Social media Influencers are NOT Professional Riders. Sounds preposterous right – Who thought they were?
Every year, USEF makes changes to their rulebook, and the rules are proposed by members, committees, or task forces within the organization. On November 10th, 2020, I discovered an active rule proposal that could affect a large majority of the equine industry. Particularly those over the age of 18, competing as amateurs, with a social media account.
Over the past few days, I have compiled a response to USHJA’s active rule proposal, GR1306.4 Tracking #031-20 Draft 1 Active, highlighting areas of concern with the support of data, statistics, and testimonials from fellow equestrians. My aim is to help you better understand what is presently happening in the world of horse sports, using information, facts, and statistics. This post also reflects what would happen to many in our industry, if passed.
Part I: Introduction to Rule Change Proposals 012-20 VS. 031-20
Please note: USEF and USHJA have two separate Amateur Task Forces. At this time, there are TWO active proposals. Both are very different in contrast to one another. Pay attention!
Before we dive into this post, I want to make it very clear that there are TWO active rule change proposals. I did not know this until recently, and based on messages I have received over the past few days, I feel many do not know about these active proposals either. Here’s what you need to know.
The FIRST proposal presents an immense number of obstacles for the AA community. The draft was received on September 1, 2020, filed by USHJA’s Amateur Task Force. It caught the equestrian community by storm two months later when Adult Ammy Strong released a blog post with a PDF of rule change proposal, on November 10th. Needless to say, USHJA opened up a new can worms they did not want open. Let’s take a look at what USHJA’s active rule change proposal entails…
“The intent of this proposal is to clarify the status of social media influencers as professionals and not amateurs. It is the unanimous consensus of the Amateurs Task Force that social media influencers are not able to conform to the definition of an amateur competitor by accepting products or services in exchange for promotion of those products and/or services.
- Professional based on one’s own activities. Unless expressly permitted above, a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:
d. Accepts remuneration AND uses his name, photograph or other form of personal association as a horseperson in connection with any advertisement or social media channels or product/service for sale, including but not limited to apparel, equipment or property.” Click HERE to view a PDF of the current official document for the active proposed rule change.
The SECOND proposal aims to give the Amateur equestrian community more freedom and attempts to broaden the activities of an Amateur rider. This draft was received on August 26th, 2020 filed by USEF’s Amateur Task Force. Let’s have a look.
“The rules on amateur and professional membership status are outdated. As the modern equestrian community evolves, the rules on amateur and professional status require updates to include new activities that were not present until recent years. If approved, these rule changes will help the rules on amateur and professional status come into the modern era.
3. Permitted activities by Amateur. An Amateur is permitted to do the following:
e. Accept a non-monetary token gift of appreciation valued less than $1,000 annually
h. Accept remuneration for providing service in one’s capacity as a: clinic manager or organizer (so long as they are not performing the activities of instructor or trainer), presenter or panelist at a Federation licensed officials’ clinic, competition manager, competition secretary, judge, steward, technical delegate, course designer, announcer, TV commentator, social media influencer, veterinarian, groom, farrier, tack shop operator, breeder, or boarder, or horse transporter.” Click HERE to view a PDF of the official document for the active proposed change.
This active rule change proposal by USEF will allow social media influencers to compete as amateurs. It also aims to give amateurs much more freedom in the sport overall.
This post is a response, specific to USHJA, in regards to the active rule change proposal (GR1306.4 Tracking #031-20 Draft 1 Active). Today I highlight a few issues with this rule, using data, statistics, and testimonials from fellow equestrians to support these arguments – it concerns almost every rider in horse sports, so you’ll want to read a few of these points.
Grab a snack, beverage, and saddle-up because this is a long one!
Part II: Concerns with Rule Change Proposal GR1306.4 (Tracking #031-20)
First of all, there are so many holes in the Amateur status rules to start with, without the help of USHJA’s proposed change to rule GR1306.4. From my understanding, USHJA is attempting to fix a pre-existing grey area with this proposal…instead, they created fifty new shades of grey.
