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Buying your way into the Olympics...

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  • Buying your way into the Olympics...

    I found it very interesting how tactfully the BBC commentators mentioned or alluded to how many riders/countries bought their way into the Olympics by purchasing high dollar horses out from under other teams. I understand this is part of the "nature of the beast" of the sport. Just found it curious how the BBC commentators addressed it!

  • #2
    Flame suit on...

    This, IMO, is the elephant in the room that NOBODY from the USA really wants to talk about - mostly b/c it has been a pretty epic fail for us in every discipline. Simon, Rafalca, Mr. Medicott, the list is endless of horses that wealthy sponsors spent megabucks on that are not really delivering the goods at these Games. It's great that the 1% are willing to dig deep into their pockets for Team USA, but at the end of the day, someone still has to TRAIN the beast and RIDE the beast, and do these things well.

    There is NEVER going to be a viable substitute for finding a young horse and developing it yourself. The UK still pretty much has this ethic well in place. We no longer do. Comparing the results, IMO the commentators are entitled to be as snotty as they want, b/c they're not really wrong.
    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

    Comment


    • #3
      At this point in the sport, there really is no other way BUT to "buy your way in" AND have a LOT of talent, time, and good riding. The times when people could have cheap horses they bought and make it to the Olympics (Hilda Gurney, Gwen Stockebrand) is LONG gone. The level of horse needed is WAY different, and the expense is astronomical.

      There is no one competing without a lot of money behind them supporting them. Some people have bought other people's work (Painted Black) but are doing a very respectable job riding. Totilas is not being ridden by a bad rider, and Ravel came out of Gal's barn. (Hm. A lot of those "bought" horses seem to trace back to Van Grunsven and Sjef.)

      I do not know the background of the British horses. Did they all buy these as young horses and do the training themselves?

      Comment


      • #4
        "mostly b/c it has been a pretty epic fail for us in every discipline. Simon, Rafalca, Mr. Medicott, the list is endless of horses that wealthy sponsors spent megabucks on that are not really delivering the goods at these Games. "


        I wouldn't go so far as to say this Olympics has been an epic "fail". I think it is quite harsh to say that Rafalca and Mr. Medicott are not delivering the goods. By most people's standards, even experienced equestrians, these are very nice horses. Are they the best? No. That doesn't mean they are failures. It's a matter of degrees, not black and white.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've always thought that no matter how much money you spend on a horse...you still have to find the fences!! At 1.6 meters, a crappy ride/rider will not last long, no matter how much $$ was spent.

          The countries that are "buying there way in" are doing it because they don't have the long, long history that Northern European countries have---the show jumping heritage doesn't exist in Saudi Arabia or Japan or Ukraine. In order to compete on the world stage, you have to start somewhere. Might as well be at the top.

          At the end of the day, the rider still is out there alone with their mount. You aren't riding a bank balance. You must have the training instilled in both rider and horse. I think it is brilliant that these "other" countries are finding a way to make the competition more exciting and truly 'world' class!
          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Even more interesting. I started this thread as a result of the BBC commentators at the first round of show jumping. They seemed to be indicating that the Saudis and other muslim countries, and Ukraine as well, had been spending extraordinary amounts of money on horseflesh for their teams. This is what I was referring to.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
              This, IMO, is the elephant in the room that NOBODY from the USA really wants to talk about - mostly b/c it has been a pretty epic fail for us in every discipline. Simon, Rafalca, Mr. Medicott, the list is endless of horses that wealthy sponsors spent megabucks on that are not really delivering the goods at these Games.
              Rafalca ? She's been in the US for years, and has moved up the ladder nicely.

              And Ravel is doing ok, wouldn't you say ?

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Calvincrowe View Post
                I've always thought that no matter how much money you spend on a horse...you still have to find the fences!! At 1.6 meters, a crappy ride/rider will not last long, no matter how much $$ was spent.

                The countries that are "buying there way in" are doing it because they don't have the long, long history that Northern European countries have---the show jumping heritage doesn't exist in Saudi Arabia or Japan or Ukraine. In order to compete on the world stage, you have to start somewhere. Might as well be at the top.

                At the end of the day, the rider still is out there alone with their mount. You aren't riding a bank balance. You must have the training instilled in both rider and horse. I think it is brilliant that these "other" countries are finding a way to make the competition more exciting and truly 'world' class!
                SO TRUE.......

