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Dance with the one who brung ya

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  • Dance with the one who brung ya

    Does anyone feel like discussing Michael Pollards' latest blog post?

    Initially I felt as if I had some criticism, but now....I don't know...guess I don't care enough to insert my .02. After all, I'm not an upper level rider. Not a big team prospect. Only OTTB's and domestic ponies in my barn, but I love them. Don't have any experience shopping for horses overseas (golly days, can you say hit the lottery?) Can't afford to attend four day conventions so far out of town they require a plane ticket and $100+ day hotel rooms....not in my stratosphere. That would buy hay for my horses for two weeks. So I guess I am not in a position to care about the sport, but I still do have an opinion, especially about spectating.

    I guess I think that you gotta dance with the one who brung ya.

    ....meaning, the Ammy Eventer that enables the ULR's with our lesson money, training dollars, we are the spectators, we are the volunteers, we are the lower level riders competing and paying entries keeping the events open and being held so that the courses can be built for the ULR's. So I guess I didn't hear where we fit in this grand scheme, or it wasn't clear to me. Am I out of step? Am I the turd in the punchbowl?
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)

  • #2
    retread, my friend, how about putting something in your thread title that says this is about Michael Pollard's column?

    Good idea to discuss it -- but I think more people will join in if they know what it's about.

    Of course, we can always talk about dancing, too.


    • #3
      I'll bite-

      I thought over all, the tone of the blog was a bit condescending. That said, I think encouraging tail gating is a good idea.

      I seem to remember Essex and the old Festival of Champions attracting significant crowds, pretty sure not every one there was a horse person.

      Also note how popular the Moorlands farms races are. Most seem to go for the tailgating.

      Re prize money: how would that work - he doesn't specify. Anyone care to speculate?
      Unrepentant carb eater


      • #4
        ...or a link to said blog?
        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


        • #5

          Some random, Friday night thoughts:

          I love the idea of making eventing attractive to more people, much as it is in England and Ireland. We tail gate at the point to points here in the east and eventing can be just as fun, and exciting, to watch.

          So how does this work in other countries?


          • #6
            Retread, I guess I'm getting a completely opposite take on his blog than you are He's asking people to buy American horses, he wants spectator friendly events and he wants people to get involved. Go USA! What's to criticize?

            You don't have to go to the conventions to get involved. If there's an issue you feel strongly about you can contact your area's rep. (rider rep, local club officers, etc.) and ask them to voice your opinion. Or better yet, write a letter, or email to the USEA. I don't even think he was saying that everyone needs to have and/or voice an opinion. That was personal to him (vowing to get more involved).

            I didn't read a condescending tone either.
            "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


            • #7
              I didn't read it as condescending at all. Yes, his reality/lifestyle is well above mine, but I see absolutely no problem with buying American bred horses (which most amateurs do anyway), making eventing more spectator friendly, or being more involved with the sport. What's wrong with any of that?


              • #8
                I've never been to Rolex although i would love to go one day. However, i know quite a few non-eventers who go regularly. So, I don't necessarily agree with him that all the spectators are eventers. Rolex attracks all kinds. I thought he was definitely wrong about the collegiate route. But I admire him for for trying to figure things out and going public with it. He obviously cares and I appreciate that. Buying horses in the US is a laudatory commitment as is participating in committees. I hope his getting involved in a meaningful way in an important competition and trying out his ideas is successful. He did not come accross as condescending to me, rather as thoughtful and committed.
                I think the most striking aspect of our sport is the storyline each participant has re his horse. i am always amazed when I hear my fellow eventers stories about their horses - where they came from, how they got from there to here etc... It takes a lot of gumption to event and none of the friends I've made since I became an eventer have just thrown money at the sport. They all have very interesting stories. I think spectators would find that knowing some of these stories would enhance their viewing experience. Just recently COTH has an article about Erin Sylvester. I've watched her compete before and I followed her on line when she went abroad. This article makes her more interesting to me and I will pay even more attention to her progress. The BNR stories are fairly well known. Other riders have very interesting stories as well and these need to be commmunicated to spectators. Look at Elisa Wallace as an example. She is developing quite a following as a result of the Exptreme Mustang Makeover and spectators, particularly non-horsey ones, will enjoy watching her more at shows if they are familiar with her story.
                Last edited by Shortstroke; Dec. 1, 2012, 09:33 AM. Reason: Spelling


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dbolte View Post
                  I didn't read it as condescending at all. Yes, his reality/lifestyle is well above mine, but I see absolutely no problem with buying American bred horses (which most amateurs do anyway), making eventing more spectator friendly, or being more involved with the sport. What's wrong with any of that?
                  Agree totally!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Toadie's mom View Post
                    Retread, I guess I'm getting a completely opposite take on his blog than you are He's asking people to buy American horses, he wants spectator friendly events and he wants people to get involved. Go USA! What's to criticize?

                    You don't have to go to the conventions to get involved. If there's an issue you feel strongly about you can contact your area's rep. (rider rep, local club officers, etc.) and ask them to voice your opinion. Or better yet, write a letter, or email to the USEA. I don't even think he was saying that everyone needs to have and/or voice an opinion. That was personal to him (vowing to get more involved).

