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  1. #1
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    Default A "vision" for US eventing?

    This past weekend at the Stoneleigh-Burnham event, I was talking about the shaky state of prelim and up events in Area One with Jim Gornall, the TD.
    Jim said he felt part of the problem was the thinking from USEF that the main "usefulness" (maybe the wrong word) of these levels was to provide a channel toward the upper levels, and that they therefore had to become harder and more technical, putting the preliminary level out of reach of the rank and file eventer.
    He said there was a new rule that says there must be at least 24 fences on a prel.x-c, and that means fences get jammed into places they don`t logically fit on the land, to accommodate the rule.
    Anyway, we wondered whose "vision" was ruling all these changes which seem to be afflicting our sport. Is this alphabet soup (CCI, CIC, YEH, Gold Cup, etc. the list goes on) the vision of the USEA, or of the USEF, or of a small cabal of hidden people who are manipulating the sport for certain ends (That conspiracy theory again!)?
    Jim said he`s pretty sure David O` Connor has a vision of what he wants, and Mark Phillips has his, and so on, but they may or may not coincide with what the majority of USA riders want or need.
    So, we wondered, could we somehow persuade several key eventing leaders (O`Connor, Phillips, various USEA and USEF leaders to provide us all with clear and well articulated vision statements of what they think eventing should be, where they think it`s going, and how it`s going to get there?
    Isn`t that what The State of the Union message is each year from the US President? Aren`t we owed that from our eventing leaders?
    I think most of us see what`s happening to our sport and just sort of think, "how did this happen?", in the absence of of a clear vision.
    Then we could see if there are conflicting visions, which I can almost guarantee will be the case, and it will allow the membership to be heard in a democratic manner.
    If our leaders will not tell us what they are thinking, then that tells us something, too.



  2. #2
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    Default

    Yikes! 24 fences?

    Once again, Denny, you have opened my eyes. I do appreciate your insights, especially since you have been there.

    For those of us, who just want to compete, but have no aspirations ( or are just too old) to go up the levels, this mindset leaves us, where? I understand the need to have upcoming riders, who can compete on the world stage. Are "the powers that be" planning on pushing the rest of us into the non-recognized events, because we don't have the funds to afford a super horse, who can do this? Or, a super trainer, who can help us get through the kinds of technical maze of jumps that would be required?

    The vision of our "leaders" really needs to be that of the USEA members. So, how do we get our voices heard? AUBURN



  3. #3
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    Default

    I believe David articulated his position very clearly in the last issue of Horses in Sport (if I recall correctly). His vision focuses on attracting the kind of financial support that will keep the sport alive, affordable and accomodating to enthusiasts at all levels. His vision recognizes increasing costs and risks and competition (from other sports), and seeks to find palatable solutions to them. I think David--and Alan Balch before him--should be applauded for their realism and their willingness to take a hard, honest look at things.

    Granted, operationalizing that vision is another issue all together!
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  4. #4
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    Default

    At the risk of being the spoilsport in the crowd, I think eventing is going thru some growing pains that it may not survive, at least in any recognizable form.
    While the training and competing that make up eventing have been around for a while, as an organized sport it really hasn't.
    The first generation of event riders in this new organized sport set the tone for how eventers saw themselves and how, I think, others saw them.
    Dressage was the penalty phase that bought you a ticket to run cross country. XC was about bold athletic horses with a mind of their own and riders with enough guts to ride them. Show jumping proved that you were still in the game and let the cream rise to the top.

    NONE of this was really a sport fit for amateurs (or the fainthearted) but we all wanted to think it was.

    When I look around I don't see this sport anywhere in evidence. And while many would argue that that is probably a good thing, I don't think that what has replaced it is a good thing. I see a business that looks, basically, just like the H/J and dressage worlds.
    I see a handful of amateurs that are really dedicated and want to learn everything and they are pretty much pushed to one side. On the opposite end of that scale I see a handful of top level riders that still see themselves as athletes competing in a sport, again not the heart of the game.
    What has become the heart of the game are the BNTs to whom this is no more a sport than my job is to me, cranking out horses that amatuers can ride and amateur riders who do what they are told without understanding any of it.
    We wanted eventing to be more available, more public and to get more recognition and respect. A classic example of why you should be careful what you wish for.

