Why Moody Mare Memes Are a Problem

Why 'Moody Mare' Memes are a Problem…or Labelling!


Ever laughed at those 'moody mare' videos? Think twice! Such content, intended as humour, perpetuates harmful stereotypes about mares being difficult, especially chestnuts. Dr. Antonia Henderson sheds light on why these videos aren’t just about laughs but have broader implications for horse welfare, owners, and the equine industry.


Problems Identified:


  • Inaccurate Stereotypes: The belief that mares, particularly chestnuts, are more challenging lacks scientific backing. “Our opinions about mares seem to be based purely on transferred prejudice about sex and gender.” (Larssen, 2022).
  • Oversimplification: Accepting these stereotypes lets people off the hook from delving more deeply into understanding their horse's discomfort. True horse advocacy involves recognising and addressing the real sources of distress. 
  • Threat to Industry Reputation: Such content jeopardises the Social License to Operate (SLO). Supposedly funny portrayals of distressed horses sends a message to the public that not only do we seem to have many distressed horses, but that we are sufficiently blasé as to see their distress as funny. This fuels public scepticism that the industry will put horse welfare at the forefront and can lead to external intervention, impacting the future of equestrian sports.


Why it Matters:


  • Inaccurate Stereotypes: Misleading narratives about mares contribute to biased views, impacting how we interpret and handle the behaviour.
  • Responsibility: Simplistic explanations will limit owners in fully understanding their horses' well-being, potentially overshadowing the diverse factors that contribute to their horse’s behaviour. Encouraging a deeper understanding beyond ANY stereotype ensures owners can better interpret and address their horses' needs. This goes for ALL labels i.e., moody, stroppy, annoyed etc.
  • Industry Reputation: Negative portrayals of distressed horses in public domains threaten the Social License to Operate, influencing societal acceptance and thus threatens the industry’s right to self-governance


Statistics Speak:


  • In a global survey of 27,000 equestrians, 78% believed that equine welfare standards needed improving.
  • 50% believed that sport horses mostly do not enjoy what they do.
  • The FEI's 2022 global survey found that 68% of the public believed equine welfare standards were inadequate.


Towards Better Practices: Initiatives promoting positive horse-human interactions are crucial for safeguarding equine welfare and maintaining high standards in the industry.


In a world where equine sports are under scrutiny, it is our collective responsibility to foster a culture that champions the well-being of horses.


The full article on Horse Sport can be found here.