Before you pull up a chair, please respect the fact that this blog is not social media. I have turned off commenting. I will not be sharing this on Social Media. I no longer have social media accounts because I am not taking part in the social media community. The purpose of this blog is to act as a diary entry. So here goes…
for the past 12 months I have been pretty quiet on the blogging front. The reason for this is because I have been struggling with anxiety and depression, caused by something I have been battling with for over a year.
I have thought long and hard about how to tell you this but I have never doubted that I needed to let you hear it. I bet that someone, somewhere is going through the same thing. Hell.
I will start off by saying that all of the following is true. Fact. Evidentially based. I have purposefully hidden names and details. The reason for doing that is not to protect the identity of those involved as they deserve no such privilege, but because I remain bound over to silence “just incase” I break a rule that is wholly open to interpretation in anyway in which the organisation sees fit.. Unfair ? Yep. But you havent heard the half of it.
So many years ago I had the ride on a horse which was sent to me because it was a difficult personality. It had lots of behavioural issues but it also had considerable talent. I loved the horse as if it was my own. I paid for its keep. I paid for its training. I paid its entries.
This isnt uncommon for me so please dont try to guess or assume that you know which horse I am referring to.
I worked hard to give the horse the time and space to learn its ropes and then worked it up the grades. The horses contacts then decided that they wanted to change the level at which I was riding and I returned the horse because I no longer felt that they were secure in the belief that I made the right decisions for both myself and the horse. The horse was thus returned in great condition. Fit and ready to go on with another rider.
I hoped I had done the right thing by everyone. But more importantly by the horse. I certainly didnt want to have anything on my mind when competing than what the horse was telling me. I and many other professionals thought the horse had more to learn but regardless, I knew that it could go on and do well for anyone who got the ride next.
I thought that I had done a great job and turned my attention to my other horses and clients. Only that wasnt the end.
The connections of that horse started a hate campaign against me. Using both Twitter and Facebook to try and shame me. Accusing me of being a bad horsewoman, returning a lame horse, saying I had ruined the horse, accusing me of injecting horses or riding them lame.
I blocked the people posting such rubbish and held my head high.
I then started to hear that not only was the connection of the horse posting things about me, but the next rider was also liking and retweeting the things that were being said. As were the riders family members.
I was then rung by a family member and threatened. I was told that they would be seeing me at my next event.
Things were being said that identified me as the (only) former rider of the horse and were calling me bitter, vile, a troll and a bell end.
It was at this point that I made a complaint to the parent organisation. I was immediately told that it was tit-for-tat and that I should remove the things I had said about them and they would remove what they had said about me.
I asked what I had said but got no response.
Ironically, whilst I had commented on each abusive tweet, tagging in the parent organisation, the other party had never once highlighted the things I was being accused of saying as being upsetting to them. Mostly because I had never said anything that could be upsetting to them. If I gave them a mention at all it was either to defend them or to talk about what was actually happening. I never resorted to name calling, or giggling, or making false claims, or phoning them.
All I had wanted was for the posts about me to be removed from the public domain. To be honest, I didnt really care if they didnt like me or if they gossiped about me. I just didnt want my livelihood attacked publically when I had done nothing to deserve it.
I complained that my case was not being treated correctly and 4 months later there was an independent review. Once again I was told that I needed to remove what I had said but I was still not told what that was. I complained that the remarks made that I had complained about were all still available publically. Another 4 months later I was interviewed again and shown 3 tweets posted by someone else who is not a connection of mine or a member of the parent organisation. I was told that these were what had been provided as mitigation for the abuse I had suffered. I explained that they were nothing to do with anyone connected to the horse or rider in question. I also pointed out that the original comments I had complained about where still online.
A month later I was told by the parent organisation that I had to remove the offensive tweets and facebook posts, agree to paying for mediation between myself and the other party, and write an apology that the organisation would want to see first.
I agreed and wrote as requested but still could not remove any tweets or posts as I did not own the 3 shown to me at the investigation and did not know what others they wanted removed.
I posted the best apology I could given that I didnt know what I was apologising for and then later that night I got a call from the manager of the organisation saying that if I did not remove my apology post, I would be sent to the panel and disciplined. I asked what I had said that broke and rules and was told that it was the tone I was using. As soon as I got a signal (I was away at an event), I made the post private.
3 days later I got a recorded delivery letter from another organisation telling me that because the first organisation had suspended me, they also had to suspend me. I had no idea the first organisation had suspended me. I had already booked clients for coaching that weekend and now I could not go to the venues as I had lost my member privildges.
I tried to appeal the un-notified suspension and this was refused by the same person who made the decision. They claimed that they HAD emailed me about the suspension themselves but they could not prove it and I certainly hadnt had anything.
I felt as if I had been set up so that if I attended a venue with my clients I would have been thrown off site as the suspension would have meant that I was not entitled to access the non-public areas at the venues. I was also denied sight of the record of the conversation that was made by telephone and was told that my version of events was false.
I served the suspension and made a further complaint about how I was being treated.
I asked for a list of the tweets and posts they wanted down along with a reason why each entry was being treated as breaking their rules.
I did not receive a response to these questions.
At the end of August this year I received a further judgement telling me that the other party had complied with their instructions, written an apology that had been accepted and was therefore not being disciplined.
However, they have made their Twitter account private and their relative was still proudly displaying the Tweets that I complained about on their account. So they hadnt actually distanced themselves from what was said about me at all.
The Disciplinary Panel decided that if I do not remove what I have said, I will be fined £1000 and, if I still do not remove them and pay the fine, I will be banned until I do.
At last a full list of tweets were attached. A couple of them were not mine. A couple of them were comments I made on the account of the person who was attacking me (who has now blocked me) that I cannot now remove, a couple of them were about an completely unrelated matter (suicide within the racing industry) and finally, a tweet saying “and there it is”…. None of them broke the rules as they stood. There was no justification as to why any of the tweets have been treated as mitigation for the bullying I endured a year ago. Yet I am the one who gets suspended. The one who is to be threatened by the parent organisation. The one who gets an unnotified suspension. The one who got the unrecorded out of hours call to misdirect me. The threat of a fine. The unreasonable requests to remove things I have no knowledge of. The ridicule time scales to comply with demands that are unjustified. Letters telling me my version of events is disingenuous, that I have not proven that I am being unfairly treated, that they are happy that the other party has done all that was required to avoid any suspicion of bullying.
I have complained that although I did not wish to know anything about the other parties medical records, the head of the organisation chose to tell me about an injury they sustained. A fact that I would not want disclosed if the boot was on the other foot. And surely a breach of that riders privacy.
I have done all I can to be fair and reasonable. Polite and professional. I have even taken my social media accounts off line as for now I do not know how talking about my life or liking tweets where my friends are talking about their lives, can possibly break such vague rules.
And the letter I sent in response to the head of the organisation asking again for clarification is returned without an explanation of just how I breached the rules.
I wonder how I am meant to be part of an organisation that is not fair or transparent. That can ban me without telling me how to rectify a situation without me taking down my accounts all together. The accounts that I use to offer support, keep in touch with clients, advertise clinics, diarise how my horses are going – good or bad – and share songs, quotes and silly little odds and sods that make me smile.
I still wait for clarification but I doubt that it will ever be forthcoming. On the 30th of October it will be a year since I asked for help.
But for now I guess that I will have to keep my title as the vile bitter troll because by all accounts, I deserve it.
Bell end out. #dropsmike