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Crosspost: Grassroots Survey - Please Take!

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  • Crosspost: Grassroots Survey - Please Take!

    Good Morning,

    Though this hit the hunter/jumper world more predominately, some of you may remember the controversial interview Katie Prudent gave this past summer and the overwhelming response it generated - including the open letter I wrote to her that the Chronicle published online.

    As a result of the reaction to her interview and to my letter, I and a group of grassroots riders have been figuring out ways we can help solve or alleviate the many issues plaguing the sport that came to light in that discussion.

    (For those not familiar with the interview, see http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/...-katie-prudent for a transcript of Katie's letter and http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/...-katie-prudent for my response)

    I and a group of grassroots members are interested in creating an organization that will exist solely for the purpose of developing, supporting and advocating for the grassroots.

    While many problems that were discussed following Katie's interview pertain to the hunter/jumper world, we know that similar issues exist or are cropping up in dressage as well, and we want to be an organization that advocates for ALL the grassroots - not just the hunter/jumper world.

    You can help us in this goal by completing this survey so that we can better gauge some information about the grassroots and things the grassroots wants and needs.

    So please, if you have a few minutes, take this survey!

    https://goo.gl/forms/vZhXQttqGP7lDThE3

    Feel free to post on this thread with additional thoughts, ideas and feedback.

    Thank you!

    Jennifer Baas
    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

  • #2
    Holy cow, that was such an interesting read, and very well written on your part. Is your 30 page thesis on classical riding similar? I would love to read it

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Dressage_Strider it actually was on classical dressage! I'll dig up a copy and send it to you.
      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

      Comment


      • #4
        Oh boy, that article just ticks me off - I'm afraid that is the attitude of many trainers, especially the bigger names - who mostly work with big money people. What a hypocrite - how many poor, hardworking young riders does she sponsor and teach for a reasonable price? I'm guessing - NONE. How many times has she helped an underpriviliged client find a horse in the price range of "under $20k" - I'm guessing none. I really liked your response - and I do feel a big part of what is wrong in the equestrian disciplines is exactly what you have pointed out... There are a ton of us "lousy ammies" who work hard, and don't have a ton of money, and have to work for a living, but still manage to make horses a big part of our lives... And a lot of decent talent that just doesn't have the MONEY to be noticed by those trainers.

        I will say, when I go to a bigger show, it can be intimidating. Every one is in full training, they have schoolmasters or super expensive and fancy purchases, everyone in the warm up has ear buds and is getting coached. People are wearing jackets and boots that cost more then my horse! They pay a monthly training bill that is a house payment. This is fast becoming another sport for the super wealthy. And I don't see any trainers jumping up and saying "hey, I'll help you for a discount because you are a hardworking rider".

        Behind the scenes, I do see a lot of riders who are horrifically over-horsed. The article applies to dressage, just as much as it does to hunters and jumpers. Follow the money...

        ETA - while some of what Prudent says may be accurate, I think she's pointing the finger at Ammie riders, instead of looking in the mirror - SHE helped create this system. And now she's blaming her own customer, the AA rider.
        Last edited by MysticOakRanch; Dec. 2, 2017, 09:33 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Some of your comments really struck home. Agree that for many trainers, more moments of candour are needed in telling riders or riders' parents that they are not ready yet for the kind of competition they want to do. At some high profile competitions there are regularly over-horsed riders, endangering themselves and others and sometimes ruining good horses. You are right in saying that it's a business decision for many. If Trainer A says that a child or adult is not ready to
          canter, jump, compete, whatever, there is always Trainer B, who is ready to say otherwise.


          There was at one time the "Emerging Athletes" program in dressage. This was to identify JR with talent and give them a chance at high quality coaching. The last one that I bothered to look into for one of my children had devolved into riders who looked too old to be called JR and were all riding at FEI level. This seemed to defeat the original purpose as these youngsters were already well on track for training. Maybe that particular program was just a one-off fluke. I stopped checking them out after that experience.

          Comment


          • #6
            Katie Prudent's article is accurate. KIds whose parents have money can go work with top trainers, who sometimes aren't really better than the trainer in their home area, but who have access to the horses, and competitions that will take these kids to the top. But as one really well know rider said, "You are only as good as the horse you have". And I realize some can buy horse after horse, but not many can start one. This lack of dealing with the basics happens in eventing, more so, it happens in jumping, and to some degree in hunters.

