#WeRideTogether Video

The short video includes sexual assault survivors from different sports, and it’s powerful.

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This campaign continues to be a driving force behind the destigmatization of sexual abuse and misconduct in the horse industry, and to see that they are expanding from the horse industry to other sport is incredible. The world has been needing something like this. From Soccer, to Tennis, Gymnastics, to football, to diving… equestrian, that list goes on and on, sexual misconduct in power relationships seems to be on the news every day. The world is beyond overdue for a change. I am so excited to see what else they will release in the coming months. For years, victims kept silent and it is an amazing thing that people now feel enough support to step forward and speak about things they have gone through, for not only their personal healing process but also to potentially protect other people from having to deal with the same things. I want to reach out and thank everyone involved for lending their voice and stories, THEY are changing the world.

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https://www.weridetogether.today/aos

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Thank you so much MH schoolmaster for starting this thread.

I wanted to get on this thread to answer questions anybody has on WeRideTogether. Additionally, I would love to encourage everyone to go listen to the podcast on the Practical Horseman. The podcast explains so well why the campaign is necessary, what is the campaigns intent, and I think really demonstrates that we are trying to work towards building a healthier, stronger industry for the next generation of children growing up in the barn.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them on this thread or send me a direct message on through the forum.
Thank you so much!
Carrie

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The #weridetogether episode can be found here

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Another good listen

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Thank you so much for posting this. This conversation between Kendall and I with Caroline delves so well into grooming and what it looks like and what it does to somebody. Grooming is an almost invisible thing that has horrifying consequences. I would encourage all athletes and their parents as well as professionals in any sporting industry to listen.

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You both did a great job with that podcast.

You’ve also done a great job at keeping the message of the WeRideTogether campaign both positive, and non-threatening in tone.

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It’s very important work you all are doing. I’m trying to share it everywhere!

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Thank you so much Virginia Horse Mom and Jealoushe. We are working so hard to communicate that this is an issue that needs to be addressed in all youth sports. We really want to get across that (in our experience), the barn is such a wonderful place for a child to grow up. We just want to ensure our sporting environments are as healthy as possible for those children and young adults and as importantly, we are working to have other sports follow suit. I am so happy to hear that everything is coming across that way, because that is our intent.
Carrie

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Thank you again for all you are doing@carrie! I would love to see other sporting organizations take this stance on. How is the campaign going about getting other groups involved? Love help any way I can!

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We have been having positive conversations with other sporting federations under the USOPC. We are just at the start of our outreach but to date have spoken with about 8 of them, as well as some initial communications with the USOPC. Every executive we have spoken with at these federations agrees this is an endemic problem and is looking for help in addressing it, as many of them don’t have the understanding or resources to address it on their own. We are hopeful that we can help them do that with awareness, education, and most importantly removing the stigma from discussions around this topic within their sporting environments. We are working on creating a model that would make it easy for federations to create PSA’s with their own athletes with outreach to begin these discussions in their communities. We are in initial discussions about PSA’s specific to each sport, social media and federation outreach, and in some cases signage at tournaments and meets, prime places where athletes gather to compete in their sport.

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Carrie, just want to say that what you guys are doing is wonderful. You’ve taken what in the past has been shameful and secretive and by being so open you have blown that shame out of the water. By doing so, you have and will encourage others to do the same. This should no longer be the secret “norm” in our sport. You are changing the culture and I hope this helps your daughter and family heal and move forward.

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You said it better than I could have worded it.

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I am posting WeRideTogether’s Year End Letter and Path Forward on this thread. I think it will give everyone a solid idea of what WeRideTogether’s goals are and how we are working to follow our mission. If you have any thoughts, questions or recommendations, we would love to hear them and I will remain active on this thread to respond. Thank you all so much! We really are working to make our sport (and ultimately all sports) even better, safer and healthier for the next generation of children growing up in our barns.

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Overview

We Ride Together, Inc. (“WeRideTogether”) is a nonprofit organization created in early 2021 working to alleviate sexual misconduct in youth sports. WeRideTogether is focused on raising awareness of the issue of sexual abuse in sport, starting with equestrian sport and then broadening to every sport in furtherance of the mission to help make the youth and amateur sport environment safer for all athletes. Reading endless articles on the endemic sexual misconduct that is occurring everywhere from gymnastics, to women’s soccer, to men’s hockey, to equestrian sports brings forth a very true realization that much more can be done to keep our sports safe and healthy for the millions of children in the United States who are participating. The introduction of SafeSport has helped to raise the level of prosecution, but we aren’t yet addressing sexual misconduct at the root of the problem by driving education and awareness to prevent the activity, removing the stigma from very necessary discussions, and helping survivors to find resources to recover. The ultimate goal of WeRideTogether is to significantly reduce if not eliminate sexual misconduct in youth sports.

WeRideTogether was founded by members of the equestrian community, including riders and their families, who were concerned about youth sports and wanted to make the experience safer for all. Board members Carrie and Douglas Kehring are the parents of a young athlete that suffered the trauma of being groomed and sexually abused as an underage equestrian. Kendall Bourgeois is a respected professional in the industry who also experienced sexual abuse by her coach. Carley Sparks is Editor in Chief at The Horse Network. Beyond our founding four board members, WeRideTogether looks forward to growing its board as it evolves, raises more funding, and expands to cover more sports.

