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The “shamateur”

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  • The “shamateur”

    So I’ve recently moved to a new barn where I’ve noticed some shamateur activity... one of the amateurs who shows in the adult hunters (on sale horses) teaches lessons on occasion, rides all the training ride horses, and gets paid as “barn help”. Personally, as an amateur, I can’t stand when people bend the rules of being an amateur.
    I’d love to get paid to ride extras or teach to help cover the cost of my horse... But I want to keep my amateur status so I follow all the rules!

    I can’t believe how many people at the barn seem to turn a blind eye to this? Or maybe they don’t know the rules?

    In the past I’ve been aware of the amateur who borders on the edge... maybe she occasionally rides extras and is also a groom so she gets paid without “getting paid to ride” but also owns or leases her own horse. But teaching lessons?!?! This girl doesn’t show a ton, doesn’t own her own horse, so I don’t understand why she doesn’t just turn pro if she wants to make money riding/teaching?? She’ll likely never get turned in since she doesn’t show a ton (but when she does it’s in the adults) ... should I just turn a blind eye like everyone else??

    I don’t want to stir the pot or start drama especially since I’m very new... but this drives me crazy!

  • #2
    Yes, she is breaking the rules.

    Are her actions actually hurting you or the people you really care about? If not I wouldn't choose this hill to die on.

    Does she actually win when she shows? Did her paid activities begin after her last show? Have you looked up her show scores to see if what you are saying is true? Or is this gossip?

    I suppose you always have the option of anonymously informing on her. Other than that, you probably just need to let it go. Complaining about it at your new barn will not make you any friends.

    I would however take this as a possible red flag about ethics in the program at your new barn. I would stay quietly alert to other things like doping, shady sales commissions, bad training gadgets, etc.

    Also let go of the streak of envy and resentment running through your post. That is the kind of emotion that can cloud your judgement and make you create drama that will rebound on you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
      Also let go of the streak of envy and resentment running through your post. That is the kind of emotion that can cloud your judgement and make you create drama that will rebound on you.
      This.

      There are certain kinds of activities that should always be noticed and reported. Safe Sport violations and animal abuse, for example. Most activities, like those described here, fall firmly into the MYOB category.

      "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
      that's even remotely true."

      Homer Simpson

      Comment


      • #4
        Report her. I strongly disagree with Scribbler here. Expecting people to follow the rules is not "envy" or "resentment." I am an amateur and I go to great pains to avoid even the appearance of rule-breaking and I have the simple and fair expectation that other people follow the rules as well. Keeping clean and fair sport is never going to happen as long as people look the other way. Call the USEF for clarification on how to report given the information that you have.

        Also, just to clarify, a groom who also occasionally rides extras is not "bordering on the edge," she or he is breaking the rules. IMO both of these situations potentially cast a shadow on the reputation of the barn you are at depending on the trainer's level of involvement. An ethical trainer will not want a rule breaker in their barn. I agree with Scribbler on this point--definitely be alert to other shady practices that may be occurring.

        Speaking from a long term perspective, in the past this was a type of cheating that was rampant. Times have changed and this behavior still exists but is considered much more harshly.

        Comment


        • #5
          I’m all for reporting shamateurs. They are breaking the rules, period. It isn’t resentment or jealousy.

          What I find offensive is the WILLFUL choice to ignore such offenses. People who chose to do that are part of why the sport has such an entitled, shitty perception to those outside.

          Until we, as participants, stand up and hold up the rules, then those with money are enabled to run roughshod over the sport.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just to clarify on the teaching.....are you in Canada or the USA? I’m asking because in Canada an amateur is allowed to teach within certain rules of equine Canada (within the confines of EC NCCP instructor certificate and they are able to teach the disabled ! )

            I have cancer but cancer doesnt have me!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by eclipse View Post
              Just to clarify on the teaching.....are you in Canada or the USA? I’m asking because in Canada an amateur is allowed to teach within certain rules of equine Canada (within the confines of EC NCCP instructor certificate and they are able to teach the disabled ! )
              Interesting! I had a look at the EC website and it looks like they have a tier of "instructor" below that of "coach." You can remain an amateur as long as you don't coach at shows?

              I used to understand the old EC instructor tiers of Level One, Two, Three. All the long term Level One instructors that I know got grandfathered in at Competition Coach I think, when the levels were reorganized.

              Also from this website, the requirements to certify are a lot looser? You used to have to pass a fairly high level riding test, then a written test, then practice lesson. This version just seems to require that you be observed doing a lesson, submit a written portfolio, and then do an online coaching module.

              As far as the OP's original question, I would agree that the two options are: double check all your facts, and make an anonymous complaint.Or just decide to ignore. Doing nothing but continuing to fret and resent is not useful. If you do make the anonymous complaint, put that under a total cone of silence, Don't talk about it, refer to it, or appear to know anything about it, if anything comes of it. Do it and forget about it.

              Make sure no one can ever connect you to the complaint, because that will end your time at that barn for sure.