                    I didn't read a condescending tone either.
                    Well-said! And I think his ideas for putting money into eventing are great... maybe that would make our sport more attractive to professionals who have a hard time making a living in our sport.


                    • #11
                      I loved his blog post.

                      I don't have the money to travel overseas to buy, but I am in touch with breeders locally and their number #1 lament is that people at the top, who have money to spend go overseas to buy their event horses- so they just don't bother to breed eventers in the US. We CAN produce top level horses in this country and people would breed them if people here would buy them instead of immediately going to Europe as soon as they got significant money to spend. Keep the buying local. That's good for everyone!

                      As far as spectator events, I went to Rolex and saw all sorts of people there. My home town also held a steeplechase every year for several years. It was a regular country fair with non-horse folks paying big $ for tailgating tents. General admission was something like $10 and people enjoyed a limited card of racing (I think 4-6 per day) as well as terrier racing, live music, trade fair, lots of fried food, face painting, pony rides, etc. We went to Fair Hill a few years ago and it also had an amazing spectator atmosphere. The question is would it workk at a "regular" horse trial?
                      I was a working student in the UK and lots of their events seemed to draw an amazing group of spectators.
                      In an area like ours where there is an event (or two) on the schedule pretty much every month from January till May, I don't think we'd be able to draw the crowds out every time, but maybe pick one a year and market the heck out of it! Make it a fun day for the local non-eventer crowd to come out and see.

                      The third point eludes me now - and I'll blame that on lots of cough medicine and the bug from hell that has kept me in bed for the past week, or maybe because the third idea didn't really resonate with me at all. In any case I liked what he had to say.
                      The rebel in the grey shirt


                      • #12
                        I am wondering if organizers should brain storm on how to make their events more spectator-oriented, with the goal of charging admission and eventually having those $$ go to competitors, awards, etc. I do like the European attitude toward events and the popularity of eventing in general across the pond.

                        My guess is that this has already been addressed.... during annual meetings when organizers discuss various issues.


                        • #13
                          I think eventing is the most spectator friendly horse sport, personally. And the idea of trying to draw in outside spectators is a bit of a "well, DUH!"

                          I think even starting with improved coverage of Rolex would be great. When I was watching last year we heard all kinds of mention of "oh, so-and-so pulled up" or "so and so had a stop" and the one semi-local rider I was trying to follow was shown early on when no one they cared more about was going, then nothing to even say if she finished. I think if you successfully get exciting tv coverage of the one big event, the smaller events can use it as part of their explanation of what they are. Everyone who has seen the Kentucky Derby knows what horse racing is - even if their local track is a low dollar quarter horse track.

                          Heck, exhibitions with ex-racers at meets at tracks is a good way of getting the racegoing public aware of events.

                          I think publicity and creativity are the trick. Here, it seems as if events are not near the population basis which makes it harder as well. But I didn't feel the article was condescending and love that he was covering personal responsibility for himself rather than saying what other people have to do, and that he admitted to not having all the answers. Good for him!
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                          • #14
                            Hey, maybe we should open up eventing to gambling like the race tracks....


                            But can you imagine putting money down on a horse/rider pair? The image makes me laugh heartily.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ahbaumgardner View Post
                              Hey, maybe we should open up eventing to gambling like the race tracks....


                              But can you imagine putting money down on a horse/rider pair? The image makes me laugh heartily.
                              I am always surprised how common sports betting is, despite its marginal legality. I suspect that even informal versions of it (fantasy football, NCAA pools) encourage spectators. Not that I think that's a good answer for eventing, but it does seem prevalent in US "popular" sports.


                              • #16
                                I did not see it as condescending AT ALL. The third point is very humble. Its sort of where most of us are - lets make a change! Where do we start? I dont know....

                                I am ALL for building up the american breeding. Realistically though, I think a lot of trainers reflect our culture - cookie cutter training or rushed training - short cuts - the dressage is not as good, etc. Not sure if I can blame the quality of the horses completely.

                                As for the Euros..... as someone who once was a hunter rider - I worked at many mucky muck hunter barns where the trainer made his living off of buying failed jumpers from Europe and selling them as hunters. They were solid in their dressage flat work - good jumpers just not fast - usually they were - well, nice HUNTERS.

                                And the top eventer riders in Europe WILL get the first pick in Europe - if someone has a line of good event horses - they will seek to sell to the countryman first. This is not always true but I used to live there - and most will sell the best of the best to their riders and then the second bests to the highest bidder.

                                I still think that TRAINING is a lot of the problem though - as much as natural ability is.

                                The truth is - as a trainer and instructor - and I used to teach 7th grade science (ugh - that lasted 3 years and I went back to training horses and riders). And our culture wants winners overnight. So I dont think horses are trained as dilligently. I think a lot of young riders dont really understand hard work like riders did in the past.

