Anyone out there with specific ideas on how to implement serious discussion groups through the AHSA website? I'll take the concept and present it to the BOD and/or Exec.Comm. - if we can come up with exactly HOW it could/should work.
Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?
Ponymom has some great ideas about quantifying need and capabiliites through an overall SWOT analysis (tackling our industry). Then develop a SWOT analysis or similar document for several of the ideas discussed - flesh out the details through a working subgroup (i.e., let them more carefully define the feasibility of such an action).
At that point the document could be issued as a starting point of a BB discussion (if too large to put on the thread, then a summary with a link to an adobe doc would be helpful). Now it would be open for comment and discussion by people who must be registered. I like your idea of no aliases, and I would think maybe requiring a person's AHSA number to register would help prevent people from impersonating someone else - I mean really, what is stopping me from signing up on a BB as Laura Kraut, hypothetically?
I would suggest that topics be broken down into general, professional, amateur or discipline specific, as appropriate. Threads tend to go off base every now and then (practicing understatement today!), and if you start with a narrow topic, chances are you may stay with it.
I'm excited about this, and I can't believe the great ideas I have heard over the last few days!
Definition of "Horse": a 4 legged mammal looking for an inconvenient place and expensive way to die. Any day they choose not to execute the Master Plan is just more time to perfect it. Be Very Afraid.
At this point in time I have to wonder if what's good for a segment of the industry is good for the sport.
The industry being the average American rated competitions,trainers and other necessary fringe players and the sport being Americans and their riding ability as compared to the best in the world.
As it stands, shows are all things to all people with success seen as large entry numbers by management. Large entries mean tighter time schedules. This equates to simpler courses for quicker ring time and hardly ever a course change.
In 1980 a 15 year old on a large pony at any given A show [and most C's], assumed that to win, they had to possess the skill to ride a "simple" course [including in and outs] in the ring, go "outside" to hand gallop over a course set on varying terrain, come back in the ring and be brilliant for the Handy class, and then, if offered, change to Formal Attire for the Stake. All this done with no schooling in the show ring.
Today children attend the Pony Finals that are horrified to learn there is no schooling and clueless as to how to ride in a "big" open grass field with options.
But, in the time it took to run that Large Pony Division in 1980 [including awards presentations], a Short Stirrup, Children's Pony, and Large Pony Division is run today. Good for the industry but is it good for the sport?
Considering who some of the major players are in decision making places of the AHSA and other governing bodies, my yearning for a return to shows rewarding quality performances over challenging courses in the hunters is hopeless. Instead, a continued "American Fast Food" mentality will prevail. Serve as many people as possible as fast as possible with the same cheeseburger. These days most people don't know the difference anyway.
Somehow, someone must make the suggestion to split these shows into appropriate "like" divisions only. Or if nothing else, insist on courses which require a more thorough background in horsemanship. I hate to see skills once learned in the hunters and easily applied in the Grand Prix ring, traded for skills not seen outside our borders.
Love this idea (via membership #s): "I'm leaning toward the idea of the AHSA implementing some sort of 'formal' discussion/chat room(s) format - no aliases allowed at that level." Talk about accountability (for your opinions--including criticism). Not only does our leadership need to be more accountable for their actions: we do, too--for our statements and opinions.
On a more pessimistic note, though, I must say that the email correspondance I've had with that person rather high up in the leadership has not been very encouraging when it comes to any one individuals ability to open up the system and discussions for improving it. I know that the person I have been corresponding with has been expressing similar views for quite a few years now, and getting nowhere. A forum were legitimate members can discuss issues and even "vote" would be great, but I think it would also be somewhat "threatening" to some (a la the demise of the NHJC BB).
Indeed, it bears asking, yet again: how many AHSA members have online access? Addressing that question could go a long, long way toward improving the representativeness and inclusiveness of the system.
[This message has been edited by pwynnnorman (edited 08-25-2000).]
Well PWynn I just heard a statistic that 50% of the adults in America have access to the the Internet. I would guess that our percentage would be much higher.
Judging from the responses to from phone calls I've had, I would guess that 90% of the people interested in horses do have the Internet available.
