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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 6, 2012
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    Default Uh oh...here goes that BWW posting again...BUT, take a look Re: $$$ in OUR sport....

    It seems to me that it would be very hard, maybe impossible, for a young rider to compete and move up in Hunters, if there was a cash flow problem.

    Now, please here me out before you say, "well, no duh BWW..." so you can see why I am raising the point. I know it may seem an obvious point that is beyond discussion to some seasoned posters, but to me, it is a discussion worth having.

    Right now, we are looking at costs from the bottom up, with a very young rider. So our costs right now are about as low as they can get, on a per show basis. But we sometimes see the bills the other parents get from the show organizers and the trainer, or the parents discuss costs informally. Our bills are small compared to theirs. And we are very aware of the past investment each of these families has put in over the years. Those dollars represent real and tangible sacrifices.

    As a basic premise, then, everyone can agree that it is a very expensive sport. Buying the right pony, show fees, trailering, it all adds up very quick. We can also say that winning is not everything, which is true. Horsemanship and love/care of your pony counts for a ton. BUT, winning and competing at high levels is generally a good thing, regardless of your chosen sport, IF you can afford it and are serious about it.

    On to point 1: I am sure there are plenty of young kids that would absoutely love to ride and channel their energies into competition, but their parents don't have the money to even get them involved. Think of kids in the inner city, who are in single-parent homes, and all they have is a crappy blacktop with a rusting hoop. NYC is an example, but just north in Millbrook or North Salem, are some of the finest barns in the Northeast. But it might as well be a world away for those kids in Brooklyn...

    With all the good lessons that this sport can teach kids (and parents), is there no way to bring these kids into the sport? You have potential talent on the sidelines, but the door seems like it is closed unless your checkbook is ready to absorb one big hit after another. I really dislike that about this sport....sorry, but I do. It seems like a fatal flaw when you think about having the best talent pool in the sport.

    And point 2: Equally troubling, if money is really the determining factor, vis a vis who can buy the best pony, who can go to the most AA shows and rack up the most points, what does that say about quality of riding? If you enter a show every weekend, and the approach is based on volume rather than quality, sure, the rider has advanced his or her goals, but what did the sport get out of the whole deal?


    4 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb. 1, 2001
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    Finally...back in civilization, more or less
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    11,479

    Default

    http://www.horsesinthehood.org

    This is an example of a program similar to what I think you are talking about.

    But there is no getting around the fact that it is an expensive sport, and really, for most participants, it is a luxury hobby that happens to have an athletic component to it. Not unlike sailboat racing, car racing, etc.

    There are many, many accounts of people who worked their way up the ladder by grooming, riding horses no one else wanted to sit on, and spending years getting the experience and connections to finally make it to the top of the sport. It *can* be done, but it's obviously not an easy path.
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina


    3 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 12, 2011
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    1,096

    Default

    I think you're right, and I don't think you'll find many people who'll disagree that lack of money is keeping a lot of people out of this wonderful sport. Heck, I got priced out of the rated hunter ring and now stick to (fairly rare) schooling shows. Am also working on dressage with my warmblood.

    As for a solution to this problem? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
    "A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio



  4. #4
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    Apr. 12, 2002
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    Former Long Islander now in the middle of the Great Lakes
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    Default

    We have hashed and rehashed this over and over again, People with money in this sport put it into their own children’s program ( whether they have talent or not) not other peoples children and certainly not where it might benefit the sport or teams. Oh they may give a bit here and there but not as in total support and development. It would be counter productive to their own goals of sky- rocketing their own child to the top . It would be horrendous for a parent to watch some kid from no where out shine there own child and twice as devastating to know they footed the bill that got them there.



  5. #5
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    Sep. 8, 2006
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    Fredericksburg, VA
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    Default

    See, to me this is like spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to clothe a needy child in Prada or Armani. It would be lovely if inner-city kids could compete in horse shows, but it's not very realistic and, to my mind, not a very prudent use of funds. I think the money spent to get one or two kids into the show ring would be better spent helping more kids pursue less expensive interests in things like dance or art or the sciences. Unless of course most of what the kid needed (boots, coat, trailering services, use of horse/pony) was donated, which would be a whole different ball game.
    Everyone is entitled to my opinion.


