Equestrian Bullying - Not On My Yard
A celebrated rider has revealed that she has been the victim of terrible bullying. Susan Oakes is a highly successful rider but has been driven to the brink of suicide in the past. She believes that bullying is common in equestrian sports and must be tackled.
Susan Oakes is 33 years old and holds world records in and triple bar jumping. Several episodes of bullying and intimidation have marred her life. Speaking to the Telegraph, she has talked about how a bloodstock agent in Ireland threatened to beat her up. He felt that Ms Oakes had slighted him by not recognising his assistance. Despite her apology, the agent turned up at her training session a few hours later and said 'I’m going to beat seven shades of s--- out of you'. Charming!
This incident took place in 2012 just before Ms Oakes’ attempt on her world records and left her feeling extremely depressed. She remains terrified by the prospect of seeing the man again.
Threats and Intimidation
Unfortunately, this was just one of many unpleasant episodes. On an another occasion a horse dealer threatened Susan and told her that if she visited his country, he would see to it that she would never leave again! This horrible threat was issued because Ms Oakes’ friend had returned a horse to the dealer. For some reason the dealer took out his frustration on Susan. He continued to intimidate her over a period of three years.
Bullying at stables and competitions is having a serious impact on riders’ lives. Those who experience bullying may give up their sport and could be left suffering from depression. It is time we did something about the situation and the fight back has indeed started. Welfare groups in the north of England have launched an anti-bullying campaign in conjunction with Greater Manchester Police called "Not On My Yard".
Victims Come Forward
Many victims have now come forward as a result of the campaign. Riders are feeling empowered to speak out and stand up to the bullies. One of the campaign’s founders, Samantha Furlow, of Tudor Rose Equines, has announced that there have been up to five calls a week from riders of all ages who have been bullied and potentially driven away from the sport. Cases have involved the theft of equipment, assaults on riders, verbal abuse and harm to horses. The campaign has also found that at least one rider has taken their own life as a result of bullying at their yard.
Sticks and Stones
It really is troubling to hear that riders will resort to assaulting other riders with brooms, stealing their tack and cutting the manes of their horses. Riding should be a joy and a life affirming experience not a torment. Riding should be therapeutic and yet some people are turning yards into highly unpleasant places to be.
Hopefully the Not On My Yard campaign and others like it will help to eradicate bullying and intimidation from the world of equestrian sport.
Follow the campaigns progress on their