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January 18, 2013

We Have To Examine Show Jumping's Prize Money Structure

Prizes like big ribbons, coolers and trophies could be viable alternatives to prize money in amateur and junior jumper classes. Photo by Mollie Bailey
 
gbrandt
1 year 29 weeks ago
Prize Money for Children/Adult Jumpers
I agree with Chris Kappler that the amount of prize money should go up with the level of difficulty of the competition. I believe this is currently the case. It is very rare for competitions to offer... Read More
justride
1 year 30 weeks ago
The underlying problem...
Prize money is a symptom of an underlying problem- a sport from our agricultural heritage (multi national heritage) that has divorced itself from the process of raising and making horses. No other... Read More

Comments

Lucassb
1 year 31 weeks ago

I suppose it all depends on what the goal is

I suppose it all depends on your perspective. If you believe the goal of shows -and the primary mission of the USEF - is to develop the very small number of riders who will reach and be successful at the international level, then I suppose you can make an argument for creating a system that incentivizes and rewards that path. I am not at all sure that that is the majority view. By far the majority of riders who show are juniors and amateurs whose goals are far more modest than making the Team or showing at, or anywhere near, the GP level. For one thing, although all of us who show are certainly financially privileged compared to much of the rest of the population, the number of individuals who can afford horses of sufficient talent and quality to make that a realistic goal is very small (and I don't think shifting the majority of the prize money to the higher levels is going to change that, because a rider is still going to need a succession of very nice horses to *get* to the level where the rewards are being suggested.) Show managers are pushing back on this idea because they are in the business of providing opportunities for their customers to show their horses - not the business of developing Teams. Since the overwhelming number of customers want classes for their children's hunters or adult jumpers or other relatively modest heights and levels of difficulty... that is what the show managers provide. Those same customers are also the people who keep the great majority of trainers afloat financially, and the show managers know they have to support that model if they want those trainers to show up with their clients week after week. Back in the day, the USET used to be the organization charged with developing talent for the international circuit. They had training sessions and developed relationships with owners who would support the riders on the Team or in development to be on the Team, with equally talented horses. Certainly all of us "regular" members who showed on a much more modest scale were encouraged to support that effort and donate money, and those who did proudly put those USET stickers on our cars or wore our little USET pins as a mark of that support. Supporting that program did not come at the expense of those "regular" members - and in my opinion, should not do so now.
eaconlee
1 year 31 weeks ago

Prize money allows more show miles

If the goal is to produce more high level riders, I think an acknowledgement needs to be made about the enormous costs of getting a rider to that level and the hours of experience necessary as well. The shows are very expensive. Period. And unless there are many and frequent Jr/Am $10,000+ classes (certainly not in zones 9 or 10), it is going to be a rare event that a jr/am has their show costs covered completely. For my daughter, a good jumper paycheck means that the show budget is stretched to one more show that year. And one more show means more time in the saddle competing. To do something well takes experience (10,000 hours if experts are correct). Prize money is the difference for most Jr/Am competitors that allows more shows and perhaps a second horse. I've been on this journey with my daughter who made into her first grand prix's last summer as a junior. But it's taken every scrap of prize money she could gather along with this single mom's every dime and very supportive kind trainers who've tried to help out. If there are jr/am riders out there getting rich, I've yet to meet them. Let's not discourage the very experience that will allow our riders to move up the ranks...cap the money, okay...but have the concept that jr/am should ride for prestige only, and you will make this sport even more of a ultra-rich-only sport!
justride
1 year 30 weeks ago

The underlying problem...

