by Christie Gold
As Americans, we enjoy rights that are so familiar that we often take them for granted. We also sometimes forget that every freedom we enjoy has negative by-products. This is perhaps most true when it comes to the right to free speech.
Guaranteed under the First Amendment, free speech ensures that we can express opinions that might be unpopular, particularly about those in authority.
Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Free speech is a cornerstone of democracy, but it sometimes gets messy.
Also protected in the 45 words of the First Amendment is the right to free press.
We trusted the media to act as the “Fourth Estate.” The media still maintains a crucial role in society, but… the days of a newscaster being the “most trusted man in America” as Walter Cronkite was in the early 70s, have ended. In the information age, the need to get it right has lost in the race to get it fast.
In a market flooded with information, it’s difficult to know what to believe. The internet allows us access to information on every imaginable topic, and even with the narrow interest group of sport horse enthusiasts, a click of the mouse reveals seemingly endless sources of information.
Forums and blogs draw people with common interests together to share information, but how do we, as consumers, separate truth from fiction?
A disgruntled client can easily weigh in on one of many forums and express her displeasure with an equine professional’s training methods. Hiding behind the anonymity of a nondescript screen name, anyone can express opinions that can potentially
This is important to remember. The old saying. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” applies to online reviews as people are often more likely to fire off responses when they are angry than to write words of praise when they receive good service.
In no way should we dismiss the internet as a source of information when hiring a trainer, purchasing from a breeder or choosing a veterinarian or farrier, but we must become savvy consumers of what we read online.
Rate My Horse Pro is a source to consider when choosing a boarding facility, trainer or farrier. Unlike blogs and forums, the site requires a small fee to join their community ($5) and the rating categories are extensive.
For example, a trainer might have exemplary teaching skills, but his facility lacks polish; an otherwise skilled farrier might have a habit of canceling appointments; an older barn’s dated appearance could actually be a great home for the family pony due to highly personalized care and a relaxed atmosphere.
Like other online rating systems, professionals are at the mercy of those who rate them. However, Rate My Horse Pro attempts to provide a more complete picture of the professional.
In the age of posts and tweet’s and status updates, it’s more important than ever to gather information from those close to the source, to consult a variety of sources or to use tools that are more likely to provide a comprehensive evaluation.