I just registered after several years of lurking in order to reply to the OP. I too, am bidding the H/J division goodbye. After years of making up my own TB's, breeding my own TB's, showing at AA, A, B, & local shows, I no longer can afford the $$$$ it would take to show at any of those levels again. Frankly, the sport has passed me by with the switch over to Warmbloods, the drugs, and the other changes. Flat classes are pretty much gone except for the schooling or local shows, and being in my 60's now, I really don't want to jump anything besides logs on our farm. I occasionaly peek at an entry blank for an A show and gasp at the stall fees, the trailer in fees, the non-refundable office fees, the association fees, and all the other fees tacked onto the entry. I still have a grandson of Storm Cat and a granddaughter of Spectacular Bid. Earlier this year I entertained the idea of putting the gelding in training at a H/J barn. However, when I added up the boarding, the training, the cost of trailering to shows 100 miles away, and all the other fees that would be tacked on, I just couldn't do it. I'm making him into a reining horse instead, my new discipline of choice. There were always wealthy people showing back in the day, but they brought one or two horses to the shows. Today one client brings a whole aisle full! Wealthy or of average means, riders worked very hard to improve their horsemanship and there was little of this riding only 2 or 3 times a week or handing the horse over to the groom after their lesson or class. We all spent a lot of time with our horses, and that seems to be gone today. Fortunately, there are many other disciplines to compete in that don't cost anywhere near the $$ that the H/J shows do. I come from a background of showing everything from western to Saddlebreds, so it wasn't hard for me to find a new sport. After all, it is supposed to be about the horse himself.
A post like this shouldn't open a can of worms. It's spot on and truer words were never spoken about the show world. I go to most of the schooling shows here and that stresses the bank. I've done a three A shows in the past... three? years and each time I look at the bill and just cannot even believe it. And then add on the cost of my trainer and it's just ugh. I'm just lucky that I keep my horses at home, much cheaper.
On that note why is it that so many people blindly listen to their trainer? My horses are NOT treated like pampered show horses. They live outside almost 24/7/365. The eat off the ground. My girls live in the same pasture. And (knock on wood) I have WAY less problems than many of the big barns I have seen. Sorry that was a bit of a tangent.
Wanna open a can of worms? Say this: "I just wish you couldn't buy your way to the top like many can do now." Now THAT will get people going LOL!
How funny...I have been a jumper my whole life. I recently (just over a month ago) switched to eventing! I am loving it (middleburg was my first event last week). I am competing at novicelate right now (though moving to training at VHT in a month).
I never saw myself doing this but just grew sick of the cost, ethics and schedule of jumpers here (I grew up in Switzerland).
I had a great first event and finished on a 32.5 for my first ever dressage test (with a horse who has never evented).
I love the bond with the horses it takes (and the amount of work involved) I love the no drugs rules, I love how the people are....I am hooked. I am hoping to move to prelim late spring and go from there.
I am on the dark side and loving it!
I'm so on the fence. I think I'm leaning toward the side of saying goodbye to h/j shows as well. The trick for me is trying to figure out WHERE we belong. If anywhere other than my backyard.
Well written original post!! I did not have the guts to start a thread like this in fear of being bashed.
I bid the A-hunter world goodbye in the mid 80's.
I won't get started on the self-entitled trainer and pampered show horses thing.
What happened to Horsemanship? Anohterera said it all............
I haven't shown a rated show since 1997. And that was the Foxhunters Series at indoors.
Did it all as a junior--on the road, Big Eq finals--and loved every moment of it (okay, maybe not chasing my last Medal day-in and day-out back when you had to be blue to qualify...). Won a state eq finals as a young adult and rode all through college. After school, I fell in with a foxhunting crowd and had a blast doing that, while still hitting some local shows.
My mother died the year after I graduated from college, and I used part of my inheritance to buy a fancy young horse, who developed EPM that was career-ending. After that I decided to not spend large chunks of money on horses, and stuck to the cheap ones. Besides, my money was occupied with grad school, then I got married and bought a farm, did more grad school.
I've come to terms with the fact that I do not have the money, time or horseflesh to play in the big leagues. I'm fine with that. I show locally, did my first event in 16 years this summer (and won my division!) and help my trainer put on a local show series. I have a new little OTTB to play with whom I adore, and we'll see where his best strengths lie.