              Only file a complaint if you know you have the strength of will to not make any comments even to your nearest and dearest barn friends.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think that the whole system is to blame. In Germany you have a license, that dictates what you can ride in. You get the license by passing tests and then as you get olacings your license changes. I ride against pro riders all the time but only in ways that they are permitted (my classes are low so they can ride young horses or horses that don’t have placings over a certain level)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Scribbler.....I believe they still have to attend an actual course in person....the beginner instructor at my barn did, and then had to pass tests (written, actual riding, lunging and a teaching lesson). But, yes, it’s to allow an amateur to basically teach the up/downers! Also, in Canada, you can’t be an amateur when shortlisted to a national team or for 2 years after riding on a national team!
                  I have cancer but cancer doesnt have me!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As an amateur, I really could care less if someone I compete against is an amateur, pro, or shamateur. I also don't think there's anything wrong with amateurs getting paid for teaching or riding. Amateur/pro status has virtually no indication of a rider's ability or resources, it's such a silly thing to care about. If you need equality and fairness, you're in the wrong sport, and frankly, you are going to have a hard time in life in general.

                    At the top level of the showjumping sport, amateurs and pros compete against one another equally and the amateurs have all the advantage. Amateurs' deep pockets can afford the best horses, facilities, and support teams, they don't have to work for a living and can just ride and show. Pros have to produce results for owners and sponsors, and also have to train clients and horses, and do sales. Pros often have less ridable top horses compared to amateurs and pros don't always have the same resources to replace top horses or keep a deep string.

                    How does it affect your life if someone who doesn't own a horse and doesn't show often teaches some lessons and gets some rides? Seriously, it's 3ft hunters, calm down. Of all the things going on in this world, this is a petty thing to take a stand on. Just be the best rider and horseperson you can be and don't worry about what other people are doing.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, the rules specifically say that this isn't allowed, just like drugging your horse or using an "illegal" bit aren't allowed. So the person described is objectively breaking the rules, and may (not guaranteed) have an unfair advantage if they are indeed a better ride than the average ammie like the OP.

                      It's not the OP's subjective opinion this is wrong. It is a clear breaking of the existing rules.

                      The question is whether the OP can, should, or wants to be the one to report this rule breaking, and if so how can OP minimize any blowback.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Based only on the tone of the post, I will say that if you do report this person everyone will know it is you who did it. I doubt the main trainer will be pleased if you cause issues with their help. No comment on the fairness of it all.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ecpolo View Post
                          Based only on the tone of the post, I will say that if you do report this person everyone will know it is you who did it. I doubt the main trainer will be pleased if you cause issues with their help. No comment on the fairness of it all.
                          My thoughts too. If I was going to rat out someone like this, I certainly would not discuss it in a public forum even under cover of a user name, because that layer of anonymity is very thin. All it takes is someone in future connecting the dots, deciding they know who you are, and reading your post history just out of mild curiosity, For all you know, that rider you describe is already a member of COTH!

                          And if you have made your feelings known to *anyone* IRL by so much as a roll of the eyes, they will know who reported.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post

                            This.

                            There are certain kinds of activities that should always be noticed and reported. Safe Sport violations and animal abuse, for example. Most activities, like those described here, fall firmly into the MYOB category.
                            I disagree. This is a sport. We sign up to compete and be judged with the assumption of a level playing field. There are plenty of ways in which that playing field is not level that seem to be unfixable. But this shamateur thing is something that the USEF can and does regulate. You are within your rights to pursue that level of fairness.

                            I would not blame the whistle-blower here. More to the point, I don't know why anyone but someone doing the shamateur thing would object to someone filing a protest. What do you have to lose by someone helping to keep the sport fair?
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mvp View Post

                              I disagree. This is a sport. We sign up to compete and be judged with the assumption of a level playing field. There are plenty of ways in which that playing field is not level that seem to be unfixable. But this shamateur thing is something that the USEF can and does regulate. You are within your rights to pursue that level of fairness.

                              I would not blame the whistle-blower here. More to the point, I don't know why anyone but someone doing the shamateur thing would object to someone filing a protest. What do you have to lose by someone helping to keep the sport fair?
                              You would not blame the whistle blower and I would not blame the whistle blower.

                              But OP appears to have ended up boarding in a barn where the powers that be have endorsed breaking the rules in this way ( and possibly other ways, who knows).

                              If the trainer or barn manager who employs this rider finds out the OP reported her, OP will in all likelihood end up needing to leave the barn. That is just how feelings run in these cases. The trainers will absolutely blame her.

                              IMHO OP has already left a bit too much of a public trail by venting here. If you want to report things anonymously you need to truly be able to keep your own counsel.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Well, if you do report her it's unlikely that you'll have enough proof for USEF to do anything. You would need some kind of proof of payment, like a paystub or a check. I'm sure neither exists as I'm sure she's getting paid in cash and unless you have done business directly with her, you wouldn't have access with those things.

