Get real, Bertie. If you showed that copy to anyone outside the hunter-jumper industry, I absolutely guarentee you that they would HARDLY call it "a public attack on a child." That is EXACTLY the kind of statements the politicians are using these days to distract people from the real issues. And it depresses me that not only do too many people like yourself fail to notice that you are being bamboozled by mere language, but that, apparently, you are starting to use the technique yourselves! Human beings are never going to find peace with themselves if they cannot even communicate with each other HONESTLY, without all the biased exaggerations.
Pwynnorman- very good points and I agree with you and Spunky on this one. The letter was direct and clear and did not degrade the young rider as a person. The young rider didn't win the finals without proving herself along the way however, even the best of the best are looking for ways to improve their horsemanship and an outsiders critique of ones style is always interesting, maybe even helpful.
Pwynn - I don't feel that posters are truly arguing that a reasonable discussion about judging standards cannot be constructive. I think it can. We could start another thread.
Clearly, the issue here is the propriety of the method of addressing that issue - with a rather tasteless and tactless letter attacking a child in a national publication. And I would again like to point out Ms. D'Ambrosia's point about the nature of the competition - it is a 3-foot children's division, primarily for competitors who are in the children's division, some of whom, but not all, are about to move up to the 3'6" bigeq level.
Since the letter's author said ". . . I have refrained from expressing my very strong opinion on what is being rewarded in the medal classes . . . " I suspect that perhaps she is/was not familiar with the Stateline competition, its purpose, and the demographics of its participants. It does not sound like she was present (I was), and perhaps she could have gathered more information before committing pen to paper.
I hope this is true, for if she did know then her letter would be an even more despicable attack. I will give her some benefit of the doubt.
The Chronicle, however, cannot plead ignorance and should apologize.
We are all entitled to our opinions on this -but I am going to say, straight out, that to justify this letter writer's approach to venting her frustration is absolutely beyond me.
SL Warrior: do you honestly believe that the child in question perceives this criticism as "interesting and helpful?"
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Well, I must own that I am amazed at the vitriol thrown at the letter writer. She made VERY clear that her complaint was the COH choosing a certain photo, a bad photo (we all have them) and labeling that photo as classic hunter position. There were probably better photos of this child. The writer's point was that the COH chose a certain photo, printed it and labelled it as THIS is what we are striving for, this is classic. So folks, answer this: look at the photo and tell me, is this the classic position you want to see win?
So many of you are killing the messenger and don't want to hear the message.
Goodmudder, unsolicited comments are interesting. I have "no dog in this fight" as I do not know the young rider, the letter writer or knowledge of any motive. If the letter writer has a personal vendetta against the child then that would change my point of view and comments 100%.
As far as helpful, you bet! If that young rider has been told by her instructor to correct some of the same weaknesses the letter writer identified in her letter than it renforces the instructors position.
Heck, maybe the second place rider in the SLT competiton can demand a reride.........we seems to be turning into a country of "Depends on what the meaning of "Fill in the blank" is?
There are so many good points on this post and some by eloquent writers as well. However, I will attest to the simple fact that not everyone in this world is a MOESHA or Phyn with the English Language. I agree the letter is in poor taste, and I wonder if a more diplomatic approach might not have been more effective. However, who knows what that writers background is. Maybe she is only gifted with a 5th grade reading/writing level, or is a skilled engineer and has absolutely no command over writen and verbal communication. One thing the author is is proactive and for that she should be respected. Apathy is much worse.
I cant condemn the Chronicle for printing this article for the basic reason that this letter was signed. I cant think of anything to stop each inspired person to retaliate to this writers constitutional right either directly to her or via the same forum.
And Ms. D'Ambrosio [ref: to edit- oops], please dont take my CAP lock suggestion as any more then that. I wasnt trying to take away from the seriousness of the topic - I was actually feeling a little punchy from sitting in this darn office for too long. Interestingly, the respectful and articulate manor with which you responded certainly brought the rudeness of my post to my attention more so then a written verbal attack. The ol' catch more flies with honey then vinegar trick.