However, there would be no reason in my opinion why "Horse Show" could not offer a similar poll or survey and be reserving one page each month for the same questions taken directly from the AHSA Web site.
I think the chat room idea is good for meetings of limited numbers, the BB and the poll system would be better to fit into everyone's schedule. There could be a block left open for personal opinions and perhaps recommendations.
This kind of electronic communication could take the place of an Annual Meeting. That procedure would be in place to officially approve what had been decided by votes as a result of the polls and surveys.
However, the fact is that the first two steps are to establish our "Right to Know" and our "Right to Vote". You and I have already Proposed these Rule Changes and what we need now is to get support for those two points in writing to all of the officials so that they hear a loud growl from the bottom of the pyramid.
When the foundation of any building starts to rumble, a collapse isn't too far away. Those with the big vested interests have to be even more concerned than we are of a collapse. They can't get much milk, if the cow goes out of the barn and hides in the brush.
linda--this is such an incredible thread! and there are so many wonderful ideas everyone seems to be putting up--even the conflicting ones! makes me re-examine a lot of my "opinions" on certain rules (always a good thing!)
i certainly agree with portia about the "readablity" of the AHSA rules. i used to be a consultant in a big accounting firm and can tell you the tax code looks like the comic strips--much easier than our current rules.
ponymom had so many great ideas about focus groups and surveys. thinking back to days when i sat on boards of prep schools, colleges and corporations and non-profit organizations; when change was needed a committe was formed to work on a mission statement and from there the outdated rules that no longer represent the sport in this new century would be revamped.
as far as numbers and makeup of boards; usually they are comprised of the "doers" and the "givers". boards need both. the givers need to be rewarded by the prestige of sitting on the boards and the doers get the job done. perhaps we have gotten to the place in our sport where we have too many "givers" on these boards and need some action people who are immersed in the sport to revamp the rules.
but some of the posts seem to wind up with MORE rules--i can't imagine how you could police a show that only amateurs were allowed to ride their horses. that seems to me to be asking for more trouble and who's a professional and who is really an amateur. perhaps better clarification or overhauling rather than more more more.? (wish i knew..)
my question to all that post re: C up to B up to A shows, or ranking (E-A) like germany certainly has its points, but coming from a family where we all enjoy riding and showing and is the family's "thing" that always draws us together, this would simply put us all at different shows! and what would happen to WEF and the glorious warm winter in florida? when my daughter was competing she rode her hunters, jumpers and equitation at the very top A national level. that would qualify HER for WEF, and my stepson as well, but where would my husband and i go?
and i love to watch my kids compete. would that mean that i would have to give up my showing because i could never show at the level my kids do...maybe there are not many riding families out there. and now that she is in college, she comes to WEF occasionally and up to Lake Placid and i turn over my jumper and hunter for her to show in the higher divisions. how can we work that all out if we all need to qualify according to levels? that would've left me in cold new england showing at C shows with my 9 yr old down in florida at WEF? and what about horses bought for the professionals to ride in the GP? the incentive to buy them if you could only watch the videos....there must be some way families can all play together even if their abilities don't all match! and as jane ervin wrote about--good god what about the trainers? how could those of us at C shows ever get better to go to A's if all the good trainers were at the A shows?
sorry for such a long post, i just am looking for an answer for "family showing" and watching.
Just as every sport grows this one has grown the upper levels. Plainly, we can no longer support shows that are all things for all people at all riding levels without paying a very high price for the development of riders and horses.
Yes, the horse show was a "family event". We all arrived at 7:00 AM and were prepared to spend the day. It was a wonderful time for a family away from the pressures of the real world to tailgate and make friends with people of similar interests.
Today in our society we no longer look at the "one day" vacation away from our responsibilities. It is sqeezed in between a lot of other responsibilities and is maybe a half day.
I have trainers who come to me and say, I have to be out of here by 1 PM so I can get back to the barn and teach. Or, my client has to be out of here by 3 PM or they'll have leave because their other child has a concert tonight. I've had kids picked up by limo to make to the airport on time.
So, as the life styles change so do our show plans.