                                And it is SO difficult in the horse world. We all have to be a little mad, dont we? I mean this is an expensive sport and there isnt a lot of money to be made EVEN at the top of the game. Its all about the win - its all about the ride. Its all because we are crazy horsepeople. But every once and a while, we all say to ourselves - I MUST BE MAD. Like I train horses, teach riders, run a small boarding barn. Everyone is paying for things - paying me for board and lessons - and working off lessons - and I am paying all that money to feed and put sand in the arena and blah blah blah and in the end, I dont even average minimum wage when I look at how many hours I put into this. Everyone is putting money into others' hands and those hands are trading money and those hands are trading money - and then .... where is the money?

                                In the horse's stomaches. LOL

                                Bottomline is - it takes a weird sort of commitment level to be in this sport that is not really in the spirit with the direction our culture is going. So I agree - we need this sport to be betted on in Vegas - we need this sport to be on TV - we need reality shows - we need Iphone Apps - we need SOMETHING. Not enough people KNOW what eventing IS. It is a very exciting sport to watch even for the nonhorse people. But a lot of people dont even KNOW about it.

                                I know - I am like WHAT? LOL - I remember the Olympics on at the gym I work out at and I had to explain the sport to people over and over. they were all like COOL - wow, amazing - never knew.....

                                And then the Olympics would switch to like - water polo for 6 hours. And I was like - =( Nothing against water polo but....


                                • #17
                                  I have often wondered if 'Calcuttas' could make the switch from Western performance disciplines to eventing.....

                                  Third Charm Event Team


                                  • #18
                                    Why is the college route wrong? Isn't that where ALL (almost all?) the big sports get their players? Note that he specified NCAA, rather than IHSA which (to some degree unfortunately) has less 'juice' than NCAA.

                                    I also read nothing condescending in Michael's blog. Rather a personal commitment do put his money where his mouth is, so to speak. I've long been of the mind that if you're not working on a solution, you're part of the problem.

                                    Starting with more local/regional events, there needs to be more LOCAL involvement. Partner with a local organization, whether it be the local SPCA or horse rescue or symphony orchestra. Offer the concession to a local church. THEN, when you have locals involved, give them something to attract their interest. Have a special tent or area near the dressage, near a spectator-friendly part of the XC, near the stadium where a knowledgeable person is on duty to briefly inform people what they're looking at - what is being judged - a tip or two to differentiate between a good and poor execution of a movement in dressage; what the particular 'test' (for rider & horse) is in the XC fences they're seeing (and why some horses are greased); what 'test' is being asked of the horse in stadium (again, for rider & horse). Talk about scoring (lower is better is a unique concept).

                                    Attend Walnut Hill Farm Driving Competition outside Rochester, NY in mid-August. Bill Remley and co. created a spectacular equine competition approximately 40 years ago and it's still going strong; EXCELLENT, educational announcer allows people who don't know ANYTHING to learn and therefore become involved; and THOUSANDS of paying spectators crowd in, especially on the weekend.
                                    Equine Photography in the Northeast


                                    • #19
                                      There is betting at Badminton and Burghley.

                                      Galway Downs holds a Calcutta at their fall CCI. (Perhaps at their other shows too, but I haven't gone to them.)

                                      You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                                      • #20
                                        I think it was a great commentary and a call to action. I loved this line

                                        Here is a news flash: Our sport can be a money pit that I often have a hard time justifying to my family and myself. Lots of money seems to be changing hands, but nobody seems to be holding onto any of it.
                                        How true. As I found out jumping into the deep end, the cheapest cost is the purchase.

                                        Though I worry about prize money entering the equation, I get his point. Money can have a corrupting influence <cough>FEI<cough> if not monitored well. As an AA I never worry about prize money going to any show. I ponder how adding prize money would effect the mindset of the riders (and would it change the status of an Ammie).

                                        I fully agree about spectating. How to get people to come...Advertise would be one big idea. The only time I see anything about an Eventing show is on Eventing sites or when I pull into the hosting farm. Organizers could (try) and get the word out, flyers, local tack shops, radio or local TC. Sure, most times the media will care less, but better to do then not. Around the Upstate there is no question when a Rodeo is coming to town. Signs are plastered all over the place and I bet they do get some non-horse oriented, but curious in horses people. Get the word out and maybe they will come.

                                        Another thought I had when reading MPs article was to have organizers attache a non-horse event, like a fair, to the show. It may only work for once a year, but were they to hold an art fair, wine festival, massive yard sale (folks pay to set up a table), then folks that come to look at art or drink beer, may stay to watch some horses. it can be quite the work load for the host, but the point is to get eyes on the sport.

                                        As a side note, I've wondered about the call for volunteers at shows. When I was both young an an active scout, and older and an adult assistance, groups like the scouts (cub, boy, and girl), Civil Air Patrol, and other social roups would come to work at carious types of shows. Art shows, Gun shows, fairs. It helps the cadets earn points for patches/pins or move up in rank. What an inexpensive way to get the help needed and get young kids in front of horse riding. I can think about some young CAP cadets, had they seen Eventing would have been on their parents to give it a try.

                                        I feel MP has the best interest of this sport in mind when he speaks out. At the very least I can and will support his efforts by supporting him. Were I at a different place in my life I think I'd knock on his door and say, how can I help.