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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayaty02 View Post


    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.

    This makes me smile. Reminds me of my "cheap" show pony back in the day!
    "A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio


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  2. #22
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    the other thing to note is that showing, even at a high level, does not NEED to be super expensive. I think you are the one who posted looking for a Butet for your 4 yr old. I personally think that's ridiculous... but if you have the money, go for it. But I guess my question is, why that saddle? Who told you you HAD to have a Butet for her? Is it going to make her a better rider? NO... were it me, I'd have spent $500-700 on a used Beval or Pessoa and we'd be more than fine. So you need to understand that if you are in a barn where they'd recommend Butet for a 4 yr old walk trotter, their charges are likely going to be far and above more than another. Just an example.


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  3. #23
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    Why does horse showing have always be A rated Hunter shows? A 4 year old would not know the difference between the A shows and the C shows or schooling shows. Why not move to a smaller barn that does the lower level shows? She could continue showing and keep up with the other kids in the barn.

    To me, it is like owning a car. Sure we would all love to be driving luxury vehicles but just because I can't afford a Mercedes doesn't mean I have to stop driving.


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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by caryledee View Post
    Why does horse showing have always be A rated Hunter shows? A 4 year old would not know the difference between the A shows and the C shows or schooling shows. Why not move to a smaller barn that does the lower level shows? She could continue showing and keep up with the other kids in the barn.

    To me, it is like owning a car. Sure we would all love to be driving luxury vehicles but just because I can't afford a Mercedes doesn't mean I have to stop driving.
    Most excellent post
    Save a life...be an organ donor! Visit www.Transplantbuddies.org


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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by caryledee View Post
    Why does horse showing have always be A rated Hunter shows? A 4 year old would not know the difference between the A shows and the C shows or schooling shows. Why not move to a smaller barn that does the lower level shows? She could continue showing and keep up with the other kids in the barn.

    To me, it is like owning a car. Sure we would all love to be driving luxury vehicles but just because I can't afford a Mercedes doesn't mean I have to stop driving.
    Most excellent post
    Save a life...be an organ donor! Visit www.Transplantbuddies.org



  6. #26
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    It is totally true that hunters - especially A circuit hunters - are very expensive and that successfully showing there is out of reach of all but the richest families. Even a talented and hardworking kid rarely has the opportunity to get enough skill to be seen or promoted on that circuit without a parent in the game somehow.

    That said, there are many ways to participate with horses and to have horses that are much more affordable, and there are programs for inner city kids here and there. One of my favorites is http://www.comptonjrposse.org , which not only gets horses into the Compton neighborhood of LA, but gets those kids out successfully to real horse shows and gets them to Olympic level clinicians. I think it's important and extremely cool for those kids to have that kind of exposure. (They even get to go riding on the beach now and then!)

    Now, the perspective here is very much of the east coast show world... and one of the big changes since the 60's and 70's is that kids can't usually walk or bike themselves to some big name show stable and get a chance to work their way in. Fewer barns have lesson horses, especially those near or in urban areas. Where I live, there are actually lesson stables within walking distance of the elementary school and it is possible for low income kids to have horses or to have use of a horse.

    Horses - not the show world, but horses - are a great way for kids to learn responsibility and independence. I know for me they were a motivator to get my engineering degree - because I wanted a steady job with money to ride. I braided my horses and later other's horses to get money for shows. I showed lesson and sales horses. I rode or groomed any horse I was allowed to.

    I have my daughter in a lesson barn with a pony club atmosphere now. It's not the most convenient logistically, but it's got a large lesson kid clientele, a large string of equines, and a covered arena where lessons can run rain or shine year round. The rules are long and we had to sign them, but can be drilled down to basically, the parents don't touch the ponies and leave the kids to do the work. Watching my daughter help the younger kids and really grow in this environment has been fabulous for her self-confidence, her work ethic, and her responsibility. The younger kids are motivated to do and learn because they want to be like the big kids. The big kids are motivated to do and learn because they don't want to be shown up by the little kids.

    This is what you need to find for your daughter - not an A show barn, but a place where she'll get her hands dirty and her breeches muddy and come to you after her lesson with smudges on her face, her ponytail askew, and maybe a bit of hay in her hair, and a big giant grin.

    And when you get to the point where it's time to buy a horse or pony (I would wait until she's jumping 2' courses confidently and competently), what you want is an older saint of a horse or pony, not fancy, but something safe safe safe. You shouldn't need to spend more than 4 figures on a first horse if your goal is for your daughter to have fun, gain confidence, and be safe rather than to win at the big shows.