Oxer, yes, very good points. You've also highlighted some of the varied interests and situations that exist, which make unanimous contentment within this org impossible.
But, maybe compromise and positive structure might come if a clear view of what's important to and good for the majority is brought by a person [or persons] with known sensitivity to and experience in, all segments and levels of competition. Is that possible given the size of this group?
The area itself of committees and their members is another that few seem to understand. Just because you have ideas doesn't make you the best person for a board seat. The skill required to have a positively "functioning" board was unknown to me before serving on one. I for one, don't want someone who I feel is unqualified, making rules or stating an opinion in an area they have limited knowledge or opposing interests. Neither do most folks. A board or committee member IMO must have no conflicts of interest or at least have the benevolence not to participate in an item of action which might infer that. They also should have the knack for listening and learning. This is a tall order.
I'm certainly no "professional" board member but I've found it is hard to keep a group on course without respect for fellow members and a named mission as a target. What now is the mission for dues paying members here and their board? "For the good of the sport and industry" seems awfully broad to me.
I sent a draft of my suggestions for reorganizing the AHSA Rules to Linda Allen on Friday. This is an initial effort to reorganize and reformat so the rules are more usable and readable, not an attempt to change their substance (though I'm sure we all have our opinions on that). If anyone else would like to review the draft, I'd appreciate your input. E-mail me for a copy - email@example.com
"I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry
With regard to the conflict of interest issue. I sit as a Commissioner on the Sire Stakes Commission which has to do with harness racing. I was apointed by the Governor and had to ask what kind of a commission this was because I have never been into racing, certainly not saddlebreds or harness racing.
My seat is one that was specifically designed as a chair for someone not involved. I understand now why that is such a good idea. I have no vested interest, I have no reason to be particularly nice to anyone, and I do not know who are the important people who are supposed to have a louder voice.
I usually, find myself directly in the middle because of that and make my judgment based on the issues. I do therefore agree that those in charge can be 50% involved and understanding of the inner working of a sport or industry but, there must be an objective counter balance for the other 50% from a neutral position.
I think that we have over-looked those directors not in our discipline. They have an equal vote and there are more of them than our closed club of officials.
snowbird--i guess we are talking about different levels of showing here. we spent the better part of ten years "on the circuit" all over the US and my daughter even got to represent the US in monterray as a young rider. we were on the road 30 weeks a year with 9 horses. no one day tailgating. two week committments and then pack it up and move to the next circuit location. one day "family" affairs would never have given my daughter the experience and training to have won the pony finals, qualified for the jr. olympics in harrisburg for zone 1 or won back to back maclay regionals or qualifying hunters at all the indoors. this was a huge family committment and sacrafice of a lot of things--school parties etc. i would have hated to have missed a minute of it! and too many kids are out there staying at hotels week after week unsupervised--not in my household. my jr. needed the same parental supervision as any teenager rider or not. and i'm sure glad i got to show along with her even tho i only do adult jumpers and hunters. those would have been very long days and weeks if i had also not been able to participate.
and as far as being all things to all people without sacraficing the development of higher level riders and horses--WEF seems to be able to have classes for us adults, and no one could say they are "sacraficing" the development of riders or horses! that's why they call it the 'wimbelton' of horse shows, yet i get to participate as well as my husband. wellington would surely miss all us "adult riders" building our barns and houses and feeding the economy. as would stadium jumping. we supply the largest group of entries for prize money in the higher divisions. as well as supplying a large number of grand prix horses for the professionals to ride. i don't know how else the circuit could possibly work.
there is a wonderful expression "if it works don't fix it" it appears to work at WEF--no one is forcing people to go there and it appears to be growing every year.
so to reiterate--my problem is not about 1 day shows and fitting them in. my life revolves around horses and "fitting in" the other parts. there must be a way to resolve some of these issues without depriving those of us who love the sport so enthusiastically yet are not national level riders. some of us just ride and show for the "fun of it" a unique idea i know, but it's nice to be able to do that at the same local our children are riding at national levels. i don't have any solutions, but again, i don't see any problems with the A circuits having adult divisions along with the higher level divisions. i think we have a lot of bigger, more important issues to resolve long before this one...just my opinion.
