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Velvet
Sep. 17, 2009, 12:52 AM
So, I was thinking about people getting a second, third and fourth break and had this thought. Doesn't it seem that the more famous you are the more likely people are to forgive you for mistakes and bad behavior? I'm not talking about the recent stuff that everyone is talking about with other types of celebs, I'm talking about in the horse world, and more specifically in the dressage world.

Do you think that more people will forgive someone who is at the top of the dressage world (or jumping--which is where I've seen even more of this stuff) who does something stupid like doping their horse or using tools they shouldn't (or misbehaves when teaching a clinic and does something stupid or outright obnoxious)? It seems to me they get a second, third, and fourth chance. People want to forgive them. It also seems to me that people that are at the bottom of the horse training and teaching food chain are often immediately judged as bad and would never be given a second chance by the majority of people.

Thoughts?

Sabine
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:17 AM
I think as soon as you speak up for someone - you invest in someone- with your name, your clout- your reputation. This is at the core of it. The problem is that there is an expectation of earning unreal amounts of $$ for the top riders and performers and really there is no economy of scale behind that - that will in a society justify this for long. Thus the methods- will deviate- the sport is not regulated correctly and thoroughly- we are just at the beginning. It's a sport that is beginning to hopefully get enough of a foothold to be properly set up and then these issues will disappear and no longer occur.

We are truly still in the beginning of the equestrian maturity curve...look at baseball or football- a different story altogether...

Ambrey
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:34 AM
Think of it also as how much intellectual capital is tied up in some of the top level coaches/riders. George Morris can be a jerk and people will still go to his clinics because he has a level of knowledge that, at least in people's perception, others don't have.

One of my friends tells me that she went to a GM clinic and he said something to the effect of she just had the wrong hair color (blonde). I mean, seriously, how many people would stay in business with customer service like that? :lol:

It reminds me of the soup nazi.

NO SOUP FOR YOU.... NEXT!

tarragon
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:44 AM
I'm not saying this in any way excuses illegal or unethical behavior, but... I do feel that there is extraordinary pressure upon those at the top level of the sport from fans, sponsors, owners, etc. that a rider/trainer not at that level never faces. That pressure might (again, I'm not condoning this) lead someone to do something they would normally wouldn't have even considered.

slc2
Sep. 17, 2009, 08:26 AM
I don't think it's a universal rule, but it does happen that way sometimes. The public in general is very fickle and very arbitrary in how they judge people's mistakes, and I think momentum and gossip and motivation has a lot more effect than how big the person is, facts or actually what the person did wrong, which, granted, the public usually has a very limited understanding of exactly what happened. In horses, it's very clique-y, and it's very ah...'pragmatic' who gets condemned.

I think people can also be very tolerant of local trainers who have done really awful things. Often it's because they either don't know about it, or just don't believe it, or they just don't care. Roughness, criminal convictions, chronic severe unreliability are often overlooked, but often, a customer just doesn't realize a local trainer is just incompetent.

If there's something in it for them, if they're getting lessons and they feel they're going well and getting out of it what they want (it's not always show ribbons - often it's just riding in shows even nwith really bad scores, or going around in their back yard doing flying changes or some sort of piaffe....), they can be amazingly...'tolerant' of locals too. The trainer who makes them less afraid of a horse they're afraid of, no matter how it's done...that often wins them some loyalty.

I recall one local trainer back east when I was a sprat, that did absolutely incredible things, and had a loyal following for years, heck he STILL does!

No...sadly, it occurs at all levels. WHen it occurs at the local level it goes beyond the kind of 'distant approval' and affects many more people and horses, than does 'forgiving' an international trainer one is unlikely to ever have dealings with and just debates about on a bb. So I'd say the 'forgiving' of the foibles of a local trainer is much, much more important.

Ambrey
Sep. 17, 2009, 11:46 AM
As long as you don't associate with the Parellis. If you do that, you're screwed ;)

CatOnLap
Sep. 17, 2009, 12:18 PM
I'm not saying this in any way excuses illegal or unethical behavior, but... I do feel that there is extraordinary pressure upon those at the top level of the sport from fans, sponsors, owners, etc. that a rider/trainer not at that level never faces. That pressure might (again, I'm not condoning this) lead someone to do something they would normally wouldn't have even considered.

I think you're right about that. I was reading about how Ian Millar and other celebs keep their horses and it is amazing the amount of injectables and medications and preventatives they use to keep their horses competing. The pressure to try some new or off label treatment to keep the horses on their game is enourmous if you want to keep winning. Millar alluded to something like this, and suggested some ways that how we rank riders internationally might have something to do with it - that the points system encourages people to compete beyond what they would otherwise feel was good for them and their horses.

Do celebs get a break> I think they do. I think there is great pressure on sanctioning bodies to not slam the stars too hard so as to keep the money rolling. But then, if someone is found competing with their horses or themselves doped to the eyeballs, and they are caught and reform themselves, shouldn't they be allowed another chance? Its not like murdering or raping someone is it?

mbm
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:03 PM
a side tangent... but now that riders are "athletes" how long will it be til the riders are doping? (or do they already??)

i think stardom and the halo effect are in full force in our sport.... too much money , too much pressure, and too much attention paid to making dressage the next big thing (ie read more money to be made)

Ambrey
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:05 PM
a side tangent... but now that riders are "athletes" how long will it be til the riders are doping? (or do they already??)