    Statements like this:
    "He said there was a new rule that says there must be at least 24 fences on a prel.x-c, and that means fences get jammed into places they don`t logically fit on the land, to accommodate the rule."
    paint a picture of a sport dumbed down to the point of decisions being made by the numbers (no pun intended) and without any regard for or maybe even any knowledge of the sport.

    I'm old and creaky and am losing respect for a sport that used to be for the do-it-yourself types and isn't anymore. I don't honestly know that there is any solution. How do you take a sport that has turned into a business and make it back into a sport? It may not be possible. And honestly I don't see many younger riders who would want to do that if they could. They have grown up in the controlled and coached world that exists today and are comfortable with it.
    I just hope someone comes up with a new name because I think it is going to become unrecognizable as eventing.
    End of rant.





  5. #5
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    Baaaaarrrbbbb! Come on, lady!

    What has become the heart of the game are the BNTs to whom this is no more a sport than my job is to me, cranking out horses that amatuers can ride and amateur riders who do what they are told without understanding any of it.
    Where do you get that from? LOOK at who Denny's teammates were 20-30 years ago and how they afforded the sport. How did Jimmy Wofford get his rides? How did he afford to BECOME JIMMY WOFFORD? Ya think it might have helped that he WAS a "Wofford"? That Bruce was married to a Hannum? That Tad garnered the support of the Pingrees?

    Today, to BE a "BNT" you have to HAVE A JOB because the Hannums and Pingrees and old horsey families are GONE. The foundation of the sport is now those amateurs who need the packers the BNTs crank out to put food on their tables. Keeping those amateurs happy is what is keeping this sport alive!

    I think you malign BNTs unfairly when you criticize them for having to find a way to support themselves in order to enjoy the sport.

    Indeed, I feel maligned myself because if I can't sell horses, I can't afford to HAVE horses, period. This is the lack of realism in the air that really scares and depresses me.
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  6. #6
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    Default

    USEF:
    Mission statement should be at the 50000 foot view
    USEA:
    Mission statement should be at the 10000 foot view
    Local Associations:
    Mission statement should be at the 5000 foot view
    The event:
    Mission statement should be at the 50 foot view
    The competitor:
    Mission statement should be at the 1 cm view

    To have the USEA determine the number of jumps and also I've heard exactly how the jumps are presented (ie ground lines) is not what they should be focusing on! That's up to the event itself.

    USEF:
    Marketing, promotion, money generating ventures (think Executive committee) And yes, we deserve a state of the union address but for the horse sport in whole. David is one of us but let's not forget, he's the USEF now.

    USEA:
    Rules, regulations, management of eventing across the US. The actual sales as well. Think the project managers, change managers, accounting, sales, I.T.. The expense to support the business. They should also have a state of the union. Which they do in a form of the message from the president in the eventing mag.

    Local Associations:
    Special projects, teaching about the sport(clinics, unrec. stuff, meetings) , assisting the USEA.

    The event:
    Service department, the guys in the trenches, worker bees. The heart of the business of eventing. In thinking like this, the USEF, the USEA, and local associations need to keep the happy and productive in order to churn more productive events.

    The rider:
    The customer. The money hander-outer.

    Failings:
    USEF - no mission statement, no enforcing the rules, no real imaginative marketing or business initiatives. Butt out of the events' businesses! Focus on the above.
    USEA - mission statement. Too many chiefs, not too many Indians. Butt out of the events' businesses! Too many rules, not enough vision.
    local associations - all I know is my local one stinks and I'm not a member. But that's another topic. So, I go to the Adult Riders. I think our vision is about right. Plus I love them!
    Events - getting the brunt of the crap from above. They need to be appreciated more from above and trusted that they know what they're doing. If they don't, let the customer decide that, not the USEF. The rider will complain to the USEA and they will enforce what WE, the RIDER wants. I think this is lost.
    The rider - Yeah, YOU. Get out there and help! I think I'm preaching to the choir on this one but there are others out there that we need to hit upside the head. How do we get to the them?



