One of the reasons I stopped showing several years ago was that the checks I was writing - to horse shows, trainers, various and sundry service providers - kept getting larger and larger, while the payoff seemed to be getting smaller and smaller. As an amateur, I often felt like a mark: how could the most money be extracted for the least amount of service? I am sure parents of juniors share this feeling. The shows and the trainers get us all coming and going: endless lists of line item bills and lousy customer service have become the norm. And I showed at major horse shows with well known trainers.
To me, the idea of taking prize money from the very people who are the bread and the butter of the sport is just another indication of how far out of touch many professionals have become with their client bases. While there are numerous competitors for whom money is no object, there are surely many more who make tremendous sacrifices to attend even a handful of shows each year. Part of the reason for this is that entry fees, stall fees, assorted horse show fees, training fees, daycare fees, splits, meals for everybody, etc. add up to the GNP of a small country each year. You want people to move up? Sorry, you've priced us out of doing so, not just with fees, but with the cost of horseflesh. The prices of horses have been driven up dramatically during the past 20 years, the commissions and double dipping have added insult to injury on that front. The pool of people who are financially able to compete in the more prestigious divisions is consequently shrinking. Buy green? Well in addition to the high prices that even green horses command, you refuse to attend local shows, which means the greenies must gain mileage while racking up all those fees. So sure, take away the meager prize money that for most, at best, helps offset a small portion of their weekly bills. You pros are eventually going to be playing by yourselves in the sandbox. You think it's expensive for you? Take a look at the bills you mail to your clients each month. I don't think you'll enjoy having to pay for your own accommodations and meals while you're on the road 11 months of the year. Just my somewhat rambling .02.
I love you like my luggage, but you been sippin' some crazy Kool-Aid.
What are the odds (the range of choice is zero --> none) of entry fees being substantially lowered if no money was offered in the classes in which 80% of the exhibitors show?
Answer: You're kidding, right?
Why? Because this money is to be funneled into the Pro classes. So, in addition to paying our trainers with training money and day care money and [outrageous] commissions for the horses we buy, we would now be paying them to show their own horses because they could now win back our entry fee money too.
The world of horse shows is a pyramid (much like the food pyramid, but without those nasty veggies). Your ammie, childrens and junior riders are the base of that pyramind. We are the exhibitors who are the foundation of the shows. Without the tens of thousands of dollars that we funnel into the coffers (show and training and entry fee and horseflesh purchase coffers) the system slows to a grinding halt. THEN where will the international riders go to earn their megabucks?
We are ALREADY financing these same Pros to be able to compete by going on the road with them. If we can't afford to show, then they can't afford to show. You don't have a dog and pony show without the dogs and ponies.
If you put 50 children with Down's Syndrome in a room, there's going to be a lot of hugging.
Hmmm. Most of the complaints are focused around the costs of trainers, training, splits, etc. But for all of the $$$ being spent, I don't think anyone can argue that the overall average skill of riders is doing anything other than going down hill.
I see the point of the article in that the current system is not yielding us lots of good quality horses and riders. It is yielding us a McDonald's like system for pumping out low quality at volume. The trainers turn increasingly towards drugs and 'therapies' to maintain horses. The clients do not learn to ride/train. More and more of the clients of the industry want to participate at ever lower levels of skill.
This is not the fault of a single participant. But we have to admit to ourselves that that is what is, in fact, occurring. And everyone who is a part of the system has to think about how we can make it better.
Personally, I think we need to ditch the entire idea of 'horse shows.' Our current system of horse 'shows' does not get us healthy horses, good riders, or reliable, honest professionals. It gets us a population of people who cut corners like mad in an effort to get a 69cent ribbon.