I would much rather have fun at the locals and give back at the grass roots level than just be another adult ammy at the big A shows.
Rated shows - smaller and smaller it appears.
It is unfortunate the previous progression from C, to B, to finally A shows is gone. Learning and moving up the ranks seems now non-existent. Having goals and working toward them in a logical sequence, as all sports must have, is gone.
So, unless fundamental changes happen, we will have a vast majority of folks enjoying themselves at unrated local shows, clinics or just taking lessons. Whatever floats their boat! :)
The A shows will be a select few, competing against a select few, and I do mean few. A quick check of the biggest yearly A show in this area revealed that over 95% of the classes had 9 or fewer competitors, with most classes having around 5. No chance for any real growth for the sport, and the longer it continues, the smaller they will become.
Sad, as I really enjoy watching a great hunter round.
Aren't they on FEI rules Prelim and up, Janet? Not sure how that works. They certainly use fewer drugs. No full "sharps" buckets at the events I've attended.
Yep, I' done too.
I'm kicking my horse onto pasture board and accepting that I'm middle class and can't afford to play in the big leagues. Heck, I'm lucky I can even afford my horse at all, and am tired of working 2 or 3 jobs to chase a dream that will never be in my financial reality.
We are going to ride for fun. I don't need to spend 3k to get a $0.25 ribbon just to feel validated anymore, and I'm going to ignore the people who tell me she's too nice of a horse to just putter around on.
I am 27 and have never been to a show as a viewer or competitor. A relative of mine owns a horse strictly to show and when she met mine, she looked at me like I was nuts for playing with her in the arena rather than "working". I waited until I was 25 to purchase my first horse, she is ten years younger and had hers purchased for her with brand name everything. I don't even own breeches but I make it work.
People always ask me what I want to do with my girl and I tell them I just want to have fun (usually received by odd stares or overly polite comments lol). The show world is not one I want to be a part of based on what I've heard.
Of course this doesn't mean that there aren't problems. There always are. It's just much more affordable, LOL! And somehow that makes them easier to deal with, and levels the playing field somewhat.
I know several people who have turned to Pony Club and 4H. The 4H Over Fences group in this area has essentially become our B circuit. The kids are well trained, and well mounted. The horses are terrific, but couldn't really compete with the A Circuit crowd anymore. My trainer and I have given a couple of clinics and I've judged for them a few times over the years, and each year the quality of riding is more impressive.
And here, the A Shows are lovely - the managers try hard, and they've done a great job of making them more exhibitor friendly. But that doesn't change the trend - the price is just too high.
I feel lucky to live in an area where some of the schooling shows are actually really competitive at times - a lot of the area riders that show at rated shows come to these for practice, so I feel like we're getting some good competition for a mere fraction of the price. The classes are usually fairly large, and it's at the same facility that some rated shows are held. I still get barfy nervous because that's just how I am, but it's really a lot of fun, the people are nice, and it's so relaxed. You can show in black tack and no one blinks, and I don't feel judged for not having an expensive horse, tack or apparel. People are actually downright supportive of people they don't even know.
Janet- yes that makes sens...I guess this difference is that there is an expectation of no drugs (especially for riders who want to be one a team, which my "mentor/trainer" does). I guess the whole way horses are treated is very different (at least from what I have seen).
They are treated a lot more like athletes and get the care to keep them sound not the quick fixes to patch them up as much maybe?
Don't get me wrong, I love the jumpers, but cost wise it's just getting crazy...and kids who can't afford to do the whole circuit can't make the finals for the most part because they won't get enough points.
Eventers have to actually learn to ride...not saying that jumpers don't, far from it...but the trend these days is that if you have the money and your trainer jumps your horses around in a bunch of classes before you get there on friday your sweet GP horse will cart your butt around the ch/ad or low AOs. I find that sad...I don't remember horses having to do a few "level" classes and a whole ch/ad/ao division years ago (especially not when florida now starts in January...
I have noticed very few grooms (yes of course working students to help the pros with a bunch of horses)... people seem to have a much more "hands" on approach in the care of their horses which I like, not so much meeting your horse at the warm up and handing it off at the ingate.