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View Full Version : Hey Denny! Your question on boys in Eventing



LisaB
Dec. 13, 2007, 07:58 AM
Interesting that you should bring this topic up in a previous thread. I get the UK Eventing magazine and they did a whole article on this. I guess they have 'the trend' too where the boys don't take an interest in horses.
Here are their stats:
Under 25
Girls - 2749 placings in competitions
Boys - 653
Membership
Females - 6393
Males - 1102
Unknown (seriously!) - 537

They interviewed a well respected instructor that concentrates on young riders about it. Her quote: "boys liek the care and grooming side of it less than girls. Boys seem to find it boring. The boys prefer to get on with the riding, but like to find more to excite them than dressage, such as the corss counter". Another trainer states, "Boys don't see eventing as their future career at the ages of 12 or 13. They need to be kept interested with success. They need to move up more quickly and be set more challenges."
The article poses some interesting questions:
Male role models have always existing for teenage boys coming up through the ranks, but is it cool to be an event rider? Is it possible for the boys to wear white jodphurs with pride?

Okay, one problem we have is that we don't have the male role models. We don't put out there a William Fox-Pitt. We kinda have lost David O'C. and we need to replace him. And I'll readily admit that those jodphurs make me think of Borat and his bathing suit. It's nothing I want to see. And I'm shopping for hubby britches at the moment and I cringe at the catalogs. Ewww!
One snippet they had was listing what a certain person wants for Christmas. One guy, Harry Meade said, " I want a wife who's a vet and a mistress who's a farrier. " Now, that's what I'm talking about!

c_expresso
Dec. 13, 2007, 08:20 AM
I think that boys just don't like horses as much as girls, understandably. Part of "horses" is building a relationship with it, spoiling it, loving on it, buying it lots of "clothes", etc (at least when you're a kid). A lot of boys simply aren't into this "relationship with an animal" thing that takes lots of care and commitment.

yellowbritches
Dec. 13, 2007, 08:29 AM
I can definitely get the boys don't like the care and, especially, the grooming side of it! :lol: We've got two "boys" in the barn, the boss and an adult male amateur. If it wasn't for me, I don't think the client's horse would EVER be clean (why he treats me kindly during show season ;)). The boss can turnout a horse nicely when he has to, but he prefers it when I do the dirty work. All the girls, on the other hand, including me, are far happier to spend 20-30 minutes getting their horses groomed to ride, and another 20 to put them to bed! I had a guy friend in high school who rode, and he was constantly getting on dirty horses!

But I do think the guys who ride do have a special bond with their horses. It may not be quite the same as a girl's, but they love their horses just as much and bond with them. Horses are very, very special souls, and those who get that feel it and understand it, no matter their gender :yes:

Hilary
Dec. 13, 2007, 09:39 AM
My brother rode as a child and through college - boy did he hate the cleaning aspect of it. Got in big trouble at a pony club rally saying "the only clean I care about is over the course". He did manage to clean up enough to get his B.

However, he had no shortage of girls offering to help him with things like braiding, tack cleaning - he had it made, really... and he was a good rider.

He evented, he was also on the ski jumping team (regular downhill wasn't thrilling enough) and took flying lessons. During college he decided he would rather race cars than ride, which he still does today.

He was truely fond of his horses, and they were "his", they definitely bonded, to the point where his B horse failed the riders who had to ride in the switch - wouldn't even canter for one of them, and he was not a difficult ride. He found a few good male instructors to keep him motivated and I think was crucial - he worked for the Schurinks in VT, and with Ken Edwards (show jumper) and could look up to Jerry and Ken as role models.


had he not taken up car racing he might still ride - but he's always loved mechanical stuff and he can go a lot faster in a car.

One of his kids seems interested in horses so I hope to foster him along when he gets older.

Ja Da Dee
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:18 AM
I think there are a fair number of boys that ride... well, not as many as girls that ride, but some. They just do it mroe frequently in a western saddle.

denny
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:27 AM
Take the Mc Donalds test. You are a guy coming back from a rodeo. You swagger into Mc Donalds in all your gear.
You are a guy coming home from an event. You will change in the backseat of a vw bug before you would go in public in your boots, britches and little beanie helmet.
Right there is a big piece of the problem. It`s not perceived as a sport that real guys do.
Take a 12-14 year old boy, just the age they get hooked on riding. What self respecting kid that age wants the ridicule from his friends for doing "a girl sport?"
"Cute little pants you got there, kid!"

eventmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:28 AM
My husband and I were discussing this. We think it comes back to the herbivore vs carnivore thing.
Boys get along with dogs because they are rough and tumble and still can enjoy a good cuddle....then you get to turn around and throw them a ball. The are carnivores and they can play rough.
Horses on the other hand (being Herbivores) are so sensitive. Surprizingly (based on size), sensitivity is the name of the game. They, as we all know, respond to a gentle hand. The softer you are with them, the better they get and the happier they are. And the little cues they give that express their grattitude are also very slight.
Very "feminine" if you will.
We bought a horse for my older son when he was in high school. He loved that horse. But he never could identify with the "soft touch" thing. At one point, she began to get a bit gurthy and it did not take long to figure out why! Why does one need to take TIME to sinch a girth on a 1200 pound animal anyway? :)

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:34 AM
Ah, nothing like a group of women wondering why more men don't ride. :)

Denny is right on.

Here is my personal experience, so don't agrue about being politcally correct. At the same time, these are some of the things that my buddies and I have come up with when considering the topic.

First:
In the US english is not considered a "man's" sport. Rodeo is. It is a function of national heritage. The cowboy was always the primary horseman to the public, while calvary was strictly the domain of the military. It is quite different in Europe as the history is different.

Second:
Peer pressure. For schoolage boys almost all of them understand rodeo but english is a sport for gays. I can't tell you how many of my friends called me derogatory names and insulted the "outfit." They had no basis of history and why we wear what we do.

Third:
What kept me in horses was NOT girls/women. It was the fact I had other guys to hang and pal around with everyday. It was more fun working on the farm but riding was part of that. I assure you that it is not all that great having just women around. There are plenty of times that being able to hang with the guys at a competition is better.

I feel that this is why at the upper levels the men are dominant (e.g. grand prix) because the ones that still do have a single focus and have already been pushed as far as they can as to what they want in the sport.

Reed

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:50 AM
Well. . . . as the mom of a 17 year old who events and plays polocrosse, but has sworn off of pony club, and the wife of a guy who hunts, plays polocrosse and events as the check book allows. . . .

With regard to boys/males and sensitivity I think that is something that has to be nurtured in young men. Society frowns on "sensitive" guys. Certainly my son has an incredible relationship with both his polocrosse mares and his eventer.

And Denny is correct "horse shows" are perceived as something girls do. Andrew's school friends didn't get pumped about coming along to shows with him until they watched him jump cross country, and realized the very high percentage of girls in boots and tight pants (every young man's fantasy!) Now there is standing room only in our truck to go to shows. You'd have to know my son to know that part of the fascination for him is being unique - the rare straight young man at an event - and one of the only A grade polocrosse players in the US who does not play in a stock saddle.

As for grooming and braiding - well that's what moms and girlfriends are for! ;)

Male role models in horse sports are tough to find, we are lucky in the area that he competes there are a higher concentration of guys in breeches and english saddles. It has also helped hugely that guys like Denny, Mike and Charlie Plumb, and John Williams have reached out to him. Early on in Andrew's "career" there were a group of middleaged gentlemen around here, competing at Novice level, who made it a point to include him in crowd - he still talks about being one of the guys with them - it was very sweet to watch these 40 something men pal-ling around with a 10 year old.

I don't know how to address the men's apparel question. I do know that my guys are very particular about what they want to wear - it's the only place my son expresses a strong opinion about clothing - and it is damn near impossible to find the types of breeches they like in this country. I think I have located just about every manufacturer of looser cut breeches with pleated fronts that ship to the US. And WHY is it that if I look at UK stores they have a huge selection of suitable breeches and US stores do not? Don't answer that, I know why. I have decided this is the year when I get vocal with the places I do business with about that issue.

Mustang51
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:52 AM
And we do NOT like to braid... And apparently I don't know how to comb a tail properly :confused:

I think it was an accident as much as anything that got me into english riding. I think I initially wanted to be like the cowboys in movies jumping on and galloping and shooting and such. But the lesson barns of course were english so thats what I did. I didn't really get into eventing until many years later after I'd done it a few times and realized how exciting xc is.

But its certainly not 'cool' and I wasn't exactly advertising my hobby in high school.

Between the books and movies out there ('saddle club' etc.) What on earth is there in our culture to make a guy realize that riding could be exciting like dirt bike racing or flying a fighter plane?

Given the toys and media out there you'd think horses were just some Barbie accessory with glitter and pink butterflies. If you take a step further, what is in the horse section of the book store- a lot of books about some 'mystical bond with the horse' etc... Believe me you're not going to get a guy to go near that with a 10 foot pole! (I'm sure guys are equally capable of a 'bond' with their horse- however they are NOT going to read/write/talk about it anymore than they would for 'human relationships')

I think I'm probably here only because I got started too young to be aware of the above mentioned things!

NRB
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:53 AM
good points all. The guys do have to tough it out to put up w/ the outside peer pressure esp in the younger years when all that stuff is so important.

Anyway I was fortunate to grow up riding at a boarding barn that had around 5-6 boys that rode and stuck together. They had a blast, and like most folks stopped riding once they went away to school. These boys starting riding at elem. school age. Anyway the reasons that they kept it up was b/c they were all became good friends and enjoyed each others company and we had a great instructor. Our Riding instructor/barn manager was a man, a very stocky gruff eastern european male who'd evented at the higher levels in his country. And we were all mostly into eventing. Most of the A-Hunters girls in our area (school friends of ours) were positively intimidated by our instructor. Heck he made you work and care for your horses. He was all about tough love, yelling at you in lessons and even throwing things at your pony. The boys really enjoyed his lessons. Once in a wile he'd take a break from the shoudler ins and leg yielding and tie a ribbon on a riders arm. Then he'd tell the rider in his low, heavily accented voice, "You better run, you're IT" and the rest of the lesson wodl dissolve into chaos as the other riders chased the ribbon wearer around the arena. This same inst. also brought a huge inflated ball into the arena one day and said this is a horse soccer ball, now today you are going to learn how to play horse soccer. They guys loved it.

edited to add; that the highlight of a couple of these boys riding careers (if you were to ask them) was spending 2 summers at Denny's in Vermont. I was home for Thanksgiving and ran into my cousin who was regaling me with stories of his 2 summers (in the 80's) at Denny's. Funny I am the only one who continued to ride as an adult but always felt soooo jelous of these guys for going to Denny's for the summer. I still feel like there is a big hole in my education b/c of it.

LisaB
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:54 AM
Denny,
I wouldn't go around posting:
"Cute little pants you got there, kid!"
:winkgrin: Remind me to watch out for you in the schoolyard!

I remember during high school, I saw David Wightman (dr guy) get into a car accident. He was hopping out of his car while quickly throwing some baggy jeans on over his britches. If you can imagine an 18 yo guy in San Diego seen on the streets in those little pants!
Someone out there would have a great market if they designed a pair of khakis that a guy could ride in as well. Riding in jeans hurts me, I can imagine what it would do to a guy.
In college, there were 2 guys who used to ride. Once they got into college, they decided not to deal with that whole life. One found pot, the other found that girls who ride are really cool and began to take it back up in secret. His mom was an a rated hunter judge and he started hanging around us 2 eventers and thought it was way cooler.
I personally think if those clothes weren't so darned feminine, you would see a few more guys. See a lot of guys foxhunting though :confused:

tommygirl
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:54 AM
It's funny how different Europeans perceive the english riders. My husband, being Irish, never had an issue with the way his English gear made him look in public. That being said, he has quit riding and training jumpers and is now roping cattle and rides a paint gelding that is built like a brick house!

I would love to see our sport allow Wranglers! But I think that would not go over too well with the Olympic committee.


Take the Mc Donalds test. You are a guy coming back from a rodeo. You swagger into Mc Donalds in all your gear.
You are a guy coming home from an event. You will change in the backseat of a vw bug before you would go in public in your boots, britches and little beanie helmet.
Right there is a big piece of the problem. It`s not perceived as a sport that real guys do.
Take a 12-14 year old boy, just the age they get hooked on riding. What self respecting kid that age wants the ridicule from his friends for doing "a girl sport?"
"Cute little pants you got there, kid!"

Long Shadow Farm
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:58 AM
I was about to pipe up about seeing lots of guys riding... but in Western... but Denny and Reed beat me to it. I am in the smack dab middle of cowboy country here in Oklahoma. I mean, wear else are you going to have signs like "No Spurs on the Dance Floor"?. I know tons of guys that ride, but you wouldn't catch them dead in a pair of breeches.

There is a huge stigma about riding english for guys in this country. I have always said that there are 3 types of guys at horse trials..... either they are a) under 18 b) married or c) gay. I think more guys would get into the English if the clothing was alittle different. I know of several guys that train Huntseat horses in the QHs but have girls ride them in the shows just because they don't want to wear the outfit.

Bobbi

LisaB
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:00 AM
Wait wait wait. I got it!
Pegasus reminded me why my dad started showing up at events! It's the young girls!
If we start advertising with the hot young things in the clothes, the boys will start taking lessons. One or two should get the bug.
Yes, Reed, I know, that's not what got you involved but how many boys wouldn't turn their head?
I say for the Rolex **** ads on NBC, we get some of the young un's to do PSA's and such. Those ads are generally run during the sporting events. I say scrap the traditional action shots where we are looking like we are heading into a train wreck (really, look at our expressions going into the water complexes). Sex and danger sells, so why not plunge into it?

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:02 AM
Male role models in horse sports are tough to find, we are lucky in the area that he competes there are a higher concentration of guys in breeches and english saddles. It has also helped hugely that guys like Denny, Mike and Charlie Plumb, and John Williams have reached out to him.


You bring up a good point. I will point out the out west Rodeo is king so men who ride english are rare. Face it, you don't see a lot of good ropers, bronc riders or cattlemen from the east coast. While out east you may have Denny, we have folks like Tough Heedamen and Ty Murray.

LisaB, while sure it may work form a marketing POV, but seriously, if we want to get young guys (pre-teen) to ride that will not work. That is where you will get and develop the true horsemen and they want to do what their buddies do. Sex will only get the "wanna-bes" and lechers.

Reed

NRB
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:05 AM
LisaB STEP AWAY FROM THE COFFEE.

Whisper
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:11 AM
I think allowing riders to wear jeans if they like would be a good idea. :) I know that vaulting allows guys to wear uniforms that are a bit more concealing than the standard spandex catsuits the girls/ladies usually wear.

Foxhunters, and polo players do wear breeches, though, and both sports have a high percentage of men. I disagree about the herbivore thing - again, there are lots of guys who love horses and riding, though more of them choose to do Western. Hmm, most of the people who do the Civil War/Ren Faire reenactment stuff on horseback are guys, too, but those aren't as popular as the "main" disciplines.

I'm definitely no expert, but it seems like male instructors who are good role models, or having another male friend who rides seems to help the boys stick with it. :)



I have always said that there are 3 types of guys at horse trials..... either they are a) under 18 b) married or c) gay.
Yeah, lots of horsey people say stuff like that (not to mention teasing from non-horsey people), then wonder why straight guys don't want to ride English.:sigh: I've dated a guy who took dressage lessons for a while, one who did Polo, and one who mostly rides Western but has tried English a few times, and all of the guys I know who ride English are straight. All of the gay guys I know who ride prefer Western.

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:13 AM
[quote=Mustang51;2865227]And we do NOT like to braid... And apparently I don't know how to comb a tail properly :confused:

Ah - Denny would tell you that young men who are forced to braid suffer irreparable damage to their hands, become crippled for life and hence stop eventing.

Polocrosse requires roached manes - but then tails have to be braided. As there are a fairly high percentage of males who play, it is always amusing watching the groveling that goes on prior to chukkas with regard to tail braiding. Very good bargaining tool for the grunt work if you are a competant tail braider! This sport does require white pants - and there has been a whole style of riding jean developed for it - no inseams.

Wind
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:15 AM
My husband loves to ride (started at age 58); however, there is no way he would wear English riding pants. He will wear a helmet with a chin strap (I would not let him get on a horse with out it). He also likes grooming, cleaning tack, and has no problem picking up poop (I now have my horses at home).

When I was boarding, my husband would accompany me to events and was a great help (even when he would get his foot stepped on leading my horse to cool him out after XC). He observed that at events and other "English" related horse activities, the women far out numbered the guys. He always commented, "it has to be the pants." My husband is not a "manly man", even does house work, but the pants do it.

Mustang51
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:15 AM
I think the whole clothing issue is kind of ironic given its origins. I mean, military dress and tuxedo's are hardly feminine clothing. And football players wear tight pants. And Luke Skywalker and Han Solo effectively wear breeches and tall boots.

Nonetheless, I too do not leave the farm without puting something on over my breeches. So the perception is what it is ...

Hilary
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:22 AM
Forgot to add, my brother also had a couple of same-age guys who rode too, when he was a teenager, so he had several male influences in the riding world. Denny, you, in fact made an effort to talk to him whenever you saw him and he appreciated it.

And breeches are nothing compared to a ski-jumping suit.

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:26 AM
No kidding, one of the highlights of last season for Andrew was being in XC warm-up with you Denny, and David O'Brien, Don Warren and one or two others at Southern Pines - he came off of cross country saying "Wow - you should have seen all the guys in the warm up - we were having a blast!"

Another thought - I wonder how many parents consciously or unconsciously direct their sons away from English riding disciplines because there is a perception that if you ride english you must be gay.

snoopy
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:27 AM
I do not see "the outfit" as a problem.

Down hill skiers
cyclists
swimming
etc.

All wear far more form fitting "cloths" then we do.

I think it is simply a cultural thing in North America.

LisaB
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:45 AM
Snoopy, those outfits, to me, are sports outfits. Not steeped in tradition. I mean it's HARD to get the hubby in a suit much less tight pants, wool coat with old fashioned cut, and a velvet helmet. And he wears a kilt!
Hmmm, wait a sec. I'm not putting down the coffee yet! And it's the Christmas cookies this time, NRB. He goes around in his kilt and for someone painfully shy, he has no problems playing bagpipes in front of crowds. Heck, the second gig he had was at my grandfather's funeral. It was complete with the family, 90+ years of friends, and the entire Navy in the area. So, it is perception. It's just not cool. And it's not a gay thing either. I've known lots of gays who wouldn't be caught dead in our outfits.
Our sport is tough and not a lot of immediate glory. How many times have we come home empty handed but with smiles on our faces because we finally got our horse to go deep into a corner or finally got over that dreaded ditch? And no one gets it.
How many event instructors are kid friendly? I see lots more hunter kid barns than I do event/pc barns. And to be perfectly hunter bashing here, the majority of those kids are stuck up little shits. I would think a boy would get sick of it and want to hang with the dudes and not prance around the outside-diagonal-outside shows.
But there's no glory for an instructor to focus on start ups. It's generally left to the hunter barns. Then if kid is so inclined after having pony and doing shows, they start venturing our way. By this time, boys are long gone.

Bravestrom
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:00 PM
Well, I have to pipe in on this one. I have two boys that event, show dressage, show jumper, do pony club - in fact both are national champion Prince Philip Games Riders.

And I can tell you that no one was more surprised than me that they are doing this.

Here is the story.

In 2004 we were going to go to a dude ranch (I evented, showed jumper as a teen but sold my horses to get married - so I had a background). I wanted the boys then 14 and 11 to know how to ride and feel comfortable around horses before we went so the three of us started taking lessons as a nearby eventing barn - I used to ride with one of the owners.

When we came back from wyoming, the boys wanted to continue and showed later that summer. They were hooked.

That christmas we decided we were going to "get into horses".

That spring we built a 8 stall barn, full arena and started purchasing horses. We now have 10 horses - My two dressage/event horses, my husband's horse, a broodmare, a weanling colt, a yearling filly, my older son's two event/dressage/jumpers, my younger son's event pony and his ppg pony.

We also joined pony club - more for the younger one - the older one said he didn't want to. Turns out we had 11 boys in our pony club and half way through the season the older one saw how much fun the younger one was having and joined too. They have a great social and horse network because of it.

My older son has turned into a real horseman - loves it - has two horses that events, does dressage and jumper with. He has done ppgs for two years - both years on a green pony each time - this year he was a national masters champion. He says he will never give up horses and we are trying to figure out how he can go to university and keep up his horses - he is planning to go to florida next winter with our coach. He won two events last year and can't wait for this up coming season where he will be eventing two horses and doing pony club.

My younger son is a great quiet rider and is very skilled in getting his ponies to do what needs to be done - he evented three times last year - his last he went double clear and is pretty well keeping up with his older brother. He too is a national ppg champion in the A division.

Anyway, I never thought I would see it, but they love their horses, are very attached to them, look after them well and really enjoy their coaches and all the stuff they do with their horses. We also go on great family hacks.

They have no problems wearing breeches, ties, jackets and in fact never usually change afterwards. Their riding attire has become a part of their life and we often go into restaurants with our breeches still on on the way back from a show.

I know it is a long story, but I can tell you - my boys did all the usually - hockey, soccer, baseball - they would take horses over all of it and it has really made us a great family - we all do the work and we all ride.

As for pony club - it is a great social network for my boys and no matter where they go they are outgoing and happy to talk to horse people.

NRB
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:06 PM
Lisa only kidding. Hey (off topic) my hubby was a bagpiper (sold the pipes) loves wearing his kilt and does so at every opportunity and....he takes riding lessons...(back to the topic) was sooo uncomfortable in his jeans that he went out and on his own bought a pair of breeches, half chaps and paddock boots. Whew, what a keeper.

As an adult I really don't think that the whole "what I look like" thing has much play.....only on an adult with low self esteem. but teenagers and little kids on the other hand, it's a whole different story. They do have a hard time and I can see other kids picking on guys for their girlie sport. Although my own little brother and cousin rode as kids and never mentioned to me any issues. But then again they had thier own little gang of guys as a support group, did play football and other "macho" sports in school and most likely never went out in public in their breeches. despite being on the football team, and rowing crew in HS my younger bros senior page is a photo of him and the horse that he rode.

My only gruff about selling sex for riding is well, all those bolemic little teen girls that I rode with when I was in high school. They really don't need any more low self esteem issues.

Drvmb1ggl3
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:09 PM
I do not see "the outfit" as a problem.

Down hill skiers
cyclists
swimming
etc.

All wear far more form fitting "cloths" then we do.

I think it is simply a cultural thing in North America.

The outfit is definitely not the problem, for godsakes the supposed most manly men in US, American Football players, run around in leotards, which look ten times more ridiculous than anyone in breeches.

For the perspective of a furriner resident in the states, personally I think the problem is that when most people in the states think of "English" riding they have visions of the Show Hunter stuff, and that is how most people in the US are introduced to the Olympic disciplines (many dressage riders and eventers started out that way). That's some pretty unappealing and unmanly stuff you have to admit. When I was a kid we were galloping around like maniacs jumping 5ft stone walls. Hunting, showjumping and National Hunt racing, which were the mostly popular equestrian pursuits, were, and still are, seen as quite manly endeavaors. Of course I was also surrounded by plenty of male riders, including many family members.