They do already, I'm sure. Maybe not with anything illegal, but certainly with things they'd never allow in the horse.

mbm
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:17 PM
proof?

another side tangent: i think using the word "athlete" also affects how the horses are seen - as i think it will create less harmony because the riders will athlete the horses around and use them more as tools rather than partners and the real athlete.

:)

k, off my soapbox

Ambrey
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:20 PM
Do you think there aren't riders popping prescription motrin to get through the big shows?

Sudafed when they have a big show and a cold?

That right there is more than would be allowed for the horses.

Proof? I took prescription motrin (800 mg) the morning of my one and only recognized show. At least one doping case right there ;)

mbm
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:26 PM
ambrey that wasn't what i was thinking of....... i mean "dope" not aspirin

Ambrey
Sep. 17, 2009, 01:34 PM
I know, but so many of the doping cases for horses are things we'd never hesitate to think of as acceptable for the riders. I mean, capsaicin is what is in many pain patches and muscle rubs, and that's a major theme in the doping "scandals."

And sudafed is illegal for most athletes that get tested. Here is the banned substance list for humans- note "anabolic agents" and "beta-2 agonists" includes most treatments for asthma.

http://www.wada-ama.org/rtecontent/document/2008_List_En.pdf

And alcohol in competition is also prohibited ;)

Velvet
Sep. 17, 2009, 11:39 PM
Okay, so we agree in the halo effect and how people forgive them. So now what about the little guys? Don't they deserve the same opportunity for forgiveness of their "sins" in the horse world?

The double standard I perceive just amazes me, but maybe someone has some contradictory evidence...

Ambrey
Sep. 17, 2009, 11:45 PM
Okay, so we agree in the halo effect and how people forgive them. So now what about the little guys? Don't they deserve the same opportunity for forgiveness of their "sins" in the horse world?


No, because they are all overweight and bad riders.

(sorry, really, I just couldn't resist!)

mbm
Sep. 18, 2009, 12:45 AM
you know.... what i find really interesting is how for some reason horse trainers are like gods..... they have groupies, have massive followings, have huge street cred, ,and get away with stuff no mortal could....

why is that ? they are just horse trainers for petes sake!

nhwr
Sep. 18, 2009, 09:57 AM
I disagree that there is really a halo effect.

Big time competition is first and foremost a business. I think there are structures within this business (sponsorships, relationships with wealthy clients, the media, vendors, judges etc) that create a certain momentum around particular individuals that resists interruption and if interrupted, is easy to resume. That is your "halo effect" but it doesn't necessarily imply the acceptance or forgiveness of the general public.

People at the top of a sport are supposed to be exceptional competitors.They are expected to be able to withstand all kinds of pressure that mere mortals don't experience. So what? That is part of what being exceptional means. My expectations of those down the food chain are different. Well, maybe not so different, but I am not surprised when it turns out that they are not exceptional.

narcisco
Sep. 18, 2009, 11:24 AM
It's kind of a human condition to resort to logical fallacies when incongruities appear in our lives. We have a hard time reconciling things and we aren't always logical in how we do it. This one is called an appeal to authority. Because a person is an authority in one way, they should be an authority in all others (we see this best in commercials, such as George Foreman selling grills).

So, when a famous trainer does something stupid, we may assume that because they are famous/credible/BNT, they should know what they are doing. They may get the benefit of the doubt based on their authority alone, which the little guys don't have.

Velvet
Sep. 19, 2009, 11:37 AM
So, your hypothesis is that people are looking for someone to be in charge. For someone to become the authority--no matter what their short comings. Also that once in said position those people must be accepted even when they fail miserably to meet the original criteria because either no one wants to allow themselves to be disillusioned, or they can't find anyone better to fill that role. Is that about right? :D

Honestly, I do think that's part of it. But what's really sad is some of the people I've met that are further down on the accomplishments scale (meaning non-Olympians, etc.) who actually are much better people to put on a pedestal for many reasons: personality, ability to communicate, compassion, ability to work with ALL types of horses and to achieve realistic goals with said horses of lesser ability.

CatOnLap
Sep. 19, 2009, 12:26 PM
oh Velvet, I have been saying that for years in an unrelated field. In my profession, the "stars" are lauded and celebrated for the research they do, for the pioneering techniques they invent, for the hours and hours they dedicate to their work. They have among the highest rates of suicide, divorce and substance abuse of any occupational group! Yet they are always held up as "shining examples" to the rest of us. This completely ignores that their personal lives are often a mess, that they are often not very kind to their support staff and so on.


But what's really sad is some of the people I've met that are further down on the accomplishments scale (meaning non-Olympians, etc.) who actually are much better people to put on a pedestal for many reasons: personality, ability to communicate, compassion, ability to work with ALL types...

and you could well be talking about medical doctors in that sentence. Yet when I proposed to my professional association that we should be nominating people who have well rounded, well balanced lives, pleasant personalities and great bedside manner for awards, even if they hadn't invented the next cure for cancer, I got feedback that we would be "celebrating mediocrity". Our priorities are seriously screwed up.