    18 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 17, 2008
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    Dutchess County, New York
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    Default

    It is good to have this discussion.

    However, I think you are conflating spending a lot of money at top shows with being a great rider. No doubt many/most are. But you can be a really great rider and not show and spend the $$$. The best example is Pony Club. If someone is a graduate A, they are a great rider. Not only are they great riders, but they know a ton about every aspect of horses and horsemanship. They know much, much more than the average show rider with lots of $$ in fact.

    Now, do inner city kids participate in Pony Club? No. So there are absolutely barriers to entry.

    Since you are interested in learning more about horses and riding, check out the Pony Club website: ponyclub.org. I notice they have an adult program for volunteers, so you could absolutely learn a ton if you and your daughter joined.

    Be wary of the trainer that says your daughter needs her own pony right now, especially if the trainer recommends a pony costing $20,000+. I'll defer to the trainers on the board, but at 4 and just walk-trotting, needing to board, novice parents, I'd say it is too early to think about buying a pony.

    (Why? because it often goes wrong -- your daughter may lose interest or have a bad experience and then you will need to sell the pony. I've seen it happen many times -- you ask the trainer to sell and they say "sure". But the pony doesn't sell. And the board is costing you thousands. So to stop the money hemorrhaging and cut your losses you just give the pony (formerly worth $20,000 - $50,000 - $100,000) to the trainer. Who then miraculously sells it. There are also reasons to do with your daughter and her skill level, but as I'm not a trainer I'm not addressing those.)

    Whenever a horse professional suggests something ask yourself "who benefits?" You may, but if the trainer stands to benefit that should heighten your scrutiny of the situation.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 8, 2004
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    Rolling hills of Virginny
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    Default

    Riding, owning and showing horses are luxuries. If young people want to break into the sport, then they'll find a way. Expecting others to pay that way is unrealistic.

    Just because I want a Mercedes doesn't mean others who can afford them are obligated to buy one for me. If I'm determined to have one, I'll make it happen. If I think I'm entitled to it 'just because', then I'm SOL.
    The plural of anecdote is not data.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Default

    OK, I'll try here... going to be a little long-even for me. But you bring up several areas of concern.

    The providing riding for disadvantaged kids has been attempted by a former International jumper rider who lined up some pretty good backing...name escapes me at the moment (help me out guys, what was/is her name?). "Horses in the Hood" was/is based out in LA. While it's a good thought, horses and their upkeep are expensive, the land required to keep them on is expensive, transporting the kids to the horses is expensive and the insurance and liability exposure is huge. It's not very practical, particularly when the closest horse facilities to the "hood" are 2 buses and a train ride away. It's a nice thought but pretty impractical in any great numbers. I am sure others have also done it in small groups.

    Far as financial commitment? Horses are now and always have been expensive requiring a large percentage of discretionary income for the majority of owners who cannot keep them at home. The Hunter Jumper discipline has always had a bit of an elitist image in most of the country and tend to cost more then most of the others. Simply because they jump-which requires jumps, protective attire and at least some coaching and learning on a horse that is BTDT (therefore $$$ and quickly grown out of in ability and size) so you don't break your neck. Then you run into alot of unspoken etiquette and protocol (as you have discovered) because it is a very traditional discipline.

    There are other disciplines you can persue with your daughter that are less expensive, somewhat less bathed in Victorian tradition and that do not require as much up front expenditure-tho nothing with the word "horse" in it is cheap.

    Specifically, the AQHA has a great Youth program and it's shows are accessible in most parts of the country. Kids can do western, hunt seat, handle the horse from the ground in Showmanship or do the games. Horses are a little less expensive, sometimes alot less. Still need some coaching but the average QH barn is more affordable and less micro managed then a AA Hunter Jumper barn. They got there big, prestige shows-Congress in Columbus and Youth Worlds in OKC (IIRC). The kids that go love it and the kid activities not centered on the ribbon. There are still politics and rules (like not approaching an official) as there are with any competition in just about any sport.