NRB
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:17 PM
So what I am hearing and to summ it all up, when little boys and teenagers ride and continue to do so it's because they have the support of those that matter to them. Their friends, their family, their riding peers and coaches what have you. they have been raised to feel comfortable to do what they want to do.

bosox
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:31 PM
No, the outfit isn't the problem but it doesn't help when a 12/15 year old boy who is just starting out has to wear such tight pants. Their body is changing and things are developing--and it has not been a normal image that the boys have seen. My son did not start riding 'til he was 12...about 18 months ago. He wanted to do Tet in PC--b/c of the running/shoot/swimming. The riding portion was an ends to a means.
Most boys have seen football on tv, Payton Manning is the new spokesperson for everything...Lance Armstrong is a hunky media darling...Johnny Mosley did MTV for awhile. Talk to an average American boy and these are names they can identify with--David O'who?, Denny E'what? Boys don't know these images--and if they aren't leader types--they won't want to blaze a new trail.
My son also plays polox--at a lower level than Pegasus' son--but the numbers of men to woman is the largest concentration that I have seen in English disciplines. The riding jeans are much more normal/mainstream looking. In fact, my son won't wear ANYTHING else to ride it but his polo jeans.
I think it is great that some of the "big" names made it a point to include her son--but I can say that has not been the case here in MD for our boys. We are also in Area 2--and here--they male instructors do their thing and go home. We need people (males to boys) reaching out and saying--"hey, come here--sit w/us for a bit." It makes the young male proud--and we all want to feel included. Like we are important. Obviously, it was enough of an inspiration to her son--for him to come back and tell his mom--and for it to make a difference to him.
My son got to do XC w/a A grad PCer who is an ULR. The guy was great--for the boys--the girls kind of would have liked a bit more fluff in the lessons--but the boys loved his no-nonsense approach. But then the lesson was over--and off the instructor went. I wish that the older ones would remember how much the little ones look up to them--and esp the males who could use some, "Cool" this guy used to be where I am--time, just hanging out.

Bravestrom
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:45 PM
Oh - I forgot to add - my boys enjoy the occasional fox hunt as well

NRB - you summed it up very well - having the right horses is paramount too.

snoopy
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:48 PM
[QUOTE=LisaB;2865363]Snoopy, those outfits, to me, are sports outfits.QUOTE]


But so our ours. The jods and boots serve a purpose. Because they have not evolved into something different does not mean they are not neccessary.
They have their function. I do not ride in jeans....the simple reason is that "little snoopy" finds this very painful. I ride in boots because the stirrup leathers pinch other wise. Also we have hairy legs. I am not rubbed raw from wearing breeches and boots. But I also buy the correct breeches....cotton, a bit thicker, pleats, etc. The skin tight lycra look is not for me.
We must not forget the amount of time the sport requires OUT of the saddle. I think that is an issue for some..so it is important for boys to feel comfortable in their riding gear durring those periods.

denny
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:55 PM
I don`t think it`s any single thing. For some, it`s the outfit, for sure. I was teaching a clinic in Montana, and there was a guy who looked like the Marlborough Man, black hat, black mustache, whole bit, watching his wife ride. At the end of 2 days, this was his exact quote:
"That eventing business looks like a pretty good deal. I`d try it myself if I didn`t have to wear them god-damned britches."
For some it`s peer pressure.
For others, it`s the lack of male friends to roughhouse with.
For some it`s the whole nurture/clean your tack/care "thing" that boys don`t like, not all of them, but many.
It`s the whole American perception that English riding is a girl sport, and, statistically, it IS a girl thing.
Driving home from Stoneleigh- Burnham one time, I counted the male names in the program.
Out of 200 entries, 8 men. That`s 25 to 1, and it`s not unusual to have 40 or 50 girls in a ponyclub, and not one boy.
Jimmy Wofford proposed lots of ideas about dress changes, to make riding less of a "fashion show" but like all radical ideas in a tradition bound sport like eventing, his ideas got gonged.
What I see is that the fewer boys there are, the fewer there will be. Can anybody besides Jim come up with ways to prevent this from becoming an essentially all-girl sport over the next 10-25 years? Because that`s where it`s headed, looks like.

tangledweb
Dec. 13, 2007, 12:55 PM
I'll give you another theory. Clothes might matter if you are 15, and thinking about entering a sport as a beginner, but I don't think that is really what makes a big difference when deciding whether to take it seriously or sell your horse and move away to college.

I think you lose a lot of young men at that point because it is damn hard to make a livable career out of it. It is socially acceptable for a girl to live with her parents, or take money from them and work for the slave rates that working students and junior riding instructors make while devoting herself to improving her riding.

Give a young man the choice between that life and a job/career where he can get an apartment of his own and make a car payment and not that many are going to opt to still be living in the parents' spare room at 25.

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:00 PM
NRB has it right.

Does anybody notice that those ladies who have their sons riding also mention that othe men are involved. Men/boys don't ride because of girls. Sorry ladies but you aren't worth the overall pain it takes to be good at the sport. Men ride because they love the sport and because they found commrades in arms with other guys, just like any other sport.

The men/boys who get into riding only because of girls/women is to get laid. Maybe later they found out how much they loved riding but they would have never tried unless there wasn't some woman they wanted to woo.

Reed

bosox
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:02 PM
Can you say Wintec?:lol: OK---personally, I can't stand the wintec saddles--I think everyone should learn how to clean their leather tack--and that leather tack is timeless....

however, my riding instructor--pleaded w/me last year when I bought my son a saddle for Christmas--to please get him a Wintec. She said, "You know he isn't going to clean it after every ride. He isn't like you or your daughter. Just get he something that he can hose off--and be done. You want him to ride--not clean tack." She was right...and we got the wintec. He doesn't hate rally prep as much as he could...cause he think it is funny to go out and spray off his saddle.

Our PC was 53 members strong last year. We had one boy in it--my son. The core of the group--is a bunch of girls age 10-14. My son turned 13 this summer. His buddywho is 14 came w/him over Easter break to a work day--and told my son he had it made. The mother in me didn't want my son thinking about his peers that way---but the truth is---it is true. MANY, MANY girls to one boy.

CallMeGrace
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:10 PM
My son rides H/J, but I think a lot of issues are the same. Clothing doesn't enter it - in fact, he has met some interesting people when he is out and about in his breeches and boots just because it is unusual to see a boy in riding clothes! However, it is difficult to maneuver in an almost all girl sport - you can't share a hotel room with the other working students, for example! Also, my son has been very lucky in meeting and working for a male trainer that he clicks with, but it took a while. I do think it is more difficult for an adolescent boy to have a woman as a role model. At the moment, he is working on becoming as good as his trainer is at cleaning tack and boots, skills his trainer learned in the service!! So, he has a different take on the cleaning angle. And, last but not least, his sister seems to have more positive reactions to her love of horses than my son has - the reactions he gets are usually the "but riding isn't a sport" type (we've all heard that). I have always told him that he is welcome to invite anyone who says that to him to come ride his 4 year old OTTB, and see what they have to say after that experience!!

hey101
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:11 PM
NRB has it right.

The men/boys who get into riding only because of girls/women is to get laid. Maybe later they found out how much they loved riding but they would have never tried unless there wasn't some woman they wanted to woo.

Reed

HA! Reed I have to agree with you completely on this! My hubby really only got into riding, well, because of me! But he's very athletic, balanced, and brave (mountain biking, snow-boarding, slalom and water-skiing, adventure racing, are his other sports). He's a damn good rider (annoyingly so, for as long as he's actually been riding :mad: (kidding - kind of;)).

And he loves our horses. Maybe not as much as I do, but he definitely bonds with them- knows their likes and dislikes, their itchy places, who likes carrots and who likes peppermints. So I disagree that "men's men" can't bond with these big sensitive animals.

And Bosox I also bought him a Wintec b/c I knew he'd never clean his tack. Good decision on my part!

Anyway, he REFUSES to wear breeches. Which is cool by me, I don't care. ONE time, I managed to get him in breeches so we could do a foxhunt together. It was like pulling teeth. He rides, and jumps, quite happily in full chaps. So I think making the "uniforms" more guy-friendly would really help bring more boys into the sport. Once they figure out what cross-country is all about, they will stay no matter what! But the initial "no way in HELL am I wearing those pants" will keep more away.

(Although, to Snoopy's point, we also road bike fairly seriously, and there we are, for hours at a time out in public, in full-on head-to-toe screaming bright spandex.:eek:-so who knows!)

JER
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:12 PM
Some ideas:

1. Get rid of the dress code. Require polo shirts and boots but allow polo jeans as well as breeches. Does it really matter?

2. Start boys in riding by doing stuff they enjoy. Focus on disciplines that are result-oriented and not about looking pretty. I know a number of guys who grew up foxhunting, loved it and still do it. (That's enough right there to get a good eventing background. ) But then there's also polo, polocrosse, gymkhana, jumpers and western stuff. Trail riding, camping, cattle work, roping, penning are all engaging, group-oriented activities. A good background with horses over mixed terrain is what you need before you start eventing -- this is a much better foundation than the h/j show ring.

3. Let guys know the truth about braiding: it is never required. The rulebook says "Braiding is permitted." That's it. You never have to do it and the judge can't score you on it.

Thomas_1
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:14 PM
It depends where you live and it depends on whether they've got a role model.

If its acceptable and considered normal for guys to ride and they're in that environment, then it will just happen.

However a lot of riding instructors are young girls and a lot of trainees are young girls. And then there's all that stereotypical "girly" nurturing "my fluffy pony" bumph that is more likely than less likely to turn boys off. There's no doubt that not only do you need to role model, but also structure the experience so its better geared towards what is likely to enthuse them.

It should be noted as well that in upper levels eventing and show jumping that men do disproportionately well considering the numbers at entry level in the talent pipeline.

Where I am there's a culture of horsemanship with guys riding and particularly wanting to take a lead role in the Riding of The Bounds and also in hunting and that has a natural way in to eventing and show jumping. I'm a 4th generation horse trainer and for me it was totally normal that both boys and girls messed about with horses. Likewise my grandsons are following on (though still very young) and its more likely they'll stick at it because its their "normal" with dad and grandads (both sides) owning horses and riding well into old age.

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:28 PM
Good points made by many!

My son recently taught a polocrosse clinic in Minnesota and traveled home through Chicago O'Hare and RDU airports in boots and breeches. Being of the generation that demanded church clothes for air travel we were pretty horrified, but he got a big kick out of the looks and it was a great conversation starter.

eqsiu
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:33 PM
Some ideas:

1. Get rid of the dress code. Require polo shirts and boots but allow polo jeans as well as breeches. Does it really matter?



Is it actually against the rules for a guy to show in polo jeans? That would be stupid, IMO. They are comfortable and they still look good.

Teach
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:42 PM
[Right there is a big piece of the problem. It`s not perceived as a sport that real guys do.
Take a 12-14 year old boy, just the age they get hooked on riding. What self respecting kid that age wants the ridicule from his friends for doing "a girl sport?"
"Cute little pants you got there, kid!"


I think, weather good or bad, that this is a very accurate sentiment; to extend it out, riding is often not perceived as a sport at all--"It's easy! The horse does all the work!" Plus, you do see "riding pants" & "tall boots" used as fashionwear on a pretty regular basis--hard to convince your average guy to put on clothing that Paris Hilton has been photographed in.

Disclaimer--I am not an eventer, but an instructor/trainer. I recently lost a very talented boy rider at this exact age--first he didn't want wear jods for classes, but was willing to come in his baseball pants, then he wasn't dressing at all & was coming up with "well, I feel sick, well, I have a headace, well, I have homework, well, it's too cold/hot,,," type excuses, & finally he admitted (not to me, or to his mom, or to my female ws, but to my farrier, who happened to be there that day) that kids at school were saying that riding was a sissy sport. Farrier (who happens to also be my brother) counselled him to keep at it if he loved it, but kid quit riding altogether less than a month later. Mom & I have decided that if he finds out he misses it too much, he will come back, but there's no use in wasting time & money forcing the kid to ride if he doesn't want to. My brother says to wait until he's old enough to realize that all the girls are out riding & we'll be seeing him then!

My brother is another prime example. Brother started out in saddleseat & was very, very good, but suddenly faded out around middle/high school. (the entire family, including Dad, rode a variety of seats, so it's not like he wasn't exposed.) The only time he dealt with the family's horses was when he was using them to "pull" a girl he liked--with the exception of 1 girl, he has never dated a girl who isn't horsey. Then, a few years later, he suddenly picked it back up (western, this time-mostly reining), announced he was going to farrier school, & off he went. Married a girl who is a trainer, has 1 daughter (7) who would move into the barn if she could, & 1 son (8) who likes horses well enough, but wants a mini-quad for Christmas. So I don't even know if role-models & exposure are enough. Between his mother & myself, my nephew certainly sees enough boys & men who are horsey in all disciplines (his dad & late grandfather included), but his inclination seems to be "Horses? Eh." He likes his pony that my mom bought for him, showed her once or twice, visits her, brushes, mucks, & helps Dad trim her, but I don't think he's ridden in probably 8 months. Brother rides occasionally (probably 10-15 times a year) but if you ask, he'll tell you that in no way does he want to own a horse or show. If he wants to ride, he borrows a horse from me, our sister, our Mom, his wife, or any number of friends/students/clients.

denny
Dec. 13, 2007, 01:52 PM
You know, there`s another issue at work here, perhaps. It`s more of a question than an assumption.
As eventing has become more and more predominantly a female sport, what intrinsic changes, if any, have accompanied this shift?
Obviously one is that military officers in the US Cavalry, wearing army uniforms, no longer constitute our Olympic teams.
But what about such issues as safety? Is the male/female fatality ratio the same as the male/female participation ratio, or slanted in a statistically relevant way one way or the other?
The getting rid of steeplechase, has that speed aspect been influenced in any way by the shift?
There may be no "hidden" changes brought about by the new demographics, but if there are any, what might they be?

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:09 PM
Swatting at the hornet's nest eh? Good questions though. I bet the USEF Safety committee has baseline stats.

Reed



You know, there`s another issue at work here, perhaps. It`s more of a question than an assumption.
As eventing has become more and more predominantly a female sport, what intrinsic changes, if any, have accompanied this shift?
Obviously one is that military officers in the US Cavalry, wearing army uniforms, no longer constitute our Olympic teams.
But what about such issues as safety? Is the male/female fatality ratio the same as the male/female participation ratio, or slanted in a statistically relevant way one way or the other?
The getting rid of steeplechase, has that speed aspect been influenced in any way by the shift?
There may be no "hidden" changes brought about by the new demographics, but if there are any, what might they be?

hey101
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:12 PM
So are you asking that as the % of girls in the sport has gotten higher, the sport has gotten girly-ier?

denny
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:25 PM
I know there is a fudamental difference between the basic behavior patterns of young boys and young girls regarding roughness and stupid activities.
When our two sons had a buch of their friends over, it was like feeding time at the zoo.
"Rett, how many times do you have to be told? DON`T THROW THE FOOTBALL IN THE HOUSE!!!"
"Jamie, if you jump off the top of the stairway in your Superman cape, and miss the couch, is it surprising that you got hurt?"
Etc, etc, etc.
So if a bunch of cavalry young men created a rough and tumble, speed and endurance based sport, and it`s now slower, and shorter, and much more technical, is the demographic shift from men to women responsible for any of that? Or not?
Is this kicking the hornet`s nest? Probably!

hey101
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:30 PM
Is this kicking the hornet`s nest? Probably!

It probably is. ;)

BUT... as already pointed out on this thread, a disproportionately higher % of men are at the top of the sport than at the bottom (indicating for the most part that men that go into eventing, tend to stick with it?). And since the changes that have evolved throughout eventing come from the top, wouldn't that indicate that just as many MEN were involved in these decisions as women?

shea'smom
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:35 PM
I taught two brothers. The older one quit. The younger is now 13, loves it. His brother teases him about the CLOTHES!
Yesterday, older brother had to run a track meet in scimpy, short shorts.
It is payback time.
Seriously, I have taught several boys. The type that could care less about peer pressure seem to stick with it if they like it. I have had more than one tell me they clothes are girly, their friends tease them.
I think boys are more sucepticle to peer pressure than girls, overall. And I can't spell that word :cool:

zagafi
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:44 PM
My oldest son is 9. And he rides...English. He sucks out loud at grooming, but is showing potential to be a pretty darned good little rider. His saddle? A Wintec CC, because as someone said cleaning is not his strong suit. He does not, however, mind wearing jods because everyone tells him how good he looks. I think he HAS already figured out that the male to female ratio is highly in his favor, however. I don't know that he'll much care if anyone teases him about his clothes as a result!

Lori
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:47 PM
I think the whole clothing issue is kind of ironic given its origins. I mean, military dress and tuxedo's are hardly feminine clothing. And football players wear tight pants. And Luke Skywalker and Han Solo effectively wear breeches and tall boots.

Nonetheless, I too do not leave the farm without puting something on over my breeches. So the perception is what it is ...

Right.... football and baseball players wear tight clothing. I have seen youth in town wearing this garb with pride. I don't know if it is based so much on the clothing, but rather a shift in public perception about horse sports.
I find men in eventing and polo to look the most masculine of all our sports, maybe because when they are not wearing hunt coats?? Well, OK, show jumping, too. But I personally would think most boys to find a countyourstrides hunter class to be kind of boring.

Now, here in the midwest, I am a rare sight in breeches even though I am a female. For the first time in my life I wonder if people know what these clothes are for when I make a quick pit stop into the grocery. I never worried about that in Warrenton, VA!

Fence2Fence
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:50 PM
I know there is a fudamental difference between the basic behavior patterns of young boys and young girls regarding roughness and stupid activities.
When our two sons had a buch of their friends over, it was like feeding time at the zoo.
"Rett, how many times do you have to be told? DON`T THROW THE FOOTBALL IN THE HOUSE!!!"
"Jamie, if you jump off the top of the stairway in your Superman cape, and miss the couch, is it surprising that you got hurt?"
Etc, etc, etc.
So if a bunch of cavalry young men created a rough and tumble, speed and endurance based sport, and it`s now slower, and shorter, and much more technical, is the demographic shift from men to women responsible for any of that? Or not?
Is this kicking the hornet`s nest? Probably!

Echoing Thomas1's comment about disproportionate amount of the men at the top/women as the bottom. Given that the protesting of the short format came from the lower levels (women)...I'm not so sure that we can blame the increase of women in the sport for the changes of the long format.

seeuatx
Dec. 13, 2007, 02:52 PM
Speaking of Breeches as compared to other sports, I remember an article in PH about a lady whose hubby wanted to event, but refused to wear breeches, so she went and bought a white pair of baseball pants for dressage and a black pair for xcountry. He wore them happily, and no one knows once he is on. I remember that because my hubby plays baseball, but thinks breeches are stupid ;)

Personally I think more guys would be smart to ride english as others have said....they earn a harem just for showing up ;). 25-1 odds.....seriously...haha,jk

fooler
Dec. 13, 2007, 03:03 PM
Denny - there is more truth to what you ask than we want to admit. Similiar thoughts have been running thru my crazed mind in that as we become a less rowdy world, at least in our corner, our sports have become more managed and compressed.

No PC way to state this so here goes:
Our discipline was developed by the military. At least in the US, the military has had little respect since the mid-1960's. Soldiers returning from Vietnam, my oldest brother was one of them, were spat upon and called names. Their service was not respected and in many cases, they had to downplay that service. Only recently has our society, as a whole, started to respect military service. So our uniform, breeches and boots, has either a military tone (very little respect) or a girlie/gay tone. I believe the problem is not with the uniform, but with our thought process.

Since the 'military' officers who developed our sport lived in the late 1800's to mid-1900's, what do they know of our way cool, well educated, be friends of the environment and animals world? It is normal for the young to throw away the ways of the old, been going on for centuries. In some case it was needed, in others it was not. IMO - this is one of the later situations.

So Denny - is the increase of women in our sport or is it the increase of the well-fed, well-educated, let's do it NOW (I don't want to wait for anything) population? To paraphrase Mr. Wofford - Take a good look around - who is driving these changes?

Finally we have too many over-medicated boys (re-read Denny's comments about his sons, my Dad used to say the same all of the time to my 3 older brothers, not to mention what was said to my 4 nephews). Kids need to get out a play, be loud and silly - that is how they learn. Again, IMO the reason we have the X-games is that kids are so padded & protected when young, they don't learn the painful lessons when young. IE my middle brother rode done the hill with eyes closed, feet on bike handle bars, no hands & surprise! hit a tree. He survived, the bike was broken in half. But he learned not to be so stupid again - at least not in that fashion.
Men - you need to be roles models for boys, as stated by pegasusmom. Whether it be for riding or just life lessons. I know the possible pitfalls, my husband & I mentor young men from the local military academy. We have experienced what appears to be success and what appears to be failure - we will learn more in about 10 years. . .

Right now the mentors in our sport 'seem' to be women for younger women and a few remaining guys. I miss the old instructors who spoke the truth about our riding and our actions. Would not allow us to go forward unless prepared and had no qualms grabbing us by the collar & setting us down when we overstepped.

Let us be true to who and what we are. We are horsemen who love the best sport in the world. Let us understand all of our traditions and honor the ones that make us who we are.
Starting from this point, surely we can address the attire issue so that we don't lose anyone, male or female.

More thoughts running in my head - but must focus on work. . .

tangledweb
Dec. 13, 2007, 03:11 PM
Without really wanting to feed the breeches obsession, part of that problem is the breeches most men/boys will find to begin with.

If the first breeches people get are pair of nylon pull-ons labelled "unisex" then it is not unreasonable that they will think they are girly. Tights ARE girly.

Good mens breeches are not easy to find in most people's local saddleries. You might not be willing to buy your starting out son/boyfriend/husband a few pairs of Pikeur's when they might get bored or grow out of them soon, but mail ordering something cotton with pleats would be a good idea.

SaddleFitterVA
Dec. 13, 2007, 03:31 PM
My son has no interest in riding. He had a pony, he's hopped on the horses from time to time, and he helps me out a LOT on the farm. He is a good horseman...on the ground. He is an athlete, through and through and could become a good rider, if he had an interest.

Riding is hard. None of his friends are interested in it, none of the guys discuss riding technique, how to get the horse to do something. He plays lacrosse. They have countless discussions on technique, stringing the heads, stick skills, moves, etc. They have boards where they talk lacrosse. All, manly boys.

He has no intention of having a girlfriend with horse interests. They are way too much work.

Now, I have a co-worker who loves horses and riding and he wants his boys to try out riding more. He is going to bring his boys over and I'll let them ride the guest/husband/kid horse. Maybe one of them will end up interested in riding.

Another thing that impedes getting guys involved is that it IS hard, and if you've been riding a long time, you can make it look easier than it is. And, it is hard for a man to be struggling with what looks easy in front of his girlfriend/so/wife/girl to impress. Especially with how some women like to treat their SOs as imbeciles about a lot of things. "No, not like that".

My husband has "his" horse. She is my dressage pony these days. I don't think he's been on her in 2007. But, he doesn't want me to sell her. :rolleyes:

He finds horse shows boring, likes the occassional trail ride, but if he was to do anything, it would probably be dressage, at home.

Mel

poltroon
Dec. 13, 2007, 03:48 PM
I know there is a fudamental difference between the basic behavior patterns of young boys and young girls regarding roughness and stupid activities.
When our two sons had a buch of their friends over, it was like feeding time at the zoo.
"Rett, how many times do you have to be told? DON`T THROW THE FOOTBALL IN THE HOUSE!!!"
"Jamie, if you jump off the top of the stairway in your Superman cape, and miss the couch, is it surprising that you got hurt?"
Etc, etc, etc.
So if a bunch of cavalry young men created a rough and tumble, speed and endurance based sport, and it`s now slower, and shorter, and much more technical, is the demographic shift from men to women responsible for any of that? Or not?
Is this kicking the hornet`s nest? Probably!

Well, I have those same conversations with my daughter. :D

I think fundamentally it's less acceptable for the horses or riders to be killed doing sports, and I believe that's as true of auto racing and motorcycle events and skiing as it is with riding. Plenty of women here have been fighting to keep the steeplechase.

By the way, if you're ever looking for english horse stories with men and boys as the main characters, I suggest looking for books by K.M. Peyton (http://www.ponydom.com/books/results.html?author=peyton&submit=Search). Free Rein, The Right Hand Man, and Who Sir, Me Sir? would especially be useful along those lines.