            However , the survey, which I didn't take, is bringing coal to Newcastle. USDF already has active GMO's., which encourage the "grassroots" rider. And the H/J world has plenty, at least in this area, of local shows which cater to the lower level rider. Eventing is another world, the cost, and organization required to put on even an unrecognized much less a recognized event cause any intelligent financially savvy organizer to build and run BN and lower level courses. Because someone has to float the boat.

            I could go on.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

            Comment


            • #7
              What are various GMO's doing to help the "grassroots" rider?


              What I've seen in my area are individual venues running Fix-A-test events, sponsored not by the GMO but by the venue itself. Some of the same venues also run many entry level shows to attractive the "grassroots" rider. Either someone at an entry level or someone who may be at a higher level but wants to play in a low-key sandbox before spending the $$$ for a recognized show. THAT kind of stuff is very helpful.

              I don't pay much attention to what my GMO is doing. I've figured out what I want to learn and network to find the pros and other people who can help me achieve my goals.





              Comment


              • #8
                SnicklefritzG-it depends on the Board of the GMO. and the area.Some bring in BNY clinicians, some sponsor one or two top shows a year.

                I will say that there was a time, maybe 10 years ago when locally run dressage shows could and did bring in recognized judges, and the classes were overflowing.

                Then, darn it, those who had never had a dressage lesson found out there was more to a circle, than just having the horse's feet in that general area, and that the judges frowned on flat corners, and late transitions. So, sadly rather than actually taking a lesson or two, they stamped their feet, and gave it up as too ridiculous for their time. So the local shows declined to an annual "on the farm" loss leader judged by, with any luck a local L .

                After all ,we are sometimes a rather persnickety group.
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                Comment


                • #9
                  merrygoround: The GMO in my area brought in a 5* judge for a clinic. It was advertised as being "for all levels" and that "so and so is willing to work with any type of horse". It sounded as if it would appear not just to the pro or the FEI level rider, but people on the lower levels. Although they did have levels well represented, the actual people attending were local pros, local BNTs, and their clients.

                  It would have been interesting to see who applied vs who was accepted. Looked like a sorority clique, not something to represent the broad range of people in the GMO.



                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
                    merrygoround: The GMO in my area brought in a 5* judge for a clinic. It was advertised as being "for all levels" and that "so and so is willing to work with any type of horse". It sounded as if it would appear not just to the pro or the FEI level rider, but people on the lower levels. Although they did have levels well represented, the actual people attending were local pros, local BNTs, and their clients.

                    It would have been interesting to see who applied vs who was accepted. Looked like a sorority clique, not something to represent the broad range of people in the GMO.


                    Agreed. It is a very different clinic watching Jane Prorider on her $$$$ WB baby working at 1st level than Suzy Ammyrider on her generic, sane WhateverX also working on 1st level. Not necessarily better/worse, but very different, and I expect to take away different lessons from each.

                    One of the comments I made on the survey was that I would love to have access to more clinics where the riders and horses were average lower level ammys dealing with standard lower level ammy stuff. I know it isn't rocket science, but sometimes you hear a certain description that clicks or you see a new way of approaching an exercise that works better than what you have been doing.

                    Mac123 - I hope you are also reading these comments to capture the thoughts of those who didn't respond to the survey.
                    "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      MissAriel I definitely am! I appreciate all the feedback and we are taking it all in.
                      It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MissAriel View Post

                        Agreed. It is a very different clinic watching Jane Prorider on her $$$$ WB baby working at 1st level than Suzy Ammyrider on her generic, sane WhateverX also working on 1st level. Not necessarily better/worse, but very different, and I expect to take away different lessons from each.

                        One of the comments I made on the survey was that I would love to have access to more clinics where the riders and horses were average lower level ammys dealing with standard lower level ammy stuff. I know it isn't rocket science, but sometimes you hear a certain description that clicks or you see a new way of approaching an exercise that works better than what you have been doing.

                        Mac123 - I hope you are also reading these comments to capture the thoughts of those who didn't respond to the survey.
                        I agree - and my GMO Chapter (which I run) did a clinic series (3 weekends) specifically for "regular riders" on "regular horses" - Intro/Training through 2nd level, with fabulous clinicians (Both were S judges and one was an international judge). We got almost NO auditors - and we charged under $50 for the weekend which included lunch, a chair, shade, a sound system - it was a lovely set up. We had time for auditor questions, we even had a book signing event at lunch since one of the clinicians was a well known author too.

                        Our horses were - Friesian cross, Andalusian, Paint, Paint cross, Tbred, Arab cross, and a handful of Warmbloods. Only ONE person was on a schoolmaster, and she was a Junior Rider that had just been doing dressage a couple of years now. Most were trying to bring their horses along on their own with the ocassional clinic and lesson. It was a very relevant clinic to SO many riders.