  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pwynnnorman View Post
    I think you malign BNTs unfairly when you criticize them for having to find a way to support themselves in order to enjoy the sport.
    .
    I am not "maligning" anyone. I am just describing what I see. I think the sport has changed from a sport to a business. I think that is a loss. Not everyone agrees. Some people are perfectly happy to have it be a business.



  8. #8
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    Jan. 25, 2004
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    Unhappy CIC*--What are these for now?

    I thought these were meant to be harder prelims. After you do the regular prelims (USEF), then you could move up to the CIC*'s. (FEI) If the regular prelims are beconming CIC*, then why do we even have a national association? Maybe we should just have unrecognized and FEI? (I know, silly statement but really now....whatis going on here?)

    It seems all the levels are getting harder, there use to be,(might still be. not sure) a statement about novice being an inviting level to encourage forward riding. Now I see half coffins at novice and all kinds of things that used to be questions at training, only smaller. I guess now that BN is recognized, it is the new novice.

    rant over.



  9. #9
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    Default

    I agree with a lot of what BarbB is saying.

    I think that we amateurs have to make a choice of which type of eventing we want to be involved in. You can either participate in the more home-grown type of horse trials that offer Prelim and below, or Training and below, recognized or unrecognized. Or you can opt for the glossy HTs that offer Prelim and up.

    I myself find that I enjoy the more backyard type of events at the lower levels. I usually find that I am parked next to someone else who is like me and who has a life outside of the competitions and training, and who therefore struggles to make eventing happen. People who only compete one or at very max, 2, horses per competition. Who are elated coming off a Training or BN course that went well and don't just see it solely as a step in the horse's training, but as a triumph for both. Who don't see the horse as a number (both in financial and in identifying terms). Who don't rely on a trainer and pay a trainer $100/competition to tell them how to jump every single fence. Basically, people who see eventing as an outlet to enjoy riding and improving, but not as an all-consuming lifestyle.

    In terms of the "vision," I think my feeling goes back to something that Denny suggested at one time about simply splitting the sport into the pros/ULs and the lower level people. Well, I guess the split has been made for us.

    As a sidenote - I think eventing was just fine before David O'Connor took his post at the USEF.



  10. #10
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    Default

    The vision of our "leaders" really needs to be that of the USEA members. So, how do we get our voices heard?
    Attend the Annual meeting. I have always found the "Powers That Be" in the USEA very receptive to the needs of the lower level members (e.g. turning DOWN the proposal to make Prelim Show Jumping 3'9").

    That attitude is not always sustained once it moves on to the USEF.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nature View Post
    I thought these were meant to be harder prelims. After you do the regular prelims (USEF), then you could move up to the CIC*'s. (FEI) If the regular prelims are beconming CIC*, then why do we even have a national association? Maybe we should just have unrecognized and FEI? (I know, silly statement but really now....whatis going on here?)
    Prelim show jumping is 3'7". CIC* show jumping is 3'9". I think that is a distinctly non-trivial difference.

    It seems all the levels are getting harder, there use to be,(might still be. not sure) a statement about novice being an inviting level to encourage forward riding. Now I see half coffins at novice and all kinds of things that used to be questions at training, only smaller. I guess now that BN is recognized, it is the new novice.
    A group of us (old fogeys) were discussing this the other night, and be had the opposite impression. That Novice has become EASIER over the years. Particularly wrt jumping over a jump into water, and things like that.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  12. #12
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    Default

    He said there was a new rule that says there must be at least 24 fences on a prel.x-c, and that means fences get jammed into places they don`t logically fit on the land, to accommodate the rule.
    Not exactly a NEW rule.