To name a few issues; a) There is little to no criteria defining what social media influencer is in horse sports b) There is no criteria for practices that CAN be performed on social media, c) There is no supporting evidence, data, or witness testimonials to support this proposal, d) There is no explanation as to how this will be moderated. The list of questions and concerns goes on from here… Let’s dive in!
1) WHAT IS THE CRITERIA FOR A “SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER”?
There is little to no criteria in the description of this active rule change proposal that describes criteria of a “social media influencer” in horse sports. This is all we have to work with so far:
“Social media influencers are not able to conform to the definition of an amateur competitor by accepting products or services in exchange for promotion of those products and/or services.” (Via GR1306.4 Tracking #031-20 Draft 1 Active).
Sounds problematic and vague to me. The term “social media influencer” is too general and broad as there are a) different types of influencers, b) different levels of influencers. With this description, anyone can be characterized as a social media influencer. So, what would USHJA say a “true” amateur’s social media account looks like, as oppose to an influencer’s account? Followers? Content? Promoting products? Paid posts? Receiving free products? Having a registered business? USHJA needs to clearly define what they characterize as a “social media influencer” is in horse sports. USHJA also needs to describe what social media activity is permitted by AAs and businesses (jump to points 6 & 7 to see what this could mean for equestrian businesses and AA business-owners).
2) BEING AN INFLUENCER IS A MARKETING AND ADVERTISING JOB, NOT A FORM OF SPONSORSHIP. INFLUENCERS DESERVE REMUNERATION.
I want to preface by saying that I understand how USHJA and their “Amateurs Task Force” see “accepting products or services in exchange for promotion of those products and/or services” as a form of sponsorship. But it’s not as simple as they are wishfully thinking it is. I like to try and see the best in people (yes, even in USHJA). So, I am going to give USHJA the benefit of the doubt here and say they are not educated in this area of marketing or advertising. Allow me to provide some clarity.
Being an influencer is an art. It’s also a science. When influencers receive remuneration, whether it be in the form of money, products, or services, in exchange for promotion – do you know WHY? Because it covers the cost of photo sessions, content creation, editing, hosting / managing their website, creating a blog post, creating e-newsletters, creating a marketing strategy then implementing it, and so much more…
So – WHY SHOULD INFLUENCERS BE ALLOWED TO RECEIVE REMUNERATION? Accepting remuneration is defined as payment (product, service, money, even clout) for work or service (Via Lexico powered by Oxford).
Influencers accepting remuneration is comparable to a breeder selling a horse. Very few breeders give away horses without remuneration…When a breeder sells a horse, they expect money in exchange for the horse. The same applies with influencers. Behind every post is a boat load of tasks, and we don’t give away our hard work, time, and energy away without remuneration. The remuneration we receive is in exchange for WORK. Remuneration – Products, services, and clout – do not contribute to covering any equestrian expenses; it does not pay for our show fees, board, lessons, etc…
In addition to this, a majority of equestrian influencers, no matter their following, rarely make money. Why? In the words of Britt Sabbah (@BrittSabbah), “Equestrian brands never pay”. I’m not going to say influencers need the money most. BUT I will say that Amateurs make up a large majority of the equestrian influencers on social media, and AAs are the people who need the remuneration the most.
I only know 2-3 equestrian influencers / bloggers who charge for blogging, paid posts, collaborations, etc…and make BANK. News flash – A large majority of the equestrian influencers do not make a dime off their social media platforms and blog, and “live” off of product exchanges and collaborations. Their social media / blog does not contribute to their personal living expenses, let alone equestrian expenses. It is not a life-sustaining job for an equestrian to be an influencer.
All in all, despite the belief of many being an influencer is a real job. Influencers are more than the walking and talking advertisements that society paints us out to be. We don’t snap a quick pic, then roll around all day in a bathtub full of money and free equestrian goodies. It also doesn’t magically give us professional level riding abilities. But hey – that’s what you think, right USHJA?
Here are a few additional thoughts from fellow equestrians:
“Social media influencer here. Just wanted to throw in my two cents. I don’t charge companies a dime for working with me (I know some do). I pay a photographer to do my photos and the time it costs me to do it. I do it on the side because it’s fun. None of it in any way makes me a better rider. I’m bringing up a 5 y/o and I pay for all my own training, shows, lessons, board etc. I’ve never made a dime that goes towards my horse.