    Pony Club has been mentioned. PC is kind of spotty as it is volunteer dependent so depends on your area. They have levels of horsemanship with written and proficiency tests and kids don't need a fancy show Pony with hovering trainer on a control trip.

    Finally...your DD (darling daughter in COTHspeak) is only 4. She loves the ponies and the barn. But at 4 does she really need to be channeled into a competitive, organized sports environment? Can you just find a nice middle of the road type barn and let her love on the Pony and be a real little kid? In 2 years or so when she is around 6, you can see if she would like to be in such a structured, competitive environment and which discipline that might be in? Let her be a kid and just play with the Pony and ride it around a little with some little kid friends? Kids say they want a Pony but never heard a real young one like yours say they want carefully controlled lessons and 100% supervised, structured time with the Pony. They just want a Pony to love on.

    How about putting a tennis racket in her room and/or getting her to an ice rink? Beware the top levels there are jaw dropping expensive to get to as well. But she is 4 and can see and do alot of things in the next couple of years without making a huge committment on your part.

    And, watch Dance Moms. Really. Thats what happens in most sports when parents push young kids into it at any and all costs.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


    7 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2012
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    316

    Default

    If we are spending hypothetical money here, Id rather it go towards helping inner city children gain the skills they need to grow into contributing members of society who will be able to help themselves as adults. This may be done with education programs and youth programs supporting their involvement in team sports, arts, life skills, whatever but not horses. Horses are way too expensive and not practical at all. Horses are a luxury.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2009
    Location
    Montreal, Qc
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    Default

    This is called 'life'.

    Life is unfair. Not everyone can do everything. Why can't all kids go to Harvard? Why can't all kids go to Disneyland? Why can't all kids become the next Madona or Justin Bieber? Why can't I earn 60$/hour?

    Quote Originally Posted by BWW View Post
    And point 2: Equally troubling, if money is really the determining factor, vis a vis who can buy the best pony, who can go to the most AA shows and rack up the most points, what does that say about quality of riding? If you enter a show every weekend, and the approach is based on volume rather than quality, sure, the rider has advanced his or her goals, but what did the sport get out of the whole deal?
    This is not troubling at all and really not so true.

    It is not because someone has plenty of money and can enjoy the best trainers/horses/equipment that the quality of their riding is not good.

    Fancy 'Push button' horses do their job and can only save their riders' a$$es up to a certain point.

    It is actually pretty good for the sport that those people are investing in it.
    It raises the bar for higher level of competition. It brings the best trainers/ riders/horses out here.

    You are new to the sport, your kid is 4, I think you should educate yourself a little bit more before making such statements.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2008
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
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    868

    Default

    There is a program like this in the polo world. Its either in philly or new York I can't remember which, for at risk youth. I think making riding programs like that accessible would help identify talent that could then go on to be working students or sponsored riders. The "inner city" high school kids are so good the best college teams in the nation are bringing them in for practice games and losing. So there is definitely the possibility of untapped talent in kids who may have never even thought of getting on a horse.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2011
    Location
    Southern Pines, NC
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    Default

    This is an expensive, luxury sport. Horses are luxury items.

    My parents have always been as supportive as they can afford to be, and I have always done my part by working off as much of my horsie expenses as I can. I currently am blessed to be able to ride at a top show barn and am working there to help cover costs.

    I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to be able to work for what I have, and it honestly would not have occurred to me to even think to have someone else shell over cash for it. But hey, if you feel like helping inner city kids get horse time, more power to you!
    I've heard there's more to life than an FEI tent and hotel rooms, so I'm trying it.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 22, 2004
    Location
    Ct
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    Default

    To be honest, getting to the top in any sport requires a lot of money and connections - talent not withstanding Though, I do think it's somewhat easier to be "discovered" and advanced in sports such as basketball and football, where there are middle school and high school programs available for everyone. Also, the amount of revenue generated in basketball and football at the college level, make finding and nuturing talent much more advantageous than sports like horseback riding, tennis and the like....