    There are lots of shows to go to and much fun to be had at every level. Locally, we have a tiny gymkhana that runs at $4/class. The community shows up, they sit around and chat, they go in the ring once in a while, and it's all good fun. There are all kinds of ways to gather and have fun with horses. The big shows are the place to have stiff competition, but the little shows take less effort and less time and it can be more fun and more practical to go just for shows that run one day rather than a whole week.

    If she has the bug, and if you both really want to make a run at the A circuit, there will be plenty of time when she's older, 10, 12, 14? or more. The nice thing about horses is that you have a whole lifetime to meet your competition goals - you don't have to set the world on fire before you're 16.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


    6 members found this post helpful.

  7. #27
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    "Now, do inner city kids participate in Pony Club? No. So there are absolutely barriers to entry."

    But the fact they are inner city is not a bar to having a pony club in that area? (Do you have to own your own pony to belong?)
    Regardless, horses/ponies can bring so much to a young person's life that has nothing to do with being able or not to show at A rated shows.



  8. #28
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    A four year old child showing on the A circuit is 100% about the parent's ego. A four year old probably can't even write the letter A let alone understand the difference between an A show and a schooling show.


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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurierace View Post
    A four year old child showing on the A circuit is 100% about the parent's ego. A four year old probably can't even write the letter A let alone understand the difference between an A show and a schooling show.
    Ego OR lack of knowledge. I'm guessing from past posts that the OP lives in the NYC metro area. Assuming I'm correct, it's very easy to find an A circuit barn there, especially if you go around asking "what is the very best place to ride in this area". I don't think the OP is doing it for him, but I do think he wants the very best for his little one, which is not a problem, but the "best" does not always equal the "most expensive".


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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayaty02 View Post
    the other thing to note is that showing, even at a high level, does not NEED to be super expensive. I think you are the one who posted looking for a Butet for your 4 yr old. I personally think that's ridiculous... but if you have the money, go for it. But I guess my question is, why that saddle? Who told you you HAD to have a Butet for her? Is it going to make her a better rider? NO... were it me, I'd have spent $500-700 on a used Beval or Pessoa and we'd be more than fine. So you need to understand that if you are in a barn where they'd recommend Butet for a 4 yr old walk trotter, their charges are likely going to be far and above more than another. Just an example.
    Just for some perspective... when I wanted a saddle for my 5 year old, because we had horses at home, I bought a $150 used Stubben from eBay.

    But since OP does not have horses at home and is getting lessons, honestly, you should be at a place where they're providing the pony and the saddle for a long time to come.

    Save your money. At this age, all she needs is hourly lessons. If she does get the show bug, trust me, you'll have plenty of requests for Butets in your future.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


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  11. #31
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    I mentioned schooling shows on BWW's other thread...They're inexpensive, much more relaxed, and a 4-year-old isn't going to care whether the ribbon came from an AA or the local fun show. And she'll probably have more fun because there's less pressure. At this point, the rating or prestige of the show means NOTHING to the child...so it's the parent and/or trainer who needs the attitude adjustment if they feel it's too expensive. There are plenty of opportunities that cost less and will mean just as much to the child.

    Riders don't have to own a horse to be in 4-H, and some 4-H programs are quite good; you just have to look to find one, because not all are created equal. But 4-H kids can ride and show but they can also participate in things like hippology, judging, and quiz bowl, which foster learning about all aspects of horsemanship, not just riding and showing. My 4-H kids also dis an annual community service project together and had a blast doing it. For example, one year they made no-sew blankets for a local police initiative to have a blanket for every child who was in crisis. Our 4-H'ers made several to donate, and had a pizza party and sleepover. That kind of activity in conjunction with the horsey stuff, was hugely positive for our kids. Pony Club is more intensive and is also a GREAT program.

    There are plenty of riding activities that are affordable for people that can't afford the A Circuit: trail riding, local shows, lesson programs, etc. My old barn had a great lesson program tailored to families who didn't want/couldn't afford a show barn program. The kids had a blast, got to ride and sometimes show locally, but showing wasn't the goal. That meant the horses didn't have to be fancy, just kind and safe. Several of the kids went on to get their own horses, and while it's unlikely that they will show at anything other than a local level (many of the kids don't even care about showing if it's not suggested to them by parents/, they are learning responsibility and dedication and are having a heck of a good time hanging out with their horsey friends. That kind of riding is just as valuable to a child's experience, but doesn't cost a ridiculous amount...so far more people can be involved. There is much,much more to riding and horsemanship than showing, especially for young children!



  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by omare View Post
    "Now, do inner city kids participate in Pony Club? No. So there are absolutely barriers to entry."