It’s ridiculous it could make us pro because I don’t coach, teach, etc. Let’s say I quit being an influencer in the horse world and went into the fashion world, where likely many companies could actually afford to pay me, I wouldn’t have to potentially lose my ammy status and would make bank while getting a new wardrobe.” – Jordan Even, (@EvenTheEquestrians).
“I think there’s such a huge distinction between professional riders who can afford/have access to the competition circles (esp. at Grand Prix level) and someone who simply makes money from ads for being known as a rider. Like both are very hard jobs but there’s a difference between them and access given to certain people. They need to have a separate category applying to influencers or just not consider them “professional” riders at all, the standard of a professional rider is someone who is paid to compete.” – Kaiulani Ellington Lee (@KaiulaniLee).
“I am an influencer because of my photography, modelling, & writing abilities. I am an influencer because of my marketing abilities. I am an influencer because of my understanding of social media platforms. None of these things correlate with my ability to ride or train any horse…
Brands choose to work with me because I have a large audience that I have worked hard to obtain. They choose to work with me because I have professional camera equipment & can model their items.
The brands that I work with are not selecting me as an influencer for any of their campaigns because of my riding ability. My social media following was not obtained by being a highly skilled professional rider. Heck, for the first year I was growing my instagram account, I could barely even canter my horse, let alone train or ride professionally.“ – Cassidy Brooke Bock (@CassidyBrookeBock)
3) CLASSIFY RIDERS BASED ON THEIR RIDING ABILITIES, NOT THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA STATUS.
It’s pretty ignorant, to say the least, that USHJA would classify riders based on their social media status over their actual skills and riding abilities. Makes perfect sense. Because naturally, social media gives a rider magical, professional abilities. Just like a home cook becomes a professional chef like Gordan Ramsay, without going to culinary school or having any formal training or job experience at Michelin star restaurants.
A professional is defines as “A person engaged in a specified activity, especially a sport or branch of the performing arts, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.” (via Lexico by Oxford). Professional equestrian athletes spend their days and nights making money off of riding, exercising horses, driving horses, showing, training, assisting in training, schooling, conducting clinics or seminars, sponsorships, collaborations, brand deals. Amateurs make their money off of their day job, not equine-related activities. AAs also fund a huge chunk of this sport and make up a majority of the industry. Bottom line – There is a major difference between people in this industry who make their living off of riding, training, coaching, sales, breeding, etc… Versus those who don’t. The two aren’t even fair comparisons.
Let’s say this rule change proposal passes. What does that mean for horses and riders who are not ready for the pro ring? Well, in short, it would be a disaster waiting to happen. Literally. Not only would it be putting riders in dangerous positions, but it jeopardizes the safety of their horses too. This will also discourage many AAs from competing and renewing their membership for future years to come due to the inaccessibility.
Here are some additional words from a few fellow AAs:
“Here in Ontario, Canada there are no pro divisions under 1.15m for jumpers. So if considered a pro you’d have to either show in the 1.15m open before you’re ready skill-wise… That would be; pushing your horse, endangering yourself competing at a level you may not really be capable of, or force you to enter the lower jumper divisions hors concours and aren’t able to place, get a ribbon, or any prize money. These rules would make like 85% of people at the shows here ‘pros’” – Taylor Stafford (@anatomeq).
“The rule should specify that a rider is considered a professional if the income earned is from equestrian services, ie. training, buying/selling, coaching, riding, boarding. Promoting goods and services on social media, though equine related, does not make them an equine professional. If someone worked in a tack shop, they would not be considered a professional rider. Same as someone who is a vet or bodyworker is not considered a professional as their services are not directly related to the production and riding of the horses. Just because you post an ad on Instagram, or massage a horse, does not make you a professional rider. I can post a promotion of a product on my account (doesn’t make me an influencer). But I am a far cry from a pro. I agree they need to clarify the rule, but they’re doing it in the wrong direction.” – Ashley Milne (@aa_milne_eventing).