                                Are you sure these activities have been going on while she was showing as an amateur? You say she doesn't show much, has she possibly shifted into a professional position but hasn't declared it on USEF? If so, she's not technically breaking the rules until she shows in the adults again.

                                Be prepared to have to leave the farm if you protest her amateur status. And if you don't have proof, USEF won't be able to do anything. Seems like there's no way to win this one.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I doubt the OP would need to leave the barn for reporting a rule breaking shamateur. Please, do you really think the OP is the only one who has noticed the rule breaking and had a low opinion of it? I guarantee you many other people have noticed. IME MANY, MANY people have a sharp eye for potential rules violations. It most certainly is not obvious who the reporter was unless the OP goes around talking about it.

                                  And seriously, a barn that would be so petty as to try to "root out" the reporter of a blatant rules violation and try to punish them, well, let's just say I would choose to politely move my business and my $$ elsewhere.

                                  Reporting has become much more common nowadays. If the suspected offender is not in fact breaking the rules they will be cleared.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I feel there are so many threads of this nature on the forum, and they tend to circle around the same conflict.

                                    On the one hand, there are rules and regulations, and they need to be adhered to for the fairness of the sport. On the other, we most likely all know of trainers that have "shamateurs" on their payroll in one way or another - riding the extras at home, teaching an up/down lesson here or there, flatting a client's horse in the AM at an extremely busy horse show.

                                    As someone who was once pro, always in a secondary assistant or manager role, and now an amateur, I feel one of the main reasons we keep circling this topic is because we're not really talking about the main problem:

                                    Do our current definitions of who is amateur and who is pro actually create the level playing field in the US that they are intended to do?

                                    I would say that it does not. I think we can see this in the post above that says amateurs at the very very top actually have advantages to pros, in that they don't need to worry about making a living. I would also argue that the young woman the OP references in her original post probably doesn't have much money, and in terms of sheer ability, is probably not ready to go head to head with the OPs trainer.

                                    eclipse already references some rules in Canada that seem to make things much more egalitarian. Teaching "up/down" lessons does not make one Pro, and riding for a National team takes away one's amateur status. This, to me, already feels like a better road and a potential solution to this conundrum.

                                    Thoughts?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

                                      You would not blame the whistle blower and I would not blame the whistle blower.

                                      But OP appears to have ended up boarding in a barn where the powers that be have endorsed breaking the rules in this way ( and possibly other ways, who knows).

                                      If the trainer or barn manager who employs this rider finds out the OP reported her, OP will in all likelihood end up needing to leave the barn. That is just how feelings run in these cases. The trainers will absolutely blame her.

                                      IMHO OP has already left a bit too much of a public trail by venting here. If you want to report things anonymously you need to truly be able to keep your own counsel.
                                      Meh. The OP can send the info to me and I'll file the protest with the USEF.

                                      People need to stop looking the other way if they want things to be better. I'm tired of cheating and then folks explaining why that either is inherently how things are or why it is how things ought to be.

                                      This is a made up sport with a governing body. There is no inherent way it has to be or does not. It's entirely made up. So it gets to go how people make it go.

                                      ETA: And another thing! Re: the barn who will..... wait for it.... punish the client who *merely asks for fair play*.....wait for it again.... and fair play among her barn friends. That's a problem? That's punishable? Meh, with friends like that, who needs enemies?

                                      Anyone who charged me the price of looking the other way while the cheated during a contest that I was part of is not my buddy.


                                      Yanno, this whole thing makes me yearn for that old, quaint part of the early-to-mid-20th century (and maybe only in Britain) where being an amateur meant that you were proud of your sportsmanship. What I see folks saying when they point out the risk to the OP within her own damn barn is the complete abandonment of that amateurism's sense of defending sportmanship and the collective nature of producing competitions that are fair enough to be worthwhiles as the contests that everyone was signing up for.
                                      Last edited by mvp; Apr. 29, 2019, 08:02 AM.
                                      The armchair saddler
                                      Politically Pro-Cat

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Sure the OP can file a claim but certain criteria must be met- first, OP has to wait until Shamateur competes at a rated competition. They can't just report a person is teaching at my barn, getting paid to ride sale horses, and they sometimes show. Then OP has to provide name and contact info for the Shamateur, and themselves, and then enclose a check for $200 for members, $300 for nonmembers. The burden of proof is on the OP. Good luck with that if everyone at the barn knows what's going on and turns a blind eye. And you can't file a protest if the competition isn't a rated competition because USEF has no jurisdiction at non USEF competitions - even if the dang show says "We follow USEF guidelines"

                                        At this point , perhaps the next time they all go to a show, while Shamateur is showing in the Adults, OP could casually say to trainer "Oh I didn't think Marsha was an amateur since I see her teaching from time to time" . And see how the trainer responds or acts. Sadly I still think it's those who report a Shamateur get ostracized and the Shamateur just goes along with nary a care in the world.

                                        I agree with Scribbler's comment about this being a red flag at the barn. Unless this is the only option for a show barn in the area, I think I'd look around for another barn.

                                        Comment

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