    The 2004 rule book (the earliest easily accessible on line) says Prelim XC is 24 - 28 efforts. The 2007 rule book has 24 - 32 efforts. So the maximum has increased (from 28 to 32), but the minimum has stayed the same at 24.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  13. #13
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    Oct. 26, 2001
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    Default Denny

    "Anyway, we wondered whose "vision" was ruling all these changes which seem to be afflicting our sport."

    Is seems another question should be:

    Whose money is driving these "Visions"

    I don't believe our leaders are as concerned with the eventing community as much as they seem to be about the $ backing the upper level riders. However, the lower levels feed the upper levels...



  14. #14
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    Default

    Ok, let me try to approach it from a different angle.

    MY vision of eventing is...
    • A sport that can be accessed at all levels by people with average incomes, individually or collectively.
    • A sport that uses and preserves open spaces either by financially supporting private farms or by justifying public support through the use of public land and facilities.
    • A sport where success is based on knowledge and skill more than money--where (financial) "support" for knowledge and skill is possible even if you don't have rich parents or a husband who is a CEO.
    • A sport where you DO NOT NEED an expensive, purpose-bred animal to "give it a go" as far as you dare.
    • A sport that still requires that a rider know his/her horse intimately because the challenges are significant enough that you can't get away with being a weekend warrior.
    • A sport where you have to know more than how to ride.
    • A sport that can AFFORD to reward horsemanship over showmanship.
    • A sport that is NOT supported exclusively by exhibitors because if that were so, the cost to participate would be so high that it would (and WILL) become just another elite passtime, reserved for the upper- and upper-middle classes only.
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  15. #15
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    Default

    Ok, let me try to approach it from a different angle.

    MY vision of eventing is...
    • A sport that can be accessed at all levels by people with average incomes, individually or collectively.
    • A sport that uses and preserves open spaces either by financially supporting private farms or by justifying public support through the use of public land and facilities.
    • A sport where success is based on knowledge and skill more than money--where (financial) "support" for knowledge and skill is possible even if you don't have rich parents or a husband who is a CEO.
    • A sport where you DO NOT NEED an expensive, purpose-bred animal to "give it a go" as far as you dare.
    • A sport that still requires that a rider know his/her horse intimately because the challenges are significant enough that you can't get away with being a weekend warrior.
    • A sport where you have to know more than how to ride.
    • A sport that can AFFORD to reward horsemanship over showmanship.
    • A sport that is NOT supported exclusively by exhibitors because if that were so, the cost to participate would be so high that it would (and WILL) become just another elite passtime, reserved for the upper- and upper-middle classes only.
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  16. #16
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pwynnnorman View Post
    Ok, let me try to approach it from a different angle.

    MY vision of eventing is...
    • A sport that can be accessed at all levels by people with average incomes, individually or collectively.
    • A sport that uses and preserves open spaces either by financially supporting private farms or by justifying public support through the use of public land and facilities.
    • A sport where success is based on knowledge and skill more than money--where (financial) "support" for knowledge and skill is possible even if you don't have rich parents or a husband who is a CEO.
    • A sport where you DO NOT NEED an expensive, purpose-bred animal to "give it a go" as far as you dare.
    • A sport that still requires that a rider know his/her horse intimately because the challenges are significant enough that you can't get away with being a weekend warrior.
    • A sport where you have to know more than how to ride.
    • A sport that can AFFORD to reward horsemanship over showmanship.
    • A sport that is NOT supported exclusively by exhibitors because if that were so, the cost to participate would be so high that it would (and WILL) become just another elite passtime, reserved for the upper- and upper-middle classes only.
    I think you and I are really talking in general about the same things.
    You put it it a much more positive light. But I think that what you are describing is how eventing has been in the past and maybe still is to some degree today. What I was describing is how I see it evolving from the very recent past and into the near future, and I admit it is a darker view of things, but I think we are ALREADY headed down that path, the first few steps have already been taken.

    So how does the sport retrace those first steps down my darker path and stay on the lighter path that you are describing?