“Wow, I can’t believe they would do this. Censorship at its finest. Being an influencer has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s riding ability/status.” – Xibel (@XibelVirellaregtuytPhotography).
“How do they even get to regulate that? It’s so interesting to me that this part of the industry really does not impact them, but they decided to make rules for it? And in the kindest way possible – what gives them the right?” – Shahana (@ShahanaShaikhh).
“If I have to choose between being an AA or being a social media influencer, I will choose being an influencer every time. Why? Because that’s what enables me to work for myself to afford to even go to a show in the first place.
In all honesty though, my status doesn’t matter much to me.
I don’t compete for ribbons or a win. I compete to see if CP & I are better together than we were at the previous show together.
Riding & especially showing is an immense privilege, so instead of wasting any further energy on this subject, I’ll be working hard to become the absolute best amateur rider I can be. For CP, not for anyone else.” – Cassidy Brooke Bock (@CassidyBrookeBock)
“I’ve been working US Equestrian for the last year and a half about the rules. There actually are task forces that are trying to get rid of the AA rule. Then there’s another task force trying to make the rules more strict. I’ve been working with legal to see what we can do, and the CMO of US Equestrian; because truth be known Amateurs keep the sport going. We’re the ones that fund most of these events, and we are the ones positively advocating for the sport. So, they really should look to us as their best influence to younger people and young adults trying to get into the sport as well.” – Taryn Young (@WarmbloodsAndWine).
4) THIS WOULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT MINORITIES, MORE THAN WE KNOW.
Did you know that there are only 79 black equestrians out of 44,000+ USHJA members? That is less than 1%, out of the 13% black population in the USA (via Stephanie Kallstrom)! In addition to this, there are also only 34 American-Indian or Alaskan Native members, 239 Asian members, and 583 Hispanic members on the board (Via Stephanie Kallstrom).
The BIPOC community is already at a disadvantage in the world of horse sports. Not because there aren’t equestrians of colour, nor due to wealth. There are many middle class, upper middle class, and wealthy BIPOC people who could join the sport. So why don’t they? The sport is unwelcoming, there is no representation, and there is the notion that people of colour do not ride or compete.
Social media gives BIPOC equestrians the opportunity to simply be SEEN. They can connect and network with like-minded individuals, and represent minorities around the globe competing in horse sports. Social media allows them to show any child of colour, that there are people like them in this sport. It also allows the rest of the equestrian community to uplift and support them on their equestrian journey, and provide allyship.
There is still so much we need to do to diversify horse sports. But taking away an equestrian of colour’s ability to influence, have the amazing opportunity to make their voice heard on social media, allowing them to reach and influence more BIPOC equestrians, denying them the opportunity to connect, network, collaborate, and help make this industry more diverse and inclusive for their communities – it would be 10 strides backwards for this industry.
“Our job in this sport isn’t to lean on the easy cop out of blaming the lack of diversity in the sport on wealth. That removed accountability on the sport as a whole to address the real issues and challenge the status quo. Black people are equestrian and people of color ride horses. Representation matters! It’s huge, the young people entering the sport need to see people like them on horses. Anti racism training is absolutely essential, micro aggressions, boot strap theories floating around and overt racism has absolutely no place in this sport. In order to draw in a diverse community there is a lot of work to do.”
5) BEING A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER IS A WAY MAKE THE FINANCIAL BURDEN OF HORSE SPORTS MORE BEARABLE
I don’t even need to start explaining how expensive this sport is. Working with brands, and “receiving products/services in exchange for promotion” is a way for minorities and other individuals to cover some of the expenses they cannot afford. USHJA, you are, intentional or not, making this sport less accessible, less diverse, and less enjoyable.
Here’s what Kaylie’s mom, @The_Little_Equestrian, had to say on the topic:
“This is BS. It’s even further alienating less fortunate people from participating in the sport. Point blank. Still trying to keep it elite. So not cool…
I wish I did it [Instagram] for fun, now it’s more of a duty because of all the kids that look up to her, and yeah, I need the help when it comes to stuff for Frosty 🤷 Kaylie is going to take it over 100% one day instead of just helping with posts, comments and stories. Send me the info about reaching out. I know it doesn’t affect K, YET, but it will, this needs to be reversed.”
