<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Michael D'Ambrosio:
[B]As this is the first time I have written in
online, I was unaware that writing in caps is considered yelling,I stand corrected.
My point remains the same-to single out a thirteen year old rider and hold her winning performance up in a national magazine as'' an absolute perversion of the classic hunter style ''is unnecessarily brutal and somewhat foolish.B]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I couldn't agree with you more and I cannot believe they would put that in a magazine, poor Alison. Alison LaJoie is a fabulous rider and a great friend, and she doesn't deserve this and this lady should be ashamed. Alison wouldn't have won if she was bad, and she isn't bad at all. I cannot believe this lady would say anything.
I just read the letter. Terrible. I feel so badly for this child. She must have ridden well to win the class. She should be allowed to enjoy her victory. And, please, it was the Children's Medal. She should be encouraged to keep on learning, improving and building her confidence instead of being criticized based upon the "instant in time" captured by a photo.
There will always be insensitive people willing to disregard the feelings of individuals, under the guise that their words are "for the good of the sport". Shame on The Chronicle for printing that letter.
[This message has been edited by Bertie (edited 11-14-2000).]
I wonder if this will start a trend...any photo the Chronicle chooses to publish is open to criticism by whoever feels the urge to tear it apart? Kind of like GM's critiques, except the rider doesn't choose the photo to send in, and any Tom, Dick or Harry can have their critique of the photo published.
[This message has been edited by Bertie (edited 11-14-2000).]
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Goodmudder: Well, Erin , here we go again: Could you or someone else clarify for me whether the Chronicle's letter policy includes an OBLIGATION on the part of the magazine to print each and every letter that meets those criteria? Where does judgment and discretion enter the picture? Or common sense?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
The letters policy is:
"The Chronicle will accept letters that refer to a previously published article, photograph or letter. Letters must include a name, address and signature, and may be edited for publication."
As I said, in general, we publish every letter that we receive in a reasonable time frame and meets those guidelines. If we get a slew of letters about the same topic, we won't print ALL of them. But otherwise, to the best of my knowledge, we pretty much print everything we get. (Libelous letters are never published, of course.) The final decision is the editor's.
And since we haven't been able to get the letters on the website updated yet, I've included the infamous "outrageous" letter below:
Please understand, before I start my tirade, that I am not attacking Alison LaJoie or any other children who have had a similar riding style rewarded. This is a diatribe against the trainers and judges who promote and reward the absolute perversion of the classic hunter style.
I have refrained from expressing my very strong opinion on what is being rewarded in the medal classes, but labeling the picture of Miss LaJoie at the State Line Tack National Children's Medal Finals at the Capital Challenge (Oct. 20, p. 66) was over the top.
There is nothing classic about that style. The knees are pinched, the leg back, and she is lying on her horse's neck with her butt in the air. This is not classic. This is nuevo nonsense. She is not secure on her horse because she is not with her horse. She is perched on her horse.
What has happened to the standard? It is absolutely horrifying to think this was what was considered the best! Rewarding this perversion of the classic hunter seat is reprehensible.
The judges need to have some guts. Throw them all out if this is the best and tell them to try again next year.
Enough is enough. Trainers and judges, you have a professional duty to educate. Do not be sucked into this ridiculous fad. Teach these kids how to ride, not pose!
OK now that I've read the letter, I'll weigh in too.
While I am all in favor of encouraging the training of "good" riders rather than "posers", I have to agree that this letter will accomplish nothing of the kind. What it will accomplish is making a little girl, who probably just had one of THE greatest moments of her life, feel very bad, embarrased and humiliated. While this may not have been Ms. Meagher's intention, it certainly would be the result if the young rider were to read it. I have a daughter the same age, who has ridden in the Stateline classes - her ego would be CRUSHED to read something like this. Kids don't care what the intention is - they see their name, they figure it's their fault.
I mean, really:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> The judges need to have some guts. Throw them all out if this is the best and tell them to try again next year.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
What part of this is constructive? We are, after all, talking about a young girl here, who has placed her trust in those who have taught her to ride (and I agree with those who said she must certainly be a decent rider to reach the national final, no matter what anyone says). Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.....
Maybe Ms. Meagher needs a lesson in effective letter writing, I don't know. But I agree, it was out of line the way it stands.
[This message has been edited by HSM (edited 11-14-2000).]
First of all, I would like to say that I agree with Michael 100%. I do not think that anything productive can come of Ms. Meager's atrocious letter. Let us not forget that this young lady has just won the State Line Medal, which is a stepping stone into "the big equitation finals." Obviously, she has worked very hard to achieve this win, and we should praise her, not punish her.
I am having so many problems in life right now, that I really shouldn't get into this but...I must.
I completely agree with the freedom of journalism and the letters to the editor section, because it does provide a voice outside of the reporting institution.