    And as far as the business end of it....there is nothing wrong with trainers making a living or breeders making a living. What I have a problem with is when the business end is so important and the sport end is so unimportant that you can just substiture anything in place of 'horse sport'
    Good businessmen can go from horses to cars to interior decorating....the commodity doesn't matter, the business does. I think if you are trying to keep a sport as a sport....the 'commodity' has to be more important.



  17. #17
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    Default

    I'm not sure how this will help the discussion, but since losing my horse this spring, I've taken a step back from eventing. It doesn't look like I'll have another equine partner to take part in the sport with for awhile, and I'm afraid of what the sport will have become when I do return.

    For what it's worth, these are some of my observations, having begun eventing in 2000.

    --As Denny mentioned, the gap between the "lower levels" and "upper levels" courses seems to be getting greater and greater. The result--more riders getting "stuck" at Training level because the difference in difficulty between Training and Preliminary is ever widening. Preliminary seems to be geared more to the BNR with upper level experience (versus the "everyday" riders who are progressing up the levels).

    --The costs of competition--the costs of entry fees have almost doubled since I began participating in this sport. To be perfectly honest, I'm having a harder and harder time justifying this type of expense for typically a single day of competition--it is easily over $300 for a 4-minute dressage test, 5-minute cross country round, and 2-minute show jumping course. I understand that the organizers aren't making much money off events, but the way costs are going, it's going to price many of us working adults right out of the sport.

    --I see upper level horses being run "hard"--like someone else mentioned, they go, go, go all year. And now with the short format, they are running FEI events more and more often. Eventing used to be about horsemanship and I seriously question the horsemanship of many of these upper level eventers who main focus seems to be competing, making teams, and winning. I not trying to generalize, but the turnover of event horses seems to be speeding up as well--I laugh when I remember some of the UL riders saying the short format would help the horses last longer and make them stars (in fact, AT said this herself). It's just the opposite--the super stars of yester year seem to be gone.

    --All the talk about sponsorship, visibility, marketing--and how the upper level riders are just trying to make a living. I'm sorry--isn't that what we are all trying to do and why many of us chose not to make our living in the horse world? If that's how they or we try to justify the reasons that the horses are competing so often; the focus of the "Team" above all else; the attitude toward lower level riders (ala the controversy about the short format and UL riders saying that the lower level riders shouldn't say anything because they don't compete at the upper levels); or why the pressure to win, finish, please sponsors, et causes lapses of judgement (ala the AT case), I think it's a pretty sad excuse. If you can't make a living in this sport being fair to the horse and fellow competitors (ie, the lower level participants in the sport), then perhaps you should make your living a different way.

    --The whole "Team" mentality--I know this really hasn't changed for better or worse, but personally, when the foundation of our sport starts to change (ie, losing the long format, lack of horsemanship or putting the horse first) for the "elite" levels, I have a problem with that. In the scheme of things, who cares about medals and glory? It is so fleeting and so, I don't know, well, shallow. I just can't excited about supporting a team right now in light of what has happened recently.

    Those are just some random thoughts, and I completely agree that it would be nice to know just what the vision for eventing is from our governing bodies.
    Kelly Soldavin Harvest Moon Farm
    www.harvestmoonfarmpa.com



  18. #18
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    No one I know who has lived anywhere, no matter how rural, sees fewer cars, fewer houses, more open land available for horses and other pursuits.

    No one I know finds the conditions for eventing better now than they used to be.

    What is the 'vision' I have of eventing in the future?

    I see Indoor Eventing as the sport's natural evolution.
    Indoor Eventing is already gaining popularity--it consists of two jumping efforts indoors ,one straight show jumping and one "cross-country" going as fast as possible, with cute little hills and banks--and the times are added together to produce a winner over the 2 rounds.

    The Indoor Events that have happened so far in Europe (Germany, England, not sure where else) have been huge successes. The first North American one at the recent Royal Winter Fair in Toronto drew great reviews from everyone, including David O' Connor who was the course designer.

    The IOC and the FEI will be very happy--it has great spectator appeal and requires next to no monies to build any course--precisely because there is no X-C course.