Here’s what another follower, Kimberly Nielson (@knequestrian93), had to add to the conversation:
“I’m a part time supervisor in a grocery store, and I have to plan out 3 years in advance for USEF shows. I’m not considered a minority, but the financial side is what pisses me off. Unless you come from money, choose another sport. That’s the vibe I get. It’s not fair… USEF is making it real easy for me to not renew my membership till they get shit straightened out.”
6) THIS WOULD SEVERELY NEGATIVELY IMPACT EQUESTRIAN BUSINESSES.
From my perspective, it seems USHJA is proposing this rule change to protect their professionals and their sponsorships. This negatively impacts smaller businesses immensely. How? Well, let’s go through the facts based on the current description of GR1306.4 Tracking #031-20 Draft 1 Active.
“Social media influencers are not able to conform to the definition of an amateur competitor by accepting products or services in exchange for promotion of those products and/or services.”
Fact: Businesses would no longer be able to use AAs in any of their marketing and advertising campaigns. That means all AAs are not permitted to be involved OR recognized in product development, product design, product photography, social media campaigns, product collaborations, and any other marketing / advertising activities where they are receiving remuneration (whether it be money, clout, product, or services).
Fact: Businesses would only be permitted to use juniors and / or professionals in marketing and advertising activities, even if it is their own company. That means businesses will either need to hire models and influencers who have no ties to the equestrian community. OR businesses will need to hire professionals to collaborate or be the face of a marketing / advertising campaign, which will cost an arm and a leg that a large majority of small businesses do not have in their budget.
Fact: 83% of consumers are motivated by the endorsement of Influencers over Professional Riders (via TPE Survey, see Part IV). 83% of consumers said they are encouraged to make a purchase from a business when an influencer makes a recommendation on social media, over a professional.
Essentially, this rule change would incentivize the extinction of small businesses in the world of horse sports. But USHJA doesn’t care about that anyways.
Here’s what a few consumers and business-owners had to add:
“This is going to kill small equestrian businesses. I don’t know what the hell they’re thinking…. unless this “inclusion” stuff really is BS and they ARE trying to keep it elite (which is really what it feels like).” – Kaylie’s Mom (@The_Little_Equestrian)
“I would really like to know the rationale for this addition. And how does it matter? And who actually cares if an “influencer” receives a product? It’s like they are pro-squashing small businesses that are often side hustles by poor amateurs who can’t actually afford to show. So, this hurts everyone.” – @ItsHeadbandTime
“I rely on collabs for a lot of the work I do to not just help design products, but to reach new people/markets. So, if they aren’t allowed to work with us without affecting their amateur status, it’s going to make it so much more difficult for us to grow.” – Owner of Ellany Equestrian (@Ellany_Official)
7) THIS WOULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT AMATEURS WHO OWN EQUESTRIAN BUSINESSES.
This is another slippery slope and grey area. I’m warning you, it’s about to get even more confusing.
First of all, note that this would be the new rule GR1306.4d in USEFs 2021 Rulebook, if USHJA’s proposal passes:
“4. Professional based on one’s own activities. Unless expressly permitted above, a person is a professional if after his 18th birthday he does any of the following:
d. Accepts remuneration AND uses his name, photograph or other form of personal association as a horseperson in connection with any advertisement or social media channels or product/service for sale, including but not limited to apparel, equipment or property.”
From my understanding of this rule, whether it is an AA who owns the business or not, if they accept any remuneration (includes but not limited to money, clout, products, or services) in exchange for any social media advertising / marketing / promotional services, they would be deemed a pro.
For instance, let’s say I’m a business owner and AA. If I, as Marina Layton, accept remuneration from my business The Positive Equestrian, and promote it on my social media outlets (not TPE’s), I would have to go Pro.
Additionally, it is unclear what activities are permitted from equine businesses on their social media. From the sounds of it and based on my previous point (4) they will not even be allowed to repost or tag AAs using their product on social media. Even if the AA bought the product themselves, and made a non-promotional post using an image that the product happened to be featured in… The AA would have to give the company permission to repost and tag them in the image on the company’s feed. If they do give the company permission to repost, that is technically remuneration. It does not give the AA rider direct remuneration, but it does give the AA rider a tag and feature on the company’s page. Thus, clout, which is still a form of remuneration. Like I said…Messy, confusing, complicated!