I do agree that people have the utmost right to their opinion, no matter how unpopular, and should not be afraid to voice their opinion.
I do feel that the styles in the show ring are all across the board, not in a bad or good way, but that riding has and will evolve and that different trainers will teach from their experience, judges will place the hunter and equitation classes according to their tastes within the accepted ideals, and riders will find their individual style to give their horses the best rides.
I do not feel that certain styles whether classical or not are not the only accepted ones. Just as one picture at a certain angle or maybe even from another class that day cannot tell the story of a medal riders win in a multi phase finals. (Not that I am attacking the photograph of the rider mentioned )
I also feel that we as a group of riders, trainers, owners, etc. have become hypocritical. We accept advice and try to mimick those we hold in esteem and turn a blind eye to bad,negligent,inappropriate behavior yet criticize others who are less known and have no standing relentlessly if we disagree or find fault with them.
The "top"levels have always made statements and added to the prevention of "outsiders" from moving up through the ranks, yet we see nothing wrong with that.
The 3ft. divisions and the lower level jumpers have been slammed repeatedly over and over again, why? These "top" Trainers have made comments that the money should be used to fund professionals instead! How dare anyone perfect a level they are comfortable with or have fun? When did just having fun and enjoying yourself become so unfashionable?
And finally, I cannot believe such a venemous and completely hateful and inappropriate letter was allowed published under any circumstances. This was not a critique or a criticisim of equitation styles today, this was a mean spirited attack. Who knows the motive, but anyone can read that this person was thoroughly immersed in this horrible outburst and was relieving their own frustration and inadequecies. Their letter was not one of eloquence and style it was disturbed and spiteful. It was written to affirm one's own deflated ego, not to enlighten or cause discussion.
If Ms. Meagher wanted to critique the child's equitation, she should have watched the round instead of basing her opinion on one photo. Was that photo taken from the winning round, or was it just a photo of the girl showing her horse somewhere else? I'm sure you can find a bad photo of just about anyone.
By the way, since a lot of you have been involved in judging and judging standards discussions: this young rider qualified as one of 30 or so national finalists, out of what was probably over 1500 other riders, over the course of a year. She then won the finals with two rounds in front of multiple judges with open scoring. While I do not know about Allison, I would surmise that for the bulk of these evolving riders, this would have been the first-ever time at a national level competition, and for many of them may well have been the first time "indoors." I congratulate them all, and am happy to see that they have so much support here.
To all of you, expecially those who believe that freedom of the press excuses this publication, I can only hope for your sake that the public and the Chronicle treats your children better than they have treated this one. Same goes for Ms. Meagher, the author.
New York, NY (a.k.a. The City and Center of the Universe), Canada (T.O.) and England (Kent Countrysi
To Michael D'Ambrosio: Here here that a trainer would take the time to denouce a nasty letter wounding a young child's moment...I can only hope and pray that my trainer would care equally as much to post on the internet and RAGE in defense of me (unfortunately the internet is not his forte [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]).
I also hope that out of the considerable volume of people that read this Board you gather a few more clients. A trainer's comments can have a profound affect on a child's confidence and emotional well-being and as such it is a position which should be handled a sincere depth of emotion and kindness. You have clearly exhibited these qualities!! Good luck to you and your students and lets hope the old adage "what goes around, comes around" holds true in your case.
Your remark as to the Chronicles'policy of not publishing libelous letters is an interesting theory.Websters'dictionary defines libel as follows---''a spoken or written statement or a representation that
gives an unjustly unfavorable impression of a person or thing " "libelious:the action or crime of publishing a libel".I am not an attorney but the word "perversion" and the statement"absolutely horrifying" used by Ms. Meager to describe the photo surely gives an
unfavorable impression ,as to whether or not
it is unjust ,is the question.
I have read several letters preaching journalism and freedom of speech and some praising the magazine for the courage to print a letter that may be controversial,however I have reason to believe that many letters criticizing those who are either more politically correct or more powerful are certainly censored and never appear in print.I believe that the Chronicle has used ,at the least,very poor judgement in this case.