[This message has been edited by oxer (edited 08-28-2000).]
I', glad you posted, VAnessa. Your experience and viewpoint isn't always well represented here, and is often the target of perhaps unwarranted criticism (including by me).
And I love the way you referred to WEF as the "Wimbledon" of the h-j world.
I suppose what we are struggling with is finding a way for all of the levels of showing to receive equal support and attention from the movers and shakers--perhaps that's what a new relationship between AHSA and USET could help to foster: AHSA represents the general membership, while USET attends to the needs of the highest level?
It's only natural that those in the business are more inclined to cater their efforts to those members/participants who can pay top dollar for them, but since those who can't are also paying membership dues, their concerns should also be seriously addressed.
I honestly don't see much more than lip service being paid to the lower levels of the sport in AHSA or NHJC.
Hmmmm. Maybe there needs to be an A-A3 and a local-C-B split somewhere in planning and decisionmaking process so that the needs of the different levels receive equal representation and attention?
oxer we're not that different, just chose different goals and life style.
My daughter did also qualify to ride for the AHSA in Canada on an international team. One of four selected from the entire country. She did that at our one day shows. But, we have not accepted the Olympic Challenge. Nona Garson rode at the same shows with my daughter and the Olympics were her lifetime goal which she achieved.
I do not believe there is less excellence here in a world where we don't want to sleep in motels and pack and move from circuit to circuit. Those of us who choose to sleep in our own beds, have our children go to school and raise adults that work every day at a job in the real world are not less excellent just a different life style choice.
Without spending 10 years on the road and giving up our life in the real world, my youngest was in the top 30 at Harrisburg in the Medal Finals and ribboned twice out of six years that she qualified. So you see there is a way to still seek excellence and have a real life.
I can respect your decision as to what was in the best interests of your children and you, and I simply request that same respect back.
I never felt that I needed to participate, I was delighted to be the cheering squad for my children because there was still plenty of time for my interests.
I don't think any of the parents of the players get to play at Wimbleton so that seems a rather poor analogy. I don't think I've ever seen Tiger Wood's Dad competing at golf in any of the events that he had won.
Yes, I am sure that Wellington would miss all those classes.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> we supply the largest group of entries for prize money in the higher divisions. as well as supplying a large number of grand prix horses for the professionals to ride. i don't know how else the circuit could possibly work. there is a wonderful expression "if it works don't fix it" it appears to work at WEF--no one
is forcing people to go there and it appears to be growing every year. so to reiterate--my problem is not about 1 day shows and fitting them in. my life revolves around horses and "fitting in" the other parts. there must be a way to resolve some of these issues without depriving those of us who love the sport so enthusiastically yet are not national level riders.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I don't think there has been a single suggestion that would ever deprive those of you who have chosen your life style which revolves around horses. I for one simply would like an equal considereation for those of us whose lives revolve around horses and do not choose to make those sacrifices.
I don't think we really disagree, we just see it from a different perspective. I do not see anything wrong with adult amateur classes at a AA Show. I do however think that when they fill the schedule with divisions that were invented by the C Circuit for people just learning, and horses that were still learning it becomes a catchall that depreciates the value of the ribbons won.
For example, if you had to have a 3'6" horse in order to compate at a prestigious show, it is a motivation to try and move up to these wonderful special shows. If on the other hand a beginner can win a blue ribbon at one of these shows it cheapens the victory of the others. And, it cancells the motivation to become a better rider.
Snowbird: "So you see there is a way to still seek excellence and have a real life."
Er, don't you mean there WAS a way? That's the problem now, isn't it? The only way today is the A3 route. What your daughters did is no longer possible, right? That's why we are seeking some changes: so you don't have to lose your shirt and/or "buy" your way into the higher levels and their associated recognition.
Right Pwynn and if we don't learn from our mistakes we are doomed to keep making them.
The point is that what WAS worked, what IS doesn't. Now, we can have a Clintonesque debate about what is is.
I will say simply that the principles of the founding fathers were better and that was because more people were pleased with the opportunity.