    But the fact they are inner city is not a bar to having a pony club in that area? (Do you have to own your own pony to belong?)
    Yes, you have to have your own horse or Pony or regular access to one in most if not all Pony Club activities. PC does not provide mounts. Some barns that are involved in it do have lease horses or schoolies avialable but those are few and far between.

    I keep coming back to the 4 year old part. IMO a kid should be able to get most of the work done in tacking up as a part of basic riding education-not stand and watch the groom or parent do it because they cannot reach to put the bridle on or lift the saddle. They NEED to know and understand this part of it to keep them safe, especially wandering around a ring off a line with no understanding of left or right and limited ability to take any correction-including sudden commands given to avoid an accident. I mean, you can be there and try to direct their every step but what if you are at a show when somebody gets dumped and you have a loose horse thundering around? Horses can hurt you.

    4 is TOO YOUNG to stick in an expensive and structured program just to "keep up with the Jones". I fear the upper east coast and NYC area is big on such places and lacking in good old basic boarding barns where a little kid can go play with a Pony for 2 days a week, which is what a 4 year old should be doing.

    Cute example, my long time trainers child was 5 when she burst into tears in a W-T class because she got a blue ribbon and wanted a pink one (they took a break from showing after that-because she cried in public when she did not get what she wanted. She needed to mature a little more). Why ruin that innocence by stuffing them into an expensive program geared towards producing winners when they are not even waist high?
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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  13. #33
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    So when we talk about inexpensive ponies and staying out of the A shows and checking out lesson programs and local shows, we know we're taking food from your trainer's mouth.

    We do this not because we are jealous harpies who wish we had done leadline at Devon and who now spend our days too lazy to leave the threadbare couches in our doublewides --

    but because we genuinely love our sport - and we want you to love it too. We want you and your daughter to be in horses in the long term, to be excited and enthusiastic when she is 14 and 18 and 24. We don't want you to burn out before your daughter is even old enough to truly ride independently.

    (There are many programs that won't take kids before they are 6 or 8.)

    To paraphrase an old ditty... at COTH "You can't always get what you want" from other posters, "But sometimes you can get what you need..."

    If you stay with it, your trainer will benefit in the long run too.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


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  14. #34
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    Well, I actually think that some of the things discussed in the original post are true. It DOES suck that the only people making it to the top are the uber-wealthy right now, and it didn't used to be that way.

    You will all cite me names of riders who worked their way up from nothing, but I can't think of one who is under 25 years old.

    Now even "working student" programs mostly require a rider to have their own horse and be able to pay their way at all the shows. And most of our supposed "underdog stories" feature kids who can only afford ONE uber-nice horse on the circuit instead of four. Their parents are still spending mid-five figures per year!

    I DO wish there were more programs for kids of modest means who are truly interested to at least get past the entry level to the point where they can get a working student job and try to make it on their talent and work ethic.

    And yes, there are other ways to participate in the sport, no doubt about it. But it is a shame that making it to the elite level is determined almost exclusively by wealth nowadays, and there seem to be almost no other way to break in.

    I come from no money and have worked my ass off my whole adult life as a working student, groom, and assistant trainer. I ride top horses on the flat and at home, but never got the ring experience to be a top show rider myself. This sport is not meant for people like me. Too bad I love it more than anything.

    Welcome to the sport, BWW. Glad you are questioning the way things are, because if you don't you will be taken for a ride!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." --Vincent Van Gogh


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  15. #35
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    Here in KY there is the KHP's Mustang Troop, the neighbor fella that had the ducks was running that one for a while. We've also got much lower real estate prices here and a surfeit of cheap horses if you head up into Eastern KY. The City of Lexington runs a lesson program in the summers at 600 acre Masterson Station Park a few miles outside the town center. Can inner city kids participate? Well, really poor people face issues we often forget about - the Mustang Troop kids ride special busses to get to the KHP or they'd never get there at all, and it's always an issue for a city to spend money on an "extra" public service.

    I think OP has a right to pose the question, and he's getting some good answers, notably that as a captain of industry he's going to get shunted to the "appropriate" trainer. The American Saddlebred world is full of ten year olds getting jetted in to lessons on their 5-6 figure show horse preparatory to the Big Show, and there's also usually an active and affordable Academy program running right alongside that. The Academy horses are all working in lessons, the kids have never shown at a big show, never worn a coat they call it, it's somewhat affordable, a couple hundred bucks per show day pays for use of the horse, all tack is provided, obviously it's a funnel into the high dollar world but sometimes it is what it is, a small local show circuit that is a lot of fun.
    I'm afraid though, that lessons aren't free, getting to the stables to take the lessons may be too far, it takes discretionary income to do anything with horses. There's kids in my DD's band program that have to rent their instruments and can't come up with the $40 a month for recommended lessons, $40 that is the remainder after most of the cost is paid for by fundraising. Horsback riding lessons cost $30 an hour at the least expensive private barn near Lexington - can't tell you the cost of the city run program as it is recalculated every Spring for the following Summer.