Prize money is a symptom of an underlying problem- a sport from our agricultural heritage (multi national heritage) that has divorced itself from the process of raising and making horses. No other nation has a "amusement park ride" format of horse showing that prizes the made horse so far above the young horse. Every other nation we compete against makes it a point of national pride to raise their own horses, and thus dozens of people have touched and contributed to their champions on the way up. No wonder why they fill stadiums of 60,000 to watch equestrian events. Great Show Ring Performances are a moment in time, that is a culmination of literally years of preparation. What our modern culture has done is to denigrate all that precedes a show ring win, and lose the education, challenges and rewards of day to day care and training, and the perspective of the arc of time and goal setting that underlay the real horse experience. We have ratcheted up the cost of showing far above what it costs anywhere else in the world- in several ways, and impoverished our culture in the process by depriving the estimated 100 million americans who love horses but can't participate because: You have to import the horse, you have to keep it off your own property, you have to pay others to care for it, train it, haul it, and finally, you step on right before your class at the horse show. Ask anyone over 50 and they will tell you that was not their experience or exposure to horses. Am I sympathetic at all to the single mom? Of course, but there are so many other ways to plug in to the process, and not get caught up in the "show to make money" idea, that really should be the domain of the pro's. Here's why: If our most prominent competitions are a career reward and culmination for all the breeders, backyard horse owners, mom and pop, part-time trainers that raise kids that take the Hometown Hero up the funnel, you'll have real cheering, real loyalty, real fans that have watched the whole process, and appreciate the whole arc of horsemanship. We have a family out here in California that are such heroes- the Hardins, who raise and train, and compete and strive and sell, but almost exclusively domestically raised horses. Everyone loves their stories (and they can be found on facebook daily!) If the focus returned to the whole agricultural cycle of raising horses and *showing* them off a few times a year (yes, that's where the term comes from!) then the domestic industry would be supporting and producing hundreds of millions, and yes, billions more, just because of all the trucks, tractors, and even farms and feed we don't buy, because we sent that $50,000 overseas to buy a horse we didn't raise here. One related point- we lament the lack of professional standards and certification for our sport, but the easy solution to prove that you are qualified, is that *you have raised and trained a young horse into a champion*. Simple isn't it? If that became the goal, then the the sport would truly have a "funnel to the top" with a broad grass roots support, crowds that attract sponsors, and competitors that manage their costs by, wonder of wonders, doing much of their own work... I know Chris has created winners from scratch because I had the good fortune to buy one he took from a raw filly to the top of the best rings in America. My Mother bred a colt, who won on the line, and in the futurities, and was sold to a family that had a pro compete him until he was a national champion, and then he became a national amateur champion, and then stood at stud and sire dozens of champions. An all american success story. (Viscount...) And he was horse who everyone "showed", and appreciated and understood where he was in his career. So do i have sympathy for those who scrimp to show? Sure, but I don't have sympathy for shows that have become opportunities to "run for money" instead of show where your horse is in his or her growth and development, and where you are in appreciating and supporting it. Shows used to be about breeding classes, young horse classes, green classes, pro classes, and kids and amateurs plugging in when they had done enough work at home to earn it. What are american horses now? $50,000 skateboards and bikes raised somewhere else? And what are the shows like, somewhere else. Jus' sayin'...
gbrandt
1 year 29 weeks ago

Prize Money for Children/Adult Jumpers

I agree with Chris Kappler that the amount of prize money should go up with the level of difficulty of the competition. I believe this is currently the case. It is very rare for competitions to offer prize money of $10,000 or anything close in Children/Adult Jumpers. Those shows generally offer substantial prize money in the higher divisions. If a limit is set on the amount of prize money that can be offered, it should be proportional to total jumper prize money at the competition rather than absolute. While encouraging capable riders to move up is a laudable goal, we need to be mindful that jumping bigger jumps is not a reasonable goal for most amateurs and many juniors due to physical and financial limitations, life circumstances, and other obligations. It does not further the sport to demean its base of support. Most of us compete to see if we can do a little better than our last ride. Shows can incent our participation with nominal prizes, money or other items, an opportunity to compete in the grand prix field or in rings with banks, liverpools, a good course designer, offering 2(a) classic or other special class. I personally avoid any shows that only put speed classes in the prize list.
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