#RideforOlivia Social Media Campaign – No Borders in Equestrian Disciplines, Levels, and Geographies

 In Horse

The hashtag took on a life of its own. How could one ever imagine a swell of over 3.2 million photos from across the world, and all in a matter of a couple of days? It’s a level of “viral” that many strive for, few comprehend, and no one can predict.

Unfortunately, this was born from a tragedy.

The death of 17-year-old equestrian Olivia Inglis during a competition in Australia has pierced the heart of every rider. Coriolanus, her mount, seems to have tripped at a jump, resulting in a rotational fall as he landed on his rider, crushing her. It’s a moment we can’t even imagine, let alone comprehend as you think about her parents cheering her on from the sidelines. Further devastating was the news of her horse having to be put down after due to the extent of his injuries.

 

#RideforOlivia Sees No Boundaries

Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden, Simon Delestre, and Charlotte Dujardin shared photos via social media. The Eventing community rallied with photos shared by riders like William Fox-Pitt, Ingrid Klimke and Laura Collett. Associations and publications also stepped up with tribute photos across the FEI, Breeder’s Cup, and USEF.

Along with the millions of “average” horse people sharing photos via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, #RideforOlivia has brought together the equestrian community regardless of discipline, competitive level, or geography. It has been an inspiring hashtag to observe via HootSuite as I think about how much we can all relate to the simplicity of a girl and her horse.

 

Sacred Truth

Olivia Inglis was doing what she loved – what she trained to do. And that sacred truth is what ignited this stunning reaction with the equestrian community in such a flash. It’s the same sacred truth that motivates us to shiver in the barn in the dead of winter, or to get back in the saddle after an involuntary dismount, or to push ourselves to do that vertical one last time.

We choose to participate in this dangerous sport, often to the shock or surprise of friends and family. I wasn’t allowed to ride horses as a kid (despite begging my parents). Aside from the extremely expensive nature of the sport, I had a schoolmate who fell off and that freaked the f**k out of my over-protective mother. Little does she know, I used to take my babysitting money (in Ziploc baggies) to the pony rides when we were on holiday at family resorts. (Apparently, they didn’t believe in waivers for children back then).

I started learning to ride as an adult approaching my thirties, tentatively making my way up the walk-trot-canter-jump trajectory while children around me whipped around fearlessly on their school ponies. While my learning curve may have been more risk-aware, we horse people all yearn for that feeling of freedom only time in the saddle can provide. It’s so deep a love and connection to the power, strength, and grace that horses bless us with.

 

So before your next ride, think about how fortunate you are to share your time and heart with the equine soul you are grooming. Take that extra minute of gratitude to appreciate the connection – and then proceed without fear or hesitation. Just as I imagine Olivia and Coriolanus would have.

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