The only ways I see to completely avoid jeopardizing your status as an AA (if this rule passes) is by keeping yourself and your business as COMPLETELY separate entities. NO cross promotion with AAs, even yourself if you are the owner. ALWAYS charge people (nope, no special discount codes to give out either) for your product / services, even yourself. Lastly, do not feature AAs, even yourself, on your business’ social media, in your business’ marketing, and in your business’ advertising campaigns.
8) THIS WOULD LIKELY CAUSE AN INCREASE IN BULLYING, NEGATIVITY, AND TOXICITY IN HORSE SPORTS.
I can’t predict the future. But I can tell you what’s been happening in the past, present, and what is very likely to come in the future. Bullying in horse sports is no secret. Every rider has had an encounter with a barn bully, don’t believe me? Ask your fellow equestrian friends! Between fat shaming, money shaming, judgement surrounding riding abilities, etc… There is enough in and out of the show ring that leads riders to go on yoyo diets, develop anxiety, depression, eating disorders, endure trauma, and much more.
In my survey, I asked, “Do you think this rule would cause an increase in bullying, negativity, and toxicity in horse sports?” and roughly 90% of the participants answered “YES”. A few had some other comments to continue the conversation further:
“I understand what they’re trying to do, but it’s severely hurting amateurs who aren’t ready to go pro. They limit the classes that professionals can enter, so unless you’re consistently showing 1.20m+, there’s nothing for you to compete in as a professional. I want a job in the horse industry; someday I’d like to have my own barn and train/compete professionally, but I don’t feel like I have enough experience yet.
I used to teach beginner lessons for $20/hour (double what I’m currently making full time btw at my non-horsey job). I had to quit when I realized that it affected my amateur status. I tried the working student thing and ended up being abused by the barn owner/trainer and sexually assaulted by the groom. I’m in therapy now for PTSD.
The whole industry makes it really hard for people like me who are actually super enthusiastic about learning the ins and outs of horse business. So disappointing.” – Amber Brown (@amber99brown).
“We don’t need extra competition outside of the show ring, there’s too much division in this sport as it currently exists. It seems like we keep straying further from the fundamentals of being an equestrian, and even the basic joy of the sport. This is going to have so many negative effects that otherwise could be better mitigated or avoided completely” – Jayme Anderson (@jayme.andersonn)
In my eyes, this rule encourages an elitist attitude towards riding. It promotes the mentality that money can buy you a spot anywhere no matter your actual knowledge, skills, and abilities as a rider. This is a new competitive factor between youth to gain followers for the sake of being considered a Pro, for the sake of being better than the next rider. I can totally see this encouraging an obsession with social media. It promotes that desire to gain followers, likes, and overall clout, because this proposal romanticizes the role of an influencer. It promotes greed and materialism, more than the fundamentals of equestrianism.
9) HOW WILL THIS RULE BE MODERATED? WHAT ARE THE REPERCUSSIONS?
I don’t even know where to start with moderation. Seems complicated, period. I would really love to know how they intend on controlling this can of worms and preventing loopholes!
One of my followers, @ItsHeadbandTime, had this to add:
“Well you can’t be penalized for receiving and “sharing” Christmas, birthday, congratulations-on-not-falling-off, etc. presents, so if they are going to continue down the toolbag route, then two can play at loopholes…”
All I have to say, is I love the idea of a “congratulations-on-not-falling-off” present.
As for repercussions, it would be the same / similar consequences to current repercussions. You can be reported, protested, suspended, etc… I don’t have any specifics to this rule in particular, as specific details have not yet been released as this is a rule change proposal.It is not official, yet.