    That said, my DD had a decent junior career and we were on a shoestring budget, so it can be done. She was rarely on the fanciest horse, but worked very hard and was able to have some success, going to and getting prizes at national and regional finals



  14. #14
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    Sep. 12, 2006
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    Virginia
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    Default

    there are trainers out there that will "help" a talented but otherwise not as well off financially as others, by providing rides on sale ponies/horses, allowing them to be working students when they get older etc. The caveat is that they kid has to have some talent and ability to ride a wide variety of animals.

    Sounds like OP, you have arrived at a big show barn with your 4 yr old and yes that would be quite daunting to anyone. At 4 yrs old, they do not need to be racking up huge show bills. That's alot of pressure for a young child and a lot of spending which will add up over the remaining 12 yrs of their junior-hood.

    To your point about being able to buy the nicer horses, yes that will happen, and yes it will be frustrating for those kids who are better riders but do not have the money to buy the nicer horse. There are real challenges there, however the cream usually rises to the top so to speak, and if a truly talented rider with a less fancy or experience horse/pony competes well, they can certainly beat the more expensive creatures.

    I will use my DD as an example. I do not have unlimited funds, I can afford a reasonable board and lesson program, local showing and some A rated shows that are local and don't require staying the week. I will never be able to afford to send her to WEF for the winter or Vermont for the summer. That is just a reality. That does not mean however that she cannot attain and exceed her own goals, become a great horsewoman and know what it feels like to be truly "good" at something - which I think is criticial for young ladies to experience.

    DD's pony cost in the very low 4 figures... yet she can complete with ponies who cost more than 10 times her price. Why? Because it is a nice quality pony that my daughter can ride... and not alot of other kids are willing or able to ride her because she's green and somewhat challenging. But you know what, she may just be able to take this pony to pony finals and jump her around. She may not win, but the journey is the point, not the ribbon.

    So in short, great riders can be made without lots of money. Yes it's an expensive sport and money helps ALOT. But there are many levels of "success" and it's all about how you define yours for your DD (or hers for herself)


    3 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 23, 2010
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    Central PA
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    Default

    Sorry, didn't really make it through the entire OP. But thought I'd share this:
    http://www.worktoride.net/stage/
    Great lady, great program, great kids.

    Anyone whining about not having the nicest pony at AA shows could learn a little something from their example.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr. 26, 2000
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    3,147

    Default

    Disadvantaged kids getting into the h/j is not the only way for them to learn some invaluable lessons via the horses. There are all different levels of competition and sometimes the best thing kids can get from time with the horses is that there doesn't have to be any competition at all...they have enough competition our there and disadvantaged kids usually end up shouldering the short end of the stick.

    That said, exposing inner city kids to life around the barn with some riding thrown in happens all the time but usually its so under the radar that most folks don't know about it. For example, the farm where my daughter rides is top notch DQ facility chock full of FEI riders with go-zillion dollar horses. These folks donate their time to the Jr. NCDCTA club to educate the kids, the beginner lesson program scholarships disadvantaged inner city kids all the time. They seek to affect/effect (grammar police where are you???) positive change.

    it's also very important to remember that for many if not most kids from a non-horsey, inner city environment, big horses are crazy overwhelming. Try getting down on your knees around even a large pony to get a child's eye view. Many of the kids at the Jr. Club don't last more than a couple of meetings mounted or unmounted. Horse world is a very different world.

