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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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  • #21
    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 know, I think that exists. It's called Maclay regionals. For some kids, getting to that final is the goal. And that's great! I don't think we need to offer every single kid of any means the opportunity to make it to the call back at the Maclay. This article points out to me not just that those kids have a lot of means, but that they have a lot of saddle time and learning how to manage pressure in the ring.

    What I do think we could do a better job of is scholarships like the Ronnie Mutch where talented kids can become working students.

    Personally, I don't really believe that our sport suffers bc there are scores of overlooked talented kids... I don't think talent plays as large a role as in other sports. For sure, some riders have natural feel, but I think this sport is one of practice. McLain will admit to not being a natural rider at all in the beginning, or you'll hear that the Philippaerts twins took forever to get any good. But they came from riding families, and had a lot of saddle time.

    Comment


    • #22
      Originally posted by findeight View Post
      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.
      It's the magnitude of cost, though, that is unique to horse sports. I have one child in horse sports and one child in another, very popular, very competitive sport, that is considered in my area (a well off community) to be extremely expensive. When I go to that child's games and listen to the parents complain about the cost of the private lessons, equipment, travel fees, extra coaching, uniforms, equipment etc etc, I just stay quiet. Because the costs associated with that sport, for an entire year, all inclusive, are less than three A shows added together. It's laughable, really, that for the cost of my daughter's annual lease on her one horse alone, I could buy my other child every single opportunity available in their sport and still have plenty of money left over for me to take a luxurious vacation at the end of the year. So yes, finances play a role in other sports, but the magnitude of financial commitment for equestrian sports is many times larger and therefore massively reduces the pool of people able to access it for their children.

      Comment


      • #23
        I am not persuaded by his arguments. And honestly, I'm not convinced that this is even a real problem. Oh, I'm not disputing that being competitive in Big Eq requires a level of income and support and a lifestyle that is simply unattainable for the vast majority of Americans, but I'm not sure I would call it a problem.

        Rather, I'm with F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me." People operating at the elite levels of this sport live in an entirely different world from the rest of us. That's just a fact. Maybe, instead of talking about being "on the outside looking in," as the blogger does, we, the "wealthy enough to have horses but not wealthy enough to show 21 horses in 336 classes at 31 shows," need to live in our own world where we can be insiders instead of feeling like we're poor children with our noses pressed against the glass of the fanciest store in town at which we will never be able to shop.

        In addition, the blogger's suggestion of creating different divisions is essentially what we already have with the rating system (Cs, Bs, As, AAs) and as he himself notes, the general opinion seems to be that B and C level shows are going the way of the Dodo bird. Would shows hosting lower division Maclay competitions fare any better?

        I also disagree with the statement above that:

        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 think there are more than enough riders at the elite level to maintain truly competitive teams on an international stage. A very large number of riders make the Maclay finals. I'm pretty sure there are more than enough talented riders coming up through that group to fill out truly competitive international teams.
        "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
        that's even remotely true."

        Homer Simpson

        Comment


        • #24
          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.
          Cost and politics are also big contributors to who gets to the finals, so I think it's reasonable to expect people to discuss it.

          Comment


          • #25
            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?!
            They don't.
            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


            • #26
              Originally posted by greysfordays View Post

              I don't know, I think that exists. It's called Maclay regionals. For some kids, getting to that final is the goal. And that's great! I don't think we need to offer every single kid of any means the opportunity to make it to the call back at the Maclay. This article points out to me not just that those kids have a lot of means, but that they have a lot of saddle time and learning how to manage pressure in the ring.

              What I do think we could do a better job of is scholarships like the Ronnie Mutch where talented kids can become working students.

              Personally, I don't really believe that our sport suffers bc there are scores of overlooked talented kids... I don't think talent plays as large a role as in other sports. For sure, some riders have natural feel, but I think this sport is one of practice. McLain will admit to not being a natural rider at all in the beginning, or you'll hear that the Philippaerts twins took forever to get any good. But they came from riding families, and had a lot of saddle time.
              Isn't that an interesting concept, though (talent vs saddle time)? Because I disagree, I think talent in equestrian sports plays a big role, but with the way our system is set up, it's the kids who get the saddle time who shine. Those who get both saddle time (practice) and have talent shine the brightest. Imagine the riders we could have if those with the natural talent are afforded the opportunity to have the same saddle time and practice of those kids who can afford to buy it. I think that's the very crux of the issue, that this is a sport that requires so much practice and if talent can't afford to access the needed practice, it's going to look like less of an athlete than someone who maybe isn't as naturally gifted but is spending hours in the saddle every day on several different horses.

