Like other athletes, many horse riders turn to social media to share tips and exchange knowledge. At the same time, riders think that the information disseminated online can be problematic.

They are requesting easily accessible and fact-based knowledge, according to new research.
How to I teach my horse to do flying changes? What do you do when a horse has eczema? Can the plant in the pasture be poisonous? Lovisa Broms, doctoral student in sports science at Malmö University, has asked riders between the ages of 15 and 80 where they find information about horses and riding.

The riders want easily accessible, science-based knowledge where they also see the sources.

Lovisa Broms

Previous research shows that social media in particular is important for riders, but it is also observed that social media comes with its own issues.

“Some riders generally seem to be well aware that they should think critically. While they know it can be problematic to trust online information, they are confident they can critically assess information on social media. But that is not the case for all riders.”

The riders express, according to Broms, that those who differ from themselves in age and experience cannot judge the information as well circulating on social media. At the same time, social media is used by riders of all ages, and in various disciplines within the sport.

“The riders in our study say that they trust experienced horse people in their immediate circle, such as trainers and veterinarians, and also other riders at the riding school or at the stable."

In the Swedish study, the interviewed riders were asked where they prefer to turn for information and knowledge about horses and riding. An important point, according to Broms, is that riders demand more easily accessible, but reliable, knowledge online:

“One person expressed, for example, that they wanted a ‘horse Wikipedia’. The riders want easily accessible, science-based knowledge where they also see the sources. Information that riders are looking for is, for example, about the horse's well-being, training and illnesses.

“It's also a lot about tips and tricks – how to resolve issues immediately,” says Broms, adding:

“The common thread in the pursuit of knowledge is always focussed on the love and care of the horse. The horse's well-being is the most important thing for the riders and a decisive factor that makes the equestrian sport so special and difficult to compare with other sports. Then there are many traditions and different ways of caring for the horse, and that makes the exchange of knowledge complex.”

 Text: Kristina Rörström & Adrian Grist