LOUTH international show jumper Kevin Thornton is working to create a safe place for riders to visit and get help when they are feeling vulnerable after his own personal experience after he was “vilified” on social media and the recent sad passing of Austrian rider Bernhard Maier.
Speaking to The Irish Fieldthis week, Thornton said he wants to turn his painful experience into something positive and ensure no other person in the equestrian industry feels the way he did after he was the subject of a social media attack in October 2016 after his horse controversially died at a show in France.
“After my whole case with the FEI, I wanted to create a go-to organisation for riders, if they have problems that they can’t handle on their own. If they need legal help, psychological help, that there is something set up to help,” the Belgian-based 30-year-old said.
He also wants to create awareness about the harm posting and sharing harmful content of other people online and the affect that can have on a person’s mental health.
Thornton is looking to enlist industry professionals who are willing to donate their time in order to get the initiative off the ground.
“I would like to form a website with a list of contacts on it and if anyone is willing to help, willing to get on board and donate some of their time, they can get in contact with me and let me know what they can offer,” he added.
Thornton first mentioned the idea of creating a support group for riders when he felt “lost” after he was subjected to threats via social media and the Facebook post at that time received close to 400 shares. “Now it’s real after what happened to Bernhard. There are other things in life that can make you feel lost – trouble with owners, with horses, money and so on.”
Thornton would like to get national federations involved to set up a network for their own riders, and he would also like to get support from the FEI.
If you can help Kevin in setting up a support group in any way contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin's post on Facebook making people aware of the harmful affects of online abuse.