              Edited to add that I'm not saying that the current kids who are rich enough to be able to afford to be there are all talentless. I'm sure there's a bunch of kids in there who do have both talent and money. My point being more along the lines of if there are 1000 extremely talented 10 year olds in the US and only 1 has the resources to develop their talent, were significantly limiting our pool of talent to choose from when it comes to selecting teams for international competition in the future. The cost of equestrian sports in Europe and other countries is high, but no where near like it is in the US. So those countries maybe have the opportunity to develop 500 of those 1000 riders, whereas we are limiting ourselves to the 1 or 2.

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by Stayon View Post

                The cost of equestrian sports in Europe and other countries is high, but no where near like it is in the US. So those countries maybe have the opportunity to develop 500 of those 1000 riders, whereas we are limiting ourselves to the 1 or 2.
                I mean, last I checked, the US won the WEG, we have two riders in the top 10 rankings of the world (same as Germany and Switzerland), and perhaps most importantly, 3 ranked in the U25 top ten rankings and 6 in the top 20 (more than any other country). I think the pipeline is robust.

                Originally posted by Stayon View Post

                Those who get both saddle time (practice) and have talent shine the brightest.
                Honestly, how much brighter can you shine than McLain Ward?

                https://annettepaterakis.com/2018/07...s-mclain-ward/

                Comment


                • #28
                  I've said a bunch of times on the boards, we absolutely don't have a hard time producing top riders in the US.

                  That's a completely separate subject from this guy's real complaint which is the not uber wealthy's ability to play in eq. that is just not a real crisis facing anyone or the sport as a whole.
                  Let me apologize in advance.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Some, but not all, local sports have opportunities through local leagues as well as school-based teams and instruction. Those sports are at a natural advantage for developing and recognizing talent to the point where sponsors and financial support can help.

                    The local association circuits and local medal finals are a huge resource for us, and a much more accessible goal, at least for those of us not in the northeast. Even so, the more we keep thinking about how to rework our sport to make it more accessible to more kids, the better, if we want our sport to thrive.

                    Remember that today's young riders aren't just the international riders of the future - they're also the audience for the sponsors we'd like to have as well as our future owners and judges and trainers.
                    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


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by greysfordays View Post

                      I mean, last I checked, the US won the WEG, we have two riders in the top 10 rankings of the world (same as Germany and Switzerland), and perhaps most importantly, 3 ranked in the U25 top ten rankings and 6 in the top 20 (more than any other country). I think the pipeline is robust.



                      Honestly, how much brighter can you shine than McLain Ward?

                      https://annettepaterakis.com/2018/07...s-mclain-ward/
                      Well, of course I’m not arguing that McLain Ward isn’t a shining star, lol. And that there are other, younger shining stars in the current pipeline. My point was just about it being a numbers game. Our pipeline might be robust but I still believe there are lots of kids with talent out there who will never get the opportunity to compete beyond their local schooling show and maybe that’s a real shame for the future of the sport. I guess only time will tell, because the cost of entry today is far greater than it was when McLain was 10 years old. Maybe the next McLain is about to take up soccer because his parents can’t buy him a pony.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by Stayon View Post

                        Isn't that an interesting concept, though (talent vs saddle time)? Because I disagree, I think talent in equestrian sports plays a big role, but with the way our system is set up, it's the kids who get the saddle time who shine.
                        That is because skill and talent are two different things. You can develop and refine a skill and become an expert with 8000 hours of practice. But if all you have is raw talent, you may never get anywhere, as you would also need ambition and saddle time.

                        Like they always say, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. That is because it's well known that you can outperform someone with more talent than you if you just practice. Take a look at football, for example. LSU is leading the country with a 3* QB. The kid didn't get a chance because he was a 3* and they didn't believe he had the talent of a 5*. Ohio State had him on a bench. Then he goes to LSU, becomes the starting QB and is phenomenal and on the Heisman list. Why? Because he WORKS HARD. He studies video after video of the competition, He's focused. And he is in a program where the coach saw his potential. He's technically finished his degree and he spends his entire day studying the game.

                        So no, I don't think it's a shame that we are overlooking all these talented individuals. I think it's a shame when we overlook the skilled ones, who practice, and read, and study. Who stand at the ingate and watch trip after trip. Who work at the barn and take catch rides for trainers. Who work off their lessons. The kids that will do anything for the experience - those are the kids I feel for.