Michael, thanks for bringing up the topic (most of us on the other coast don't get our Chronicles til late in the following week). Erin, thanks for printing the letter, clarifying the publication's policies, and for your continued support of open debate. As a young rider's mom, and as a true enthusiast of the sport (and an ex-eq rider), I was mortified by the letter. There were absolutely no grounds to "condemn with feint apology" this child, who has earned her honors. There is so much about this sport that is wonderful--and so much that just stinks. Subjectivity is, like it or not, a reality in judging. When you read through the classic equitation books, and look at the photos, do you agree with every caption the author writes? Could you possibly agree with the judging of every round at every show? But, on the whole, quality and consistency of riding (over the course of a year or several years) win out. At least, that's what I try to believe. Allison LaJoie won and deserved credit (not public criticism) for her accomplishment. I applaud the efforts and concerns of many on this board toward improving standards, openness and equity in judging, but I also understand that this process is evolutionary--not revolutionary. Taking potshots at a child, based on one photo, is horrible--and using it as an exemplar is deplorable. Go ahead, pick apart the photos of professional riders at eq. events like Del Mar if you must criticize: But leave the children alone. Last year, my then nine year old daughter was a victim of significant cruelties in this sport. It took a great team of trainers to put her back together afterward. Her love of horses and riding, and the support of her parents and friends, got her through and this year she is at the top of her game and more committed than ever. However, it wasn't an easy comeback and the emotional hurdles were huge and the toll on a talented child significant. The LaJoies are good people who are very committed to this sport and Allison will weather this, I'm sure, and come out ahead. But at what cost? Does the author of the letter plan on holding that child as she sobs at night? Must this sport constantly rely on criticism versus celebration? Do we need to issue legal releases before we allow photographs or the names of our children to be utilized in publications like The Chronicle in order to protect their right to privacy? To me, that flies in the face of the first amendment and doesn't sit well. I applaud The Chronicle for most of its policies, both on the website and in the publication. However, I think that the editors should be very careful about printing comments that could hurt children (both short and long-term). This is where we need editors, not order takers. Once a hurtful word is spoken, it can't be taken back. But a public (and private) apology, and a better scrutiny of content in the future, could be appropriate remedies.
Andi Benjamin (aka, the "old" PonyMom)
P.S. Michael--I think that your reaction, in caps lock, was more than appropriate.
I am VERY disappointed with the Chronicle on this one.
When a child shows, the "critique" comes solely from the judge or judges. They are NOT participating in a public forum where their talents and abilities should be open for public debate and discussion! They are not pro atheletes representing cities or nations. They ride only for themselves.
My daughter rides and is also a professional actress. When she does a play or movie, everyone and their brother is entitled to have an opinion of her performance. That's what she's paid for! And we prepared her for dealing emotionally with reviewers, the press, etc. That's part of the game.
But this is NOT the case with equitation riders. These are children working to improve their skills. They are not the finished product. They are at a show ONLY to "perform" for the judge. That is their audience.
By the way, the child who was the subject of the letter HAS read it and was upset by what she viewed as a personal attack.
As a professional trainer I am appalled that our "national" magazine would ever print a letter, article or even a word about a defenseless child! Did this child, trainer or parent have warning that such a demeaning letter was to be printed or did the poor child come home from school, flip thru the COTH to see her name in such a way, as did all of her barn friends. Well if the COTH is going to publish any trash that happens to cross the editor's desk it should not ever be about a CHILD or any CHILDREN unless it is in a positive light. How dissapointing that this child to finally after years or working and riding (the NE medal finals are no walk in the park folks!)that the childs name is represented in this way.
So to the COTH print your letters, make your money on stirring up a controversy but please leave derogatory comments about poor innocent children out of your pages! Let the adults bash it out they are wise enough to defend themselves,(or hey even hire lawyers). It is my opinion that a statement of apology be printed to all parties involved, or course the COTH probably won't have the *****s to due it. they will just let it happen again, it's time for a policy change there Mr. Editor.
Ms. Meagher begins her "tirade" by saying "I am not attacking....".
Her unsolicited criticism of this child's riding style would be unwelcomed in any situation. The fact that she chooses to single out this winning rider as her example is clearly an attack. To suggest credibility by printing it is poor judgement at best.
I'm sure everyone would agree that if her letter had appeared on this board as a post, troll warnings would have been issued and the poster immediately warned. And rightly so.
We all know that controversy is always do-able without envolving the innocents.
Oh, ugh. This reminds me sooo much of the Republican/Democrat "we will discuss only what we want to discuss and will ignore anything which we can't really answer well" style of "discussion."
OK, so the lady lacked tact. Are you people all saying that her point is not valid? That the system DOESN'T have some serious conceptual, of not actual, problems in the judging and training "trends"? Are you saying everything is just fine and rosy? And if you are, who are you? Probably a heck of a lot more of the people who show A-rated A LOT, rather than those who can only afford to show at that level on occasion.
Snowbird's point is that NINETY-EIGHT percent of us don't have confidence in the system. Ms. Meagher is clearly one of the 98%. I wonder if some of you who are ignoring the real point behind her letter--consciously or subconsciously--are the same complacent creatures who like any system as long as it works for THEM, makes THEM happy [a la earplugs and lenient drug restrictions, perhaps?].
Ms. Meagher is unhappy ABOUT THE SYSTEM. You are ignoring that. What is more important? Someone's inability to write with tact or a system which causes such controversy?
[This message has been edited by pwynnnorman (edited 11-15-2000).]