If you look around any horse show, you will see all kinds of body types. Equestrian sports are a part of a sport group that have such a variety of body types at the top levels. Even with this array of representation, riders of all ages and levels struggle with their body image.
Why the Struggle is Real
Why do riders struggle with this even though their isn’t one body type glorified in the horse show industry? There are several factors including social media, brand advertisements, and athlete stereotypes.
Look at the social media influencers you see when you scroll through Instagram or the models you see when you flip through a sales catalog. 9 times out of 10 have what could be called “a model body”. They are tall, rather thin, and look good in anything they put on. Riders are influenced by these pictures just like an normal people are. Body issues can come from not looking like the pictures they see on social media or in the catalog.
The athletic stereotype also plays a big role in the issue. On TV or in movies, athletes are normally played by tall and buff actors who have worked out nonstop for that role. We have been to think that all athletes are super ripped or at least visibly muscular and in tip top shape. What we are told to think about is how healthy and strong look different on different bodies.
There is no easy sep by step guide to fix the equestrian body image issue. First, representation outside of the show ring is super important. This will help make step two easier. The next step would be promoting a healthier mind set when it comes to body image.
So step one is mostly on the companies to pick a wider variety of models when it comes to product photo shoots and influencers on social media. The equestrian community needs to call for the change and support the companies that do take the matter seriously.
The healthier mindset will happen both on a personal and community level. We need to start appreciating our bodies for what they can do and not how they look. When we ride, we move huge animals with our bodies. That’s freaking amazing and not everyone can do that. Body shamming also needs to stop. There is enough negativity in the equestrian community as it is so let’s not start a tracking each other in such a personal way.
Equestrians come in all shaped and sizies but there is one thing we all can do, kick butt and take names! We are athletes that participte in an amazing sport that allows us to do incredible things. It is time we realize how awesome we are no matter how we look.