A few years ago, I began to question why I drink and I decided to give up alcohol. After converting to the teetotal lifestyle I became very aware of the many ways in which the alcohol industry has dug its claws into every aspect of society. Alcohol has formed strong ties with every emotion and milestone known to man. Happy? – Have a celebratory glass of champagne. Sad? – Drown your sorrows. New baby? – Wet the baby’s head. Nervous? – Dutch courage. The list goes on. The alcohol industry has infiltrated many areas of the equestrian industry too.
A lot of socialising within the equestrian community is done over drinks. Overnight shows, sales and hunt balls have been the cause of many equestrians’ hangovers over the years. Although these events are an integral part of the equestrian social scene, I’m here to tell you it is possible to mingle without alcohol. Having attended nearly every kind of equestrian social event sober I can confirm you can enjoy yourself without needing a drink. Although at first the change can be daunting, with every sober outing you become less reliant on alcohol to help you socialise.
“The temporary confidence that alcohol provides fades quickly but the authentic confidence that you gain every time you make it through scary, awkward, difficult or uncomfortable situations in sobriety doesn’t.” – @sobergirlsociety
Horse racing is one of the country’s booziest sporting events. At most horse races, before the horses have left the starting gate, gallons of alcohol have been consumed. With events like student race days, I often wonder why they even bother with the horses and don’t just skip to the drinking. The focus has shifted from the horses to the session with a huge proportion of attendees having very little interest in the racing. Alcohol is normalised at horse racing events making it difficult for those attending to abstain. Drinking is not necessary to enjoy a day at the races and no one should ever feel obliged to consume alcohol.
There aren’t many sports in which alcohol is consumed by the athletes partaking but thanks to the trusty hunting flask, hunting is one of them. Many hunting meets kick off with mulled wine and hot whiskeys to get the day started. Throughout the day, many riders carry a hunting flask filled with various alcoholic concoctions to keep them topped up with Dutch courage. Although it is a tradition, when you take a step back and think about it, it is a little bizarre. After all, you don’t see Ronaldo running around the soccer pitch swigging Port from a hip flask.
After seeing one too many celebratory bottles of champagne posted on Instagram I decided to write this article. Every RDS qualification, championship win and big sale puts money into the alcohol industry. The alcohol industry has managed to create an association between success and champagne meaning that those celebrating automatically reach for the bottle without question. The tradition of drinking champagne to celebrate dates back to the 1700s and it has become a subconscious decision to celebrate in this way. Since giving up alcohol, I’ve made the switch from traditional champagne to non-alcoholic champagne for my celebrations. All the fun of popping the cork, none of the toxins and a fraction of the price – what’s not to like?
The alcohol industry is profiting from the equestrian industry in many ways. After reading this article, I hope that you will question alcohol’s place in the equestrian industry. Although I appreciate that many people enjoy a drink, I ask you to be more mindful about why you drink and whether or not you actually want to drink or if you just do so subconsciously because it has been normalised within society.