LisaB
Dec. 13, 2007, 04:00 PM
I kinda don't think it has to do with the girls aspect of it. The hubby has a dilemma at work. He hires young wannabe cops as well as some dipshit older cops that get fired from other counties (county with no budget, mind you). He has a real hard time with all of them because they don't get in there and 'get it done'. Meaning, some rednecks are fighting in the local bar's parking lot. The cops sit back because they don't know how to get in there and start beating some brains in. Well, not really, but break it up, knock some of them on the ground to get the cuffs on. The hubby, a captain, STILL gets calls to come in and be the muscle of the group. We were discussing this and I basically said it's because he had to take boxing and went to a military school that his barrier is broken as far as these things go. He's not chicken to get in there because he's already been beaten on and been the beater. These guys have never had to fight or get physical in any way. And the academies don't teach ANYTHING because of liability.
So, I think it's our entire society that's the problem. I was listening to Jeff Foxworthy and he was discussing this same thing. He said, 'Remember when your parents gave you a fire starter kit?' Can you imagine the shitstorm that would raise now if a parent did that? Not saying the yesteryear was better because in many aspects it wasn't. I think everyone had the creepy guy hanging out in the parking lot of our school at that time. But I think we've lost track of testing ourselves. Us normal people, not Jackass the movie or anything.

poltroon
Dec. 13, 2007, 04:04 PM
If it's the clothes, let's just outfit our guys in football pants and those big silly shoulder pads, eh? ;)

JER
Dec. 13, 2007, 04:48 PM
So if a bunch of cavalry young men created a rough and tumble, speed and endurance based sport, and it`s now slower, and shorter, and much more technical, is the demographic shift from men to women responsible for any of that? Or not?

Except the designers of these new-style courses are overwhelmingly men -- Hugh Thomas, Mike E-S, Capt. Mark Phillips (didn't he come from the military?), Wolfgang Feld, Michelet, etc. The distaff-designed Montreal course of 1976 was old school and Sue Benson is just hitting the big time as a CD so we know it's not women to blame on the design end.

I guess the comeback to this is that these men are designing courses that are biased toward female riders. If men made up the majority of riders, would there be a revolt against the parade of skinnies and corners that passes for modern XC?

bambam
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:15 PM
Plus the impetus for the changes in the sport have not come from the participants really but the powers that be - mainly in the FEI and western europe and I don't think those are women dominated - and, if they are, they are not to the extent that the sport is in the US (although my understanding is that one of the instigators of changed format in the FEI was the Infanta- but I would hate to damn the whole gender based on her :) although I would sure like to give her a piece of mind for her handiwork if it is indeed hers)
so I don't think we can say that the gender composition of the competitors is the cause

eqsiu
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:24 PM
Riding seems more acceptable for men in europe. Perhaps because it's more mainstream? English-wise? They don't have the Marlboro Man traditional thing.

EvntDad
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:36 PM
This issue goes to the core of the difference between girls and boys. I read somewhere that girls see the social structure as a circle and they want to be in the middle, while boys see it as a pyramid and they want to be at the top. Us boys grow up wanting to be the alpha-male, we want the glory and limelight, but most of all we want the respect and admiration of our peers. We don’t care if we have to wear funny clothes, clean our equipment, or even pick up poop – just as long as the other boys are doing it, too. We fantasize about hitting that winning homerun in the bottom of the ninth in game seven of the world series, hitting the buzzer-beating basket to win…, etc. Why? Respect and admiration of our peers.

I think boy’s needs are already well-served by all of the existing youth sports throughout the country, both team and individual. They are more accessible and WAY more affordable. And boys don’t feel the pull of horses like girls do. I remember my oldest daughter’s bedroom ceiling being plastered with horse posters so she could look at them at night when she went to bed. Boys might have posters on their ceiling, but they probably aren’t about horses.

One final example to help illustrate my point. My middle daughter is 12 and has recently taken up riding on a more serious level than before (weekly lessons, talking about having her own horse, etc). She has always ridden, but her interest was always hot and cold, and I think she was a bit intimidated by her older sister’s riding success. She also plays several traditional team sports. This past spring, she was selected to play in the elite fast-pitch softball league in only her second year of playing. She was ecstatic. She ended up on the championship team, and was the league batting champion (she batted .630 for the season). Since we live in one of the most competitive areas for youth sports in the entire state of Calif, I was starting to think that she might turn into a real star in high school. Then, last month, she stuns my wife and I with news that she doesn’t want to play softball next spring because she wants more time to ride. She stayed true to those feelings and we let the sign-up deadline pass. It’s not that she suddenly stopped liking softball, it’s just that the pull of horses right now is bigger than whatever warm fuzzies she got from being top-dog at softball. Now tell me, can you see a boy making that same decision?

hey101
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:38 PM
Well I for one don't think it's because of increasing participation by women that the sport is changing the way it is. Most eventers, and in fact most horsewomen, I know are tough, no-nonsense, and certainly not going to cry if they fall down- they will get back up and try again. I think it's loss of land, increasing costs of gas-materials-property-everything that trickles down to every aspect of all horse sport, a very litigious society, and ESPECIALLY a society that thinks it's always someone else's fault (caution, the beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot!).

Back to the OT, to horse people, horses and horse sports are very much foremost in our mind. But to the overwhelming majority of the american public, horses are something that are admired from a distance, and thought about maybe once a year on the first Saturday in May in KY, and if it's a particularly good colt, maybe one or even two more times that year in MD and NY. So it's not surprising to me that fewer and fewer males are participating in a sport that is essentially out of sight-out of mind.

Look at soccer in the US. The biggest sport IN THE WORLD outside the US. They even imported the world's biggest celebrity couple to LA to try to hype the sport to mainstream USA. For the most part, the reaction was a big ol' yawn. Most americans are interested in Posh and Becks because they are friends with the trainwreck that is Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Football and baseball and basketball are just too dominant.

So if eventing or any horse sport want to increase public participation, it needs a Lance Armstrong. Say what you want about him as a biker compared to Merckx or Lemond, but Lance single-handedly in today's society brought a niche sport to the forefront of the American psyche and made it acceptable for a lot more people to willingly go out in public in neon colored spandex. Now that Lance has retired, how much do we hear about cycling any more? Not much.

I really can't think of any non-horse-racing rider or trainer that has acheived the mainstream recognition that Lance has. Michael Matz perhaps, but again, people think of him as related to Barbaro and horse-racing, not his previous riding accomplishments.

Elghund2
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:45 PM
I think there are several reasons boys drop out as teenagers. Most have been mentioned here. One I did not see was instruction. The way riding is typically taught goes against what most males find to be fun. Very few teenage boys are going to find much fun in going around and perfecting circles or getting to the perfect spot. Yet that's what most instruction is and it is how it is taught.

I don't know how many times I've heard women talking about finally cantering after a few years of lessons. Hell, I would have quit if it had taken me more than a month to canter. Instructors have to let boys move forward without worrying about perfecting their positon, dressage, etc. That will come later.

There is a woman down our way that I think would be perfect for a boy taking lessons (and she has several). She does a great job of teaching and takes the kids out trail riding, fox hunting, etc. In fact she usually shows up at hunt meets with several kids in tow.

Boys need the excitement. I remember when I learned how to ski. I did some basic lessons and then headed to the top of the mountain. Crashed all the way down but loved and kept doing it until I was good at it.

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:52 PM
The male child weighs in:

1. Tight pants
2. Most boys in this country aren't ever encouraged to get in to horses. Girls have Barbies and Breyer horses. Guys are killing things with sticks.
3. Riding in a ring is boring. Going fast is not.
4. Identifies TOTALLY with an earlier comment with regard to pony club and the only clean thing that counts is the round in the ring.

There you have it - from a 17 year old male brain. Scarey.

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 05:55 PM
The male child weighs in:

1. Tight pants
2. Most boys in this country aren't ever encouraged to get in to horses. Girls have Barbies and Breyer horses. Guys are killing things with sticks.
3. Riding in a ring is boring. Going fast is not.
4. Identifies TOTALLY with an earlier comment with regard to pony club and the only clean thing that counts is the round in the ring.

There you have it - from a 17 year old male brain. Scarey.

Sounds like me when I was 17 and riding. I remember racing across the fields in the snow at speed against my buddies, Jim and Gene. Screw the lesson. We can jump tomorrow. The big white box never could compare.

Reed

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 06:02 PM
Reed - when my son was about 9 we bought him a chubby little yellow pony. At about the same time he began to develop an interest in the American Civil War. As the pony was safe and they seemed to get along pretty well together, I'd let him go off on his own as long as he had helmet on. He'd typically come home from school, hop on Taffy bareback and out he'd go. When the outing started including my dressage whips I followed him one day. There he was, flying across my neighbors' hay fields at a dead run, no hands on the reins, "saber" extended, alternating firing his "pistol" at the damn Yankees behind him.

Ya gotta make it exciting for boys. They are adrenaline junkies, for the most part. It took a move up to prelim to really set the hook for Andrew as far as all the rest of the stuff was concerned.

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 06:17 PM
The 17 year-old me says, "Helmets what the hell are those?"

My first trainer who was taught in a classic calvary style, had 5 sons and we used to just fly around the fields. We even had a huge irrigation canal that we could literally jump the horses off a into a deep pool (kinda like a diving board for horses). She told me a few years ago that she knew that eventing was in my blood for as much time as I stayed out of the ring galloping and working the horses in the pastures.

Her 5 boys were probably the BIGGEST reason I rode. After lessons it was time to work around the barn which meant using the tractors, welders, machine shop, POWER TOOLS, (grunt, grunt). Of course the, weird thing was I would always blast around our XC course and they would work in the arena (jumpers) when we were just messing around. My god, I was "one of those guys" even back then!

Reed

WindyIsles
Dec. 13, 2007, 06:34 PM
Reed - when my son was about 9 we bought him a chubby little yellow pony. At about the same time he began to develop an interest in the American Civil War. As the pony was safe and they seemed to get along pretty well together, I'd let him go off on his own as long as he had helmet on. He'd typically come home from school, hop on Taffy bareback and out he'd go. When the outing started including my dressage whips I followed him one day. There he was, flying across my neighbors' hay fields at a dead run, no hands on the reins, "saber" extended, alternating firing his "pistol" at the damn Yankees behind him.

Ya gotta make it exciting for boys. They are adrenaline junkies, for the most part. It took a move up to prelim to really set the hook for Andrew as far as all the rest of the stuff was concerned.

:lol::lol: I'm having flashbacks to riding with our friend's 9 year old son. Not so much riding as 'racing' and making sure we were out of sight of parents who would wring my neck for being older and 'knowing better' - kid rides amazingly for his age and is totally fearless. Been riding since he was little and despite being soccer-mad still loves horses.

Part of that I attribute to not being so 'regmented' - he was allowed to do what he wanted as long as he had a helmet and wasn't doing anything too dangerous - his little shetland has more sense than most people and an extremely good self-preservation instinct.

I grew up riding my pony and making sure I did the 'interesting' stuff out of sight as not to give parents grey hair.

They did come home one day early to find me dragging out the dining room chairs fully intent on setting up a showjumping course though :uhoh:

My littlest brother (6) is horse-mad and likes nothing more than to go riding with dad on our friend's shetland even if the fastest he goes is a walk. :) Other little brother (11) will only perk up and look interested if you invite him to come riding with him with the promise of a gallop.

CBudFrggy
Dec. 13, 2007, 06:41 PM
From what I can remember about my 17-year-old brain:

1. Racing Cubans down canal banks in western Miami-Dade County for $50 bareback, complete with rearing starts on my 15-hand pally mare;

2. Helmets were only to be worn if my instructor or parents "made me."

3. What my parents didn't see didn't hurt them.

We did crash once--riding in suburbia and my mare's hooves slid on the pavement as we crossed an intersection from the swale. Slight cuts and scrapes on both of us, but none the worse for wear and tear.

My point is, some girls like to go fast and are adrenaline junkies also.

Mustang51
Dec. 13, 2007, 06:44 PM
Reed - when my son was about 9 we bought him a chubby little yellow pony. At about the same time he began to develop an interest in the American Civil War. As the pony was safe and they seemed to get along pretty well together, I'd let him go off on his own as long as he had helmet on. He'd typically come home from school, hop on Taffy bareback and out he'd go. When the outing started including my dressage whips I followed him one day. There he was, flying across my neighbors' hay fields at a dead run, no hands on the reins, "saber" extended, alternating firing his "pistol" at the damn Yankees behind him.

Ya gotta make it exciting for boys. They are adrenaline junkies, for the most part. It took a move up to prelim to really set the hook for Andrew as far as all the rest of the stuff was concerned.

Yeah man, THAT'S what will get boys interested in riding! (And I've always thought horseback archery would be an awsome skill too... ) I never did exactly those things but I did go racing friends bareback across the fields. (Including falling off by sliding off the BACK of the horse while galloping up a steep hill!)
A co-worker suggested that I should go be a stunt rider for the movies, that could seem cool to guys.

Since everyone's intro to riding is walking in circles in the ring you probably get too many dropouts before they even realize that there riding can be exciting.

And as Reed said- play up the farm tools aspect. I knew a boy when I taught summer camp one year (he was about 10), and his dream was to ride on the tractor. It made his life I think when he was allowed to drive the tractor, he wouldn't stop talking about it for days!

denny
Dec. 13, 2007, 06:56 PM
I think different eras engendered differing tolerances of risk.
I found my old diary from when I was 13, and this is the entry for Jan. 15, 1955.
"It snowed. We only got about 2 inches. I rode up to Bernardston. It was very cold. The girls are painting the tack room. The colors are brown (the walls) and red."
The day before I`d written that it was 8 degrees F., so it must have been really cold the following day.
That round trip from Greenfield Mass. was 17 miles. I never used to tell my parents where I was going, or when I`d get back, and if they worried, they didn`t let on.
I wonder how many parents nowadays would let their 13 year old kid go heading off on horseback up to the Vermont border, all alone, in sub freezing temperatures, and I wonder how many kids these days would do it for fun.
So I tend to agree that it isn`t a boy/girl thing that`s changed eventing, but an America 21st century thing.

asterix
Dec. 13, 2007, 07:17 PM
And then there are the big boys...
Very tough to convince mr. asterix, who began riding at 50+, to wear britches, until he discovered jeans were uncomfortable...then he discovered chaps...back to jeans...

Will now refuse to go out on trails with anyone who won't gallop...'walking is boring'

Has already said he is uncertain about eventing because dressage looks "too hard"
:lol:

We went on a riding trip this fall -- he fell in with an Aussie guy, well into his 60s, who would start hollering at the top of his lungs when the group got galloping. They were having so much fun -- probably not the time to remind him those longe lessons and endless going in circles gave him the balance to enjoy that cowboying!

Elghund2
Dec. 13, 2007, 07:23 PM
Asterix: Send him out hunting. Lots of us guys out there. Just a runnin around a jumpin while chasing a bunch of dogs.

pegasusmom
Dec. 13, 2007, 07:34 PM
And then there are the big boys...
Very tough to convince mr. asterix, who began riding at 50+, to wear britches, until he discovered jeans were uncomfortable...then he discovered chaps...back to jeans...

Will now refuse to go out on trails with anyone who won't gallop...'walking is boring'

Has already said he is uncertain about eventing because dressage looks "too hard"
:lol:

We went on a riding trip this fall -- he fell in with an Aussie guy, well into his 60s, who would start hollering at the top of his lungs when the group got galloping. They were having so much fun -- probably not the time to remind him those longe lessons and endless going in circles gave him the balance to enjoy that cowboying!

Asterix - sounds like you need to send him over to the dark side. . . to polocrosse, an Aussie sport where one can holler a lot!! There is a great club in Maryland and it's a cheap sport!!

Mudroom
Dec. 13, 2007, 07:50 PM
What I see is that the fewer boys there are, the fewer there will be. Can anybody besides Jim come up with ways to prevent this from becoming an essentially all-girl sport over the next 10-25 years?

Denny: I agree with your concern. As a 50 something male eventer and foxhunter, I try to really support and encourage any guys I see coming up in either sport. I do think it is the adrenaline type disciplines that will attract them and hold their interest. That plus the bush-hogs and trucks. Being surrounded by athletic women doesn't hurt.

I know one trainer who started what she called "Friday night boy's club" which was guys only lessons, no women were allowed at the barn that night. She got them over the initial awkward learning period without the intimidation of having female spectators. Got them to a point of reasonable confidence and many are still active in it years later.

I got started through family and Pony Club as a pre-teenager and stayed with it. For 25+ years it was mainly hunting that kept me in riding.

Yes, I will admit to changing out of my breeches or pulling on coveralls just so I can stop at Starbuck's on the way home from a hunt. Yes, I caught a lot of grief for being a straight guy who won a "best turned out" award in a hunting competition. (I didn't do the braid job, but I did do everything else)

bosox
Dec. 13, 2007, 08:08 PM
Good mens breeches are not easy to find in most people's local saddleries.

Yes--and the tack shop staff needs to learn not to say in front of the 12/13 year old boy--"OH, the breeches are unisex. Women and men wear the same kind." Now--really, my son is not dumb and really put two and two together when they then offered my son a pair of paddock boots that had women's marked on the box. The tack shop shop worker then said---"Oh, their unisex, women and men wear the same kind." Ever since then--I have to make sure the son sees the label that says MEN on it. :lol:


Asterix - sounds like you need to send him over to the dark side. . . to polocrosse, an Aussie sport where one can holler a lot!! There is a great club in Maryland and it's a cheap sport!!

This is even darker then the dark side (eventing) I can get you set up in our local club. We have a clinic right after Christmas--NEW PLAYERS welcomed. My husband of 15 years--started riding this past summer (August) just to start playing POLOX. THe stinker is actually quite good---w/the stick...and in his first chukka in early October --was cantering. Then in late October--he played another weekend...and cantered almost every chukka! :eek: PM me for details!

eventer_mi
Dec. 13, 2007, 08:12 PM
Here's another thing to think about - how much of this is because horse sports, English ones in particular, are perceived as being for the wealthy and upper-class, only? The biggest sports in this country are football and basketball. Any kid, growing up playing bball in the streets of New York, or any kid growing up in the backwaters of Alabama, can fantasize about playing bball or football. They see that as a viable career choice, or they can just head out to the backyard or the streets and play. Most people, when they hear that my husband and I have horses, automatically think "wow, you guys must be rich!", followed by "You must have lots of your own land!" Some of these people don't know the difference between English o Western riding, nor do they care, but they assume that it takes big bucks to ride.

As the gap between the social classes (the haves, and the have-nots) is slowly increasing, I think that the sports that are traditionally seen as "elitist" are starting to fall by the wayside. Look at tennis. Back in the 80s, Andre Agassi was all the rage, and people watched Wimbledon on TV by the thousands. now, I can't seem to find anybody to take up a racket and hit a few balls with me, and I don't think that it takes a lot of money to get into playing tennis!

So, fewer people are getting into horses because of the perceived amount of money invovled, and in that small percentage, there are even fewer men. It's just not cool, in mainstream American culture, for young men/boys to want to do anything other than be a rap star, football player, or bball player - ask any young freshman in high school what they want to be when they grow up, and most of the boys will say one of the above. Nowhere is horses mentioned in any of it.

Oh, and having a hubby who rides horses, as well as cycles, it does have to do with the tight pant thing. He wouldn't be caught dead wearing even his cycling shorts outside of the race - pulls regular shorts on over them - and definitely not a skin suit! You should hear how many yahoos scream obscenities at the guys in the cycling club - all having something to do with their sexuality ;). I also have a male friend who rides, and he says that being the only, single man in a barn full of women is not the Nirvana that other men would think - he is gossiped about constantly (in regard to his sexuality and his status as available or not), and is gawked at like an animal in a zoo when outsiders see him ride...you name it. He loves horses and loves riding, and tells me that it has NOTHING to do with the women in the sport - in fact, he considers the lack of other men a detriment, not a blessing.

RAyers
Dec. 13, 2007, 08:34 PM
Here is a sad commentary about the men in the US and english disciplines. Gary Rockwell (FEI "O" dressage judge for the upcoming Olympics and did the past World Cup) comes out to my trainer's place on a regular basis. He was working a horse once while my trainer's husband and I watched. I turned to the husband and commented that we just set an American record of the most men watching/riding dressage with no women present. Later when I was riding, I entered the arena while the husband finished his lesson. Again, there were no women around. I commented that we set another American record with the most men riding dressage and no women present.

We all had a great laugh. :D

Reed

Kcisawesome
Dec. 13, 2007, 09:46 PM
Well, my dad brought up the question, "why are there lots of men at the upper levels but none at the lower levels of eventing?"

We thought about this and speculated it for some time before he came up with the awnser: "Men don't waste time braiding."

:lol:

Another point I would like to add, is the gayest, most unatractive guy I have seen riding a horse was this "cowboy" doing western pleasure with the full get-up of blue rinestones. I mean, this guy was "lopeing" slower than my horse backs up. :eek:

Halfbroke
Dec. 13, 2007, 10:04 PM
Another thing that impedes getting guys involved is that it IS hard, and if you've been riding a long time, you can make it look easier than it is. And, it is hard for a man to be struggling with what looks easy in front of his girlfriend/so/wife/girl to impress. Especially with how some women like to treat their SOs as imbeciles about a lot of things. "No, not like that".



See, I actually think that in general it seems to be easier for men then woman. This is probably very un-P.C., but I think why we see a lot of males in the upper levels compared to lower levels is because they get the forward mentality of eventing.. more so then woman..they seem to advance more quickly..Just one personal experience, but in high school I rode with a guy who had only been riding for a year or two. He advanced more quickly then myself or any of my female friends, and we all had years of riding experience. I think we all had been riding for at least 5 or 6 years (5x or more a week) on a very consistent basis and he was riding at our level with only 2 years-ish of lessons under his belt. I think that if he had stuck with it he would have made it to upper levels no prob by now (he gave riding up to run track..)
I haven't just experienced this phenomenom with eventing.. I've been snowboarding for a while now and boys that took it up a few years after me have far surpassed me in skill just because they kind of throw themselves down the mountain and who cares if they jack their knee on a rail, or hit their head on a tree coming off a kicker (both of which I've witnessed male friends do).. I think boys in general have a more agressive attitude and just kind of attack whatever they do..
which is why I think what Reed says makes sense.. encourage boys by letting them go out and just do it.. don't try to make them perfect the 20 meter circle.. finesse comes later. (which was definatly true with my male riding friend. I had much more finesse then him, and was a bit more err.. correct in my riding)

I know this reason is why my husband doesn't like to ride. He HATES riding in the arena and always tells me that he wants to go do stuff.. I, being the girl I am, tell him that he has to learn how to be safe before he can go galloping off in the fields hurdling over jumps, but that doesn't appeal to him.
He has told me repeatedly that he doesn't take lessons because its boring, and he learns by going out and doing things..
And it is one of my husbands goals to ride in a horse trial or two, he also wants to take my horses hunting (actually hunting.. with a gun)

thundy
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:36 PM
I got one. Ok my mom's nice Tb mare isn't working out as an event horse so she is for sale. A friend of ours who has a knack for finding buyers gives us a call and says, "hey i ran into a lady today that is looking for a hunter jumper prospect for her friend's 14yr daughter." we say ok have the lady come over, so she did, very nice lady, she liked the horse so she called her friend. A few days later OUR friend calls us, She is all gittery on the phone and tells us the girl her mom and dad are comeing down from NY to look at the horse. She then drops the bomb, The girls mom is Sigourney Weaver!! So a week later Sigourney Weaver and family walk into our barn, love the horse, and vet her two days later. That horse is robably living a better life than me right now!:lol:

NRB
Dec. 13, 2007, 11:59 PM
Along the lines of what Halfbroke and others have mentioned in re; to more men at the upper levels. There is a reason why our military drafts 18yo men, they tend to be pretty fearless. Like others who have mentioned men do tend to advance faster in these fields than us women. As a white water kayaker I knew of guys that were learning to paddle in one summer and were boating on the Upper Gauley River (class 5) river the next year. FWIW Niagra Falls is a class 6. Once it becomes successfuly navigated it becomes a class 5.