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mbhorse View Post
                  Even more interesting. I started this thread as a result of the BBC commentators at the first round of show jumping. They seemed to be indicating that the Saudis and other muslim countries, and Ukraine as well, had been spending extraordinary amounts of money on horseflesh for their teams. This is what I was referring to.
                  'Muslim countries'?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Syria for one - can you imagine the back stories there....just seems like a disconnect.
                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Beentheredonethat View Post
                      At this point in the sport, there really is no other way BUT to "buy your way in" AND have a LOT of talent, time, and good riding. The times when people could have cheap horses they bought and make it to the Olympics (Hilda Gurney, Gwen Stockebrand) is LONG gone. The level of horse needed is WAY different, and the expense is astronomical.

                      ---

                      I do not know the background of the British horses. Did they all buy these as young horses and do the training themselves?
                      I disagree! And I think most of the breeders in the US, Ireland, and the UK would, too. (The Germans and Dutch produce 10 times the number of horses that the rest of us do and are HAPPY to sell the ones they don't think will make it to the highest bidder )

                      Many of the British horses, especially on the Eventing Team, are either homebred (Mary King, for one) or purchased (often from Ireland) at a young age (3-6) and brought along. Irish horses get a solid start with longing, long reining, and foxhunting which gives them confidence to go on. Granted, the often need a LOT of flatwork

                      All the Irish riders in Eventing have brought on their young horses to the level.

                      Irish showjumpers, too, buy them young/started and move them up. (Cian O'Connor is exceptionally good at doing this and selling the finished product on to the Saudis, etc. ) I think many of the UK SJ's do, too (although, I can think of one exception, who is good at getting other riders' horses...)

                      The Chapot's have a LONG history of breeding and producing their own horses - Gem Twist was the pinnacle of that program, but there have been many, many others. And then of course, there is the wonderful Rich Fellers - who bought Flexible as a 5 yr old and has made the horse what he is today!!!

                      I really believe that in ANY horse sport, there is no substitute for horsemanship - the ability to find and produce your own horse, and especially the connection created between horse and rider over the long term.
                      co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Weatherford--Oh, I wasn't thinking of anything but dressage because I don't really know how it works for jumping or eventing.

                        Do the US eventing and jumper riders usually start their own horses, or are they bought for them?

                        And, are the British dressage horses ones that they started themselves?

                        I guess it might be a different way to do things for each sport.

                        And, here's another thought. Which sport is it easiest to "buy" into? It seems like the Saudis and Japanese have done done some pretty good buying. The Japanese are admirable, but not top 20able in dressage. It seems like they COULD have done really well in eventing, and I saw some pretty good show jumping, too.

                        Another question. Are there ANY "cheap" horses out there competing at this level? Any horse in any of the disciplines that is a backyard find, off the track, whatever, not bought or bred FOR the sport? It seems eventing would be the most likely to have one of these horses.

                        And, always, NO ONE gets to this level without a lot of hard work and dedication, no matter what they bought.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          And, always, NO ONE gets to this level without a lot of hard work and dedication, no matter what they bought.
                          I agree!!

                          I am pretty sure even the UK Dressage riders have brought on their own horses - and I know the Irish rider has, too.

                          I think it's partially because the Brits and the Irish (and the Aussies and New Zealanders, who also bring on their own in all the disciplines) are more immersed in the culture of horses from the start. Ditto people like the Chapots who have been breeding and training for as long as they've been in the business.

                          In the US generally, there tends to be an attitude of "buy the best and make it better" which often doesn't work. ("Anything you can do, I can do better" ) This is much more prevalent in Dressage and SJ than in Eventing - although it is becoming more fashionable in Eventing these days, too.

                          Sometimes it's an owner issue, not a rider issue. I've seen wonderful riders have horses they've worked on for years pulled out from underneath them because the owners want it all NOW. (And does the next rider do better? No.) That can be very disheartening for a young (or old ) professional who has dreams of going higher!!!

                          So, IMHO, the owners also have to take some responsibility for this!!

                          There is NOTHING that can substitute for years of having/making a partership with your horse!! IMHO, it's especially critical in Eventing and Show Jumping, where the fences are big!!
                          co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Given that many of these top riders from, shall we say, "non-traditional" countries, train in Europe or the US (just like top swimmers or runners come to US colleges to get top training in top facilities). Why we feel that a horse and rider pair must come up together a la the "buy a baby for my baby" mentality is ludicrous. Sure, many top GP riders (both D and SJ) have a string of young horses, but, given the chance to get a top, already proven horse and compete on the world stage, I'll bet they take it! And, why not? Reed K. is too young to have spent a lifetime breeding and bringing along a young horse--should she not have a chance to show what she can do? Silly.