    Some riders will be very happy because there will be no conditioning to speak of; the horse will jump and then jump again--all indoors, with cute little hills and banks--sort of like moto-cross, and with similar outfits on the riders.
    There's no dressage. Maybe that can be added on when the sport sweeps the world.

    Some of the spectators will be happy because the risk to horse and rider will be not really much different from the risk inherent in any equestrian discipline.

    The sponsors will be happy because the sport will attract spectators and not have too much dark downside.

    More riders will be able to aspire to upper level competition.

    More general-purpose horses will be able to compete.

    etc etc etc.
    one oak, lots of canyons

    http://horsesportnews.wordpress.com/



  19. #19
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    Kelly, one small disagreement I have is that there's a bigger gap between the UL and LL's. Training as I see it has stepped up its game. We used to never see a 'faux' corner and it was introduced in a big whopping way at prelim.
    What I do see is that at prelim, it really separates the wheat from the chafe, as it always has. But now, with more penalties and less accidents. The technical stuff certainly makes sure you have your crap together. I'm in the midst of doing that bump. And my instructor states time and again, 'You can get away with that at training and still win but you won't make it through the course at prelim'. So, it's all about real live homework.

    And there's also something we all haven't really touched on and Kelly has done it a bit. It's that team thing. I'm kinda seeing the underbelly of it from afar. While pwynn lives and breathes it by Con being with a star rider, she doesn't see those struggling to get in with the in crowd. There's an honest nastiness to it and THEY FORSAKE THE WELFARE OF THE HORSE IN ORDER FOR THE WIN. I will repeat that. And that's a HUGE issue! Karen O. can afford to say 'no thanks'. Lucky for you, pwynn. The others get railroaded around. They are also very independent type of people. Even more so than the average rider. And that's what makes the ULR's stay up there. They're ability to think for themselves, do everything, nit-pick every aspect of the horse, the competition, and themselves. The team does not harvest this. They want the new rider to do it their way or the highway instead of opening opportunity for a diverse group of riders with ideas to come up with the best solution.
    I've been in working environments such as this and those that think for themselves leave. And that environment is left status quo.
    You see quite a few riders opting to go to Burghley or Fair Hill instead of riding for the team? Think about it.



  20. #20
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    Default Interesting parallel I see

    I am strictly a starter level eventer. I work for a living (teacher). I have been a fan and follower of the sport from 1978. I volunteer to jump judge when I can. That is where I am. Here is a parallel I see.

    My husband trains and shows reining horses. The NRHA is going through major growing pains right now. Reining has exploded with popularity. The officers and board of the NRHA has wrote a Stragetic Plan that basically screws (of a lack of a better term) the grass roots reiners. They are only interested in international competition and big money sponsors and purses for the shows, all at the expense of the weekend reiner (dues increases, lack of a voice in the organization). They asked for no imput from the little guy when the Stragetic Plan was written. You should hear the uproar right now! The big guys tabled the plan for the moment. There is a movement by the little guys to get involved in the next election and vote, as well as make their voices heard. It seems the NRHA was trying to tell the little guy what was good for them.

    Humm, see the parallel. The USEA and the USEF shouldn't be telling the members what is good for us, or what direction the eventing should be goining in without our imput.

    I'll tell you one thing, the people who are at the top to the USEA and the USEF are not in my socio-economic group! They need to come down to my level and see the eventing world from where I stand. I can't afford $300-$600 every weekend to event! I am lucky if I can go to ONE event a year!

    I realize that international level eventers have some differnt needs from the lower level eventers, however, they need EVERYONE'S input. They shouldn't be telling us what is good for us. I think there are a lot of good people with good ideas out there. The leaders of the USEA and USEF need to consider everyones suggestions. Not all good ideas come from the top.

    Why is David O'Connor's or Mark Phillip's visions of eventing the one the world of United States eventing needs to take? They need to be open about their vision and not be closed door about it. It should be made public. I am funding their vision with my dues and entery fees, my position is the eventing world needs to be considered too.



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