    As has been pointed out...horses by their very nature are expensive. It's not like committing to care and housing for a hamster. The bigger the animal, the greater the commitment and costs. I think that almost all of the trainers I've encountered have been more than willing to work with a genuinely interested and dedicated kid who doesn't have the finances to float the horse boat.
    It's a good thought to see the horses as a way to affect (again) positive change but for most disadvantaged kids whose families are just struggling to keep the bills paid, etc. it might be hard to see the opportunity beyond rumbling stomachs and ill fitting shoes and the general chaos that a lot of these folks live in.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2007
    Posts
    237

    Default

    if you are questioning costs I will advise you as I did in another thread, stay away. If it is frustrating you now it only gets worse with the pony hunters, the junior hunters and the equitation. It is mainly about money. There are many talented riders that are not able to compete with someone willing to spend $300K for a pony or horse. And some have multiple rides that gives them a bigger chance. Although some are able to succeed they sacrifice a lot, i.e. education and social life. i see it over and over again. There are the rich kids who even if they chose the online route they don't have to worry about their future and can float in the horseshow world forever and then, there are the victims of the dream who at best can hope to be glorified grooms or asssitant to trainers who might throw them a bone here and there.
    As many have suggested here there are other more sane and satisfying routes where you can enjoy the sport without over spending.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec. 28, 2012
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    616

    Default

    I too come from meager background but found ways to make it work. I even worked as a groom at Spruce Meadows for a year when I graduated high school. Now my husband and I make sacrifices so I can ride and compete. Like someone else said, that's life.

    On another note, BWW, I was part of your judge post yesterday and it seems like you are trying to be intentionally confrontational in your posts, rather than just asking things and becoming informed. I can see that you want to provoke discussions but inciting a flame war is probably not the best way - particularly since you do not seem to be a well informed veteran. Alot of people on the boards just want to help and "flame wars" just detract from that. Just something to consider.
    ~ In the chaos of the showing, remember riding should be fun for all, including our 4-legged kids.


    4 members found this post helpful.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May. 2, 2012
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    AIKEN SC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    OK, I'll try here... going to be a little long-even for me. But you bring up several areas of concern.

    The providing riding for disadvantaged kids has been attempted by a former International jumper rider who lined up some pretty good backing...name escapes me at the moment (help me out guys, what was/is her name?). "Horses in the Hood" was/is based out in LA. While it's a good thought, horses and their upkeep are expensive, the land required to keep them on is expensive, transporting the kids to the horses is expensive and the insurance and liability exposure is huge. It's not very practical, particularly when the closest horse facilities to the "hood" are 2 buses and a train ride away. It's a nice thought but pretty impractical in any great numbers. I am sure others have also done it in small groups.

    .
    Kathy Kusner is the name I think you are looking for.
    Think the program is still in operation. Check the link that Lucassb posted.
    Fan of Sea Accounts


    1 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 24, 2001
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    Virginia
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    2,539

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    Far as financial commitment? Horses are now and always have been expensive requiring a large percentage of discretionary income for the majority of owners who cannot keep them at home. The Hunter Jumper discipline has always had a bit of an elitist image in most of the country and tend to cost more then most of the others. Simply because they jump-which requires jumps, protective attire and at least some coaching and learning on a horse that is BTDT (therefore $$$ and quickly grown out of in ability and size) so you don't break your neck. Then you run into alot of unspoken etiquette and protocol (as you have discovered) because it is a very traditional discipline.
    I do not think you can put the onus of the cost on the fact that jumps are involved. Eventing takes up more land, and requires as much or more training and protective gear, and the cost per show is significantly less than you're going to pay for a recognized hunter show, even running at FEI levels. It is becoming much more about money and the right horse, but certainly below Prelim, you don't need fancy to be competitive the way you do in the hunter ring, either.

    That said, OP, with a daughter as young as yours, getting a lot of good lesson time and a little bit of showing time to build a solid skilled foundation is important at this point, moreso than whether you're collecting ribbons at WEF or Local Schooling Show. If she still likes the sport and wants to continue as she gets better and starts jumping, etc, then maybe you can consider other disciplines and options, such as Pony Club or Eventing, or even Dressage if she doesn't care for jumping, that can have far different costs than a big AA show barn. Honestly, unless I already had another child competing in recognized divisions at those types of shows, I wouldn't bother having a beginner 4YO at that type of program. With the littlest ones I've seen (and I used to help out with lessons at the barn where I grew up riding), they just want to have fun with their pony, they don't care whether it's a $100K show pony or a $500 auction-purchased lesson pony, as long as it's well behaved.



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