                        But I still don't think that creating different levels or divisions in the answer and I'd prefer to see something like the Gochman grant for some of the bigger finals, where the riders who have worked hard can get a nice horse and some extra training for the class.



                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Stayon View Post

                          Isn't that an interesting concept, though (talent vs saddle time)? Because I disagree, I think talent in equestrian sports plays a big role, but with the way our system is set up, it's the kids who get the saddle time who shine. Those who get both saddle time (practice) and have talent shine the brightest. Imagine the riders we could have if those with the natural talent are afforded the opportunity to have the same saddle time and practice of those kids who can afford to buy it. I think that's the very crux of the issue, that this is a sport that requires so much practice and if talent can't afford to access the needed practice, it's going to look like less of an athlete than someone who maybe isn't as naturally gifted but is spending hours in the saddle every day on several different horses.

                          Edited to add that I'm not saying that the current kids who are rich enough to be able to afford to be there are all talentless. I'm sure there's a bunch of kids in there who do have both talent and money. My point being more along the lines of if there are 1000 extremely talented 10 year olds in the US and only 1 has the resources to develop their talent, were significantly limiting our pool of talent to choose from when it comes to selecting teams for international competition in the future. The cost of equestrian sports in Europe and other countries is high, but no where near like it is in the US. So those countries maybe have the opportunity to develop 500 of those 1000 riders, whereas we are limiting ourselves to the 1 or 2.
                          This raises another interesting question, and that is... how many people *really care* if we have a huge pipeline of the very best talent available to our international team?

                          I mean really, even among horse people - already a very small sub set of the population - it is not a universal thing. I have been a pretty active competitor, enthusiast etc for decades now. At one point I was involved in governance (ancient times, when the AHSA and then the Fed first existed) and I continue to sit on state association boards, an equestrian oriented open space preservation association, maintain active memberships and compete regularly.

                          I honestly could not care less about whether or not we have a competitive international squad.

                          The equitation finals, Maclay included, are merely one avenue of training and competition available to junior riders. That happens to be a very, very expensive part of the sport, and the existing efforts to support participation from a wider group of individuals (ie, Regionals, as previously mentioned by other posters) has already created the option / goal for a kid without the means to realistically shoot for a Maclay Finals appearance. Other even less expensive options also exist: most local and state associations have Finals shows, for example. For those that say, "well, but those are not as prestigious as the Maclay Finals," I would say - agreed. They are not. And neither would some new "division III" version of the class.

                          There is no way to level this particular playing field. I personally don't think that is the end of the world.

                          **********
                          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                          -PaulaEdwina

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            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.
                            Are you kidding me? I am solidly middle class, and that is probably true of most of us. Most of us are super hard workers, that have basically given are lives up to this.
                            Not to mention, lifestyles can be......smoke and mirrors? For both trainers and clients.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by atl_hunter View Post

                              That is because skill and talent are two different things. You can develop and refine a skill and become an expert with 8000 hours of practice. But if all you have is raw talent, you may never get anywhere, as you would also need ambition and saddle time.

                              Like they always say, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. That is because it's well known that you can outperform someone with more talent than you if you just practice. Take a look at football, for example. LSU is leading the country with a 3* QB. The kid didn't get a chance because he was a 3* and they didn't believe he had the talent of a 5*. Ohio State had him on a bench. Then he goes to LSU, becomes the starting QB and is phenomenal and on the Heisman list. Why? Because he WORKS HARD. He studies video after video of the competition, He's focused. And he is in a program where the coach saw his potential. He's technically finished his degree and he spends his entire day studying the game.

                              So no, I don't think it's a shame that we are overlooking all these talented individuals. I think it's a shame when we overlook the skilled ones, who practice, and read, and study. Who stand at the ingate and watch trip after trip. Who work at the barn and take catch rides for trainers. Who work off their lessons. The kids that will do anything for the experience - those are the kids I feel for.

                              But I still don't think that creating different levels or divisions in the answer and I'd prefer to see something like the Gochman grant for some of the bigger finals, where the riders who have worked hard can get a nice horse and some extra training for the class.