Second reason for men at upper levels, they don't get pregnant! Sure plenty of women ride wile pregnant, give birth and get right back into the saddle. But for every one of them there are 10 that get preggers and scale back after childbirth and quite riding and compeating at the level that they did before children. They tend to become more aware of their own mortality. Time and money can factor is as well.

And I guess since Denny kicked a hornets nest first I feel obliged to follow. Years ago it was socially acceptable to make fun of Polish people, Black and Jews. Now the only acceptable minority to publicly shame is homosexuals. So by calling a boy who rides "gay" its a threat on their sexuality. Who cares if they are gay or not? Honastly, I can only hope that this also will go the way of racism.....as in no longer publiclly acceptable.

Thomas_1
Dec. 14, 2007, 07:27 AM
Well, my dad brought up the question, "why are there lots of men at the upper levels but none at the lower levels of eventing?"

We thought about this and speculated it for some time before he came up with the awnser: "Men don't waste time braiding."

:lol:
Huge amount of truth conveyed with this.

I posted earlier and am absolutely convinced that its to do with mentoring and role modelling and setting the expectation that its acceptable and normal. And then to appreciate that there are gender differences. Whether acquired or inherited matters not. But it does mean that the teaching style etc etc needs to be appropriate to cater for the diversity.

I'm entirely unconvinced that its anything to do with the clothes: tight britches etc. Plenty of men are interested in mountain biking and you don't get tighter than lycra!

Indeed one of the persuasive arguments I use when boys enter the teenage phase and are perhaps being taunted by those who consider riding as being "nancy!" or a "girl thing" and are putting pressure on to conform and do the likes of (say) football is that there's some cracking nice girls ride and its a great way to meet them. Likewise the boys are VERY well aware what the teenage girls (with raging hormones) think of men in long boots and jodphurs.

And that IME isn't putting boys off at all.

LisaB
Dec. 14, 2007, 08:02 AM
There are 2 other reasons while boys excel at eventing.
One is their pelvis. It goes straight up and down and therefore easier to sit on a horse. Women's go inward so it's harder for us to wrap our legs around a horse.
Two, they are stronger. Since seeing a few horses come out of a particular barn and go to a male rider, I see this difference big time. These hulking masses just need a big strong man to crack on them. Finesse can only get you so far on the larger beasties. I'm a firm believer that's why rollkur is around. Those horses are just too darned big for the rider!

hey101
Dec. 14, 2007, 12:26 PM
Eventer_mi and Halfbroke, your responses were both dead-on. I agree completely

RiverBendPol
Dec. 14, 2007, 01:07 PM
A couple of thoughts.
-Maybe, because we horse-girls *are* so tough, (get right back on, ride with broken bones, etc.) the fellas are afraid they can't measure up? I know my husband, who rides once a year if he has to, DREADS the very idea of getting hurt by a horse. He KNOWS getting stepped on will be the most painful thing that could ever happen, that if he should happen to fall off he'd never walk again.:lol: He is wonderfully supportive of my addiction, helps in the barn, plays his trumpet for the horses (Mikey LOVED it) but is truly afraid of getting hurt.
-Our son, now 30, was a terrific little rider when he was 8-12. He was a natural, had weekly lessons on a schoolie up the road, rode my horse bareback whenever he could, really seemed to 'get it'. One day he got up in the morning and said no more riding. He dropped it for hockey and baseball.
-My own brother, who grew up watching and supporting my riding has 3 children, ages 5, 9, 12. The 12, a son, is WILD about horses. Lives to come here to watch the horses in the fields. (My boys are not suitable for kids:eek: so I haven't offered) I suggested to my brother that he might want to find a place where Jack could ride. Brother's response? "No, that is a girl's game. Not for Jack. Maybe when GiGi gets a little older." How DUMB is that. I was incensed. Idiot.:yes:

poltroon
Dec. 14, 2007, 01:43 PM
I think mentoring and peer groups are really at the heart of it, and this is true for young girls as well. It's not nearly as much fun to ride when it is a solitary activity as it is when you've got peers to compete with and compare to and commiserate with. I bet if you could get packs of boys together, doing racing and bending and jumping and the like, they'd be inclined to stay with it.

veebug22
Dec. 14, 2007, 01:52 PM
Second reason for men at upper levels, they don't get pregnant! Sure plenty of women ride wile pregnant, give birth and get right back into the saddle. But for every one of them there are 10 that get preggers and scale back after childbirth and quite riding and compeating at the level that they did before children. They tend to become more aware of their own mortality. Time and money can factor is as well.

This is SO true. I also agree that men tend to second-guess themselves less. The adult men I've taught were much more okay with making a mistake and less self-analytical about it than the adult women. They just tackled things, even if they weren't very polished while doing it. But they got the job done. I also think men EXPECT rewards and opportunities, and therefore often get them more easily. It's like men and women in a professional environment regarding pay. Men tend to get paid more and more salary increases, because they ask for and expect it. They're not afraid to throw a bigger amount out there.

veebug22
Dec. 14, 2007, 01:56 PM
I think that boys just don't like horses as much as girls, understandably. Part of "horses" is building a relationship with it, spoiling it, loving on it, buying it lots of "clothes", etc (at least when you're a kid). A lot of boys simply aren't into this "relationship with an animal" thing that takes lots of care and commitment.

This thread is FULL of quotable goodies!!! I'm going to tell my husband this tonight and see his response. I agree!

Mustang51
Dec. 14, 2007, 02:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by c_expresso
I think that boys just don't like horses as much as girls, understandably. Part of "horses" is building a relationship with it, spoiling it, loving on it, buying it lots of "clothes", etc (at least when you're a kid). A lot of boys simply aren't into this "relationship with an animal" thing that takes lots of care and commitment.

This thread is FULL of quotable goodies!!! I'm going to tell my husband this tonight and see his response. I agree!

I dont think this has to be true at all though. But I think this has become this perception of horses that makes people think its a girl sport. I certainly don't treat my horse like a fashion doll. I buy tack and stuff only if its absolutely needed. If this were what horses were about then no guy would ride. But if horses were seen as a cowboy or cavalry type exciting activity (which they can be) then I bet there would not be the same stigma.

And as a few have said now, the male/female ratio is a double edged sword. Yes, its great in theory, but when you're the one guy faced with a dozen high school girls it can be rather overwhelming. You're really on your own with no one you can go to for backup! Unless you have a really assertive personality, its hard not to end up feeling pretty isolated. Which brings us back to the idea of needing a good support network.

KellyS
Dec. 14, 2007, 03:38 PM
I haven't read all the responses, but thought I'd add my 2 cents since my husband is an eventer and is the person who introduced me to the sport.

I definitely agree with those who say that guys tends to be more fearless; I would expand to say that they often don't go through the whole "if" stage (ie, if the horse stumbles, falls, etc, what is going to happen). They just "do it" as the famous Nike motto goes.

Aaron started riding at age 12 and by the time he was 16/17 he was going Prelim and would have continued to move up if his horse hadn't had some soundness issues that became apparent at the higher levels. When I met him, we were both in college and he quickly turned me over to the "dark side." :)

We were both equine science majors and I noticed that he never had any issues with wearing breeches (in fact, he's also a volunteer firefighter and never hesitated to show up for fire calls in tennis shoes and breeches if he had been riding, even though the guys certainly got a good laugh out of it).

We both influenced each other in different ways--he taught me how to be brave and much more fearless, and I went from a "chicken" rider to someone who relishes running and jumping cross country. He on the other hand needed a good dose of the "details"--attention to tack cleaning, grooming, and dressage. :lol:

It wasn't that he didn't know the concepts of these things (as a B going on HA pony clubber)--he can talk the talk with the dressage and has a great position and feel, and he won the best turnout award the year he did the Essex three day--but when it came down to every day riding, he was much more apt to just jump on and go than school dressage or do a lot of spit and polishing.

Of course, while he loved the eventing, he discovered a new passion during our college years--combined driving. I have to say we both love it for many different reasons. One, it is something we really do together--we go out on the carriage to condition together, I navigate for marathon (and spend lots of time walking the course with him as we discuss routes through the hazards), and it is definitely a 2-person job to get all the harness and carriages clean.

In addition, there is the whole attraction of driving something with wheels, and while I don't know what is about guys and vehicles, they certainly do love the mechanics of them. Aaron has a sixth sense about where the carriage is at all times, something that I can't quite comprehend. Also, there is a lot of comraderie in the driving world--not that there isn't in the eventing world, but most of the driving events take place over a 2-3 day period (versus many of the 1-day horse trials) and you see the same group of people each time out (it's a small world). Many of them are husband/wife teams and there are quite a few guys that drive.

I guess it also doesn't hurt that it's okay to wear jeans on marathon (http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2597687170055731734DcfKts) and even though he still gets kidded about wearing a "skirt" for dressage/cones (which is actually an apron, which the guys used to wear in the "old" days to keep their trousers clean when driving on muddy roads) (http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2805473990055731734difTqK), that's never been an issue with him. :)

I do think it takes a sensitive soul to truly develop a relationship with a horse that leads to success in the horse sports. I think this is something that comes easily to women, but is not as typical in men. I'm really not trying to stereotype, but I think of our many male friends and not many of them can even understand the relationship that Aaron and I have with our beasties. However, the guys that are comfortable with that side of their personality (and even the most manly man guys can be sensitive in this way) certainly will find much success in the horse world, even if they are outnumbered by all the females. :)

sidepasser
Dec. 14, 2007, 04:13 PM
The male child weighs in:

1. Tight pants
2. Most boys in this country aren't ever encouraged to get in to horses. Girls have Barbies and Breyer horses. Guys are killing things with sticks.
3. Riding in a ring is boring. Going fast is not.
4. Identifies TOTALLY with an earlier comment with regard to pony club and the only clean thing that counts is the round in the ring.

There you have it - from a 17 year old male brain. Scarey.

From another 17 year old male brain:

1. The costume.
2. Who do you ride with? No guys to be seen hardly (even at the big shows mom dragged me to..lots of girls and a few men, no one around the same age). Moms don't want 17 year old boys going off riding with 15-16 year old girls.
3. Reining, working cowhorse, team penning, roping and cutting - fun, fast, exciting and the horse is expected to get dirty and no one cares if it's mane is braided or not. More men, more teen boys, more families involved. Not so stuffy.

He won't date girls who ride either. Says they are interested only in horses and what to do with horses and not interested in anything else. High maintenance gals with higher maintenance horses - just not worth the effort to get involved.

Guess that is about what I see too..I go to shows, both larger and smaller..and I may see one or two boys..rest girls. Heck all you have to do is look at the entries. We spent a day at Poplar Place and saw dads watching their daughters and wives ride. Saw boyfriends watching girlfriends ride. Saw sons watching moms..didn't really see many boys, teens, men riding at all, certainly not in proportion to the numbers of girls/women.

On the other hand, I went to a really cool reining barn over the weekend..guys falling out of the woodwork..(where is that headshaking yes smilie icon). I really enjoyed watching the reiners, and the men were doing the backslappin, way to go, thang that men do when they have a good slide and spin.

Matter of fact..now that I think about..there were 4 women there..(trainer's wife, barn manager, myself and my friend who dropped her mare off for training)..rest of the people were men. Good riders too and ages varied from young all the way up to older..ever seen a man 70 something ride a reiner? too cool...

So maybe that is the way to get the young boys to ride? I know it won't do diddly squat for eventing..but from watching those guys Saturday, they were having a blast and the horses..awh they were gorgeous and groomed to perfection. The horses looked like "men's horses..long manes, tails, just the way nature made em. They were spit shined coming out of the stalls and dirty nasty going back to the barn. No one fussed too much over them though, after all these were "working" hosses - lol. The price tags on those horses reminded me of how much I can't afford..sigh.

I had a blast and am going to go back to watch again. Another thing I note about western events..it's not just moms and daughters..it's a family affair at the shows..I mean it's more like Daddy gets the trailer hooked up, mom gets the kids and horses/ponies together, and grandma and grandpa comes and any other shirt tail relatives and they SPEND THE DAY whooping and hollering for their kids, ponies, kin, and other folk's kids too.

I don't see that much at english events (and I have been to a lot of them over the years). I am not saying it doesn't happen as I am sure it does. I am saying that I seem to see primarily Moms and daughters at these events, or the dad brings the daughter and mom and then he leaves or finds a "fellow distressed dad" and they drink beer and commiserate together.

Maybe it would help if there were more "family" involvement. I see boy's fox hunting and playing polo - now polo - my kid would have loved if there was a "minor" type league..he'd say it's "football on horses" or some such thing (hockey on horseback?)..anyway it's a rough and tumble type sport that he would like.

anyway that's my take on it from seeing it from both the western view and the english view. I've spent about equal time on both sides of the fence (nearly 20 years each). Only thing I have seen change is less boys in the english side, more women and girls. On the western side, things are about the same as they were 30 years ago..with about the same numbers of boys and men participating.

I know nothing about saddleseat and that type of class..but I do see a LOT of men in the TWH world showing and in the Arab world showing.

poltroon
Dec. 14, 2007, 04:33 PM
And as a few have said now, the male/female ratio is a double edged sword. Yes, its great in theory, but when you're the one guy faced with a dozen high school girls it can be rather overwhelming. You're really on your own with no one you can go to for backup! Unless you have a really assertive personality, its hard not to end up feeling pretty isolated. Which brings us back to the idea of needing a good support network.

Same is true when you're a little blonde-haired girl in engineering. ;)

hey101
Dec. 14, 2007, 04:47 PM
Same is true when you're a little blonde-haired girl in engineering. ;)

:lol: speak for yourself, I thought it was fab! As did the three, or was it four? other ladies in my ChE classes at Penn State. Guys are much more fun to hang out with than women, especially after we all got nailed on a particularly impossible test and the only cure for it was to head to the bar. :D

criss
Dec. 14, 2007, 06:27 PM
Years ago it was socially acceptable to make fun of Polish people, Black and Jews. Now the only acceptable minority to publicly shame is homosexuals.
Well, and women, apparently. Especially when we have the audacity to take over a sport that requires real balls.

To me, the real question is, why aren't women being supported to the upper levels? Why, with all the women at the lower levels, are so comparatively few of them making it to the upper levels, when it seems like practically every man who events must make it to the upper levels, given the 50-50 split among ULRs?

I do think part of it is the same reason women lag behind in a lot of areas--because we get pregnant, because we stay home and take care of our families, because men don't ever seem to have to choose between themselves and their families--but in eventing, particularly, there's something else going on.

We are so pathetically grateful for any man who is kind enough to grace our sport with his presence that we fall all over ourselves making him welcome. We clean tack, braid, do all those things men are somehow too good for, just so they will do us the enormous favor of competing against us. So OF COURSE it's easier for men to advance, they never have to "waste" time paying their dues!

I'm also curious as to why big tough men (and boys), who are too big and tough to braid a mane, are such delicate little flowers that they shrivel up at the thought of a woman laughing at them? I was one of the only girls on my ski team for ten years, and the boys were pretty universally horrible to me--certainly much worse than I can see any group of girls being to a boy at a barn--and yet I survived. I found it helpful, when they were making fun of me for my weight or whatever, to even the score by the simple expedient of referring them to the points list: "Sure, I may be a girl, but let's remember I'm beating you?" If I didn't need strength in numbers just to feel secure in my skill, I don't see why it's so different when the ratios are reversed.

Perhaps the average man is also such a delicate little flower that he can't face the thought of losing to a group of women?

CallMeGrace
Dec. 14, 2007, 06:29 PM
Well, and women, apparently. Especially when we have the audacity to take over a sport that requires real balls.

To me, the real question is, why aren't women being supported to the upper levels? Why, with all the women at the lower levels, are so comparatively few of them making it to the upper levels, when it seems like practically every man who events must make it to the upper levels, given the 50-50 split among ULRs?

I do think part of it is the same reason women lag behind in a lot of areas--because we get pregnant, because we stay home and take care of our families, because men don't ever seem to have to choose between themselves and their families--but in eventing, particularly, there's something else going on.

We are so pathetically grateful for any man who is kind enough to grace our sport with his presence that we fall all over ourselves making him welcome. We clean tack, braid, do all those things men are somehow too good for, just so they will do us the enormous favor of competing against us. So OF COURSE it's easier for men to advance, they never have to "waste" time paying their dues!

I'm also curious as to why big tough men (and boys), who are too big and tough to braid a mane, are such delicate little flowers that they shrivel up at the thought of a woman laughing at them? I was one of the only girls on my ski team for ten years, and the boys were pretty universally horrible to me--certainly much worse than I can see any group of girls being to a boy at a barn--and yet I survived. I found it helpful, when they were making fun of me for my weight or whatever, to even the score by the simple expedient of referring them to the points list: "Sure, I may be a girl, but let's remember I'm beating you?" If I didn't need strength in numbers just to feel secure in my skill, I don't see why it's so different when the ratios are reversed.

Perhaps the average man is also such a delicate little flower that he can't face the thought of losing to a group of women?

GREAT post!! Thank you !

criss
Dec. 14, 2007, 06:33 PM
GREAT post!! Thank you !
Well, at least someone's with me here. I kind of suspect that was a sh!tstorm-starting post... :winkgrin:

seeuatx
Dec. 14, 2007, 06:43 PM
I think someone mentioned this already, but I think the reason for the larger percentage of men making it to the upper levels compared to the percentage of women is that men are pushed (by friends, parents, society) to be THE best....where as I think many girls (myself included) are pushed to be THEIR best ( literally while coaches pushed my big brother to win, win, win... they just told us girls "well do your best sweetee" <shudder>)

So while many of us women may be in a position that we would love to have the opportunity to compete and be successful at the ULs, a lot of us are just as happy to canter around at the lower levels, or do the sports our horses want to do, even if it takes us out of eventing.

Whereas the guy riders I know set goals for themselves, and find ways to meet or beat them. For example, new guy at my barn started riding 3 months ago. He now takes 3 lessons a week, is leasing a tough horse because "he likes the challenge", and absorbs all knowledge like a sponge and then applies it the next time you see him. BTW, he is 47. in three months he has accomplished more than some of the other adult beginners have in 3 years. I forsee a drafty cross in his future, and maybe eventing if I can convert him to the darkside ;)

P.S. I'm not saying that this is right, it is just what I see as I look back to my childhood, and I see how it affected how I look at my sporting life now.

TexasTB
Dec. 14, 2007, 07:09 PM
Well, and women, apparently. Especially when we have the audacity to take over a sport that requires real balls.

To me, the real question is, why aren't women being supported to the upper levels? Why, with all the women at the lower levels, are so comparatively few of them making it to the upper levels, when it seems like practically every man who events must make it to the upper levels, given the 50-50 split among ULRs?

Because women are more apt to compete at events recreationally, as horseback riding is largely seen as a "girl" sport. The great majority of men that do it have to be very serious about it in order to stay in it. That's not to say that women arent arent serious about it, in fact I know many who are. But there is a much higher number of women who ride on a recreational basis than there are men. I don't really understand your point of how women arent being supported to the upper levels?? Care to explain?



We are so pathetically grateful for any man who is kind enough to grace our sport with his presence that we fall all over ourselves making him welcome. We clean tack, braid, do all those things men are somehow too good for, just so they will do us the enormous favor of competing against us. So OF COURSE it's easier for men to advance, they never have to "waste" time paying their dues!

Well, I'm a guy that rides and i never have people do "favors" for me. I clean my own tack, take care of my own horse. You are very disillusioned if you think that men don't have to pay their dues or take care of their own horse. I don't expect special treatment nor would I enjoy it- I prefert to be treated just like every other person at the barn.
I will admit that I do not braid at shows, but it is not a matter of being "too good" for it, I simply cannot braid and when I do it ends up looking like crap. So, I will usually hire a braider at the shows, does that mean I'm not paying my dues?



I'm also curious as to why big tough men (and boys), who are too big and tough to braid a mane, are such delicate little flowers that they shrivel up at the thought of a woman laughing at them? I was one of the only girls on my ski team for ten years, and the boys were pretty universally horrible to me--certainly much worse than I can see any group of girls being to a boy at a barn--and yet I survived. I found it helpful, when they were making fun of me for my weight or whatever, to even the score by the simple expedient of referring them to the points list: "Sure, I may be a girl, but let's remember I'm beating you?" If I didn't need strength in numbers just to feel secure in my skill, I don't see why it's so different when the ratios are reversed.

Perhaps the average man is also such a delicate little flower that he can't face the thought of losing to a group of women?

You're right, the men that are concerned about being laughed at by other girls in the sport to need some thicker skin. I've been riding since I was 8, so I'm pretty much used to being the only guy at the barn or at events. Yes, there is a light amount of friendly teasing that goes on, but I can dish it right back ;). We're all good friends and we keep it light hearted

criss
Dec. 14, 2007, 08:08 PM
I don't really understand your point of how women arent being supported to the upper levels?? Care to explain?

Well, read the post before yours, for a brief summary of the subject.

The very fact that there are probably ten times as many women at the lower levels, whereas at the upper levels the numbers are about equal, should tell you that there are more terminal-lower-level female riders than male ones. To an extent, that's fine--I do think part of it is that women have a healthier sense of self-preservation than men, on average--but there are an awful lot of great female riders who aren't getting the support to maximize their talent.

The same can't be said of male riders; it appears to me that most male eventers are getting as far as their innate ability allows, which is also fine, but not if it's at the expense of the girls. I think there's plenty in this thread, said by everyone from Denny on down to regular eventers whose sons ride, to suggest that male riders are (and the implication is that they should be) catered to painstakingly. The idea is "How do you get boys to ride?" with the sense that if you could give them a free pass to not do the things everyone else has to do--braid, clean a real leather saddle, wear breeches instead of jeans--the sport would be more attractive to them, and that that's a necessary thing somehow.

I say, let whoever wants to ride, ride. Whoever doesn't...well, why exactly do we need gender-based affirmative action in eventing? I could buy that we need regular old affirmative action--one of the only things I don't like about eventing is that it's so freakin' pasty-white it's kind of blinding sometimes--but I don't see why luring boys in is such a huge deal. We ought to be celebrating the prevalence of women in this very challenging sport, as compared to the title-9 troubles so many other sports have.

I especially object to the sense that boys don't want to take care of horses, they just want to ride, and that somehow we should be enabling that. It's entirely contrary to what the sport should be all about, imho.



I will admit that I do not braid at shows, but it is not a matter of being "too good" for it, I simply cannot braid and when I do it ends up looking like crap. So, I will usually hire a braider at the shows, does that mean I'm not paying my dues?
Well, I suppose not. I mean, I've hired a braider before too, because my braids suck too. I don't think, however, that my trainer would have allowed me (as a teen) to hire braiders at every event and never work on my own braiding. I can now do braids that at least don't look like a crazy person did them, and I think it's important to engage with challenges like that if you're a serious competitor. But that's not a gender thing, that's a me-being-neurotic thing. :) I also can't abide pretied stock ties, so that's just the kind of nutcase I am.

What I'm really referring to is, again, the sense that we should be making the horse-care part artificially easy to lure in the boys.

sirena_chaucer
Dec. 14, 2007, 09:08 PM
:lol:


The same can't be said of male riders; it appears to me that most male eventers are getting as far as their innate ability allows, which is also fine, but not if it's at the expense of the girls. I think there's plenty in this thread, said by everyone from Denny on down to regular eventers whose sons ride, to suggest that male riders are (and the implication is that they should be) catered to painstakingly. The idea is "How do you get boys to ride?" with the sense that if you could give them a free pass to not do the things everyone else has to do--braid, clean a real leather saddle, wear breeches instead of jeans--the sport would be more attractive to them, and that that's a necessary thing somehow.

I say, let whoever wants to ride, ride. Whoever doesn't...well, why exactly do we need gender-based affirmative action in eventing? I could buy that we need regular old affirmative action--one of the only things I don't like about eventing is that it's so freakin' pasty-white it's kind of blinding sometimes-...

