The Equestrian Mental Health Summit: What are you Thinking?

The Equestrian Mental Health Summit: What are you Thinking?

The equestrian community is set to come together for a groundbreaking event with the announcement of the first-ever Equestrian Mental Health Summit, scheduled for September 9-10, 2024.

This event is about Education, Information, Feelings and Behaviours, Suicide Prevention and a creating a pathway to tangible Actions and real Change.

Led by us here at Equitas in partnership with the HAY "How Are Ya?" Campaign and supported by the Grassroots Gazette, this event aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health in the equestrian industry, providing much-needed and requested education around mental health and suicide prevention.

Breaking the Silence on Mental Health

Despite the physical strength and resilience associated with equestrian sports, many in the industry face significant mental health challenges, including trauma, anxiety, and depression.

A sobering and scary stat from our mental health survey for the Equestrian Mental Health Booklet revealed that nearly 70% of respondents admitted to battling mental health issues. These are not just competitors; they are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. This statistic highlights a hidden struggle that resonates with many in the equine industry, where long days, significant sacrifices, and relentless commitment often go unsupported by adequate mental health resources.

The Equestrian Mental Health Summit will run over two days. The first day is dedicated to education and the second day is focused on suicide. We have had too many suicides across the industry so far this year and across the recent years. We need to do something. And we need to do it now!!

I was at a funeral of someone we lost close to us in the equine industry earlier this year. During the eulogy given by a close friend of his, the friend asked us to remember a special moment we had together... with tears streaming down my face I didn't do that...
I made a promise... I promised we would do something... "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 honour". Words and a day I will never forget.
Move forward a few months and here we are I am writing this with passion and purpose for someone we cared about. For someone we want to honour, the man, the myth, the legend.

Day 1: Education, Support, and Personal Stories

The summit will kick off on Monday, September 9, focusing on comprehensive education about mental health. Experts will share insights on recognising mental health issues, coping strategies, and the importance of mental well-being.

One of the highlights of the day will be a panel discussion on "Living with Mental Illness," where individuals will share their personal experiences, offering a raw and honest look into their struggles and triumphs. Another key session will address the impact of loneliness and isolation on mental health, providing strategies to combat these pervasive issues.

The evening will feature an open mic night, providing a platform for equestrians to share their personal stories. Participants will discuss the challenges they have faced, how they cope with them, and how they have navigated their darkest days.

Day 2: Suicide Prevention and Building a Support Network

Tuesday, September 10, coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day, will be dedicated to addressing suicide prevention.
The day will offer pathways for support, advice and insights from professionals and some powerful panels on Anxiety and Depression. This focus is crucial for raising awareness and providing the necessary understanding and resources to support those struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Key sessions will include "Understanding Suicide: Misinformation and Fear" and "Behavioural Activation Panel: Feelings vs. Behaviours" which will address common myths and fears about suicide to promote accurate understanding and prevention.

Another critical session will help attendees build a "Suicide Survival Toolkit," offering 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 will not only support vital causes but also bring the community together in a show of solidarity and commitment to improving mental health support and addressing suicide within the industry.

Building a Supportive Equestrian Community

The summit also seeks 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 bringing together the community, our events core goal is to create a lasting impact, ensuring that mental health becomes a priority in the equestrian world and having clear and tangible outcomes for suicide prevention.

This can't be lip service. It can't be. We need to be better.

How many more people have to suffer? how many more families and friends have to lose loved ones before this becomes an issue that we all come together to address.

The time for change is here, the time for change is now.

Let's Empower Change, Together.

In the next couple of weeks we will release the schedule for Day 1 and Day 2. It is practical, it is engaging, it is informative and has had input from those struggling with mental health, those that have attempted suicide and specialists from both within and outside the industry. It is about changing our understanding, our mindset and our behaviours. It is about creating a tangible pathway forward for equestrians at all levels.

As I am writing this, at 8pm a business has just sent us a message asking will we be looking for businesses to partner with on this. Yes... Businesses, Associations, Affiliates, Groups, Communities, Advocates, Specialists, Leaders, People... ALL OF YOU.

This is an industry wide problem, across all disciplines and all levels. We can create change, tangible actions and a brighter pathway forward but we can only do this together. We will be reaching out to businesses, brands and associations from tomorrow. Feel free to get in touch if you want to support this Summit.

I'll ask you this before I finish. Can you really say you haven't been affected by Mental Health or Suicide? That you or someone close to you hasn't been affected?

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 is time for change.

Until Next Time,


Shane McCarthy

Shane McCarthy

Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do!! I'm the co-founder and ceo of The Grassroots Gazette and Equitas. Be relentless in the pursuit of Excellence.