What IS limits success to those who choose to pursue their personal excellence at the cost of the sport.
Nancy Jaffer made a comment in her column that perhaps the "supermarket" was inevitable as part of our scene. That producers offer what she called "cookie cutter" horse shows.
I cannot accept that this is inevitable. WHY? because this is a sport of personal best performance along with an overall best of show. That can only be maintained with individuals, and the collective mass production of horse shows will not in the inevitable produce either the best riders or the best horses.
What afterall is "BEST"? In whose opinion is there a "BEST"? Perhaps, if the 98% who do not participate in the "circuits" are willing to accept the opinion of a superior "THEM to make that decision then we will become the era of the cookie cutter shows.
But, if there are many who do not accept the value of the opinion of "THEM" then it can't happen. Why? because "WE" can recognize our our "BEST".
WEF has always been referred to as the "wimbeldon" of horse shows even in PBP booklets. the reference is to the "prestige" of the event--world class. whatever does tiger woods' father not competing with him have to do with the reference of WEF as one of the world's premier shows?
Perhaps, that is so by those from your part of the show circuit. I simply find the parallel in appropriate because at Wimbleton it does not include the minor play sessions for the associates of those qualified. Parents are relegated to the bleechers.
I quess we can agree the WEF has the level to which you referred; as well as the level to which I referred.
My reference to Tiger Woods was just another analogy of a major sports event that is at the highest level of competition and doesn't invite the parents to participate except again as a spectator. As a matter of fact I don't know of any sport where the highest level of excellence competes, and the minor players also participate.
In my humble opinion this is a wise choice. It serves a twofold benefit. One, it gives a convenient schedule for those special high level events where the tests are between the best. Two, it provides the opportunity for the minor players to participate as spectators which I think does a great deal to support the efforts of those risking everything to excell.
[This message has been edited by Snowbird (edited 08-29-2000).]
Note that at Wimbledon, they do have a junior tournament, I believe.
I know at figure skating nationals, they have senior and junior levels. Not that your point isn't of value, Snowbird.
Also note that the junior and amateur, green and prelim sections are NOT the top level of the sport, whereas Wimbledon, the Masters, the World Series, the Superbowl, etc. all are. The Little League and Babe Ruth World Series is not held at the same event or venue as the World Series. I see the point in having elite shows (with the top level and one level down) ... just Grand Prix, Intermediate Jumpers, perhaps, and the occassional Jr/Ammie Prix -- perhaps like the American Gold Cup is run. Think like eventing. Some 4-stars have a 3-star run in conjunction, or a 3-star has a 2-star (like Radnor).
Elite Shows (Jumpers) -- Open, Int, maybe a futures/futurity class, maybe an elite jr/ammie prix. No hunters, except maybe an invitational classic (4' - 4'6" like the old workings) with big money offered (like the one supposed to have been at the National) and an exciting course encouraging brillance and a handiness. Perhaps adding natural obstacles (a table or bank, jumping in and out of the ring?) -- after all it's based on the hunting field, right?
AA shows -- top qualifying shows like Devon, indoors, etc. A-rated rated divisions only -- hunter and jumper. Equitation finals with a horsemanship component. Possible 3 foot (childrens/adults) finals/classics. No schooling, low, baby green, etc.
A shows -- non-qualifying, but A-rated divisions with possible classics for children's/adult hunter and jumpers and pre-green hunter. Top level equitation classes and an eq challenge that included written and practicum parts like NE Finals. Perhaps have a C-rated/Local day(s) like the Hampton Classic/Devon.
B shows -- include any B or C rated divisions. Classics for qualifying finals. No non-rated, schooling divisions, except maybe pre-green. Might have to create a rated young jumpers division. Mini-medal and 2'9"+ eq divisions, excepting ponies (2'3"+). Local association qualifiying medals and divisions.
C shows -- any C rated division. Schooling divisions. Maiden, Novice, Limit type equitation divisions. Local association divisions.
These are very rough ideas. Just brainstormed thoughts.
As for suggestions, again, I implore us to consider passing tests to move from level to level. Skating and gymnastics do it, among other sports.
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. - Gandhi