Joint Statement re Social Media Posts1st March 2023
The British Show Horse Association, the British Show Pony Society, British Skewbald and Pony Association and Coloured Horse and Pony Society and they have through its member bodies received numerous complaints regarding social media posts and blogs posted by Mr John Bland.
Mr Bland is not a member of any showing societies/associations, therefore, none of the disciplinary processes of the individual societies/associations can be instituted against him.
We fully support those who reported Mr Bland to the police who are investigating alleged offences of Malicious Communication and Harassment and both the societies/associations and the individuals who have been singled out in video blogs and social media posts are considering other legal options open to them.
Social media when used properly can connect individuals, educate, inform and debate key issues and we support the freedom of speech social media represents. Members of any of the societies/associations are respectfully reminded of the social media policies of each, as set out in their annual rule books and that all members, members of the judging panels and governing committees must be members of the societies/associations and are therefore, themselves, bound by each and every one of the rules contained therein.
The transparency and reporting of disciplinary proceedings, including poor judging, conflicts of interest and allegations of doping are important to each of the societies/associations and we encourage those who have complaints to use the processes open to them, including, if necessary, avenues of appeal if they remain unhappy with the outcome.
The posting of rumours, hearsay, anecdotes of historical incidents, false allegations, misogyny and snobbery dressed up as so called “truth” causes hurt, distress and anxiety not only to the intended target but also to their wider family, friends and customers. This is totally unacceptable in wider society but also in the equestrian community.
We are grateful for all those who have messaged support to the societies/associations and those subject to Mr Bland’s behaviour, and to our key stakeholders who stand with us in condemning his behaviour. We all have a duty of care to support the mental wellbeing of our colleagues and fellow members the subject of this abuse.
We thank you for your support in eradicating abuse on social media relating to our sport and the professionals, amateurs, competitors, breeders, and owners who contribute so much to it and who have themselves been posting about the “positives of showing” on social media in response.