The odds of you facing the repercussions are a different story. There are a ton of AAs who have been in violation of USEF Amateu rules already, I could probably compile a long list to hand over to USEF if I wanted to (although I would never)! The likelihood of you being reported, protested, or suspended really depends on who catches you and how big of a threat you are. If you are a nobody, riding an unimportant horse, and not a threat (i.e. not winning or placing in the ribbons), chances are you will get off unscathed. However, I do not recommend nor condone being a rule-breaker, I am a pretty by-the-book gal. I know there are times where rules are put in place and we do not agree with them, or we may want to go off and do our own thing, however we need to follow rules out of respect and be the best versions of ourselves possible in whatever situation.
Part III: Actionable Items – What Can You Do?
All in all, this active proposed rule change has more negatives than positives for the equine industry. USEF / USHJA, EC / OHJA, and any other Equestrian Federations / Associations contemplating following suit with a similar rule, really need to consider how this is affecting their own reputation, juniors, amateurs, minorities, small businesses, and many others… It’s up to us to put a pin in this while we still can.
So what can YOU do to prevent GR1306.4 TRACKING #031-20 DRAFT 1 Active from passing? Truth be told, I didn’t even know where to start with a course of action. This post was my course of action. However, the amazing Taryn Young, pointed me in the direction of some helpful resources!
I encourage you all to use THIS LINK HERE, and add comments to BOTH of the proposals. The two proposals in question are GR1306.4 TRACKING #031-20 DRAFT 1 Active (USHJA Rule, Forcing social media influencers as Pros) and GR1306.3 TRACKING #012-20 Draft #1 Active (USEF Rule, Giving AAs more freedom, including express permission for influencers to receive remuneration).
Directions for viewing and commenting on rule change proposals:
- Go to www.usef.org
- Hover over the Compete option
- Select Rulebook and Bylaws
- Scroll to bottom of page and select Rule Changes
- Scroll down and on the search option select GR – ALL
- Select “VIEW” for either of the two proposals; 1) GR1306.4 TRACKING #031-20 DRAFT 1 Active or 2) GR1306.3 TRACKING #012-20 Draft #1 Active to view them and then add comments.
I have been conducting a survey since 11/11/2020 on Instagram, via my platform @ThePositiveEquestrian. The purpose is to gather data surrounding the topic of social media and influencer marketing. It is open to the public, feel free to participate – @ThePositiveEquestrian > Highlights > Dear USHJA.
As of 11/13/2020, the results are as follows:
Q1) “Do you think social media influencers, big or small, (anyone who is 18+ that works with a brand, promotes products, etc…) should automatically be considered a Professional Rider?”
A1) Roughly 91.7% of the participants answered “NO”, and 8.3% said “YES”.
Q2) “Do you think this proposal should categorize social media influencers as professional riders IF they have an annual income, from this sole role (i.e. would not include another job if they have one), HIGHER than $25k?”
A2) Roughly 31.88% of participants answered “Yes, if they make $25k+ yearly from social media”, 57.77% answered “No, social media influencers simply should not be pros”, and 10.35% answered “Yes, but the income bracket should be lower”.
Q3) “Do you think this rule would cause an increase in bullying, negativity, and toxicity in horse sports?”
Roughly 90% of the participants answered “YES”.
Q4) “If you are an influencer / blogger (big or small, full time or part time) – how much income do you *roughly* make annually from your role? **ONLY from social media platforms (YT, FB, IG, TikTok).”
A4) Roughly 48.19% of participants answered “Less than $300”, 20.48% of participants answered “$301-$1k”, 12% of participants answered “$1k-$5k”, 12% of participants answered “$5k-$10k”, 13.25% of participants answered “$10k+”, and 13.25% of participants answered “Way more like $25k+”.
Q5) “Are you more likely to make a purchase from a business if an equestrian influencer recommends their product/service on social media?”
A5) Roughly 83% of participants answered “YES”, and 17% answered “NO”.
Please note the results are constantly changing as this is an ongoing survey. The results will continually be updated over the next few days. Further questions may be added to the survey, and added to this post.
ATTN: Please note that for privacy reasons, Instagram does not share demographic details publicly of the users who participate in Instagram story engagements. TPE did not gather personal details from users, including but not limited to; name, email address, phone number, address, age, nor the status with USEF. Participants are not required to give TPE any personal information. However, TPE has access to the username of each participant, in the event TPE wishes to contact a participant.