                        So - although I agree with your post, I also will say I don't always see the riders taking advantage of those training opportunities. It was very discouraging, my chapter spent a lot of money on this clinic and hoped to reach a lot of "regular riders". The clinicians were awesome, I had pages and pages of notes - me and the dozen other people who were there, who were primarily the riders, the grooms, and the volunteers who put it on.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                          So - although I agree with your post, I also will say I don't always see the riders taking advantage of those training opportunities. It was very discouraging, my chapter spent a lot of money on this clinic and hoped to reach a lot of "regular riders". The clinicians were awesome, I had pages and pages of notes - me and the dozen other people who were there, who were primarily the riders, the grooms, and the volunteers who put it on.
                          This is an issue that I am aware of.

                          There's a lot of people who are willing to complain about the issues online, but few who are really interested in DOING something - whether that's partaking in programs that already exist or by getting involved to find solutions.

                          However, one thing that is hard is that there's not a central clearing house of information for local events. It's hard to know about those things. It think that's a way that an organization could be very helpful - a singular place people can come for information and events and stuff and a place those events can be promoted and hyped up.
                          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mac123 View Post

                            This is an issue that I am aware of.

                            There's a lot of people who are willing to complain about the issues online, but few who are really interested in DOING something - whether that's partaking in programs that already exist or by getting involved to find solutions.

                            However, one thing that is hard is that there's not a central clearing house of information for local events. It's hard to know about those things. It think that's a way that an organization could be very helpful - a singular place people can come for information and events and stuff and a place those events can be promoted and hyped up.
                            My GMO is California Dressage Society, so we can (and did) publicize our event. So although I'm greatly interested in anything that can promote the grass roots rider, I can tell you that many don't just want to come WATCH. Here is an issue to be aware of:

                            Many of us work for a living. And have family commitments. So our weekend time is for riding (and then family commitments). Coming to watch/audit is very difficult to fit into our schedules - and coming to RIDE is difficult to fit into our budget. It is a bit of a conundrum.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I actually have some pretty keen reservations in general about this - a GMO type situation to try to address what is being brought up. Maybe sharing my thoughts here would allow others with more insight to allay my concerns (or maybe they're relevant and it would serve to have them here for consideration).

                              1. Many of my issues/concerns/grievances are rooted in (mis)management of governing organizations - FEI/USEF/USDF. I don't understand how a third party group is actually going to fix structural/management/systemic problems in the pre-established organizations. For example, I cannot see how a GMO could successfully engage with a ranked, pre existing show series that had management issues to the benefit of "professionals" and/or specific classes to the detriment of the rest of show entrants - not BNT/students of, showing fourth level or under, amateurs, etc. I cannot see a USDF show being terribly receptive to "pressure to change from the outside" so to speak.

                              2. While I know that membership fees are a thing, an issue I have with some of the GMO applications lobbied (a scholarship for deserving riders, for example - which is a worthwhile cause in its own right) doesn't really seem to address systematic issues. So we can elevate one or two riders and give them access but what about the rest of us who would pay fees into this system? Our day to day experience would change very little - which, if I'm being expected to pay a membership fee, is an issue for me. I would be more than happy to chip in independently to a fund to subsidize worthy young riders lacking access but the focus of any group, especially that seeks membership fees, should consider the equity of any efforts they apply. How accessible are their programs/changes? Do their actual members largely stand to benefit or do only a few?

                              3. Broadness vs narrowness of purpose: how does one begin to construct a mission statement for something like this? If it's broad and far reaching (and there's fees) I anticipate running into the problem mentioned above where fees are required but the members see very little return, and then the inverse situation where there's a very narrow focus, how viable is a single issue group? One broad group is good for membership but organization and equal attention to issues might be challenging, and while multiple small groups are helpful to stay on track and gather people of mutual interest often they might lack a large member body which can add influence, financial security, etc..