This thread is kind of odd. But excellent entertainment. :yes: I agree with the above poster. The day I realized how 'pasty-white' eventing is, was a day when I saw a black kid running through the show grounds and it actually made me take a second look. Then I thought, 'why does that seem out-of-place?'...wow, b/c I've only ever known ONE black rider. And he's male. And rides at the upper levels. Which makes me think about this thread- what kind of peer pressure do you think he suffered through growing up as a solitary black guy riding eventers? :lol:

IMHO- I don't mind the majority of riders being women. Saves me from having to see men wearing breeches...:no: :winkgrin: My two coaches have been male, and one is very European (so it doesn't seem too...um, yuck) and the other doesn't wear breeches until shows and at the very last minute. :lol:

Maybe my childhood household was too 'John Wayne' but to me, its hard to see a man in breeches and not think a little less of his masculinity. So, I can understand the guys' argument that the pants are a major turn off. Sorry guys, it really does suck for y'all to wear the breeches. At least the fabric isn't like ballet tights or something. (:dead:)

criss
Dec. 14, 2007, 09:22 PM
Maybe my childhood household was too 'John Wayne' but to me, its hard to see a man in breeches and not think a little less of his masculinity. So, I can understand the guys' argument that the pants are a major turn off. Sorry guys, it really does suck for y'all to wear the breeches. At least the fabric isn't like ballet tights or something. (:dead:)
I promise I'm not trying to be a bitch here, but...huh? If you find the male physique so revolting in revealing clothes, what do you do (assuming you are straight) about an entirely naked man? No, really, don't answer that, it was kinda-sorta rhetorical...

I really see nothing at all unmanly about breeches. Heck, my fiance looks better in breeches than I do! I feel that if one is going to wear tight pants, one is better off without much in the way of hips and rear to stretch the fabric out. I despise loose, pleated breeches on anyone of any shape and gender. So clearly YMMV.

sirena_chaucer
Dec. 14, 2007, 09:31 PM
I promise I'm not trying to be a bitch here, but...huh? If you find the male physique so revolting in revealing clothes, what do you do (assuming you are straight) about an entirely naked man? No, really, don't answer that, it was kinda-sorta rhetorical...

I really see nothing at all unmanly about breeches. Heck, my fiance looks better in breeches than I do! I feel that if one is going to wear tight pants, one is better off without much in the way of hips and rear to stretch the fabric out. I despise loose, pleated breeches on anyone of any shape and gender. So clearly YMMV.

:lol: I figured someone would ask that...my mum asks me that too. No, I'm straight. Might be easier in this sport if I wasn't? :lol::eek: I don't think many male riders are all that lovely, period. Sorry. I think those pleated things are terrible, too. But this is WAY off the original topic of the thread, and I don't want to offend any of the male riders. If you're a good rider, who cares what you're wearing? And that is definitely what I think. :yes:

Just for Criss- those football pants, on a fit football player? :yes: I'll actually watch the channel for a while if they're standing around and showing off those bodies! ;) But male ballet dancers? :no: So I'm just weird. No reflection on the general populace.

criss
Dec. 14, 2007, 10:34 PM
Eh, to each her own. ;)

Personally, I find big-dumb-guy sports types entirely unappealing sexually, though some of them are really nice people. Dancers, on the other hand...well, I do know a few straight (and bi) male dancers, and I think they're mostly pretty hot (gay male dancers are hot too, I suppose, but not to me b/c I have decent enough gaydar to know when there's no point). Guys who ride...well, some are hot and some aren't. Sorta, you know, like girls who ride? To me, dance is a hyper-sexualized thing already, so people who succeed as professional dancers tend to be sexy people because that's a prized trait, where with riding, not so much (fortunately! :lol:).

pegasusmom
Dec. 14, 2007, 11:06 PM
I showed my son this thread - he'd respond but he is out in the barn cleaning his leather saddles. . . . :cool:

In our family horses are something we do together. The kid feeds, my husband cleans tack, we all muck stalls, they both can braid manes and tails (sorry Denny) - here at Pegasus Ridge it's all about team work and everybody does everything in order to support everyone else. I think with boys you have to take a different approach, but to suggest that I give my son a "free pass" . . . . darlin' come on over sometime and sit on the fence here. There are no free rides at our house. Yes, I do braid for him at shows, I find it a calming thing for me and I enjoy turning out a horse well. It doesn't mean my son can't. He does and has.

And for the record, there is absolutely nothing finer than the rear view of my husband in breeches and boots.

sirena_chaucer
Dec. 14, 2007, 11:58 PM
Eh, to each her own. ;)

That's what makes the world go round, eh.


Personally, I find big-dumb-guy sports types entirely unappealing sexually, though some of them are really nice people.

Well, there's a difference between finding them interesting (AKA wanting to hop in the sack with them) and appreciating a fantastic body. And btw I personally haven't met an extraordinarily brilliant (intelligence-wise) dancer or football player. I think you could say it depends on the individual, huh?


Guys who ride...well, some are hot and some aren't. Sorta, you know, like girls who ride? To me, dance is a hyper-sexualized thing already, so people who succeed as professional dancers tend to be sexy people because that's a prized trait, where with riding, not so much (fortunately! :lol:).

Sorta, you know, like guys who ride western? Or, sorta, you know, like any other athletic person in any part of the world. ;)

criss
Dec. 15, 2007, 12:42 AM
You said, and I merely quote:

As for grooming and braiding - well that's what moms and girlfriends are for! ;)
I didn't mean to imply that your son is lazy--sounds like he isn't--just that a lot of the discussion early on in this thread revolved around "How can we remove the aspects of riding and eventing that are offensive to boys?" and that seemed to basically mean "Take out all the stuff that isn't galloping and jumping, especially the parts where you're not riding at all and have to make everything all neat and clean!" That was what rubbed me the wrong way.

I am not "for" cleaning up after anything that doesn't have four legs. :winkgrin:

pegasusmom
Dec. 15, 2007, 09:41 AM
You said, and I merely quote:

I didn't mean to imply that your son is lazy--sounds like he isn't--just that a lot of the discussion early on in this thread revolved around "How can we remove the aspects of riding and eventing that are offensive to boys?" and that seemed to basically mean "Take out all the stuff that isn't galloping and jumping, especially the parts where you're not riding at all and have to make everything all neat and clean!" That was what rubbed me the wrong way.

I am not "for" cleaning up after anything that doesn't have four legs. :winkgrin:


Which is a long standing joke between Denny, my son and myself.

RAyers
Dec. 15, 2007, 12:52 PM
I didn't mean to imply that your son is lazy--sounds like he isn't--just that a lot of the discussion early on in this thread revolved around "How can we remove the aspects of riding and eventing that are offensive to boys?" and that seemed to basically mean "Take out all the stuff that isn't galloping and jumping, especially the parts where you're not riding at all and have to make everything all neat and clean!" That was what rubbed me the wrong way.



Hmm,you have to admit it sounds like taking the focus of eventing back to its original roots to me. Eventing was never created to be a fashion show. It was supposed to be a sport of bravery and boldness and even now those are gone.

criss
Dec. 15, 2007, 02:34 PM
Wait, Reed, you mean the military isn't a place where attention to spotless turnout is required? Then where the heck did Pony Club inherit that ethic from? Because it was always my impression that putting the care of the horse, and the care of one's equipment, before the excitement of riding was a pretty military (and PC, by extension) sort of thing to do.

If all you want to do is go fast through the countryside, get a freaking atv. If boys don't have the desire or the attention span to attend to a horse the way they should, then we shouldn't be encouraging them to ride, period.

And I myself am far from blameless in this regard--I will never, ever forget the @$$-chewing I got from my mother when I left my horse tied to a trailer, tacked up, in the middle of a hot July day, so I could go screw around with other 4-H kids at a show (I was 11, theoretically old enough to know better, but obviously I didn't), and I am not always the queen of clean tack even now, though I do have the horse care part down now--but I get why it's important. Judging from this thread, on of the main obstacles to boys riding is that they think fussing over their horses and their equipment is for sissies. I'm just calling BS on that particular aspect of this whole thing.

Letting young men skim off the fun parts of any activity without responsibilities, not insisting they pay attention to detail, is not doing them any favor in the long run. I really don't think we need any more testosterone-fueled idiots running around thinking the world is all fun and games, that's all. Men do not, as you have doubtless observed, have to behave that way.

And for the record, Reed, you are a pretty well turned out rider, from the pics I have seen, and your horse seems to be pretty important to you, so I'm not sure what exactly we disagree about.

RAyers
Dec. 15, 2007, 08:35 PM
And for the record, Reed, you are a pretty well turned out rider, from the pics I have seen, and your horse seems to be pretty important to you, so I'm not sure what exactly we disagree about.

If you honestly mean that, then you have just justified the case you are so adamantly argue against. Ask numerous people on this board (Gnep, deltwave, for starters) about my grooming skills. I have 3 things in my grooming kit (curry, brush, hoof pick). If I put more than 11 braids in my horse's mane it is too much effort. The last time my horse had a bath was 3 years ago when he had scurf. As for breeches, the only time I wear them for the 3 phases of competition, otherwise it is chaps for me.

In other words I am like peagususmom's son and damn proud of it. :D

This thread had nothing to do with changing rules but rather looking at why men in the US don't like the English discipline.

It seems that the men who responded here all have had the same experiences so I am not sure why you disagree with us?

Reed

JFS
Dec. 15, 2007, 10:56 PM
As the mother of two boys who event I read this thread (all six pages in one sitting) with interest. Since I've ridden most of my life and have evented for more than 30 years I'm probably far from the typical mother. I often wonder if my boys would have showed any interest if they hadn't been 'born' into it. My eldest did Rolex ** in utero. In any case I made an effort to not give my kids formal lessons when they were young. We went trail riding alot and basically just had fun on horseback. I would look out the window and they would be running around chasing each other with their 'sticks' pointed at each other and making shooting noises. Riding is just something they always did. When they were asked about it at school they actually liked doing something that no one else did. We use to have the Boy Scouts come out and jump judge at our events and they never questioned them again after seeing that. They were impressed. Oh yeah, they noticed all the girls.

The fact that my husband has never been into traditional sports helped as they were never pushed in that direction. I agree that boys have so many other options where sports are concerned but girls have more and more of those opportunities these days. I have a few students that work their riding around their sports rather than the other way around.

I do agree that boys are adrelin junkies they both ride dirt bikes and ski fast! My oldest son went Prelim when he was 13 (Dec baby) and Intermediate when he was 15. When my youngest son's horse got hurt a few years back he really got into mounted games and is passionate about that sport. He even competed in Europe this past summer. By the way, that sport is definitely male dominated. If I would not have allowed him to move up to Prelim this year I may have lost him as he was getting bored and games was a fast paced sport. He wants to do the one star in VA this spring which just happens to be the same week as his high school graduation. He doesn't care and I'm all for it, but we're still working on his father.

I teach our Pony Club and we fortunately have enough young boys to have a boys only group. I must tell you that I teach them completely different than the girls. I think the fact that I have boys makes a big difference. My boys don't like to hear it but they are role models for the younger boys in the club.

I know this doesn't answer the questions, but I think that if the boys are nurtured in the right way, they have fun while getting that adrelin rush and relish not being just like every other boy we might have more boys riding. But as I said earlier, if I didn't have horses and make it available to my boys, I really don't think they ever would have shown any interest.

Sometimes I question why I encouraged my boys to ride. If I hadn't; I would be the one with the nice horses, I could afford a fancy saddle and there would be enough money left over for me to compete a little more. Of who am I kidding, I love being able to share my love of horses and eventing with my kids.

criss
Dec. 16, 2007, 12:15 AM
If you honestly mean that, then you have just justified the case you are so adamantly argue against. Ask numerous people on this board (Gnep, deltwave, for starters) about my grooming skills. I have 3 things in my grooming kit (curry, brush, hoof pick). If I put more than 11 braids in my horse's mane it is too much effort. The last time my horse had a bath was 3 years ago when he had scurf. As for breeches, the only time I wear them for the 3 phases of competition, otherwise it is chaps for me.
Mmmkay, I've been resisting this, but...:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Reed, you're welcome.

It was supposed to be a compliment: You may talk the talk about how men don't want to fuss over all that stuff, but Shiver is shiny in all your photos, and you seem to care about how he feels, whether he's happy, etc. However, if you'd rather prove me wrong by telling us all you don't bathe your horse, well, whatevs. I don't bathe mine much either these days, although admittedly that's because I'm not competing at the moment.

JFS, I'm not sure what to think about the "If I hadn't let him go Prelim, he would have stopped riding" thing--part of the problem I have here is that boys seem to be drawn to riding for the excitement/challenge and nothing else, and that worries me from the standpoint of the horse's welfare. If the need for caution repels boys and drives them from the sport forever, as a horse lover first and a rider second I can't really object to going ahead and letting them be driven away.

However, I really don't think this sort of ultimatum is necessary, since I know plenty of men who are just as cautious and just as willing to put their horses first as any woman could be. I don't get why men have to thump their chests and insist that they are just here for the adrenaline.

I'm so done with this thread.

Beverley
Dec. 16, 2007, 01:08 AM
Just noticed this thread as the NFR finals broadcast concluded (local kid won the bull riding, yay!).

And earlier in the evening, my 22 yo son, who one year ago today broke his pelvis skiing to work, looked at the steer wrestling and said 'well, Mom, why didn't you every tell me about THAT sport when I was taking riding lessons?'

He started foxhunting with me when he was 4, and when we moved to Utah, where there is no hunting, joined Pony Club but lasted less than a year- only boy, 4th grader, and, well, not enough riding, too many meetings at various houses, though he did enjoy the polocrosse.

He would get on a horse to go hunting again, and thinks maybe with $10k worth of metal holding his pelvis together, he shouldn't try to take up steer wrestling or roping...but he's thinking about team penning. Eventing? Well, he watched the '96 Olympics with me, xc, fine, but not willing to gut it out to achieve proficiency in dressage.

But, challenge to guys wearing tight pants: Go hunting with the Red Rock Hounds in Eureka, Nevada some time (they do a long weekend there every year). After hunting, stroll on into the Owl Club on Main Street wearing your britches. The locals will be waiting for you...:cool:

pegasusmom
Dec. 16, 2007, 10:46 AM
Well, now I can't resist. Boys are motivated differently. I am not sure where you got the idea that my son didn't care very much for his horses, and was in it soley for the adrenaline rush and that he didn't step up to the plate to take care of his horses. . . well you have opted to take virtually everything every parent and male rider has posted here and twist it to fit an idea that only you have in your head.

And if I EVER had any doubts as to my son's true feelings for the horses he rides, (or how he takes care of them), all I need to do is think back to a horrible afternoon late last July when he had to have the final say so in putting his beloved A grade polocrosse mare down. Six months later and he still can't talk about it without crying and her loss has absolutely nothing to do with him not being able to gallop her across a playing field any more.

Reed - for the record - I am really proud of the fact that between Andrew and I we can make his horse look great with only 10 or 11 braids in. Those COTHers who know us know how particularly Andrew and I are about his horse care and turn out.

JFS - your post could have been mine, especially the apart about not having the fancy saddles and nice horses! And my son just asked for permission to take his finals early so he can do the 1* in Virginia, the week before he graduates - so perhaps we will see you there!

CallMeGrace
Dec. 16, 2007, 10:57 AM
I have to agree with Pegasusmom - my son LOVES every animal he comes into contact with. He is meticulous about the care and welfare of the horses in his care. That is why, since the age of 14, he has worked every weekend to care for other people's horses to pay for his. That is why he is riding in a saddle that is too small for his all-of-a-sudden too tall body - because his horse needed a winter blanket. And, the boys we know that have stuck with it have done so for that very same reason - because they have the respect and admiration for their mounts that get the results! You don't get to the upper levels by just jumping on and kicking. It takes a connection with a horse's psyche to perform at the upper levels. So, another thought - perhaps more women don't make it because that kind of connection gets lost in boys, marriage and children? I know mine did.

bip
Dec. 16, 2007, 11:07 AM
When people start honestly worrying about the low number of women in my line of work, I will worry about the low numbers of men in eventing. Considering that the male:female ratio evens out as you approach the top, I would say there aren't barriers keeping them from excelling ... which can't be said for women, who still after all these years face a glass ceiling in so many fields.

War Admiral
Dec. 16, 2007, 11:14 AM
In my area, a huge part of the problem is prejudice against eventing on the part of the male PARENT, who does not want his son strolling around in those tight breeches.

This is a true story: the night I bid in HRH Avery (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v280/goonrgrrl/avery/averynme2.jpg) at the feedlot auction, I fell into conversation with an 8 year old boy who was eyeing Avery wistfully.

"Wow," he said. "What a cool horse. I want to do Eventing. I could REALLY do Eventing on a horse like that."

I explained to him gently that, while HRH Avery did indeed LOOK like he'd be a top-notch eventer, he wasn't sound up front and would never be suitable for the job. But that I was thinking of buying him just to give him a good home, b/c he was way too classy a horse to go for meat.

It was a very long sale, and both the little boy and I kept drifting past HRH Avery's pen and taking more looks and chatting about what makes a suitable event horse. Eventually the boy brought his cowboy-hatted dad over to take a look. "Daddy, I really want to do Eventing. I wish we could get a horse just like this one."

"No. Absolutely not. We're going to find you a nice Quarter Horse that you can use for the gaming stuff. No son of mine is going to wear those stupid pants."

Kid: "Just seems like an awful lot of fun, though, all that jumping. I'd really love to do that."

Dad: "You can hop over jumps on a QH."

Well, long story short, I bought the horse - and the kid was probably the only one at the auction that night who understood why. ;)

The punch line is that I run into that kid and dad every so often, and eight years later, the kid - who is now 16 - STILL wants to do eventing and his dad STILL won't let him. Because of the pants. :no: It's a heartbreaker on all counts, it really is. :( I can only hope and pray that once he leaves the family nest, the kid will follow his dream.

JFS
Dec. 16, 2007, 11:48 AM
Cris I must not have made myself very clear. My son would not have quit riding if I hadn't let him go Prelim, he simply wouldn't event anymore if he had to keep going training. He actually would like to do jumpers if it would fit into our schedule. Both of my boys love their horses dearly and although the may not always groom them the best, especially this time of year and sometimes don't get around to cleaning stalls until 10PM they know their horses intimately and they recognize the minute the horse walks in the barn at night if something isn't quite right with their friend.

Boys/men are lot more sensitive about their horses than we give them credit for, they just don't outwardly show it as much. Anyone who was at the USEA Convention and heard Eric Smiley speak knew that he is a man who truly loves his horses.

Pegasusmom (I think it was you) maybe we'll see you at the VA CCI*.

pegasusmom
Dec. 16, 2007, 12:19 PM
Cris I must not have made myself very clear. My son would not have quit riding if I hadn't let him go Prelim, he simply wouldn't event anymore if he had to keep going training. He actually would like to do jumpers if it would fit into our schedule. Both of my boys love their horses dearly and although the may not always groom them the best, especially this time of year and sometimes don't get around to cleaning stalls until 10PM they know their horses intimately and they recognize the minute the horse walks in the barn at night if something isn't quite right with their friend.

Boys/men are lot more sensitive about their horses than we give them credit for, they just don't outwardly show it as much. Anyone who was at the USEA Convention and heard Eric Smiley speak knew that he is a man who truly loves his horses.

I think what some folks missed is that while the adrenaline factor is more likely to attract boys to eventing, and parents and trainers have to teach from a different position. That does not equate to not teaching responsibility and care at all.

Pegasusmom (I think it was you) maybe we'll see you at the VA CCI*.


One of the hardest things for me to deal with is that my son doesn't work on the same schedule I do, so I can totally identify with stall cleaning at 10 pm. But. . . we currently have five horses here, turned out into three groups. Andrew's eventer goes out by himself and about three weeks ago we rotated pastures, with Bo ending up on the "end", and thus more often than not, isolated from the rest of the crowd and my neighbor's 4 in hand ponies with whom he communed each and every morning. It was my son who picked up on his depression and insisted we put Bo back - happy horsey once again.

I think was some people missed here is that the adrenaline factor is more likely to attract boys and that parents and trainers have to coach from a different postion. That does not equate into not teaching responsibility and good management.

Anne FS
Dec. 16, 2007, 12:43 PM
I think that boys just don't like horses as much as girls, understandably. Part of "horses" is building a relationship with it, spoiling it, loving on it, buying it lots of "clothes", etc

!!!!!!!!!!! Buying it lots of clothes?!? Gag.

Here to say that for SOME girls this may be true, but there are a lot of girl RIDERS out there who aren't interested in making Barbie dolls out of their horses.

Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl
Dec. 16, 2007, 01:29 PM
There is a fabulous essay from the 20's by Crascredo called "Boys on Ponies"

It begins:

A man once gave in nine words a reaon for killing himself whaich was more adequate than most men could give for being allowed to live. "I am tired," he wrote, with a fine simplicity, "of all this buttoning and unbuttoning>" The coroner said it was temporary insanity, but the unofficial view is that the man was temporarily sane.

All small boys would agree with the latter verdict, and it is therefore prudent, when teaching boys to ride, not to lay too much stress on the importance of a boy being able to strip his own sadlle, fit his own bridle, and carry out the thousand and one buttoning and unbuttoning processes which are, naturally, so interesting to the horsemanster and, rightly, so boring to a boy.

The man who cannot realise this may or may not be fitted to command a cavalry regiment - he is totally unfit to teach a boy to ride. And if you want your boy taught to ride, you had better sound the proposed teacher as to the rest of his views on the subject.

If, with the airy generalization which some men adopt in laying down laws for the young, he declares that "every boy" ought to be able to groom his own pony, water and feed him, and know the parts of the horse, then shun that man, It would, of course, be better to kill him, but shunning is safer.

Horsemastership and democracy have this in common, that an equal amount of cant and hypocrisy is talked by the devotees of both. To bore a boy with riding school and "the minor ailments" and expect him to become a keen young horseman is nearly as futile as to preach the federation of man to a Russian peasant. The boy anad the Bolshevik will go round the corner together - looking for something to smash.

On the other hand, while there may be certain difficulties in persuading a man that Socialism means sharing his own property as well as that of other people, there are no difficulties in pesuading boys to like riding - if you go the right way about it. And the right way is perfectly simple.

[snip a couple pages]

At such times he will get the boy to lift the ponies fore legs (hind legs come later) or to loosen and tighten the girths, and he may even venture on a casual remark to the effect that "these" are the withers and "this" is what they call the hock. If all this is done casually, there is at least a fifty-fifty chance that the boy may take a real interest: if it is done, as some men do it, with the pugnacity of an old-fashioned drill-sargeant, there is the certainty that, when next a ride is suggested, the small boy will prefer to spend the afternoon making his rabbit's life a misery.

Indeed, all through the training, you and the rabbit will always be up against the fact that, if teaching is conducted in such a way that the small boy is either bored or frightened, he will plump for more peaceful pursuits - in which he gets peace, even if other people or his rabbit are frightened or bored.

hey101
Dec. 16, 2007, 01:43 PM
Over my morning coffee I just asked my husband "why don't more guys get into riding"

His response, and I quote:

"Because of the pants. Gay gay gay. Who wants to wear that sh!t?"

He then made some unflattering commetns on male H/J and dressage riders, which I won't repeat. ;)

(disclaimer, I don't agree with the sentiment, but it's an honest answer to the question we are all asking here)

I've asked non-riding male friends and the response was similar.

