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From The Outside Looking In By: Blogger Chad Oldfather. A suggestion for addressing the financial inequality in Equitation Finals.

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  • From The Outside Looking In By: Blogger Chad Oldfather. A suggestion for addressing the financial inequality in Equitation Finals.

    Hello, This father has blogged for some time about his children's riding experiences. I think he is spot on with his suggestion of considering the high school sports rating system for equitation finals. Something to consider and talk about besides George Morris!
    kenyagirl

  • #2
    Originally posted by kenyarider View Post
    Hello, This father has blogged for some time about his children's riding experiences. I think he is spot on with his suggestion of considering the high school sports rating system for equitation finals. Something to consider and talk about besides George Morris!
    Do you have a link to the blog?

    Comment


    • #3
      https://www.chronofhorse.com/article...ide-looking-in
      Janet

      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.

      Comment


      • #4
        Wow, this was in just one year:

        Here’s what I found: The average rider who made it to the second round of the Maclay Finals had shown nearly 21 horses in 336 classes at 31 shows. The median numbers were 15 horses, 289 classes and 30 shows. The lowest numbers in the three categories were four horses, 112 classes and 21 shows. (And because you’re curious, the highest were 59 horses, 930 classes and 45 shows. Neither the highest nor lowest numbers in all three categories belonged to the same rider. That is, the person who showed 59 horses was not the same person who rode in 930 classes, and so on.)
        I would love to see some additional innovative finals opportunities for kids from all over the country, perhaps to ride on borrowed horses in the rarefied environment of the Kentucky Horse Park. I love that the Ronnie Mutch Equitation championship showcases riders with depth beyond laying down a good trip, and I'd like to see more competitions of that nature, ones that include general horse knowledge.

        As the sport becomes less accessible, we risk making ourselves irrelevant.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

        Comment


        • #5
          He has very good points to make. One factor he didn't mention, but perhaps should have, is the trainer aspect. The kids who make the second round in the BigEq finals mostly ride with a very small selection of big name trainers, who are located primarily on the East coast, perhaps in FL. Not only do families need to be able to afford the multiple horses and multiple shows, they need to be able to afford to send their kids out of state to those programs. Although I am very sure that the training received at those places is beyond top notch, it also unfortunately matters who is standing at the in-gate.

          I'm not sure that splitting it in to divisions is the answer. Maybe after a long adjustment period it would work, but I think kids with BigEq dreams will always have BigEq dreams and will want to participate in the real thing and not the alternative for the less well endowed. The industry has to work out how to get the most talented kids in the country onto these national stages. As it is, we don't have the most talented kids winning national finals, we have the most talented kids who can afford to be there winning them. Ultimately one has to think that if the US wants to continue to maintain truly competitive teams on an international stage we're going to have to work out how to give talented kids without massive budgets the opportunity to develop their talents.

          Comment


          • #6
            As a non-HJer myself (though I did get my start in riding at an HJ barn) I was just boggled by those numbers. Even 31 shows a year sounds insane for my budget! 930 classes? How do these kids have the time for school?!
            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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            • #7
              Originally posted by beowulf View Post
              As a non-HJer myself (though I did get my start in riding at an HJ barn) I was just boggled by those numbers. Even 31 shows a year sounds insane for my budget! 930 classes? How do these kids have the time for school?!
              I would guess many of them do not go to standard public schools. More likely they do one of the online programs designed for kids who do elite sports.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Stayon View Post
                The industry has to work out how to get the most talented kids in the country onto these national stages. As it is, we don't have the most talented kids winning national finals, we have the most talented kids who can afford to be there winning them. Ultimately one has to think that if the US wants to continue to maintain truly competitive teams on an international stage we're going to have to work out how to give talented kids without massive budgets the opportunity to develop their talents.
                I believe three of the equitation finals this year were won by kids who were the offspring of trainers. So they were not the richest kids in the ring, by far. They may have had lots of riding opportunities, but they did not buy those opportunities. They had to earn them.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Why do we continue the myth that all horse trainers are poor? No one other than maybe the barn staff who is making a living in horses is poor or even lower middle income. For pete's sake, it is a lifestyle that requires enough money to be in the same group as the upper middle income, rich and uber rich. Poor people don't hang with those folks. Not meaning to start a fight, just tired of the myth that a trainer's kid is poor. They aren't.
                  kenyagirl

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kenyarider View Post
                    Why do we continue the myth that all horse trainers are poor? No one other than maybe the barn staff who is making a living in horses is poor or even lower middle income. For pete's sake, it is a lifestyle that requires enough money to be in the same group as the upper middle income, rich and uber rich. Poor people don't hang with those folks. Not meaning to start a fight, just tired of the myth that a trainer's kid is poor. They aren't.
                    Poor is a relative term. Some trainers may have more than others, but they are not shopping for an equitation horse with the same budget as, for example, Jessica Springsteen when she won the finals. In fact, I believe at least two of the kids this year did not even own the horses they showed when they won the finals.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It’s no different then the other sports. Those kids get sent to the best coaches and trainers. Wherever they are. Competitiveness in the International arena is somewhat of a First World problem. Big Eq is not an IOC sport, exists only the the HJ part of the horse world and, sorry, but it is somewhat irrelevant to the majority of US based riders and just about all foreign based riders.