                            I know Eventing is rife with the "$700 meat truck wonder horse" stories and that is awesome! However, the top horses are big $$ and are purpose bred for that sport. (UK horses anyone?).

                            I say, if you can prove you are capable of competing at that level, have the $$ to buy or get someone to buy it for you, then go for it! I'll reiterate, you still have to be able to ride Big Bucks Boy around that course and not get killed. That is not something you can buy--that is saddle time, that is training with the best, that is riding everything you can sit on.

                            Some may say that these "non-trad" countries are buying their way in. In to what? It isn't "our club" and they are just pushing aside the bouncer and taking our marbles. Sheesh. Give credit where it's due.
                            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                              Flame suit on...

                              This, IMO, is the elephant in the room that NOBODY from the USA really wants to talk about - mostly b/c it has been a pretty epic fail for us in every discipline. Simon, Rafalca, Mr. Medicott, the list is endless of horses that wealthy sponsors spent megabucks on that are not really delivering the goods at these Games.
                              It's not a recent thing.
                              1964 Olympics, US eventing team won team silver, highest placed rider was Michael Page on Grasshopper, a horse that had competed at the two previous OG for Ireland.
                              1968 Olympics, US wins silver again in Eventing, a young Jim Wofford was part of that team aboard Kilkenny, a horse his parents bought for him, and a horse that was part of the Gold medal Irish team two years previously at the '66 World Championships.
                              He might not have made it to the Olympics, but Wilton Fair had won Badminton with Mark Todd before being purchased and given to David O'Connor who rode him at the WEG in 1990.
                              Carawich had already won Burghley before Jim Wofford (there's that guy again) purchased him to have a horse for the 1978 World Championships in Lexington.

                              The irony is that people have themselves convinced that in "ye good olde days" all the US eventers were riding self made OTTBs they bought off the meat truck. LOL, if only.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Drvmb1ggl3 View Post
                                It's not a recent thing.
                                1964 Olympics, US eventing team won team silver, highest placed rider was Michael Page on Grasshopper, a horse that had competed at the two previous OG for Ireland.
                                1968 Olympics, US wins silver again in Eventing, a young Jim Wofford was part of that team aboard Kilkenny, a horse his parents bought for him, and a horse that was part of the Gold medal Irish team two years previously at the '66 World Championships.
                                He might not have made it to the Olympics, but Wilton Fair had won Badminton with Mark Todd before being purchased and given to David O'Connor who rode him at the WEG in 1990.
                                Carawich had already won Burghley before Jim Wofford (there's that guy again) purchased him to have a horse for the 1978 World Championships in Lexington.

                                The irony is that people have themselves convinced that in "ye good olde days" all the US eventers were riding self made OTTBs they bought off the meat truck. LOL, if only.



                                Good points!!
                                co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Did I mention that I would be more than happy to sell any US rider some up and coming Irish Event horses?
                                  co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Hm. Thinking of an example I actually know that I forgot. I worked for Torrance Fleischman for a bit. She got known on Paltroon, the pinto mare that I think was a find of some sort. I know when I worked for her she had the Fleishmann margarine money behind her and a lot of really expensive horses.

                                    Does anyone know of any recent examples? I know the dressage world and feel pretty confident in saying ALL of them are expensive horses--no cheap finds. Any nowadays in the eventing and jumping world?

                                    Does anyone know the background of Valegro, Uthopia, and Laura's horses? It seems to me these are all from some fancy barn in Europe. I could look it up, but I'm lazy.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Point taken Drum but here's the thing you have neglected to mention: BITD, in the US anyway, the sponsors donated the horses to USET, Inc., and a lot of times (though not always) horses were reassigned if they were not getting along with a particular rider. I've been wondering for months now if it is maybe not time to revisit that system.

                                      Ask yourself - could someone other than Karen have gotten Medicott to put in a decent dressage test, and gotten him thru SJ without a ton of hardware in his mouth?

                                      Would Simon have been more productive this year with a big strong guy in the plate?

                                      I'm just trying to see this from an NGB perspective, and from that perspective, Team USA is a fail if we're not on the podium.
                                      "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        WAsn't Amy Tryon's horse, Pogo I think was his name, a cheap TB. And
                                        Courgeous Comet...California rider and horse whose name (Becky Holder, maybe)...think he was also a TB.

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