I think if a boy grows up around horses such as JFS or pegasusmom's kids, they don't perceive it as a girly sport. Of the top male riders in eventing, how many of them grew up in horses- DOC, Buck, Doug Payne to think of a few off the top of my head. But if boys don't have that opportunity to be exposed to horses from the beginning, and most kids do not, then horses are seen as a girls sport in today's society. My husband has become a very good rider and loves our horses and we go on long active galloping rides, but at the same time he still perceives the pants as "gay" (again, I don't agree with him or his choice of words, but... it's straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak).

hey101
Dec. 16, 2007, 02:03 PM
So I thought more about it and asked DH "well why are bright neon spandex shorts (ala cycling) OK to wear but not riding pants"

His exact response was:

"They were gay, they were really gay. But then Lance Armstrong came along and made it OK to wear them. And then once you get into it and see how hard it is and that it's a manly sport, it stays OK to wear them"

I thought it was interesting that his responses were exactly what I posted on this topic a few days ago! And this is the first time we've ever discussed this topic.

eventmom
Dec. 16, 2007, 02:05 PM
Jeanette, thanks for sharing....I love it:)
I am wondering if some of us here don't have boys of our own? It is so easy to criticise people's parenting methods, but it seems to me, as long as your goals are in proper perspective, things usually turn out fine.
Of course the goal here, in raising proper horsemen, is that they would one day be able to, and even enjoy, cleaning their own tack, and grooming their own animals, and have a gentle touch for the sake of their beasts But for many boys, it is simply too much burden to bare, while they are still fragile and have not yet been biten by the true horsemanship bug. Kudo's to Pegasus' mom, and to all those parents who have the skill and wisdom to carefully and gently guide their boys down this difficult path!
I, for one LOVE seeing boys out there on a x-c course! :)

CallMeGrace
Dec. 16, 2007, 02:06 PM
So, do we need a spin off "Who can be the Lance Armstrong of eventing"?

Hannahsmom
Dec. 16, 2007, 02:55 PM
I read this thread with interest. My brother started riding when he was in his early teens. That was at a barn run by a guy that had a polo team and he very quckly gravitated to that. He got involved with friends and had that camaderie with other team members similar to what other men on this thread have mentioned. He ended up getting a polo scholarship to college, was captain of the team that won the national championships, etc. He then played professionally and still does although now he does more clinics and coaching of boys teams. I got a chance to watch a team he was coaching do some scrimmaging a year or two ago. Those kids were tigers! And the way they would run down the rails and run each other off.... Just as exciting as all the western sports. But what struck me was that it was all guys and they were hanging out together, and yes they did all their horse care and such. I have to agree with those who say the key is to get guys in where they can do it together.

As far as clothing, why couldn't polo breeches be acceptable? Although I would bet the hunt coat is also a bit of a drag.

ss3777
Dec. 16, 2007, 03:05 PM
Of course it is OK to wear tight pants when playing football............it is not a Girl sport!!

ss3777
Dec. 16, 2007, 03:25 PM
Probably a good thing the tennis outfit evolved:

http://www.4specialtytennis.com/tennishistory.html

hey101
Dec. 16, 2007, 03:52 PM
Of course it is OK to wear tight pants when playing football............it is not a Girl sport!!

ss- If I can interpret what I think my husband is saying (and these are my words/ thoughts now, not his)- it's that from a non-horsey guy's perspective looking in at the sport, there are a lot of women. Add in that of the few guys who ride, there seem to be a higher percentage of gay men (there has to be a reason that all the ladies swooon over the few straight male riders). Add on top of that the tight pants. And finally I would say that H/J is more commonly known in the non-horsey world, not eventing, so the average guy doesn't know about eventing and cross-country. He knows the more subjective, "pretty" hunter. All of these things create mental barriers to the average American male wanting to try any type of riding because it is perceived as a woman's sport. I'm not saying it's right, but it's a perception- and perception can be 90% of reality sometimes.

Football is very much perceived as a manly sport, as is baseball, so hence the tight pants are more than acceptable. My husband's own example of biking becoming socially acceptable due to one predominantly public figure- Lance Armstong- and the average American male is now willing to go out in public in neon spandex- which I would argue are much less "manly" than any breeches- wheras 10 years ago they wouldn't be caught dead in bike shorts.

He said himself, once a guy tries biking and sees the other guys doing it and understands the challenge, the outfit becomes part of the sport and OK to wear.

I think the same is true of riding- once a guy tries it, and discovers the adrenalin of galloping and jumping, he will be more likely to stick with it (and perhaps excel to the upper levels for the other reasons we've discussed- more willing to hang it all out and go for broke as compared to a more conservative/ safety-conscious woman).

So if we really want to encourage more male participation at the lower levels, I think one thing the sport needs to work on the perception that it's a woman's sport.

Kenike
Dec. 16, 2007, 04:40 PM
Take the Mc Donalds test. You are a guy coming back from a rodeo. You swagger into Mc Donalds in all your gear.
You are a guy coming home from an event. You will change in the backseat of a vw bug before you would go in public in your boots, britches and little beanie helmet.
Right there is a big piece of the problem. It`s not perceived as a sport that real guys do.
Take a 12-14 year old boy, just the age they get hooked on riding. What self respecting kid that age wants the ridicule from his friends for doing "a girl sport?"
"Cute little pants you got there, kid!"

Ding ding ding!
My boy WILL be taking lessons from an instructor who rides & teaches h/j, dressage, or eventing exclusively. At least for his leadline years. If he decides he wants to ride, great! If not, that's great, too! His decision. And, frankly, while I'd love to have him go to shows with me, I'm not going to push him into a particular saddle (discipline).
Sadly, he's got a family member who ALREADY (and my boy is 18-mos-old) has stated that my boy needs to ride in a Western saddle because the "postage stamp" is for girls, and anything with an English saddle is a sissy sport. (don't even get me started!!!) And I don't want to embarrass him, do I? Whatever...he's going to learn correctly first, then decide, WITHOUT outside help, what discipline or whether he's going to ride.

criss
Dec. 17, 2007, 12:07 AM
Wow, stupid stereotypes and thoughtless prejudice are certainly alive and well.

Where's the puking icon when I need it?

I'm all for boys riding--when they can be sensitive and put the horse first, which I'm delighted to hear your sons all do. I still don't see why we must contort ourselves to try and attract men to the sport. Oh, wait, could be because most women spend most of their lives contorting ourselves in one way or another to please men? Yuck.

To all the men out there who think breeches look "gay": I promise you no gay man will ever be confused about your sexuality just because you are wearing tight pants. Get. Over. Yourself!!!

cheval80
Dec. 17, 2007, 01:08 AM
What I see is that the fewer boys there are, the fewer there will be. Can anybody besides Jim come up with ways to prevent this from becoming an essentially all-girl sport over the next 10-25 years? Because that`s where it`s headed, looks like.

I haven't read all the posts yet, but up to this point no one has mentioned college equestrian teams and horseman's associations. One reason why football, baseball, and basketball; of which I still play two out of the three for fun; is so accepted by the mainstream is because almost every college in America has these sports. Image is everything and we need to give teens and specifically guys a horse sport at college that they can do for the school or college intramural/club athletics. I am an eventer and I had to settle for competing in the IHSA hunters. Believe me, I would have much rather done some form of eventing, as it is WAY more exciting!!!!!!
Also, many guys stop at age 15 - 17 and don't continue because they can't compete for a college. That is only reserved for woman (NCAA Womens Equestrian.) Competing for a college is only reserved for woman, so many guys go no further in this woman dominated sport. Our horseman's association had lots of guys in the club, but there was no sport besides IHSA hunters and western pleasure. And to be truthfully honest, these are boring to watch and will never interest guys! I competed mostly because of the social aspect of the equestrian team.
I am currently developing an a real, alternative form of horse showing that operates in many disciplines and involves the use of the internet to provide the social competion atmosphere, videos to qualify rides, and real horse shows at the local, regional, and national levels that will bring a familiarity of horse showing to the idea. This is also going to create more community, fun filled shows, which are in rapid decline; because I have figured out a way to lower the cost, keep people from cheating, and still provide the social atmosphere of regular horse showing. I decided to adapt the idea to collegiate horse showing and getting guys more interested! See the new thread "Collegiate horse showing, Getting guys interested!" Feel free to bash all you want, I know it is radical. But, there is someone else out there besides Jimmy trying to think of ways to involve more guys and help eventing!:)

hey101
Dec. 17, 2007, 01:46 AM
Criss, I'm assuming you are referring to my posts. This thread is about how to get more guys involved in eventing, and while you may not be interested in that, clearly people like Denny Emerson and Jim Wofford ARE interested. So instead of continuing to speculate why or why not the guys aren't interested, I decided to just ask a few.

Like it or not, sterotypes about the clothing and what they think about the sexuality of the men that are already involved in the sport dominated their answers. To be honest, I wasn't all that thrilled with the answers myself, especially from my hubby- he's more than peripherally aware of eventing, his wife rides, he has owned his own horse, he does his own grooming and tacking up when we go riding together. And yet he still feels as he does. It doesn't really make sense to me either, especially since football players, baseball players, cyclists, all wear tight pants.

I'm sure there are way more than just the clothing issue involved, but clearly it's a theme that keeps repeating itself in the answers myself and others have discussed here.

fooler
Dec. 17, 2007, 10:24 AM
First off - I have known and do know many fellows who ride (English & Western) who and cared for their horses. Also when I was in a boarding situation with those guys, they looked & 'watched' over other horses. Finally as the daughter of a very "Male" father with 3 older brothers (who lived to make my life a living he**) - they all watched over all of our animals. Of course my brothers loved to tease my cats, but that is another story. . .

Surrounded by all of those males and 11 nieces & nephews - you folks are correct, boys learn differently from girls. And funny thing is that while we females may be more detail oriented at first, the guys seem to pass us somewhere in the mid - late teens to early twenties. Kicking another hornet's nest here, but that may be one of the reasons the more males succeed at the top. Once the mental maturity hits, males tend to be more single focused than women. Of course we are the queens of muliti-tasking which is why we succeed at raising kids and keeping the house together - not to mention adding work, school & riding.

Thank you all for quoting your spouses - I had often wondered why tight pants in football, cycling & baseball are ok (not to mention the swimmers) - but breeches are not.
It is time for the guys to speak to vendors such as BoB and your local tack shops to bring in breeches fitted for men. I know they are out there - the European guys are not riding naked or in jeans. :)

I grew up watching cowboys & thought english riding was for sissy's. I wanted to be a cowboy (even as a little girl). When I found out about english disciplines and how hard it was to do well - that got my interest. Once I understood what the crazy people did on a 'flat' saddle, I never associated breeches and homosexuality or sissy. Also - I always enjoyed seeing a good looking man, in jeans or in breeches - coming or going.

It is time to redo the USEA video shown during Rolex - have you noticed it is all female? No wonder males look at that & think it is a girlie sport. If all I saw was males riding, I would wonder if females were 'allowed".

RAyers
Dec. 17, 2007, 10:41 AM
I want to add some more about the perception of the sport based on what fooler and cheval80 brought up.

In my Materials Science class this semester, I assigned the final project to design safety helmets in the sport of the students' choosing. Since this class is 90% male, I used my own experiences on XC as examples however I used a different approach. I showed a couple videos of my own biffs as well as bringing in my flak jacket, and the variety of helmets I have (not just horse but motorcycle, hockey, cycling as well). I found that when presented in the context with which most young men are familiar, they were actually very interested in eventing and thought it was pretty cool.

So, yes, changing the "marketing" of the sport can be used to help draw in more men.

Reed

eventmom
Dec. 17, 2007, 10:48 AM
Surrounded by all of those males and 11 nieces & nephews - you folks are correct, boys learn differently from girls. And funny thing is that while we females may be more detail oriented at first, the guys seem to pass us somewhere in the mid - late teens to early twenties. Kicking another hornet's nest here, but that may be one of the reasons the more males succeed at the top. Once the mental maturity hits, males tend to be more single focused than women.
Very well said! I have two sons. One is 19 and just now starting to grow up. My husband is definitly the detail guy of the family, and my older son is starting to follow in his steps!
Criss, don't think that for a minute we don't also gently guide our daughters as well. I, for one, definitly very carefully nurture their horsemanship. The thing is, you just have to do it differently with the boys. Can't assume that what works for girls will work for them. We american's figured out a long time ago how to do the girls. There is a whole horse culture out there to support our efforts. Not so with the boys. Keeping their interest is going to require more effort, more wisdom, and more support from things like coth BB to get it right and start the trend. I don't know why this should bother you so much?
If your one of those people who think that boys and girls are, and should be treated just alike, you must not have kids:) Or atleast you don't have both boys and girls:) I personally have 6 kids. 4 girls and 2 boys. Very different breeds.

Lisa Cook
Dec. 17, 2007, 10:49 AM
My 11 year old son has ridden since he was 6. He was really enthused about it for a while, but this year, his interest in riding fell way off. He would ride when he had a lesson or a pony club meeting, but had no interest in riding in between lessons. Then this fall he announced he was quitting. He was so definite about it, I leased his pony out.

He did agree to finish out pony club mounted meetings, I think because he enjoys the social aspect of pony club and has a lot of friends there. He rode my 16.3 hand Appy for the last few meetings. And that kind of perked his interest back up!

He's agreed to stay in pony club next year and ride once a week, riding my horse. He likes my horse. Go figure. Maybe he gets an ego boost from riding the biggest horse in pony club! I can live with that....it will keep his toe in the water, so to speak, and if he does decide to pursue riding with greater enthusiasm, at least it won't be like starting from scratch.

I've heard that around 11-ish is where a lot of boys drop out. It is certainly when my son's interest suddenly plummeted.

snoopy
Dec. 17, 2007, 10:50 AM
Wow, stupid stereotypes and thoughtless prejudice are certainly alive and well.

Where's the puking icon when I need it?

I'm all for boys riding--when they can be sensitive and put the horse first, which I'm delighted to hear your sons all do. I still don't see why we must contort ourselves to try and attract men to the sport. Oh, wait, could be because most women spend most of their lives contorting ourselves in one way or another to please men? Yuck.

To all the men out there who think breeches look "gay": I promise you no gay man will ever be confused about your sexuality just because you are wearing tight pants. Get. Over. Yourself!!!



THANK YOU!!!!

LisaB
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:00 AM
Hmmm, after reading the folks with kids who ride, it doesn't sound like there's really gender 'issue'. Girls lose interest around 13 or so. They love horses from 8-12 and then drop it. But for those few of us who are completely diseased with HORSE, we stick with it. Or, some kids drop out and then start up again later in life. Sounds like boys follow the same pattern but don't 'get back'.
It seems that there are less boys that are taking lessons than girls. And then there's the attrition rate so we are left with few to none. I know growing up in San Diego, I was a martian for riding so I would assume the same for many areas like that. Around here, if the parents aren't involved in horses, the boys aren't interested. But the girls have that 'My little pony' affect and the parents do take them for lessons. Boys aren't piping up like the girls.

Ja Da Dee
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:13 AM
So I thought more about it and asked DH "well why are bright neon spandex shorts (ala cycling) OK to wear but not riding pants"

His exact response was:

"They were gay, they were really gay. But then Lance Armstrong came along and made it OK to wear them. And then once you get into it and see how hard it is and that it's a manly sport, it stays OK to wear them"

I thought it was interesting that his responses were exactly what I posted on this topic a few days ago! And this is the first time we've ever discussed this topic.

lol ... my husband mountain bikes because he can wear the bmx style baggy shorts over the spandex. I doubt he will ever be a serious roadie, he's just not comfortable having strangers looking at his rear end in tight shorts.

Football pants also have pads built into them ... that helps hide the curves. I just dont think there are a lot of guys (and a lot of woman) who enjoy having all their curves, bumps and bulges showing.

WildBlue
Dec. 17, 2007, 11:27 AM
While I can understand the frustration of folks upset by all the non-pc answers regarding "feminine" or "gay" riding clothes, the answers here barely scratch the surface of the stigma against English riding in some areas. Please understand that this is coming from someone who rode western for decades and never even MET an English rider until grad school (and, I'm embarassed to say, was shocked that she was a nice person and not at all like the stereotypes I'd been raised to believe). So, in the nicest possible way, this is the view from the other side (and not what I still believe myself).

It's not just the breeches: it's the whole costume and 'look'. Seriously--HAIRNETS???? Bad enough to wear a helmet without looking like a cafeteria lady, to boot. And then you put on the top half of a business suit over a pair of tights with S&M boots, and ride around on an enormous horse with an itty-bitty saddle while humping the pommel and holding a death grip on the horse's face. I know it's perfectly normal when you're from an English barn, but when you've only ever seen the style and turnout in passing at shows or on TV, it's a little shocking. I was really embarassed the first few times I saw someone posting the trot, because it pretty much looked like the riders were waving their nearly-nekkid butts in the air like cats in heat. I still have trouble riding in breeches after so long in jeans because I feel like I'm out there in my underwear.

So, no, it's not much of a stretch to see why your average redneck or Joe six-pack is going to look askance at men riding English, even doing something as rough as eventing. Heck, the stigma is so strong that most men around here won't even try POLO unless they can use a western stock saddle. They flat won't consider an English saddle because of the image, even though they'd be riding in their normal jeans and boots.

LAZ
Dec. 17, 2007, 12:18 PM
OMG, WildBlue, this is hilarious! It's certainly a perspective that hadn't occurred to me..



While I can understand the frustration of folks upset by all the non-pc answers regarding "feminine" or "gay" riding clothes, the answers here barely scratch the surface of the stigma against English riding in some areas. Please understand that this is coming from someone who rode western for decades and never even MET an English rider until grad school (and, I'm embarassed to say, was shocked that she was a nice person and not at all like the stereotypes I'd been raised to believe). So, in the nicest possible way, this is the view from the other side (and not what I still believe myself).

It's not just the breeches: it's the whole costume and 'look'. Seriously--HAIRNETS???? Bad enough to wear a helmet without looking like a cafeteria lady, to boot. And then you put on the top half of a business suit over a pair of tights with S&M boots, and ride around on an enormous horse with an itty-bitty saddle while humping the pommel and holding a death grip on the horse's face. I know it's perfectly normal when you're from an English barn, but when you've only ever seen the style and turnout in passing at shows or on TV, it's a little shocking. I was really embarassed the first few times I saw someone posting the trot, because it pretty much looked like the riders were waving their nearly-nekkid butts in the air like cats in heat. I still have trouble riding in breeches after so long in jeans because I feel like I'm out there in my underwear.

So, no, it's not much of a stretch to see why your average redneck or Joe six-pack is going to look askance at men riding English, even doing something as rough as eventing. Heck, the stigma is so strong that most men around here won't even try POLO unless they can use a western stock saddle. They flat won't consider an English saddle because of the image, even though they'd be riding in their normal jeans and boots.

eventmom
Dec. 17, 2007, 12:22 PM
It's not just the breeches: it's the whole costume and 'look'. Seriously--HAIRNETS???? Bad enough to wear a helmet without looking like a cafeteria lady, to boot. And then you put on the top half of a business suit over a pair of tights with S&M boots, and ride around on an enormous horse with an itty-bitty saddle while humping the pommel and holding a death grip on the horse's face. I know it's perfectly normal when you're from an English barn, but when you've only ever seen the style and turnout in passing at shows or on TV, it's a little shocking. I was really embarassed the first few times I saw someone posting the trot, because it pretty much looked like the riders were waving their nearly-nekkid butts in the air like cats in heat.
WildBlue... you do an amazing visual:eek::eek::lol:
I grew up on the west coast. Not in the horse world at all. However, I did have a certain "negative" impression of English riders. We do have that stigma of the h/j crowd to overcome now, don't we! And yes, they do go around the ring like cats in heat at times, don't they!

frugalannie
Dec. 17, 2007, 01:14 PM
I've been "doing research" by chatting with Mr. Frugal about this. He was a star athlete in high school and college, and even now is a strong, fit man. He learned to ride after we got together, and loves to hack out, gallop on the beach, can jump a fence if it's in the way, and has even competed in a hunter pace, in which he won a blue ribbon.

He will never, ever compete in riding otherwise. First of all, it took and act of Congress and utter begging from me to get him to "dress up" for the hunter pace. He does wear breeches to ride after realizing that they are much more comfortable than jeans, but the idea of a jacket and tie for riding seems ridiculous to him.

Secondly, he refuses to compete in anything he doesn't have a very good chance of winning. Little patience with learning curve, and he knows he can't beat 99% of the riders out there even if he applies himself, which for him would be a couple of lessons. (An aside: he doesn't understand a sport that his wife hasn't yet learned despite almost 20 years of lessons, after each of which she claims to have learned something.)

Thirdly, he makes the point that the process of learning riding can be quite painful for males in a way females cannot really understand. Making mistakes for them has significant and memorable negative consequences, to which they are risk-averse. This may be the most significant english saddle issue, from his point of view.

And, my thought upon reading Reed's last post is that it seems we would have to consider marketing the sport two ways, if not more. One would be the thrills and spills extreme sport version to hook young males, the other the riding safely/ horse care version for girls. My women's lib, gender equality mindset makes this difficult for me to live with, however. There must be a way to showcase the many facets of our sport, and the ability for each individual to approach it in such a way as to fulfill their unique goals and objectives within the overall parameters, that will make it more attractive/comprehensible to the casual observer.

CallMeGrace
Dec. 17, 2007, 01:31 PM
The Rolex equestrian commercials are a good start!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7V4ECyQIjPU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3F8pv2marE&feature=related

GraceThe Mare
Dec. 17, 2007, 01:59 PM
I've been working with my (now)Fiance for several years on this. He's also a former star athlete and, despite what he may conclude, rides quite well for the time he's put into it. He loves to watch eventing (horray!) and has become a stellar groom. He trail rides and, yes, jumps any obstacles on the trail in a bareback saddle even! I'm dying to get him to hunter pace with me, and would love to see him at least try BN eventing because I know he'd love XC, (and then I'd have a lure to get him regularly schooling basic Dressage!)
but he's SO stimatized by the damn pants! Won't even try 'em. (But complains about every other pant he's tried.)
It's funny, because he's not especially "macho" and doesn't have any insecurities...I was a theater major when he met me for God's sake! It's the damn pants. They're light and clingy. Okay for football, and baseball, but when you add the tall boots and jacket, it's a deal breaker for him.
I'm now attempting "manly pants immersion." (emmersion?) Took him to a David O'C. clinic. Introduced him. (David was, of course, sporting said pants at the time.) He's also met Darren C...but that worked against me.

ss3777
Dec. 17, 2007, 02:20 PM
Wildblue...............you are the best, perfect description.

I am trying to nurture the riding stuff (at any level, discipline etc) with my son (7 years old) father in-law (66 years old) and hubby (42 years old) and it is a slippery slope!! All three of them have made more than one comment about the “costume”. We have the horses at home on the family farm so that helps a lot (think tractors, large equipment, etc). If you look in my album you will see multi generations out hunting :)

I never push the appearance stuff; I just try and foster fun and safety. My son knows he has to help but I try and give him the "fun" jobs. He loves to vacuum his poor sainted horse and he thinks soaping up the tack is great fun (poor tack has never been drier). My other attempt at inclusion is inviting my son’s best buddy out for trail rides on our other sainted, 3 hooves in the grave horse. I fully support thinking “out of the box” and hope that this thread is one step in that direction.

Blugal
Dec. 17, 2007, 03:00 PM
What about the ads for Spruce Meadows TV? I usually cringe because they show some crashes, but they are edited to show quick, fast action - I think that would appeal to a wider audience than just horse-crazy girls.

eventamy
Dec. 17, 2007, 03:18 PM
My husband starting riding and taking lessons this year. He'd gone on a few trail rides with me in the past. What really got him to consider it was foxhunting. He's seen me hunt before and wanted to ride with me because it's something we can do together. I told him that in order for him to hunt he would have to take some lessons with my trainer and that when he hunted he would have to dress the part. So we went to the tack shop during a big sale and I got him into a pair of breeches and some great boots. How did I do it? Well, he hid in the dressing room while trying on the breeches and the boots, he wouldn't come out at all! The boots were easy to get him to buy. They're the Mountain Horse High caliber with all the technology in them, he just loved the technology aspect, and the fact that they're more expensive then any boots I've ever bought for myself!
So now after a few lessons and a couple of trail rides (one in which my trainer got hurt being thrown from MY horse!) he's still ok with riding and we plan on getting him in the saddle again next spring and summer, doing a few hunter paces and then getting into the hunt field next year! It's only taken him 40 years!