                              I agree wholeheartedly with that, too. Any kid who wants it and works that hard for it should have the opportunity. I guess maybe I was including those kids you’re describing under the “talent” umbrella, although I guess you’re right, skill/desire/perseverance/work ethic etc is not necessarily “talent”

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Stayon View Post

                                Maybe the next McLain is about to take up soccer because his parents can’t buy him a pony.
                                One critical difference is that the soccer ball was probably produced for pennies in a factory somewhere, and the kid could learn to play soccer just as well whether the ball cost $5 or $5000. The pony, on the other hand, had to be bred and raised in the first place. Then somebody had to put years into it to get it broke and trained enough to go around the ring. That’s true whether it is a sweet, plain short stirrup pony, or champion at Devon, although the prices on those two ponies will be very different.

                                Plus if the kid loses interest in soccer a week later, the soccer ball can go in the closet. The pony still needs to be fed, shod, etc., until the kid gets interested again, or the pony gets sold, whichever comes first.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  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.
                                  The trainer's kid is not poor in terms of the saddle time he/she gets or (as often as not) the horses she can show. Buying or leasing one equitation horse is bad enough; buying access to another "practice horse" makes that worse.

                                  The numbers of classes and horses ridden and the numbers of show involved shows me that this sport is truly only for the very rich or professionals' kids.

                                  That said, there seem to be enough of those around that I don't think anyone at the top of the industry is worried about blocking out talent at the Big Eq level that will weaken any future US Show Jumping team. To me, it looks like it's already too late: Everyone is happy leaving it to professional kids and the sons and daughters of billionaires.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by kirbydog View Post

                                    Are you kidding me? I am solidly middle class, and that is probably true of most of us. Most of us are super hard workers, that have basically given are lives up to this.
                                    Not to mention, lifestyles can be......smoke and mirrors? For both trainers and clients.
                                    Yes. And your "middleclassness" would matter to you in the way it does for your costumers if you wanted to borrow and trade and barter her way into, say, a much better, more expensive crew team.

                                    Furthermore, being hard working and wealthy are not mutually exclusive. If you have one (in this case, the work ethic we like to crow about, hoping it will eclipse whatever demographic advantages we brought along), you may or may not have the other. You can find good and bad work ethics in all tax brackets. And at present (much like at the end of the 19th century), you will find work ethic have a far less greater effect on things like total earnings than what level of wealth and privilege one was born with.

                                    It's a peculiarly American form of dishonesty to vigorously deny whatever advantages one has before piling hard work on top of those, or to act as if hard work was the only ingredient. If you think that's true, I think you might do well to test your hypothesis by working along side the people picking lettuce in Arizona or Apples in Washington. See how little in the way of wealth, accomplishment or riding opportunities they have to show for that and tell me that the only thing accounting for your results versus theirs was their lesser work ethic.
                                    The armchair saddler
                                    Politically Pro-Cat

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #38
                                      So, seems like the views are varied but the end result is that the big equitation and high end jumpers and hunters will remain the purview of the rich and uber rich. I am fine with that. However, I do think that we should all start asking our national organizations and local show managers for more that fits our wants, wishes and needs. I went to 2 weeks of a California AA show and paid $200 in pass through fees to various local, state and national groups and my total show bill for a jumper that does 3 classes a show was eye watering. I knew it would be expensive but please. I then went north to Calgary (not Spruce) and did 2 weeks there. My pass through fees were much less, the show bill was much lower (it is Canada after all) and there were actually jumper classes that I wanted to go in! Perhaps what the writer is talking about is not just the expense but making all USEF/USHJA members experiences sort of like the big equitation/jumper/hunter experience more inclusive. In Cali, the jumpers were the same old/same old. In Canada, they had jumper derbies! That's what I would like to do at shows, some class that isn't more of the same. Interesting courses, interesting (rider frightening) jumps, maybe a little prize money? The hunter derbies were interesting for a while but lately they are frankly boring. If we are able to be in the top of the international sport, can we make our regional sport more interesting. People do turn out to watch local rodeo and county fairs, maybe they would come to a local horse show that offered something they could understand and enjoy. This may be too off topic . . . .
                                      kenyagirl

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        OP many of us are happy with 8 shows during the summer. My apologies if I can’t muster the sympathy for those who are priced out of the big leagues and also showing WAY more than me.

                                        Comment

                                        • Original Poster

                                          #40
                                          TheMoo, I would be thrilled to afford 8 shows per summer. Where I live that would involve many miles of travel and vast amounts of money. I did not manage even 8 shows last year and it's not looking good for 2020.
                                          kenyagirl

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