Social Media in the Horse Industry: We are More Than Perceived

AQHYA Region 5 director urges AQHA and AQHYA members to help educate the public about the positive aspects of the horse industry through social media.

The American Quarter Horse Youth Association

Maura Hynes, AQHYA Region 5 Director, believes that social media is the most imminent issue facing AQHA today, but also presents a great opportunity to improve the equine industry.

We live in a generation run by small screens that give us a window into anyone’s life. I have learned quickly that social media is my best friend, along with my worst enemy. As soon as I do something good, it is posted on social media for everyone to see; as soon as I make a mistake, it is all over social media for EVERYONE to see. As an AQHYA director and a soon-to-be college student, I am very well aware of the discretion I must possess in my “real” and “virtual” life, but I am also aware of the risk that someone might speak poorly about me on the internet. It is a risk we all take, even the American Quarter Horse Association. The reality of social media is we cannot filter what is said or the perception people have of us. This week, I had the privilege to attend the 2016 AQHA Convention in Las Vegas. While I was there, I was asked what I thought was the biggest issue facing AQHA, and I truly believe it is social media. Perception can make or break you.

I always see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., something about a horse or the Association that would make you want to buy a horse of your own and be involved; but I also see—too often—posts that would make you run as far as you can from the horse industry. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone likes their opinion to be voiced; we cannot stop what people do and say behind their screens, but we can educate. There is so much controversy and ridicule facing the Association posted by uneducated animal lovers. The pages that show all of the fun we have at shows, conferences, trail rides, etc., are a great way to increase involvement; but on the flip side, the posts that focus on poor horsemen/women, exclusions and other stereotypes can turn people off and give them the wrong idea of what we are really about — the welfare of the Quarter Horse and our members.

AQHA and AQHYA have an immense amount to offer their members, and we need to educate prospective members on what we can do for them and the horse. As active AQHA members, it is our duty to keep AQHA alive and thriving. We need to take on the responsibility of telling people we are not what is sometimes portrayed on social media. Instead, we are amazing, strong, passionate and welcoming. We are the American Quarter Horse Association.