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Riders generally dissatisfied with the quality of horse content online – study

Photo by Christine Benton

Riders are generally dissatisfied with the availability and quality of horse-related content online, according to the results of a new Scandinavian study.

Equestrian sport has centuries of tradition and knowledge behind it, but now operates in a rapidly changing digital world that would have puzzled past generations of riders.

Lovisa Broms and fellow researchers noted that there is a growing body of research suggesting that traditional sports would benefit from adopting or drawing inspiration from the new digitized way of knowledge exchange seen in lifestyle sports. -organized.

“However, what happens when practitioners of traditional sports ‘go online’ to obtain and exchange knowledge?” they asked in the newspaper Frontiers in Sport and Active Living.

Equestrian is a traditional sport with a military heritage, with cultures of learning and institutionalized governance structures that can lead to slow paths of development. However, along with changes in society and technology, there have been changes in the way riders search for information about horses and riding.

“Several studies show that equestrians, like self-organized life sports practitioners, use new media to obtain and exchange knowledge.” This, they said, may have led to a change in ideas about formal and informal education and learning in the stable and riding.

At the same time, Swedish insurance companies are seeing an increase in the number of cases where horse owners show a lack of care by not calling the vet when their horse is injured or sick. “We believe that one explanation for this trend of such a lack of care could be the increased accessibility of information relating to horses through information and communication technologies (ICT).

“Therefore, it would be interesting to determine whether knowledge exchange through ICT has already replaced or supplemented more traditional means of knowledge exchange, or whether this is even possible.”

Recent research has shown that Swedish and Norwegian riders are generally comfortable with their own ability to critically evaluate horse and riding information disseminated online. However, many expressed a lack of confidence in the abilities of other less experienced riders to use these technologies as knowledge platforms.

Of particular interest is the dichotomy between cyclists’ confidence in their own experience, their lack of confidence in the abilities of other cyclists, and rapidly developing digital landscapes, the authors said.

It is, they proposed, important to further explore the use of online knowledge platforms from the perspective of users in order to create a better understanding of the risks and benefits associated with the development of digital media landscapes.

It is also important that sports and educational institutions recognize the increased role of the individual as a “knowledge facilitator” through digital channels.

“For sports organizations and educational institutions to effectively disseminate knowledge and research, they need to know how individuals value, value and trust sources of information.”

In their study, the researchers developed a 44-question survey, then promoted online, with 1459 responses used in the final analysis.

This was followed by 28 focus group interviews with Swedish and Norwegian riders, to investigate how riders create their own online horse knowledge repositories and which sources of knowledge they trust and trust. priority.

A total of 97.7% of survey respondents said they use social networking sites in general, with 47.2% saying they use them to find knowledge about horses, while 37.6% said they don’t use them. The rest did not respond.

Search engines were used the most for information about horses and riding, followed by social networking sites and shopping sites in third place.

Even though the questionnaire was about digital use, a few respondents – 15 – chose to answer that they would prefer to acquire information about horses and riding from “live sources” such as their trainer or a friend in the stable.

One focus group participant said, “I use the internet a lot and google a lot. I get a lot of information and have been using the internet for many years and use sites that I know are serious. Of course, there are many forums where people express different views on many different things, so it’s very important to use your common sense and intuition. I am used to animals and I grew up on a farm. So I collect a lot of information from the internet, social media and internet forums.

When focus group members said they used online sources, they found it important to mention that one needs to have some experience with horses to be able to assess and use the information correctly and safely.

“Furthermore, riders express that they mainly listen to and rely on riders they know. For example, friends or trainers they meet at the stable or riding school.

The researchers said the results show that accessibility, agency (experience), and trust are key terms when mapping riders’ preferred knowledge platforms, and that riders are generally dissatisfied with the availability and quality of online content related to horses.

Less experienced runners turn to social networking sites more than more experienced runners, they found.

“Equestrians find the ability to evaluate information to be an important but difficult task.”

The findings, they said, highlight the clash between traditional equestrian sports culture and the contemporary media user.

“On the one hand, many riders make it clear that they would rather avoid getting information about horses and riding on ICT.

“On the other hand, the data, along with previous research, indicates that many riders view ICT as important platforms for discussing and exchanging information about horses and riding.”

In discussing their findings, the authors found interesting the participants’ dissatisfaction with the availability and quality of horse-related content online.

They argued that underdeveloped structural factors with respect to online horse information cause riders to turn to search engines such as Google, or social networking sites and commercial websites, rather than to official websites and research.

The research, they said, also points to the importance of the equestrian experience.

“Equestrian experience appears to influence riders’ daily online directories. In other words, the results reveal that online directories differ between riders with different levels of equestrian experience.

“Less experienced runners turn to social media sites more than more experienced runners.”

Individual online behaviors are defined by curiosity, the desire to learn new things, and the availability of information.

“We have taken an early stance toward new ways of understanding how riders shape their media environments, perceive them, and have agency within them.

“The results indicate that riders find the ability to evaluate information to be an important but challenging task.

“However, here we see the results pointing in different directions. On the one hand, many riders make it clear that they would rather avoid getting information about horses and riding on ICT.

“On the other hand, the data, along with previous research, indicates that many riders view ICT as important platforms for discussing and exchanging information about horses and riding.”

Many saw the internet as a great place to take inspiration from other riders and keep up to date with what was happening in the equestrian world. At the same time, they express their desire not to use it as a space for the exchange of knowledge.

“It’s because they see ICT as a dangerous space where too much misinformation is produced and shared by other, mostly more inexperienced riders.”

In general, participants viewed themselves as confident evaluators of information. In contrast, they viewed other riding groups, especially more inexperienced riders, as naïve or non-evaluators unable to assess information gained through ICT.

“These findings indicate that it can be stigmatizing to openly communicate that one is going online to learn about horse riding, at least if one does not have that experience with horses.”

Respondents had pointed out that less experienced cyclists and those without the financial means to consult a professional are more likely to consult online sources such as Facebook groups.

The study team argued that it might be better for institutions to work in the online sphere instead of being critical and asking users to refrain from using these sources.

If online sources are not considered trustworthy, the results indicate a more risky situation where the lack of reliable online platforms for the exchange of riding information could cause riders to turn increasingly more towards friends in the stable. “Is it better than turning to reliable online sources? We argue that these questions need to be explored further in future studies. »

They concluded: “Although equestrian sport is unique in terms of the human-horse relationship, where the human must always have the welfare of the horse in mind, our study shows that ICT plays a role in the development and the exchange of knowledge within sport in a broader perspective.

They suggest that further studies focus on the relationship between the construction, mediation and materialization of power and the social relations that take place through the Internet.

The study team included Broms, Klara Boije af Gennäs and Susanna Hedenborg, all from the Department of Sports Science at Malmö University in Sweden; and Aage Radmann, from the Department of Teacher Education and Outdoor Life Studies at the Norwegian School of Sport Science in Oslo, Norway.

Broms L, Boije af Gennäs K, Radmann A and Hedenborg S (2022) Accessibility, Agency, and Trust: A Study About Equestrians’ (Online) Learning Repertoires. Before. Sports Law. Alive 4:863014. do I: 10.3389/fspor.2022.863014

The study, published under a Creative Commons Licensecan be read here.