With that in mind, I say - launch a response to this letter in a similar fashion.
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Well, unfortunately I am going to have to agree with Ms. Meagher. I do think it's probably hard for a 13 year-old to read someone's harsh critique of her riding style ... up until this point it was a nationally winning style that she worked very hard to achieve! She cannot help what she is being groomed to do by a plethora of coaches, trainers, etc.
But if she were to go out hunting in this style - actually galloping across country and jumping substantially sized solid obstacles - she would likely be in danger of getting tipped over her horses head if he decided to stop.
I am an event rider who grew up riding in the hunter ring - with lots of natural outside trail riding/jumping thrown in. What I have learned is that one *has* to be with, but almost behind, the horse's movement to be efficient and safe over fences.
A rider who jumps ahead is also likely to be less than effective - riding the horse from behind - over fences. This is probably fine in the confines of an arena, jumping fences that fall down.
But it wouldn't work in the hunt field. And Ms. Meagher's point, I think, was that the hunter style we reward today is a far cry from the original style a field hunter demonstrated.
p.s. It's not just hunters ... lots of dressage horses are rewarded for being cranked and aesthetically "framed."
When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.
Robby while I do think that there might be a problem within the American equitation system, if you've ever seen Allison ride you'd realize that that one photo is the kind of picture that you or I would have ripped in half had it been of ourselves. Unfortunately Allison doesn't get to pick and choose between bad & good photos.
I have also had questions about our equitation system today and whether or not it is still doing what it was intended to do.
HOWEVER, the way in which Ms. Meagher went about her complaints is totally unacceptable by any standards. The same points could have been made through honest observations of the judging, with no child singled out (and despite her statement to the contrary, she DOES single this child out, not only by name, but by describing all of the faults in her form she finds in the picture). And the Chronicle should have recognized this and not printed the letter. No child should ever have to be subjected to this sort of treatment.
A discussion of the merits of our eq. system is certainly justified and could be constructive; this is neither.
By the way, Michael D'Ambrosio is Mrs., not Mr. Married to Anthony D'Ambrosio.
I am totally amazed at the ability of such a large group of normally-sensible people to so COMPLETELY miss the point.
The letter writer is complaining about the state of equitation today. This topic has come up on this board a dozen times. Can PWynn write a letter to the editor about it? No... because it doesn't have anything to do with a published article, photo or letter.
The letter writer saw a photo of an equitation championship winner displaying the "posed" style many people here have complained about. The photo caption mentioned her "classic style," referring to Karen Healey's comments (she trains the kid) in the accompanying article to the same effect.
Bingo... an opportunity to bring up the sad state of equitation in a national magazine. An opportunity to foster dialogue.
The point is not that the letter writer thinks this person is a bad rider. The point is not the quality of the photo. The point is that this girl is displaying a style that many people think is a perversion of the "classic style"... and SHE'S PROBABLY DOING THAT ON PURPOSE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT JUDGES REWARD!
Good grief, I'm not even a h/j person and I understand the point. The letter writer is NOT attacking the rider, she's using her as an example of why she thinks the system is broken. Her opinions are rather strongly worded... but I have yet to see anyone really answer the questions she's trying to pose:Is this girl displaying classic style? Is this what judges should be rewarding? Is this the way our next crop of top riders should ride?
Regarding the Chronicle's decision to publish the letter... our forums here are modeled after our letters column. The point of an open forum is to allow anyone to express an opinion, no matter how unpopular... and to allow everyone else the opportunity to DISAGREE. The point is not to only print opinions we think are right. Good God...
Michael: I have a communication law book at least 300 pages thick sitting on my desk at home that attempts to define "libel." Trust me, the Webster's definition doesn't even come close. And the letter is not, by any stretch of the imagination, libelous.
