Equestrian Mental Health Summit: Uniting for Change

The equestrian community has a chance to be part of a really transformative event with the announcement recently by Equitas of the first-ever Equestrian Mental Health Summit, scheduled for September 9-10, 2024.

This summit is a milestone in addressing Education, Information, Feelings and Behaviors, Suicide Prevention, and paving the way for tangible Actions and real Change. Spearheaded by Equitas in partnership with the HAY “How Are Ya?” Campaign and supported by us here at the Grassroots Gazette, this event seeks to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health in the equestrian world and provide essential education on mental health and suicide prevention.

Shedding Light on Mental Health Challenges

While equestrian sports seem to be synonymous with physical strength and resilience, the mental health struggles within the industry are overlooked for the better part. Yes, it can be said HRI are probably leading the way but the stats speak for themselves. Many many equestrians across all disciplines and at all levels face significant challenges, including unresolved trauma, anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicidal thoughts.

A revealing statistic from the Equitas mental health survey for the Equestrian Mental Health Booklet showed that nearly 70% of respondents struggle with mental health issues. These individuals are not just competitors; they are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. This statistic underscores a hidden struggle that resonates deeply within the equestrian community, where long days, substantial sacrifices, and unwavering commitment frequently go unaccompanied by adequate mental health support.

The Equestrian Mental Health Summit will span two impactful days. The first day is dedicated to education, while the second day focuses on suicide prevention. The prevalence of suicides within the industry in recent years highlights the urgent need for action.

Earlier this year, I attended the funeral of someone we lost in the equine industry. During the eulogy, a close friend of the deceased asked us to remember a special moment we had shared. With tears streaming down my face, I made a promise instead. “I don’t know what we will do, I don’t know when we will do it, but I promise you, we will do something about suicide in your honor.” That promise is now taking shape.

Day 1: Education, Support, and Personal Stories

On Monday, September 9, the summit will commence with a focus on comprehensive mental health education. Experts will provide insights on recognizing mental health issues, coping strategies, and the significance of mental well-being.

A key highlight will be a panel discussion titled “Living with Mental Illness,” where individuals will share their personal experiences, offering an unfiltered view into their struggles and victories. Another critical session will address the impact of loneliness and isolation on mental health, offering strategies to combat these pervasive issues.

The evening will feature an open mic night, giving equestrians a platform to share their personal stories. Participants will discuss the challenges they’ve faced, their coping mechanisms, and how they’ve navigated their darkest moments.

Day 2: Suicide Prevention

Tuesday, September 10, coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day, will be dedicated to suicide prevention.

This day will offer support pathways, advice, and insights from professionals, along with powerful panels on Anxiety and Depression. Raising awareness and providing the necessary understanding and resources to support those struggling with suicidal thoughts is crucial.

Key sessions will include “Understanding Suicide: Misinformation and Fear” and “Behavioral Activation Panel: Feelings vs. Behaviours,” addressing common myths and promoting accurate understanding and prevention. Another essential session will help attendees build a “Suicide Survival Toolkit,” providing mental and social coping mechanisms to support suicide prevention.

The evening will culminate in a black-tie banquet to raise funds for mental health initiatives within the equestrian community. This event really needs to unite the community, for the industry to show solidarity and commitment to improving mental health support and addressing suicide within the industry. It has got to change and we have to be the ones to change it.

Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

Fostering a Supportive Equestrian Community

The summit aims to secure commitments from equestrian associations and leaders to implement support mechanisms and mental health education within their organisations and across their membership base. By uniting the community, the core goal is to create a lasting impact, ensuring that mental health becomes a priority in the equestrian world and achieving clear and tangible outcomes for suicide prevention.

This can’t be lip service. It can’t be. We can do so much better if we want to.

Let’s Be The Change

In the coming days, Equitas will release the schedule for Day 1 and Day 2. It is practical, engaging, and informative, with input from those struggling with mental health, those who have attempted suicide, and specialists from within and outside the industry.

It is about changing our understanding, mindset, and behaviours. It is about creating a tangible pathway forward for equestrians at all levels.

The event needs support from everyone. From Businesses, Associations, Affiliates, Groups, Communities, Advocates, Specialists, Leaders, People—from ALL OF YOU.

This is an industry-wide problem, spanning all disciplines and levels. We can create change, tangible actions, and a brighter future, but only if we work together. If you want to support this summit, please get in touch with us here at Grassroots or the team over at Equitas.

Before I finish, I ask you this: Can you honestly say you haven’t been affected by Mental Health or Suicide? That you or someone close to you hasn’t been impacted?

If you have, join us. If those close to you have, join us. If you want change, join us. September 9th and 10th—the Equestrian Mental Health Summit. It’s time for change.

Until Next Time,



Equestrian Mental Health Summit: Uniting for Change

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