                              there is a lot to think about here. I commend all involved for opening the door to these types of conversations but man, actual workable solutions are going to be hard.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Who, honestly, has time to go to clinics, educational lectures, etc? I don't. I would love to but I spend all of my time working, riding, taking care of family.
                                Going to a clinic on a Saturday is an all-day affair. A lecture on a Wednesday night makes getting up for work on Thursday very difficult.
                                So, we can complain all we want about our GMOs and USDF not doing enough for grassroots riders, but when these opportunities are offered, not enough people take advantage to make it financially worthwhile. And, no one volunteers to help run these events.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by xQHDQ View Post
                                  Who, honestly, has time to go to clinics, educational lectures, etc? I don't. I would love to but I spend all of my time working, riding, taking care of family.
                                  Going to a clinic on a Saturday is an all-day affair. A lecture on a Wednesday night makes getting up for work on Thursday very difficult.
                                  So, we can complain all we want about our GMOs and USDF not doing enough for grassroots riders, but when these opportunities are offered, not enough people take advantage to make it financially worthwhile. And, no one volunteers to help run these events.
                                  Exactly. The only thing that really (REALLY) appeals to the grass roots rider is a clinic THEY can afford to participate in. So maybe there needs to be some kind of rewards system - the more you volunteer (my experience is that the grass roots riders are also the volunteers - I seldom see the big name AA riders and the trainers helping out!), the more credit you get toward - clinics, shows, whatever. Or maybe at least credit toward memberships.

                                  And the other thing that I'd really like to see addressed, and this is a HUGE issue - less emphasis on GAITS quality in scoring every single movement, and more emphasis on training. I see this as one of the huge issues that has moved dressage away from the regular rider who can't afford the fancy horse. No matter how good you are, no matter how well trained your horse is, if it doesn't have $$$ gaits, you are stuck. And at the lower level, where MOST of the grass roots riders reside, this is a huge issue. Training becomes less and less important at Training Level, and gaits become more and more important. But - this is not an easy issue to tackle - it goes into the core of how dressage is judged, and how the tests are now written.

                                  I'm not sure a membership-based organization can help... Although I appreciate the idea.

                                  There is a FB page and a group that was really suppose to look at supporting the typical AA rider - the Adult Amateur Dressage Initiative. It has really just become a discussion page, nothing has changed with USDF or its GMOs because of it.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    It's really interesting to see the feedback from a dressage perspective! Many of the issues behind the reasons for forming this organization are hunter/jumper based, but we have heard that some of those issues have begun infiltrating dressage and eventing. While I'm sure this organization would at least start with an emphasis on the hunter/jumpers, we want it to be open and cross discipline lines. So I appreciate the feedback very much!
                                    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post

                                      I agree - and my GMO Chapter (which I run) did a clinic series (3 weekends) specifically for "regular riders" on "regular horses" - Intro/Training through 2nd level, with fabulous clinicians (Both were S judges and one was an international judge). We got almost NO auditors - and we charged under $50 for the weekend which included lunch, a chair, shade, a sound system - it was a lovely set up. We had time for auditor questions, we even had a book signing event at lunch since one of the clinicians was a well known author too.

                                      Our horses were - Friesian cross, Andalusian, Paint, Paint cross, Tbred, Arab cross, and a handful of Warmbloods. Only ONE person was on a schoolmaster, and she was a Junior Rider that had just been doing dressage a couple of years now. Most were trying to bring their horses along on their own with the ocassional clinic and lesson. It was a very relevant clinic to SO many riders.

                                      So - although I agree with your post, I also will say I don't always see the riders taking advantage of those training opportunities. It was very discouraging, my chapter spent a lot of money on this clinic and hoped to reach a lot of "regular riders". The clinicians were awesome, I had pages and pages of notes - me and the dozen other people who were there, who were primarily the riders, the grooms, and the volunteers who put it on.
                                      What I wouldn't give to participate in something like this! Unfortunately I haven't seen anything like this in my area

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Thank you for doing this!! One of my favorite topics... I do agree that a lot of riders don't really want to change anything... They are happy with their situation, yes they might complain once in a while but thats it.... Changes are totally rejected for the weirdest reasons.

                                        I hope you succeed. I participated in the survey and I would love to get the results of schooling shows added to some type of Database... maybe weighted in a different way but still I think its sad that all these results just disappear after the show.. (ok maybe for End of year awards, but thats it)
                                        And in my area the GMO is doing an amazing job. I think thats really the only organization working for and helping the grassroots. The funny thing with us is, that we host several clinics with an international Judge which is sold out immediately and people are fighting for the spots and also we host some very affordable lower level clinics with nice clinicians which are not as famous and nobody is interested. I think that is sad because it is still an exposure to good training which is more affordable and it will improve you. For example I used one of these clinics to give my young horse her first clinic experience and it worked really well.... I would have hated to spend hundreds on a BNT with a 4 year old...
                                        And it would be a dream to make rated shows more affordable... I think somebody needs to review the actual costs...... Maybe your organization could do that....

                                        So all the best for your project!!
                                        https://www.facebook.com/Luckyacresfarm
                                        https://www.facebook.com/Ulrike-Bsch...4373849955364/

                                        Comment

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