We Need Safe Barns

We need safe barns

The world at large has become much more receptive to survivor stories since the MeToo movement. The horse community, however, lags behind. Equestrian survivors who disclose their abuse are often met with enormous peer pressure not to come forward. 

Well-meaning loved ones might have fears about the negative repercussions the individual and their family may face. Some worry that the disclosure will shine a negative light on the sport they love. Still others defend the abuser or minimize the abuse. “He’s not one of the ‘bad ones.'” “It only happened once.

As an equestrian, it’s natural to want to protect the sport and the people in it—our shared love of horses makes up the fabric of who we are as individuals. Horses teach us about empathy, responsibility, communication and hard work. They teach us about ourselves. And the positive impacts are often lifelong. Staying silent does not protect any of those things. It emboldens abusers. 

When we protect athletes from abuse, we protect horse sport.