MattMan
Dec. 17, 2007, 04:37 PM
I think tight pants in football is ok because they are running around knocking the snot out of each other. Are you really going to tell a 6'4 270 pound guy that his pants are a little girly, I doubt it, and if you do he would gladly invite you on the field to knock the snot out of ya. Look at rugby, you think those shorts are manly? I really don't think the tight pants have much to do with it. I have played most sports my whole life, I didn't start riding until a few years ago. Now agreed that some guys will never get over the fact that the pants are tight and because they are not pounding the crap out of each other that it will never be for them, to each there own. But the fact that eventing isn't a mainstream sport is the reason you are not going to find many boys in it. When you go to school you have football, basketball, soccer, baseball thrown at you, and kids are affected by peer pressure and the need to fit in, Scholarships, so why are they going to run off and participate in a sport that to all his peers and friends looks like a girl sport and will not get them into college. So until they do, it's not going to change. You will have guys that are not affected by this, or ones who were raised in a horse family and understands the talent that it takes to be good in this sport, or guys like me that love a challenge. I grew up in SETexas and the only thing about horses that I knew of was cowboys, bullriders, ropers, etc. You would see jumpers or something occasionally on tv when the Olympics were on, but horses meant being a western rider. I would take riding pants over wranglers and a belt buckle any day of the week.

If it wasn't because of my wife, no way would I ride horses. People who haven't seen me in years find out I ride horses now and the strangest looks come my way. She has been on horse her whole life and she moved back from a big city where she didn't have any horses, she quickly startedacquiring them again. I have only been around horses since I've known her. I took a few lessons in the beginning for fun, but was more concerned about college. I was basically the normal husband rider, you could put me on something broke and I probably wouldn't fall off much :) Then one day a couple years back I wanted my own horse, wasn't even technically riding, just wanted a horse. Found a 3yr old 17+ hand race horse at a track about 3 hrs away and bought him. So I had this OTTB, that I technically couldn't ride because I hadn't developed any sort of base for riding, so I would just sit and walk around on him. He injures himself and I can't ride him for a year and mid way through my wife kinda jumps in and helps me purchase a horse that has a few miles on him already that could help get me started. This didn't turn out as well as we thought, horse had a mighty jump in him, and a mighty buck that I found out later. This is where we found eventing. We started riding at some new friends house, who have land, jumps, dressage arena etc that introduced us into eventing. The wife of these friends kept watching me week after week get bucked off this horse and couldn't take it anymore and offered to let me ride one of her horses and start going to some shows and maybe learn to ride from the horse. So throughout the year I rode this horse at different events and lessons and by the end of the year I wasn't just placing, I was winning. So she needed the horse back for another rider and I started to ride my once injured TB again. I was going through the motions with him, not riding enough for either of us to do anything but get soreevery time we came out.

April came around this year and I went to Rolex... this was a big eye opener for me. That was what I wanted to do, and it couldn't happen soon enough. So maybe guys riding has to do with adrenaline mixed with a little crazy. Because I came back and rode, took lessons, If I could quit my job and do just this, I would. The tight pants mean nothing to me.. I take lessons in them, stop by the grocery store in them, I could care less what people might think or mumble as I go by. To me it is nothing more than a uniform. This has been the first sport that I wasn't just naturally good at in that it isn't just me, I have a partner and we both have to work together.

I don't think that you will see as many boys in it until it is more available or popular like another sport or you have a strong male role model, like a Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordon, etc to make it popular and more understandable. Right now you have to be into horses to know who the male role models are. Regular Joe Somebody has no clue.

Anyway, just another male perspective from a newer rider with no horse background.

halla
Dec. 17, 2007, 07:27 PM
Disclaimer, I don't event, though would love to. I have played very low-level polo, though, so have been around a decent number of guys who ride.

I don't think it's necessarily the caring for horses that turns guys off. Most of the guys I've ridden with have cared very much for the ponies they were riding, were careful about tack and grooming from a functional standpoint, and were even openly or clandestinely affectionate to the horses. My own boyfriend, who claims to hate horses, has suggested I buy expensive things "because it will be nice for Bob" and was utterly shocked why I said I hit Bob when he bit me. And guys in other sports seem to have an endless capacity for carefully selecting and maintaining gear - bicyclists, for example, golfers, motorcyclists, skiers, etc.

I do think the perception that horses are dressed up and cooed over by girls is a problem. I think my boyfriend claims to hate them because his aunt (nice as she is) is one of the cooing sappy types of horse people and he overdosed on that early on. He's actually been pretty interested in everything I've been doing with the horses since that, comes out to watch me play.

He also thinks the clothes are "stuffy" and somewhat silly, not because they are "gay" but because they don't look sporty. I personally like the traditional look, but do think he has a point - it does look like a costume since it doesn't look like the clothing people now think of as sporty. He much prefers my Tipperary helmet to the classic Charles Owen velvet one I wanted and thinks under armour is much cooler looking than a cotton dress shirt. Luckily eventing (at least cross-country) is far ahead in this area.

AlexMakowski
Dec. 17, 2007, 07:40 PM
I just read this forum and it makes me laugh because of the extremes being presented. Some say we dont like the aspect of cleaning the horses. lol. this is me. lol. I ride three to four horses a day, why would I spend 20 minutes grooming each one, when all they are going to do is get dirty again? Plus that hour and some change could be spent riding another horse.

My favorite has been the 'men dont have relationships' ideas. ha. You have to form a relationship with a horse become a riding duo. How does this explain the top male eventers? That stuff is scary! A horse has to trust them to make that jump! I am hooked on my horses. I love on them, I hug them, I spoil them, but I dont make a huge effort to clean them. bathes are easier. lol. does this mean I dont bond with my horses?

And coming from a guys perspective. . .the amount of snooty girls with horses far outnumbers the amount of down to earth ones. So why would I want to commit my entire life and career to a business where these divas and queens reign? It is much more fun to play sports and ride well enough on the side to woop these girls once college is over and organized sports are out the window.

And I hate wearing britches and boots in public. But then again, I HATE britches and boots. they are way to snug and uncomfortable. haha. enjoy everyone. Cant wait to read on more.

Miss Perfect
Dec. 17, 2007, 07:58 PM
I still don't see why we must contort ourselves to try and attract men to the sport. Oh, wait, could be because most women spend most of their lives contorting ourselves in one way or another to please men? Yuck.

Amen criss!!! Why does anyone even care? :confused:

AlexMakowski
Dec. 17, 2007, 08:06 PM
Some of the most influencial trainers of horses are men (i.e. Monty Roberts and John Lyons). Riders, both men and especially women, send 'problem horses' to these guys when they cant figure out what to do themselves. But these men are able to communicate with your horse and fix them. If thats not men in a relationship with their horse, I dont know what is.

Sancudo
Dec. 18, 2007, 12:15 AM
I think the main problem is that eventing is not as mainstream as, say, hunters. I went to my first hunter show a few years ago and was surprised at how many more men there were than the eventing and dressage combined. I thought eventing would be more attractive to guys than hunters.

All the guys I know that ride (admittedly, quite few- I ride dressage) have as strong a bond as and girl with their horse. The guy I bought my horse from, a foxhunter, was in tears as he sold him, and continually checked up. The woman I bought my second horse from refused to pat him goodbye.

I also agree with whomever said it was cultural- I know several British guys, and a ton of them ride, and are proud of it.

Whisper
Dec. 18, 2007, 01:50 AM
Considering people are claiming that George Morris must be gay because he's so focused on turnout, and the craziness over the Stefan Peters Ride Magazine cover, I can't blame any guys for having concerns about the way they'll be viewed - and that's mostly from women who are horsey, not from other guys who aren't. :sigh:

Kathy Johnson
Dec. 18, 2007, 08:58 AM
I missed the original question about boys in eventing, but that doesn't make me less qualified to answer it. I love a good hornet's nest.

I thought for many years that men had what I call a "motorcycle mentality" when it comes to their horses (in the same women have the "black beauty" mentality). A lot of the male students I worked with came at the horse from a very mechanical, numerical approach. "How many times can I take him over that jump?" "How fast can he go, and for how long?" "How long should I canter him?" "How high can he jump?" Coming at horses from a different perspective, my answers might be "once over the jump if he does it right," "don't run him at full throttle ever," "one circle if it's good" and "as high as he wants to."

There's nothing more motocross than cross country. It's all about numbers, distances, physics, and exciting crashes, all with the clock ticking in the background. If we added a few explosion scenes, every man in the country would take it up.

(As a side note, I was watching a guy movie with my husband once--further digression that women will watch guy movies and girl movies, but few men will watch girl movies. Ditto for reading books. Anyway, it was during the middle of a chase scene and there hadn't been any dialog for at least 10 minutes, just squealing wheels and gunshots. So, I started talking to my husband. He said, "SHHHHHHH, the explosion scene is coming! He didn't know how right he was).

One of my biggest challenges teaching male riders is that the horse is not a motorcycle but a sentient being with physical, mental and emotional limitations. Then the exceptions started coming, including the trainer whose truck broke down, so he put in the garage for 3 weeks, "to rest." I realized it was my perception of male motivations that was skewed. When I accused one hard riding student of having a motorcycle mentality, he looked at me in shock, blinking sad puppy dog eyes and said, "but I LOVE my motorcycle."

My whole perspective has flip flopped. Now I realize that men consider their vehicles as sentient beings with physical, mental and emotional limitations. They do love their motorcycles, and they do love their horses. I agree what may attract more boys to the sport is to put back what's really missing from the whole military aspect of eventing. Clothes be damned; I would have someone chasing them cross country, hot on their tail with a gun.

eventmom
Dec. 18, 2007, 09:22 AM
So I did it, I interviewed my husband. You gotta love American men:) Don't suppose any other culture is quite like them.
First I pointed out that Lance Armstrong did it for riding. He paused, got a little uncomfortable, and said a very soft "maybe". But then he pointed out that bike riding is not that big here either.
So we get to the part where I ask him why European guys can't be an example. He says, and I quote "Are you kidding me? They can't even win a war by themselves". :lol: This, I am told, is the commonly held view of those that have served the military overseas.:lol:

Ja Da Dee
Dec. 18, 2007, 09:54 AM
My whole perspective has flip flopped. Now I realize that men consider their vehicles as sentient beings with physical, mental and emotional limitations. They do love their motorcycles, and they do love their horses. I agree what may attract more boys to the sport is to put back what's really missing from the whole military aspect of eventing. Clothes be damned; I would have someone chasing them cross country, hot on their tail with a gun.

true, so true. You hit the nail on the head with this one! For me, a car is just a way to get to work and the barn, Hubby gets VERY upset when I neglect it's regular bath and vaccuum, and GOD FORBID I'm late with an oil change!

fooler
Dec. 18, 2007, 11:32 AM
Wow, stupid stereotypes and thoughtless prejudice are certainly alive and well.

Where's the puking icon when I need it?

I'm all for boys riding--when they can be sensitive and put the horse first, which I'm delighted to hear your sons all do. I still don't see why we must contort ourselves to try and attract men to the sport. Oh, wait, could be because most women spend most of their lives contorting ourselves in one way or another to please men? Yuck.

To all the men out there who think breeches look "gay": I promise you no gay man will ever be confused about your sexuality just because you are wearing tight pants. Get. Over. Yourself!!!


Funny thing Criss, my husband asked essentially the same question. It took me a few days to distill my thinking down to this:

We, everyone of us including Denny and Jimmy (as we speak of them so often), owe our ability to participate in the 3 Olympic disciplines because of those military and civilian MEN who saw that there had to be civilian organizations to support these sports once the military closed their stables. Were it not for those Men (and yes women also) we would not be here discussing any of this today.
Since they were broad-minded (no pun intended) enough to leave the competition open to both men and women AND they taught both men and women. I believe we should respect their leadership and encourage everyone, male and female, to event.

arab_roots
Dec. 18, 2007, 01:34 PM
I agree with Denny. My friend Zach said the same thing to me when we were discussing english vs. western. While he thinks what we do is crazy awesome, but you would never catch him in those and I quote " Gay skin tight pants prancing around on that itty bitty piece of leather that we calla saddle." When he said that I almost fell over laughing because he was so serious. What it all comes down to is looks, to him and many others it doesn't look "manly" as cutting cattle and all that jazz.

frugalannie
Dec. 18, 2007, 02:26 PM
Arab roots, that's just fine because (at least based on the way I look when around horses) it doesn't make we eventers look really "girly" either!

I think we're trying to find a way to overcome prejudice enough for an open-minded approach to the sport by those who might truly want to become eventers, if on.y they understood it a bit.

Gnep
Dec. 18, 2007, 06:05 PM
hihihihi since I live in real cowboy country ( have done cutting and reining, too and worked as a cowhand ) they were stunt when I showed up at the fairgrounds one winter. I mean they new that I could handle a rope and had cutted and reined. Than they started laughing one comented that I had a nice ass in those girly pans and that those hooker boots just fit the rest of my appearance.
It was heliarious and them boys and girls had them self a marry good time. They quit when I put up a nice jump and had Old One Eye pop over it. One of the guys, with whom I had done some cutting, thought it no big deal and tried it too, he nearly killed himself.
They still call it girly pants and hookerboots, but they ain't laughing any more, good jokes, yes.
My buddy recuperated nicely and his wife says no further damage done, besides male pride.

what I think that realy turns of a lot of boys, is the example of over toting of the horse. Boys handle horses differant, they have completly differant priorities. they care for the horse as good as anybody and they care about their horse, but for them it is not a barbi doll.

If one watches Men and Women at shows how they care for their horses, were men are more pragmatic and praktical and get the job done, women are toting around preparing the barbi doll, you can see it in their outfits, for the girls it is part of a fashion show, were boys put on a sports uniform.
I think boys would without problem acccept the outfit as they do with baseball, basketball or socker, but they have a hard time with the girly athmospher.
Its like going to a girls only school, exiting because of allllllllll those girls, but it realy sucks in the long run. ( I know because I have been one of 20 boys at a former girls only school, I asked my father to get me out of there after 4 weeks )
Adult men do not have any problems with this.

In the westernsport, they can do some roughhousing and be just some dumass teen boys, nobody cares, opposit it is expect of them. If they would do that at one of the HTs, gee, unthinkeble.

I was nearly dragged infront of the groundjury for improper behavior, because I had used the nice racetrack at Flag, for a few quick laps and as it seamed had disturbed some ladies past flatwork conversation, no joke. Take a bunch of teenboys worth the air they breath into that, I mean it would be fun, but wholy cow it would be a lot of trouble.

AlexMakowski
Dec. 18, 2007, 06:47 PM
I also think anatomy has something to do with this whole discussion. My instructor always told me that male and female jumpers bend differently from the hip because their hip structure is quite different. It makes sense, and the more I watched it the more I realized how right she was. Plus, men have sensitive baggage to worry about. I learned the hard way how to ride right on more than one occasion. That may be dissuading to men as well, in fear of hurting themselves in an area we dont like to take chances with. And eventing experiences a lot of big jumps that can bounce a rider hard.
Just some food for though . . .

fooler
Dec. 18, 2007, 07:13 PM
I also think anatomy has something to do with this whole discussion. My instructor always told me that male and female jumpers bend differently from the hip because their hip structure is quite different. It makes sense, and the more I watched it the more I realized how right she was. Plus, men have sensitive baggage to worry about. I learned the hard way how to ride right on more than one occasion. That may be dissuading to men as well, in fear of hurting themselves in an area we dont like to take chances with. And eventing experiences a lot of big jumps that can bounce a rider hard.
Just some food for though . . .

Sorry just have to reply to this one.

Ok our 'SPECIAL' place is just as dear to us and it hurts us just as much as it does you when we do not land properly. Also we also have to worry about the 'girls', of course some girls are more out there than others.

And now that you opened the subject, please explain the male fascination with matches and human gas?????? Especially around those much loved areas that you "don't like to take chances with." :)

Mary in Area 1
Dec. 18, 2007, 07:22 PM
I don't get the problem with grooming and braiding. Haven't you all seen guys spend HOURS cleaning their cars, vacuuming the carpets, shining the chrome, etc. Do we tell them they are treating their cars like Barbie dolls? No, it is all in how people perceive things and attribute stereotypes.

Personally, when I think of cowboys and football players, I don't think of hot, masculine men. I think of dirty, dumb guys who spend WAY too much time trying to prove something!

RAyers
Dec. 18, 2007, 09:16 PM
I was nearly dragged infront of the groundjury for improper behavior, because I had used the nice racetrack at Flag, for a few quick laps and as it seamed had disturbed some ladies past flatwork conversation, no joke. Take a bunch of teenboys worth the air they breath into that, I mean it would be fun, but wholy cow it would be a lot of trouble.

That wasn't this year when we both were doing our "speed work" out there, was it?

Reed

Gnep
Dec. 18, 2007, 10:44 PM
No the year before, I let the Nutty Woman out on the straight in the back and than did the turns at around 600 and did go at a moderate 500 through the grand stand area.

Just think of you and me as teens, on some hot rods and than a real racetrack, hihihi, no 600 in the turns and we would have raced each others through the grand stand area and would have gotten our laughs, how we scattered the ladies and their briar horsies.

I lucked out 2 years ago, because one of the Judges and the TD were watching and had realy enjoyed to watch a galloper at work and had talked to me about and how much they had enjoyed to see a horse up at speed.

I know you know that itch, see a track, and you can not wait to get that saddle on the horse and have at it, as close to the rail as possible.

Because of it I do not touch motorcycles, drive a 4 banger Subaru, but I got that Lancia I restored, hihihihihi.

But any how what the ladies club of eventing does not understand, they turn of young male.
My admiration goes to the husbands and boyfriends, I would walk away.

scavenger
Dec. 18, 2007, 11:10 PM
I'm not a guy but that sounds like something I would have wanted to do also!!I hate the prissy way eventing seems to be turning with every one worying about what to wear or beaded brow bands etc.Keep it plain simple at workman like and let the horse show itself off. I would like to see the looks on the "ladies" face if one galloped through their grandstand area!

west5
Dec. 18, 2007, 11:26 PM
what I think that realy turns of a lot of boys, is the example of over toting of the horse. Boys handle horses differant, they have completly differant priorities. they care for the horse as good as anybody and they care about their horse, but for them it is not a barbi doll.

If one watches Men and Women at shows how they care for their horses, were men are more pragmatic and praktical and get the job done, women are toting around preparing the barbi doll, you can see it in their outfits, for the girls it is part of a fashion show, were boys put on a sports uniform.
.

Please watch the gross generalizations here.

Many of us women neither like barbie dolls, nor treat our horses as one.

Many of us have no interest in the fashion of the sport. We wear what is serviceable, comfortable and in compliance with what is stated in the rule book.

Gnep
Dec. 19, 2007, 12:15 AM
west5.
hit the sore spot, didn't I. If I had not evented since 40 years plus, and would not do it because of it and would be new to this sport and get a taste of it at a HT, today, I would just walk away and go back to cutting.
On the one hand you worry how few young men are in eventing, but if a man gives you his oppinion, you get all uppset and selfdenfensive. You are the majority and you set the direction, good for you, but don't moane and groan that there are not enough boys, the fact is you turn them off. Its a female society and young males want a male society
What you do not get, you think that you are as female the turn on, opposite you are the turn of, sports were male are the mayority are the turn on, its the boys to boys conection, not the boys girls conection.

The only time I see reasonable treatment of the horse today by women, is with pros, exceptional well taken care of, to the last detail, but pragmatic.

Mary in Area 1
Dec. 19, 2007, 01:16 AM
Does anyone else think Gnep's writing sounds a little like the way Yoda speaks?

I really don't think there is a problem. My husband events and he has two very good male friends who event also. They are straight, but not homophobic, and don't care about wearing breeches in public, etc.

My two daughters occasionally lament that there are so few boys in their riding universe, but when they do meet one, they chew him to pieces! It's really funny! They are totally disgusted by "most" of the guys who they meet in terms of horsemanship, committment and yes, turnout.

I think that with a few exceptions, Gnep is right: the boys, rather then impressing the girls, "opposite you are the turn of"!

west5
Dec. 19, 2007, 08:18 AM
west5.

On the one hand you worry how few young men are in eventing, but if a man gives you his oppinion, you get all uppset and selfdenfensive. You are the majority and you set the direction, good for you, but don't moane and groan that there are not enough boys,

The only time I see reasonable treatment of the horse today by women, is with pros, exceptional well taken care of, to the last detail, but pragmatic.

I was trying to express my point without being overly confrontational. I do understand that there are those who worry whether there are boys in the sport.

I don't actually care if boys participate. I'm not unhappy if they do. I don't have a problem if other people care about the issue.

I don't want all "women" portrayed as the "reason" men/boys don't participate.

The barbie analogy is particularly offensive. I have two daughters (neither ride) Even the "girlie" of the two never had an interest in barbies.

west5
Dec. 19, 2007, 08:19 AM
west5.

The only time I see reasonable treatment of the horse today by women, is with pros, exceptional well taken care of, to the last detail, but pragmatic.

This is not accurate.

west5
Dec. 19, 2007, 08:21 AM
west5.

What you do not get, you think that you are as female the turn on, opposite you are the turn of, sports were male are the mayority are the turn on, its the boys to boys conection, not the boys girls conection.
.

This I completely AGREE with and the same is true for women/girls too.

criss
Dec. 20, 2007, 12:34 PM
Hey101, I'm sorry, I didn't mean you make me want to puke! :o I meant the disgusting attitudes in our society make me want to puke, and you happened to illustrate that with your observations on the subject.

Emphasizing the "adrenaline" aspects of the sport is a recipe for deemphasizing the needs of the horse; when adrenaline takes over, the intellectual distance needed to know when to quit for the horse's sake tends to go out the window. The military men who were responsible for founding this sport as a civilian thing were absolutely nothing but disciplined, and that's why they earned the right to do the fun, adrenaline-producing stuff. Discipline comes first--the years of hard work learning to ride, the time spent before and after each ride grooming and assessing each horse--and then the fun stuff, but you have to earn it, and to any boy who doesn't want to...for God's sake, pick a different sport that doesn't involve other living creatures!!!

If you don't want to spend 20 minutes grooming your horse because that way you can ride more, you don't deserve to spend one single solitary minute on a horse's back, ever, whether you're male, female, or a hermaphrodite.

As for the "English riding/eventing isn't a mainstream sport, and that's why it doesn't appeal to men" argument: I'm not entirely sure I buy that, given that there are a number of niche sports dominated by men, but there is a small grain of truth. That is, sports in our culture are viewed as a predominantly male thing, and women I guess are supposed to go get their nails done and then make a nice dinner. So the most mainstream sports are all for men. This is why we have Title 9. What we have in eventing is really pretty special--a place where hardcore athletes can feel comfortable despite/because of being female. I am all for including anyone who wants to event, but I see no need to try to make eventing less woman-friendly by making it stupider and uglier to attract straight men.

And for what it's worth, I come from a western background too. Won the big ol' buckle with my name on it...with a horse I subsequently evented through T. I used to think English was silly-looking too. That said, I really don't think lowering the psychological barriers to entry will do our sport any good.

Oh, and Gnep, I would have been livid if you had galloped past me (on my OTTB) at 500mpm. That's just rude. It's not as if there are other places to school at Flag most years, and if you were trying to settle a frazzled horse when some yahoo went running past you at full tilt, you wouldn't be very happy. I once cantered around the track with a friend (both of us bareback) when there were people schooling, but we had the manners to slow to a trot when we got close, and then to a walk before we passed by. Got nothin' to do with gender--being an a..hole should be pretty universally frowned on.

halla
Dec. 20, 2007, 04:44 PM
Please watch the gross generalizations here.

Many of us women neither like barbie dolls, nor treat our horses as one.