                      This blog could have been written by a parent of an ice skater, gymnast, tennis player, swimmer, ball player whatever seeking to compete at the very top level . It sucks if you are a financially challenged competitor or the parent of a talented kid but there’s no “ they” that can step in and level the field so it’s equal for all.

                      And it’s not unique to Big Eq. High schools now expect to get freshmen football players who have years of private coaching behind them. They no longer teach the game or build the basic skill set, they want the 14 year old to come with that. The less advantaged player has much less of a chance to master enough of the game to be recruited by a great college or even a not so great one, and getting financial help. It’s not just our corner of the youth sports world and we are the most out of reach due to the horse costs.

                      Dont know there is a solution. Maybe there doesn’t need to be one.
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Let's redirect here. The article was about looking at another system of ranking areas for equitation finals. The author specifically writes that there is no real way to be showing affordable so let's talk about the feasibility of dividing the country into zones (already done) and doing more with that. The junior hunter finals have 2 parts, USET the same. Maybe the MacClay could so something also? That was the point of his piece and the reason I brought it up.
                        kenyagirl

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          OK.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kenyarider View Post
                            Let's redirect here. The article was about looking at another system of ranking areas for equitation finals. The author specifically writes that there is no real way to be showing affordable so let's talk about the feasibility of dividing the country into zones (already done) and doing more with that. The junior hunter finals have 2 parts, USET the same. Maybe the MacClay could so something also? That was the point of his piece and the reason I brought it up.
                            I don’t see how creating more zones or tiers fixes not having the money to go. Many people qualify for finals or championships and can not afford to participate.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I guess I just don't really consider equitation "our sport", it's just one very particular part.

                              Somehow horse sport manages to thrive and arguably exceed our own in many places that don't have equitation.
                              Let me apologize in advance.

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                              • #16
                                I think this is really a reflection of the cost and accessibility of horse sports in the US vs, say, Europe.

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                                • #17
                                  fwiw those also tend to be where kids stay on ponies and jump 130
                                  Let me apologize in advance.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TheMoo View Post

                                    I don’t see how creating more zones or tiers fixes not having the money to go. Many people qualify for finals or championships and can not afford to participate.
                                    I agree, I'm not sure tiers would fix it, the levels would then be viewed differently in terms of prestige. I also might slot the cost of the level of horse you need to be competitive at the finals as a bigger obstacle than the cost of participation in the finals. Many good horses that get their riders qualified are wide-eyed when they walk into those indoor arenas and face the questions asked by a finals course. And the costs to buy or lease the horses with that kind of experience are huge.

                                    I feel for the kids who really get their hearts set on the BigEq finals goals, but realistically aren't going to have a chance to be truly competitive at the finals. That's a tough lesson to learn as a teenager, and a mixed message for trainers or parents to send if they have to try to say set your goals high, but not quite that high!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Having the wealth is a huge factor but the parents of a BigEq hopeful must also be willing to allow for certain things that not everyone is comfortable with. For starters, the use of private tutors or online education is outside the norm. Though well to do parents have long had a culture involving being separated from their children (boarding schools, parents only vacations where children are tended by nannies etc) being willing to turn your teen over to a distant riding instructor (as opposed to a headmaster/mistress at a boarding school with a century long reputation) is a greater leap of faith. Not every parent is comfortable sending their child off to Florida or it's west coast equivalent for weeks on end to gain the experience, exposure and points needed.
                                      Kids with a parent in the business at least have the ability to access top horses and training and have grown up with the nomadic lifestyle. At least the trainer parent doesn't have to turn the child over to strangers.
                                      There is no substitute for time in the ring. Access to extra rides puts the trainers child at an advantage over the kid with one horse, especially if the horse is older and you are trying to use his miles carefully.

                                      No matter who you are, you have to earn the right to ride the best horses. The trainer's kid who is only an average rider or who gets horses into bad habits isn't going to keep getting on the good horses,

                                      Doing the EQ is so all encompassing and involves years of this lifestyle. The entry fees alone for the 930 classes that one child rode in probably exceeds my annual income and that includes nothing more. Add in hours of lessons, of travel of schooling, that it allows for little else. I can see why many kids who do this, even those who do quite well often opt to take a break from it after they age out.
                                      F O.B
                                      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by MHM View Post

                                        I believe three of the equitation finals this year were won by kids who were the offspring of trainers. So they were not the richest kids in the ring, by far. They may have had lots of riding opportunities, but they did not buy those opportunities. They had to earn them.
                                        Hmm, yes and no. I think trainer's kids are in a category all of their own and I think that category is not too dissimilar from the kids whose parents are paying for it all. Trainers kids are given way more opportunities than average kid with average trainer whose parent can't afford all of the above. Even to your point - they didn't own their own horses. In my experience, at least, trainers kids seem to have at least three horses/ponies to ride (one in each ring, if not more) and those horses/ponies are very good quality. I don't think their trainer parents are buying those animals for them, but what difference does it make if the kids get to ride them on a regular basis? I could list several trainers kids who are all lucky enough to show 3+ horses 40+ shows in a year. That, in my opinion, doesn't make them too different from the kids whose parents are paying for it. Trainers look after other trainers and there's a lot of sharing of good quality animals. There's nothing wrong with that, no reason trainers shouldn't help each other out, but it does put their kids more in the category of "can afford it" rather than "can't afford it" if they're given access to opportunities other people have to pay for.

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