Equestrian Mental Health Week Launches

The equestrian world is entering a new era of mental health awareness with the launch of the HAY Campaign – “How Are Ya?”, coinciding with the Ireland and the World’s second ever Equestrian Mental Health Week after our successful launch of the first ever campaign last year. This groundbreaking initiative was an idea conceived by Shane Rooney in 2023 and run in collaboration with The Grassroots Gazette and Equitas. Our second year of the campaign begins today, Monday, January 15th, now officially known as HAY Monday, and will extend throughout January.

The campaign is a historic movement within the equestrian community, bringing together Ireland’s most prominent equestrian bodies and associations in a unified effort to address the unique mental health challenges faced by those within the industry. The primary goal is to “Let’s Start Talking” and encourage open dialogue about mental health, both in professional settings and personal lives, supporting individuals to thrive both on and off the horse.

The choice of the name HAY “How Are Ya?” for the campaign is more than a greeting; it’s a call to action. It invites members of the equestrian community to check in with one another, fostering a supportive environment where open discussions about mental well-being are not just encouraged but normalised. Aoife Brady, Projects Lead for The Grassroots Gazette, perfectly encapsulates the campaign’s ethos: “We endeavour to shape the future for equestrians as we aim to create awareness of mental health in the industry. We focus on promoting a culture of encouragement and education for not only the next generation of equestrians but the entire community.”

Sarah Elebert, COO and Co-Founder of Equitas, underscores the timeliness and necessity of the campaign, “The third week in January is proving to be the most important week of the Equestrian Calendar. Equestrian Mental Health Week has never been more needed than it is today.” Her words highlight the urgency with which the equestrian community must address mental health, especially given the resilience often associated with its members. The HAY Campaign spearheads this vital effort, emphasising the importance of regular, honest conversations about difficult topics.

Shane Rooney, the Co-Founder of the HAY “How Are Ya?” Campaign, is optimistic about the future impact of the initiative: “We intend to go bigger and so much better in 2024 than we did in 2023. Between events, fundraisers, and so much more, we are going to leave a lasting impression on so many lives and change the way we speak about mental health and wellbeing forever more.” Shane’s vision for the campaign is not just about the present moment but also about creating a lasting legacy that will continue to shape the equestrian industry for years to come.

HAY Campaign Race Sponsored by Peter Roe and the team at Fairyhouse in 2023.

The involvement of major equestrian bodies and associations is critical in this campaign, providing a broad platform to reach out to the community, offering resources, and creating opportunities for open discussions. This collaboration signifies a collective commitment within the industry to confront and tackle mental health issues head-on.

Central to the HAY Campaign is the notion of community and empathy. The initiative highlights the importance of understanding, compassion, and mutual support within the equestrian community. By fostering a culture where asking for help is seen as a brave and necessary step, the campaign aims to create a ripple effect of positive change, impacting not just the current generation of equestrians but The N3xt Generation too.

Taking the time to talk/listen and supportive endeavours are a cornerstone of this campaign. Beyond raising awareness, a focus this year is on launching a nationwide equestrian mental health survey, launching an Equestrian Mental Health Booklet coming from the team at Equitas, hosting events across the year ahead, a charity sky dive and fostering an environment that encourages mental health discussions. This comprehensive approach is designed to bring about a tangible and lasting difference in the way mental health is perceived and addressed within the equestrian community not just here in Ireland but around the world.

In conclusion, the launch of the HAY Campaign and Equestrian Mental Health Week marks a significant milestone in the equestrian world. It represents a movement that transcends awareness, aiming to create a lasting change in the approach to mental health in the industry. This campaign exemplifies the spirit of unity, care, and proactive engagement that is essential to the equestrian ethos, promising not only to improve individual lives but also to strengthen the entire equestrian community for years to come. 

Through initiatives like these, the equestrian industry demonstrates its commitment to the well-being of its members, acknowledging that mental health is as important as physical health. This progressive step forward is a beacon of hope and support, signalling a new era where mental health is openly discussed, understood, and prioritised. As this campaign unfolds, it sets a precedent for other industries to follow, showcasing the power of collective action and empathy in addressing mental health challenges.


Equestrian Mental Health Week Launches

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