Many of us have no interest in the fashion of the sport. We wear what is serviceable, comfortable and in compliance with what is stated in the rule book.

<snip>

I don't want all "women" portrayed as the "reason" men/boys don't participate.

The barbie analogy is particularly offensive. I have two daughters (neither ride) Even the "girlie" of the two never had an interest in barbies.

Why was it only offensive when Gnep brought this up, and not when I, a girl, did? Just because you don't treat your horse like an over-sized purse dog doesn't mean lots of other women don't. While I certainly don't think all women do the "barbie" or "fluffy the pony" thing, there are enough that I can completely understand it being a turn-off. It's more noticeable than someone dressed in a workmanlike way who isn't cooing over Poopsie, so I think people who are tangentially involved come away with the sense that there are more of those type of women than there are. Frankly it would turn me off if I wasn't so obsessed with horses already that I think it's worth being around people like that. That said, I think it's the *impression* that riders are like that is far more of an issue than the actual numbers of riders who are.

While I think it would be strange to change the sport to attract more men, I see nothing wrong with changing the promotion to attract people who are suited but wouldn't have thought to try it before. In other words, not make it easier for men to do well, but easier for them to try it.

west5
Dec. 20, 2007, 05:32 PM
I do think the perception that horses are dressed up and cooed over by girls is a problem.


The reason I didn't find your post offensive is because you said the "perception" is a problem. To me your post stated that this issue could be a turn off with out insinuating that ALL WOMEN treat their horses the same way.

I found Gnep's post to be more accusatory that "all" women treat their horses like Barbie dolls, and the only women who can take care of their horse in the proper manner are pros.

It could just be a case of semantics.

I don't mind people's opinions but I do get ruffled when any dialogue starts to be "all of you whoever" are the "problem" because "all" of "you" are the "same". I'm just sort of the anti-stereotyping type even though I can recognize that what people are saying exists.

Does that make sense?

I did agree with Gnep about part of his post and stated that too.

Also, I really really really HATE Barbie dolls so it struck a bad chord with me!;)

seeuatx
Dec. 20, 2007, 05:35 PM
I wondered the same thing halla.

I actually agree with most of the points the gnep was making. I happen to board at a barn that is mostly adult beginner types. A few of these women do exactly as gnep described. They spend 40 minutes grooming, massaging, using heating pads, then sloooowly walk to the indoor where they spend 10 minutes trying to get on because "horsey is being bad and wont stand still", then ride for 15 minutes at the walk maybe a lap of trot each way, then spend 40 more minutes before putting horsey away with a kiss.

This doesn't bother me, and I stay out of their business, until they get into mine. These same people think I'm crazy as I *only* groom for 20ish minutes, I ride all gaits including lengthens down the longside (which have apparently become galloping when they complain to B/O that I'm "flying" around while they try to ride precious pony :no:). I'm even more crazy when I set up any jump bigger than a 18" cross rail.

Obviously these are not the majority of women (as I am a woman... ), but they exist and effect everyone. Though I must say that I *did* play with Barbie's and Grand Champions (Breyers were to expensive ;) ) and somehow I still manage to treat horses like horses. LOL.:)

Personally I *like* the fact that men and women compete on equal terms in equestrian sports, and they only way that will continue is if men stay in the sport. I think that if guys disappear from riding...and it keeps getting filled with the pretty pony people.... the sport will lose something essential (I'm not sure what that is.... it's just something in the essence of knowing that I can compete with out having to make myself out to be "tough like the guys" or a "girlie girl" as with other single sex sports.... I can just be myself )

RAyers
Dec. 20, 2007, 05:49 PM
Personally I *like* the fact that men and women compete on equal terms in equestrian sports, and they only way that will continue is if men stay in the sport. I think that if guys disappear from riding...and it keeps getting filled with the pretty pony people.... the sport will lose something essential (I'm not sure what that is.... it's just something in the essence of knowing that I can compete with out having to make myself out to be "tough like the guys" or a "girlie girl" as with other single sex sports.... I can just be myself )

Hence the need to effectively market to men as well. At the same time, we must encourage beginners to take up the sport as they are the pipeline of the future.

Reed

BarbB
Dec. 20, 2007, 06:03 PM
I think that is hysterical that supposedly the issue that men have with eventing is the boots and breeches.

I worked on a metro PD for 11 years and THE MOST coveted position on the department was the motorcyle unit.......boots and breeches...and helmets. Part of the reason is because they have to fight women off with a club everywhere they go. lol

Come on guys, you have to come up with a better reason than 'girly' pants.

RAyers
Dec. 20, 2007, 06:38 PM
Again, you are talking about mature men. Many of the initial attitudes are formed during childhood and teenage years. And those are the future of men in the sport, not the 30 somethings and up, especially at the upper levels.


I think that is hysterical that supposedly the issue that men have with eventing is the boots and breeches.

I worked on a metro PD for 11 years and THE MOST coveted position on the department was the motorcyle unit.......boots and breeches...and helmets. Part of the reason is because they have to fight women off with a club everywhere they go. lol

Come on guys, you have to come up with a better reason than 'girly' pants.

As for the attention to detail in the military, it is/was part of indoctrination and not specifically because of care for the animal. During the calvary days the horse was no different than a Humvee, tank, or helicopter today. They were tools to be cared for sure, simply because a gun won't function if it is not maintained, but they were expendable. There was also a reason the junior level officers rode XC and the senior level officers rode dressage and stadium, they were just as expendable as the horses.

Reed

Gnep
Dec. 20, 2007, 07:07 PM
I am aware that I stereotype and naturally it made the point.
An adult man has no problem with it, but just a point here to, ever observed how the papas are hanging out with each others, till they have to help with taking care of the horse. I say have, on purpose, they do it because they like to, but a have is there to.
Husbands don't count.

If the picture does not get over drawn and stereotyped, than it does not hit home.

The sport will have a rather tough time to draw young boys as long as it does not pay serious attention to the problem and produce a climate and a toleranz towards the stupidity of young males. Right now young males are judged by the behavior of the majority, that goes from turn out, grooming, horsecare ( the barbie factor ), social behavior and so on.

At the present, taking from my live experiance, this is a girls school with a few boys.

BarbB
Dec. 20, 2007, 07:40 PM
My post was a little bit of kidding, but honestly, I think that looking at the superficial trappings of the sport and saying AHA! That's why young men and boys are not more involved in this sport is avoiding a real solution.

As for the clothes....Reed, I have never seen you ride in breeches except for competition. You wear jeans. So do I. So do many many riders. By the time someone is ready for competition the clothes should not be an issue.
And Gnep, as for the Barbie doll issue....I don't really care if a young boy wants to admit that he loves his horse or not. As long as he takes care of it properly he can pretend that it is a flying motorcyle for all that I care.
And as much as I enjoy spending a day doing the 'beauty day' with my horse, I have done my share of ...wipe the mud off where the tack goes and get on.
Most serious riders have done it. As long as it is not a way of life, you know how it is supposed to be done and try to make a habit of doing it right, who cares? Not the horse.

I do think that more galloping and less dressage would probably be good for the riders (both genders) and the horses so maybe learning how to gallop needs to be stressed for young riders. The finesse of dressage will make itself necessary later when they decide that WINNING is important.

But I have a solution .....why don't you male riders MENTOR a young male rider? Give somebody a role model who is not a friend of their sister or their mother?
Let them have a MALE rider influence their everyday riding, not just watch Phillip gallop by at a HT.

THAT is what is missing in the English disciplines. Go to a western event, anything from an open show to serious reining and you will see grown mature men on horses coaching young boys.
Go to an English event and the few men there are all coaching girls.
Why don't they make a point to mentor one or two boys?
Because those girls have parents who are buying expensive horses and paying big money for the whole show thing. And the trainer/coach/rider is following the money. period. no exceptions.
What happened to giving back to a sport? Pick a kid and HELP them - change the statistics yourself, don't just complain about it.

And before you say how hard it is to do this, or why don't I do it....I have, I do. But I am female and the kid that I have donated my time to is a girl.

Gnep
Dec. 21, 2007, 12:08 AM
barb,
I have no problems with breeches, i actually prever them over jeans in a dressage or jumping saddle. When punsh cows and sit in my working saddle I like Cowboy Cuts and have high heels cowboy boots on. I took the Nutty Woman last April to branding camp, was very interesting for her, punshed cows in the morning and than changed and did the flat work with her in the late evening.
I do not have a problem to go in a store and get my groceries with girly pants or hooker boots. I grew up with it, I do not feel strange in it.

It is just a sports uniform, or when I ride other peoples horses work cloth, like a mechanic's coveral or a business suit.
It is not the uniform, it is the culture that has developed. I am not blaming a sex, just stating the facts.
Give you an example. I noticed in Grass Ridge a few boys, that seamed to hang out with their girl friends, They were dressed as teen boys dress, basebal cap side ways the whole nine yards. Next thing I see them with their horses, which raised my inner eyebrow.
What realy distinguished them from the rest was their overal turn out. Horses were well groomed, but in a lax manner, their personal outfits, I thought were realy cool, nothing matched, careless thrown together, practical and correct, but absolut no thought about looks wasted, If they had had a chances they would have put on the helmet sideways, I realy loved their cool shades.
But they had a dead serious look on their faces when they rode, even that they were just starting, but they ment it.
They stuck out like sore thumbs ( maybe on purpose ) between the absolutly perfectly groomed girls and their horses.
Saw them again 4 weeks later at Cruces
I thought they were refreshing.

Next time I see them I will find out their story.

But those guys are the ones we need to attrackt.

Boys and love for their horse. Boys conect as well with a horse as girls, but it is different.
Maybe Denni or Reed can chip into this one.
I grew up with horses, and the horses that became my personal horses ( my father bred them, and some of them became your horses ) became a live partner ( I even wrote down the live stories of some of those horses, one day I will translate them into english ). It is nothing bad in a horse society to speek about the love for the specific horse or horses. I have no problem to say that I very much love my Women and the rest of horses I got on the place. I would not put up with them if I would not, they are to much a pain in the ass.
But male are differant in their ways. It is not about admiting that one loves one horses, but the differance how that is done.
Taking those boys, they took very well care of their horses, I sneeked around, because I was very courios, but it was down to the facts.

Mentoring a male rider, hihihi, have done that, inoficial and successful

Barb, you find one, I volunteer.

I think your suggestion of a male rider input is intersting, because that was the point their coaches made ( women ). They felt that there was a need for those kids to have at some point a male coach, even if it was just an advisory possition.

RAyers
Dec. 21, 2007, 12:52 AM
Like you, Gnep, I have been on horses since I was 3 years-old. My horse is my buddy. He/she is the one I can go bomb around the country-side, go explore, and just pal-around with every day. My sister who is a bit older always seemed to be more into the intense relationship with her horses. I ran around the fields and she focused on equitation/hunters.

Reed

BarbB
Dec. 21, 2007, 10:31 AM
My comments about boys and their horses were prompted by the comments early in this thread that boys don't want to take care of horsese and aren't 'into' the horses. I don't think this is true, I think you have to let kids relate to the horses the way they want to. As long as the horses are not suffering for it, leave it alone.
Once the riding progresses to a certain point the partnership becomes real and the sensitivity to the horse will generally take care of itself. And competition is the best way to encourage good turnout, not watching the women that Gnep talks about fussing over their horses.

I just really don't think that, 'boys aren't into horses,' 'the clothes are too girly' or any other surface arguments have anything to do with why there are so few young boys in eventing.
Around here boys barrel race....you can't get any more 'girly' than that. They have overcome the stereotype because they want to ride horses.
But the difference is that they have been encouraged by MEN who ride horses to just do something, anything on horseback.

I'll get off my soapbox with one last comment....you cannot take a young boy and push him into a group of girls and expect that, with rare exceptions, he is going to feel comfortable long term.
More males in this sport lies in the hands of the men that are currently involved in the sport.

hey101
Dec. 21, 2007, 11:08 AM
Around here boys barrel race....you can't get any more 'girly' than that. They have overcome the stereotype because they want to ride horses.

:lol::lol:

How ironic. I had no idea barrel racing was considered a "girly" sport. My perception of western riding is that almost all of it except western pleasure is very male-dominated. So I obviously have my stereotypes of other equestrian sports that maybe aren't correct, just like the stereotypes of eventing and other english sports held by the general public and western disciplines are not necessarily true.

LexInVA
Dec. 21, 2007, 11:12 AM
:lol::lol:

How ironic. I had no idea barrel racing was considered a "girly" sport. My perception of western riding is that almost all of it except western pleasure is very male-dominated. So I obviously have my stereotypes of other equestrian sports that maybe aren't correct, just like the stereotypes of eventing and other english sports held by the general public and western disciplines are not necessarily true.

Barrel racing is definitely a very female dominated sport in terms of the number of competitors. Some equestrians see it as an abusive sport though it's a big draw at casual western shows because it is slightly dangerous and very difficult to do.

fooler
Dec. 21, 2007, 11:26 AM
:lol::lol:

How ironic. I had no idea barrel racing was considered a "girly" sport. My perception of western riding is that almost all of it except western pleasure is very male-dominated. So I obviously have my stereotypes of other equestrian sports that maybe aren't correct, just like the stereotypes of eventing and other english sports held by the general public and western disciplines are not necessarily true.

Depends,

If you go to the 'local' and 'regional' horse shows, both men and women compete in all of the classes; pleasure, halter and timed events (barrels, pole-bending, rider pick-up, etc). Going back to my western riding days, the best team in barrel racing & pole bending was a guy riding a little, but very quick sorrel mare. And they were both trained by this guys Dad.

Now if you go to the Rodeo - the barrel-racing is strickly female. The guys compete in the other events.
I don't know if they still have it, but at one time there was a female Rodeo circuit where the 'girls' did it all, bronc & bull riding. Don't remember if they did the steer wrestling tho.

Camstock
Dec. 21, 2007, 11:55 AM
Great discussion. Short, possibly relevant "overheard" to add.

At a bar in Burwell, NE, real cowboy country, where our foxhunt joint-meets twice a year.

Cowboy 1: "What is with all the men in tight pants this weekend? Bunch of sissies."
Cowboy 2 (who had ridden with us, in his western saddle, on a hunt) "Watch out for those people in tight pants. They rode circles around me, and the least of them can outride the best of you."

*****

Mr. Camstock rides, his first ride was our first date on a Sunday afternoon. He now events at T level and fieldmasters our hunt. Totally agree: encouraging males to ride is about A) getting them an appropriate mount, and B) going and doing. Do not nitpick, do not sweat details, rider on top, horse on bottom is the only requirement, unless and until input is sought. Foxhunt. Women who want to encourage men to ride need to fear less and ride more. Get thee out and gallop and let them decide when they want to learn about dressage, if ever. When that happens, if at all possible, get a male instructor.

pegasusmom
Dec. 21, 2007, 12:32 PM
*****

Mr. Camstock rides, his first ride was our first date on a Sunday afternoon. He now events at T level and fieldmasters our hunt. Totally agree: encouraging males to ride is about A) getting them an appropriate mount, and B) going and doing. Do not nitpick, do not sweat details, rider on top, horse on bottom is the only requirement, unless and until input is sought. Foxhunt. Women who want to encourage men to ride need to fear less and ride more. Get thee out and gallop and let them decide when they want to learn about dressage, if ever. When that happens, if at all possible, get a male instructor.


Mr. Pegasusmom hunts, events at lower level and plays polocrosse. He agrees with you totally. (his male instructor is his 17 year old son :winkgrin:)

BarbB
Dec. 21, 2007, 01:04 PM
There is a psychology to getting young boys to compete in sports/activities that are already full of girls.
Here is an example, not a sport, but horses.

Jefferson County, Colorado sponsors a mounted drill team called the Westernaires. You may have heard of them. They are one of if not the biggest mounted drill team in the country, started in the early 50s. Ages from 9-19. I don't agree with everything they do or say, but they move approx 400 horses and 600 riders all over the country on weekends doing shows and drill those same horses and riders on a schedule that would make most riders wimp out. They pass practical and written tests similar to pony club to move up and don't have to own a horse to ride. Heat, cold, rain, snow, those kids are out there riding. They are doing something right.

Anyway, they had a very hard time keeping boys involved. They were not motivated by the drills and flags. So they created some boys only teams.
There is a cavalry unit, complete with uniforms. They do the same drills as the girl teams, plus lots of rider pickups, making the horses lay down to provide cover etc. TV tricks. There is team of Indian riders who wear buckskin pants, headdresses and nothing else, bare chested and barefoot. They ride bareback with only a neckstrap, no bridle. They engage the cavalry riders in battle, but mostly they run races. Relay, rider pickup, picking up objects from the ground, a little bit of jumping, a variation of pole bending etc.
Now these riders are NOT riding any faster than the outside rider on the girl's pinwheel, but the perception is that they are riding faster and harder because they are racing.
There is also a Cossacks team complete with appropriate costumes. They are doing trick riding and vaulting. Mostly the same as the girl's trick riding and vaulting team does....again...perception.
The boys teams also do exactly the same drills as the girls teams. And the big finale is a mixed drill of all the upper level teams.

This has all been about changing the perception of the boys about what being in a drill team means. It worked and now they have probably 1/3 boys. I would say that was successful.

It came about because the organizers wanted to get more boys involved and found a way to do it, instead of just saying that the boys weren't interested.

denny
Dec. 21, 2007, 07:00 PM
It would be interesting to find out how the boys (both of them!) (joke, there are 7) who are actually in eventing got here.
For example, did they start in this horse sport, or in something else, and then switch?
When I started riding in the very early 50s, there were 3 of us boys, myself, Jack Baker, and Paul Barrett, and we all had ponies, all rode western and bareback, and all rode in gymkhanas.
Gradually Jack and Paul lost interest, but I went from gymkhanas to the GMHA 100 mile trail ride, (riding western) in 1956, and then got interested in Morgans, and showed saddleseat, and was working at a big Morgan show stable during the summer of 1961, and only then did I even see my first event.
It was the Wofford Cup at Groton House, and Allen Leslie and I went down from Vermont to watch, and I was hooked at that moment. I was about to turn 20, had never jumped in my life, and when I got back to my job at The Green Mt. Stock Farm (Lippitt Morgans), at the end of the weekend, I asked Art Titus, the head trainer, how to learn how to jump.
He said, "Put up a jump one foot high, jump it til you get bored, then raise it."
Which I did, and never looked back.
But, I was already totally hooked on horses and riding, and had already been immersed in competing since 1954, when I discovered eventing 7 years later.
There were lots of men in the sport 45 years ago, maybe 60-40, women to men, instead of the 90-10 or so today, so it wasn`t such a single sex sport as it`s now becoming.
I think it`s way tougher today for a boy to get into this sport, for all the reasons mentioned on this long series of replies. And I think that`s too bad, for the sport, for the boys, and, yes, for the girls as well.

cheval80
Dec. 21, 2007, 08:06 PM
The points made recently by the other quotes below are very well said and deserve mentioning again! This is from a guy who events. I also did not really become interested until I went to be a groom. I would have loved to have had a male role model and I will definitely try to be one myself.

By BarbB
"But I have a solution .....why don't you male riders MENTOR a young male rider? Give somebody a role model who is not a friend of their sister or their mother?
Let them have a MALE rider influence their everyday riding, not just watch Phillip gallop by at a HT.

THAT is what is missing in the English disciplines. Go to a western event, anything from an open show to serious reining and you will see grown mature men on horses coaching young boys.
Go to an English event and the few men there are all coaching girls.
Why don't they make a point to mentor one or two boys?"

Bravestrom
Dec. 21, 2007, 09:20 PM
I have really been watching this thread with interest since I have two boys that event - one is 14 and the other is 17 -both started riding about 3 years ago and are really enjoying the sport.

Neither of my sons have any qualms about the clothing. They have two excellent coaches - both are women, one is actually someone I rode with as a kid. The boys have a great time with the girls and they are great with them.

My sons love eventing - all the aspects of it including the dressage, but cross is definitely their fav.

They have a dressage lesson and a jumping lesson once a week - the jumping lesson in the summer alternates between cross and stadium, we do clinics in the winter and go to different locales to train cross as well as have our own course.

Our pony club also actively promotes the disciplines with clinics in all three. My older son has won two events and will be eventing two horses this year. My younger son will be hoping to do one entry and move up to pre-training with his pony - his last event in 07 he went double clear, the older one has gone double clear on a number of occasions in pretraining last year and hopes to do training after one or two events in 08.

I don't necessarily think that they need men mentors so to speak though. More than anything I think they enjoy the competition and the social atmosphere our group offers. Our eventing coach also coaches several girls that the boys go to school with and at events we all hang out together. They walk the courses together, cheer each other on and in general have a ball hanging out too.

my boys were even featured in a calendar this year - how awesome is that. Each with dressage, stadium and cross pictures.

I also event with them and my husband is always there grooming, helping and taking pictures. It is a real family affair with us too.

My older son is planning his life to continue eventing - it is amazing to see how into it he is - he is hoping to go to university to become a teacher - the U he wants to go to is within commuting distance so he can continue riding and being a teacher means he can continue showing throughout the summer. He is hoping to go to school half year next year and then go to florida with our dressage coach for two months in the winter with his horse. Hopefully in addition to dressage he may be able to do one or two events down there to.

Just thought I would give you a bit of insight into yes there are boys eventing.

halla
Dec. 21, 2007, 10:16 PM
[QUOTE=west5]

Does that make sense?
QUOTE]

Yes :)

I wonder to what extent the lack of boys is a sort of self-promoting thing. I wonder if the tip towards horses (english anyway) being more women than men came as the leisure class declined, suburbs started making the distance from work in the city and horses in the country further, thus decreasing the pool of men with the time to ride. Their housewives still had time, though, so the tip started. And once it started being more female than male, fewer males were interested the larger the split. I know similar things have happened with academic fields (art history for example) professions (librarians) and even names (once a formerly male-only name is used for girls, it quickly turns into a girl name - Leslie, Ashley, Kim, etc).

Gnep
Dec. 21, 2007, 11:33 PM
If tou take horse sports at all they are very well leveled out between male and females.
So it is not the horse, but what the sports image and society is.

I rode my first event in 66 and than it was pretty much a male sport, even as as a late teen beginning of the seventees it was a male sport. Our youth team was 3 boys and a girl, and she was considered a serious oddbal, came out of a oddball familie. Hanna is in the US now and a trainer for Gallopers, very rare.

If you are a horse family and do the so called english thing and bring your boys into it, it is a naturally affair, so it does not count.
Because they grew up with it and are very familiar with the ( what I call society ) female society.

A little story and I have been thinking about that one quiet often.
I got recruted as late afternoon ring stuart for X-C at CHP. That meant N,BN. That is a little bit the caos time in the warm up.
Last was JBN, which is my favored. Last 4 riders had a boy, black pony. His trainer had him going, his father was watching, so when I called the last 5 riders, father had to leave so he could take the pics. Father and son had a discussion, the boy was around 12 or so. So dad comes over and asks me if I could take his boy in the box, because his boy was asking for it.
I agreed and his father did go to the kodak point, the boy stuck to me like stink on sh..
His trainer was completly out of it. I walked him to the box handed him over to Joe and of he went. I waited to see if he made it around. When he got back, big smiles and he came straight to Joe and me to tell us that he did it, than he went back to his trainer, trainer was a woman.
I did not get that one for a long time.

rivenoak
Dec. 22, 2007, 04:33 PM
Gnep & RAyers,

I sure hope you guys will still be eventing in this area when/if my little son decides he'd like to try this! Looking at the entries at Flagstaff this summer, for all 3 HT, a plethora of women and a dearth of men.

He's got a crazy mama who likes to hang it over the edge, but one day I know he'll want to go sit & shoot the breeze with the menfolk. And I hope that can happen for him.


As an aside, I think one of the best things about eventing in Flagstaff IS that racetrack. It just calls my name...Come Gallop, Come Gallop! And I have...on an OTTB. I didn't get busted, though. :cool: