. They live vicariously through their riders. Their frustrations at not making it up the levels and rankings as high as they should or could have are heavy millstones.

4. The cyber bully. The ultimate coward who cannot help but criticise those who are having a go, even those who rise to international stardom. These bullies are jealous and do not have the mind resources to create opportunities for themselves. They are stuck feeling that they could do better, without ever taking steps to change and have a go themselves.

5. The racist, homophobic or anti-special needs bully. Clearly, this is borne out of bigotry, which, in its most empirical form is borne out of a fear of someone different.


What to do about being bullied: disempower the bully.

  • Let other people know. Having someone listen to you and support you is incredibly helpful. They can be a cheerleader for you, when you need it. This can be on- or off-line.
  • Block the bullies online! Report them to the admins.
  • Know that you are not to blame. This is not your fault, there is nothing in your personality that has led to the bullying.
  • Appear neutral to them. Be a Switzerland! When you react to their comments, they feel a little victory. Appear neutral. Then chat to a friend about it to get it out of your system.
  • Perception is projection. This means that what someone throws at you (their nasty remarks, their sneering face), is actually how they are addressing themselves, their own flaws. Know that they are really talking about themselves. This is very empowering for you!
  • Neurolinguistic programming tells us that everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have available. If they are bullying you, doesn’t that mean their resources are severely lacking? Empower yourself knowing this.
  • Keep a virtual scrapbook or Pinterest board with all the positive comments you receive, however small. Add in photos or videos of every little success, again no matter how small. Chart your progress in your riding and horsemanship. Look over this any time you have a negative comment on social media or feel bad.

Further reading

#Notonmyyard campaign by Tudor Rose Equine >

Susan Oakes’ world record puissance >

More about NLP >

Dr Tracey Cole
Horsemart Content Contributor
Published on 09-09-2020
Dr Tracey Cole is one of the UK’s leading mindset experts helping, supporting and training equestrians. She is passionate about working with riders to improve their mindset and mental strength and thus, enhance their performance and enjoyment. Tracey trains equestrians of all levels, as well as riding coaches, to become Empowered Equestrian™ Coaches. This is the world’s only accredited 4 certification training specifically designed for equestrians. Riders are trained in NLP (neurolinguistic programming), Time Line Therapy®, NLP Coaching and Hypnosis. She is also a keen equestrian, being the proud owner of Lottie, a chestnut warmblood.