And to whoever thought that a post similar to that letter would have been removed from the forum for "trolling"... absolutely not. In fact, a very similar discussion evolved around a different equitation championship just a few weeks ago.
Last you'll hear from me on this topic... it's not doing my blood pressure any good. I'll leave it to the more rational minds of PWynn, SLWarrior, Robby and Spunky... Thank God not everyone posting on this thread has completely missed the boat while in the throes of misguided indignation.
No, Erin, I have not missed the point, nor am I in the "throes of misguided indignation." As I stated earlier, the writer could have accomplished the same thing using strong language that did NOT leave the impression with the named child that she was at fault. All of the people on this topic are not "missing the boat" nor do they disagree with the writer - they disagree with her approach concerning a child.
If the child's name was your daughter's and she might read it, would you be so accepting of the letter?
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Thank you, Lauriep! I have NOT missed the point, either. The point is that there are other ways to address the issue which could have been kinder and gentler. The disclaimer that the writer was ". . . not attacking Alison LaJoie. . . " is no more effective than a child's excuse that "I didn't mean for it to happen . . . therefore it's ok."
Erin I am utterly disapointed by your "rant" and I resent the fact that you of all people point a finger saying that many of us have missed the point.
I think you have missed the so called point.
How on earth can you defend someone who uses and criticises a child to make her point about the state of equitation in your country?
She could have just as easily had made her point WITHOUT using Allison as EXHIBIT A.
Personally, I would be mortified if someone used a photo of me as a demonstration of what is wrong with the system today.
If you had bothered to do more than skim my post you would have seen that I agreed that there might be a problem with the state of the American equitation system being taught today.
But I still maintain that the use of that photo is the equivalent of the NATIONAL ENQUIRER publishing a photo of Harrison Ford and Laura Flynn Boyle chatting at a club to imply an affair, since the letterwriter choses to conduct in public, a critique of the photo.
Sorry you so strongly disagree but I think it very unfair that you should rant at such great length condemming those who raise an eyebrow as to the fairness of using a child to critique a system.
I also defend Michael who has years of experience in this business. IMHO she deserves to be upset that a child has been used in such a callous manner.
Delete this if you feel it appropriate but I was very disappointed by your rant. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img]
No Erin, I think perhaps YOU have missed the point. While I agree "equitation" and its American meaning needs addressing, to name the person in a photo then go on to specifically use HER position as an example is tasteless and just bad manners.
It saddens me that this type of approach to issues seems to be more and more acceptable in our society.
And, I did not say the post would be removed. I said the poster would be "warned".
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Canter: She could have just as easily had made her point WITHOUT using Allison as EXHIBIT A. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
And I again quote the Chronicle's letters policy:
"The Chronicle will accept letters that refer to a previously published article, photograph or letter."
How, without referring to the photo in question, which SHOWS what she is talking about, is this woman supposed to make her point?
And again... does anyone think the style this girl is showing IS classic?
This post is beginning to sound like my former high school---everyone bickering over "he said, she said" stuff and reading way too much into everything said (or rather printed).
Please understand, before I start my tirade, that I am not attacking Alison LaJoie [the child] 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 think that clearly defines her intentions, but then again, that's my perception.
"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."
Note the first sentence. "There is nothing classic about 'that' style."---notice she DIDN'T say "HER style". When using "she", she wasn't referring to Allison personally; she was just labeling the subject. It could have been "he" if the rider was a boy--or she could have just said "the rider"--I agree to that.
There was nothing wrong with her writing that letter. That is the whole point of "Letters to the Editor". The woman had to pick someone to use as an example. It couldn't be someone that didn't win an eq. final--then her complaint or argument would have no merit. I also agree that that was just one picture, but if you look closely and more attentively to others photos, not necessarily of her (I don't know her or have ever seen her ride), you can see what the author was stressing. I can see how it would be taken as an attack, but you've got to read it with an open mind.