    OP, get up one day and pull on your painting clothes, borrow a beater and head out in a different direction and you may find hiding in the burb's somewhere a program that lets your kid have a good time without breaking the bank.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonewolf View Post
    Well, I actually think that some of the things discussed in the original post are true. It DOES suck that the only people making it to the top are the uber-wealthy right now, and it didn't used to be that way.

    You will all cite me names of riders who worked their way up from nothing, but I can't think of one who is under 25 years old.
    I agree. A lot of it is because horses and suburbia no longer mix together the way they once did. Read the stories of someone like Margie Engle and you'll hear accounts of biking over to a show barn, or of a kid having a pony in her back yard... those things are less and less possible in the US today, and to our sport's detriment.

    There are more athletic and extracurricular opportunities for kids in general and girls in particular than there once were.

    Someone said earlier that they thought that bringing horses to the inner city wasn't a cost-effective way to help the kids there. I think it's wise for us to look at it the other way: it may well be a cost-effective and very appropriate way for us to help OUR SPORT, to make it more available to a wider range of kids. Whether or not those kids grow up to be elite riders, their exposure to horses is good for them and better for us, because they'll remember when zoning and other issues come along that marginalize horses as an activity more and more.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by ponymom64 View Post
    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
    I'm going to agree with ponymom64. I also had a decent junior career (and actually showed ponies with her DD one year) on a tight budget. I think you can be successful at the upper levels without tons of money behind you, but it's certainly not an easy road! There are kids out there who, like ponymom64's DD, are willing to sit on anything and talented enough to make a donkey look like the best hunter in the world. Maybe they aren't the ones winning the national titles, but they're the ones who get noticed for being a hard worker and a good rider. I know I sat on some interesting horses and ponies as a junior, but I was a better rider for it, whether we got on swimmingly or had to take a few rides to figure each other out.

    Focus on the journey, not the destination.


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  18. #38
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    While I agree a competitive program geared towards the rated shows is not an ideal environment in which to create a responsible horsewoman/man, let's not forget that DD is already in a program. How many parents would take her away from her friends at 4 years old because it will "be good for her"? I think it would be difficult.

    That said, if you have a trainer steering you towards fancy ponies to win ribbons, you'll know that DD's happiness and long-term learning is the least of your trainer's concerns.

    I ride on Long Island (NYC metro area) and there are lots of trainers around here that will take every penny they can squeeze from you. They'll import fancy horses and ponies for you and work them into the ground so they're quiet on show day. They'll charge you lots of $$$ to have someone groom the horse so DD just gets on. Too many of these fancy ponies and horses end up broken and in the wrong hands later in life because the trainers never made it about the horse above all else.

    I'm not saying BWW's trainer is doing this. I cannot possibly know. I am pointing out that this type of program is not uncommon in this area. Sadly.
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


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  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by poltroon View Post
    So when we talk about inexpensive ponies and staying out of the A shows and checking out lesson programs and local shows, we know we're taking food from your trainer's mouth.

    We do this not because we are jealous harpies who wish we had done leadline at Devon and who now spend our days too lazy to leave the threadbare couches in our doublewides --

    but because we genuinely love our sport - and we want you to love it too. We want you and your daughter to be in horses in the long term, to be excited and enthusiastic when she is 14 and 18 and 24. We don't want you to burn out before your daughter is even old enough to truly ride independently.
    I 100% agree with Poltroon.

    Let me also add that at these kid-friendly barns with good values you also get vastly wealthy people too. There isn't 100% of a class divide in horses (yes, there is some). My trainer's barn, one town over from Millbrook, has had A list movie stars' kids, billionaires etc ride with them, in addition to the kids who take advantage of the stock of children's show clothes which anyone can use so long as you bring them back dry cleaned.



  20. #40
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    Some of the best and most important lessons that can be learned with horses have NOTHING to do with showing. A 4 year old will be just thrilled to brush a pony and play with their hair as they do showing...and learn more doing that. Showing isn't something I personally think should be a priority with kids and horses. Learning horsemanship should be.

    So if you are at a place where the kids are not learning how to muck a stall, groom a horse, clean tack, basic vet care....they are not really learning about the sport. Riding is only a part....and showing even a smaller part.

    As for the costs...you do not have to spend that sort of money to become good. And to be honest, for a kid under the age of 12....you shouldn't be in my book. They still have so much to learn and going to an expensive A show isn't where they will learn it.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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