Plans for WeRideTogether

In pursuit of our objectives, WeRideTogether is educating athletes, trainers, coaches and other individuals in the community about preventing, recognizing and reporting sexual abuse. Often, athletes remain silent in part due to an inability to identify sexual abuse despite its existence and in part due to the stigma surrounding talking about it. Compounding these challenges is a lack of understanding in terms of who should be informed of the abuse.
WeRideTogether raises awareness by giving a voice to athletes who have experienced sexual abuse and encouraging dialogue on abuse in the sport, building a community that can support survivors and helping them recover while preventing future abuse. These stories can be found at our website at [www.weridetogether.today]. WeRideTogether also provides assistance finding other resources that support survivors of sexual abuse and their families.

Finally, WeRideTogether shares guidance and tools to encourage proactive measures by all participants in sports to reduce incidents of sexual abuse. For example, the website provides helpful tips to help keep the sport environment safer for all. It provides detailed descriptions of “grooming” behavior, which is a common feature of sexual abuse where adults are working with young athletes, and encourages athletes to follow the maxim, “if you see something, say something.” It helps athletes combat guilt and begin the healing process by reminding them that “it’s never the victim’s fault.”

Much of the activity of WeRideTogether the past year has centered around the equestrian sports world. As we move into 2022, we have laid the foundation for helping bring our message and resources to other sport arenas. We are engaging in conversations with other Sports Federations and they all agree that this is an endemic problem and they are interested in learning more about what they can do to help their members. Our goal is to quickly broaden the activity to help any impacted athlete across all sports, which has included initial conversations with the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee itself.

Accomplishments Since Founding

WeRideTogether debuted its efforts with a professional web site that serves as the central place for participants to interact, learn and understand what the organization is doing to help prevent sexual misconduct and help survivors when it has occurred. The video series of “#WRTxArmy of Survivors” is located on our website to encourage dialogue around sexual abuse in the amateur athlete environment by highlighting stories from athletes from various sports who are able and willing to share their experiences. The site also provides tips and advice for different personas, whether that be an athlete, a parent, or others in the community like trainers and coaches.

Helping to drive the awareness of our organization and its resources, WeRideTogether has participated in a series of podcasts and articles to help publicize the efforts. Here are several links to podcasts that help explain our work:

· Noelle Floyd Podcast. “If we can’t talk about it, we can’t prevent it.” https://www.noellefloyd.com/blogs/equestrian-voices-podcast/if-we-can-t-talk-about-it-we-can-t-prevent-it-sexual-abuse-in-horse-sport
· Practical Horseman Podcast. “Meet Carrie Kehring, creator of WeRideTogether and learn about the campaign.” https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/podcast/carrie-kehring-we-ride-together
· Horse Deals Australia Article. “The time is now.” Article is slated to be published on January 27.

We also have many market partners that have been assisting to amplify the WeRideTogether organization and its messages. Examples include:

· Complementary Groups Targeting Sexual Misconduct. WeRideTogether has partnered with Army of Survivors, Darkness to Light, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest Network to help accelerate the efforts together to eliminate sexual misconduct. Specific PSAs were created with Army of Survivors that can be found here: https://www.weridetogether.today/aos.

· Sports Media Organizations. Helping to get our messages out to the public is getting a boost from sports media groups that support the efforts of WeRideTogether. These include The Horse Network, The Chronicle of the Horse, Jump Media, Horse Sport (Australia), Eventing Nation, Catie Staszak Media, The Plaid Horse, and EQ Media. These groups have been instrumental in providing different platforms to extend the reach of WeRideTogether.

· Horse Show Facilities. Several of the prominent horse show organizations that host events are promoting WeRideTogether and its mission. These include Desert International Horse Park, West Palms, Legis/Langer, Thunderbird Show Park, Wesley Clover Park and Traverse City Horse Shows. In certain cases, the shows have provided free advertising in their show books, an occasional social media post, and signage that we will display around their facilities to help bring awareness to our efforts.

· Commercial Avenues. Dreamers & Schemers is creating a special WeRideTogether sock that will include a donation to our organization for every pair sold. We will continue to pursue additional angles that will enable WeRideTogether to raise funds and drive awareness.

Recently, we have learned the United States Equestrian Federation (“USEF”) has followed our recommendations, and is adding new PSAs to their ongoing Safe Sport campaign confronting the issue of sexual misconduct. They are also working discussing various concepts with us to raise awareness.

Funding for Success

WeRideTogether will be primarily funded by contributions from the athletic community and their families as well as the general public. WeRideTogether has applied for tax-exempt status under Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and a favorable ruling from the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) is expected. Once WeRideTogether is granted tax-exempt status, such tax-exempt status will be retroactive to the date it was formed (October 4, 2021). Therefore, when WeRideTogether qualifies for tax-exempt status, any donations made to it after October 4, 2021 will be deductible as a charitable contribution. However, until the organization receives a determination of tax exempt-status from the IRS, donors may not characterize donations to it as deductible as a charitable contribution. Because we applied for exemption in 2021, we expect to receive exemption before the end of 2022, well before donors will need to file their 2022 tax returns. Our commitment is to full transparency as a non-profit organization so that we may help the maximum number of athletes possible.

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I wanted to share 2 PSA’s we just released. One is with an equestrian and the other is with a gymnast. In both cases, they realized much later what they had experienced was sexual abuse. We are hoping this type of information helps people understand sexual abuse in athletics (especially the power imbalances with coaches, team doctors and the children they are meant to be helping to develop athletically) and open the discussions for better awareness and prevention and healing by being able to move forward.

I will attach links in next post.
Carrie

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Equestrian

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Gymnast

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Thank you! It is so amazing that the campaign will be reaching out to to other sports. This is a issues with not only equestrian but also EVERY youth sports organization.